Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Yesterday afternoon Scott sent me an interesting question from one of the groups he belongs to on Facebook. Basically, the question was whether or not one could call themselves an "ultrarunner" if they had only completed one 50 km event. (An ultrarunning event is usually considered 50km+ or anything longer than a marathon).

I'm not entirely sure why but this has been niggling at me for nearly 24 hours now, but I have some theories.

I've always thought that running shouldn't be about labels - hence the motto I follow "I'm not in it to win it, I'm in it to finish it".  I realize for some that goal-setting might be about breaking records or being "first" but even then the goal itself shouldn't be the label "Betty Bluejeans - Number One Woman Finisher at Blistering Blisters 100-mile Race". The goal should be about the overall finishing time; those personal bests that just might bring a placed finish.

What about those who run just to run? If they have been doing 50 km runs on a Saturday purely for enjoyment or helping a buddy who is in training or because they want to prove to themselves that they can push their bodies that far, does that mean they are NOT ultrarunners? Why does a registered event need to be the means to be recognized? Think of it this way - do you really need a university degree to prove you're intelligent because I've known a number of university graduates who are not!

Of course, this does bring me back to my own status. I've entered 6 races this year. They range from a six-hour race to a 10 mile race to my ultimate goal of a 50 km race. Why do I need these races at all? I need the goal (because if I've paid for it, then there's no turning back!!) and I need to prove to myself that I'm not completely inept doing something athletic. I'm not trying to win any races. I want to finish all these races so I can look back one day and reflect that I did it. I entered, I ran a race, and I finished it. If I place at any time (she says laughing and shaking her head) then wow, what an amazing feat that would be, but doing MY best is the goal. When I look at my name on the list, I'm not looking at my finishing place (which right now is usually near the bottom) but at the time or distance. That, for me, is the bar.

And maybe, just maybe, if others were "allowed" to call themselves half-marathon runners, or marathon-runners, or ultrarunners without spending the money to be in an event, there might be more people tying up their shoelaces and trying to prove to themselves, not others, that anything is possible when you set a goal.

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