Do as I say, not as I do

October 30, 2007

When I was profiled in the March 2007 issue of UltraRunning magazine, I was asked what advice I’d give to other ultra runners. I said:

Don’t overrace! World-class marathoners generally do two or three marathons per year, so why expect to perform your best at seven or more ultras? Identify the events that excite you the most and focus on those.

Sage advice, to be sure. Now let’s count my ultramarathons for this year. There was the Bridle Trails 50K in January, the Caumsett Park 50K in March, the Mad City 100K in April, the Miwok 100K in May, the Western States 100-Miler in June, the World Cup 100K in September … and the JFK 50-Miler in November will bring me to a total of seven for the year.

So how the heck did this happen? Am I just a big fat hypocrite?

No, not exactly.

I began the year not knowing where I’d be working and living as of the summer, so I didn’t commit to any races other than Mad City. Then I got a job interview in New Jersey during the first week in March, so I figured that I’d attend Caumsett Park as well and go for the USATF 50K/100K road double. Also around this time, I decided that I wanted to give Western States a shot, but since I hadn’t submitted an entry form immediately after my qualifying (top-3) performance at the Sunmart 50-Miler, I was told that I’d have to re-qualify by placing in the top 3 at Miwok.

After my painful Western States experience, I really needed a break. However, out of all the races left on the 2007 calendar, the one I really cared about was the World Cup 100K, so I patched up my shredded muscles and got ready for that. After the World Cup, I still needed a break, but then I determined that we could save money by going east for Thanksgiving rather than Christmas and grabbing some prize money at JFK the weekend beforehand. So here I am again, mostly recovered from the last race and trying to squeeze in a bit of training before tapering for the next one.

Each isolated decision to attend a particular event seemed reasonable to me, but the cumulative effect is that I’ve been going to the well too often. My performances and enjoyment have suffered accordingly. After November 17th — even if I’m able to grind out a victory against past JFK winners Dave Mackey (2003) and Pete Breckinridge (2006), 2006 Montrail Ultra Cup champ Eric Grossman, and 1100 other people — I hope to start heeding my own advice.


  1. Greg,It looks like you need someone older (and wiser?) than you to guide your racing schedule. I am eminently over-qualified on all counts, and volunteer (meaning no pay) for the job!!!! :-)Bob

  2. OK, Bob — you're hired!Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to come up with a racing schedule for 2008 whose races meet as many of the following criteria as possible: (1) good prize money / minimal travel expenses; (2) fierce competition and corresponding prestige; (3) a fast, Crowther-friendly course (relatively flat and nontechnical); (4) separated from other races on the schedule by at least 2 months (preferably 3 or 4).Here are some races currently under consideration: Caumsett Park 50K (Long Island NY, March); American River 50 (Sacramento CA, April 5); Mad City 100K (Madison WI, April 12); Watershed Preserve 12-hour (Redmond WA, May 17); FANS 12-hour (Minneapolis MN, June 7); Comrades (South Africa, June 15); Vermont 100-Miler (July 19); IAU World Cup 100K (location unknown, fall); Heartland 100 (KS, October); Javelina Jundred (AZ, October); San Francisco 12-hour (October); Ultracentric 12-hour (TX, November), JFK 50-Miler (MD, November 22); Sunmart 50-Miler (TX, December).Thanks to Paul DeWitt for his input on "easy" 100-milers. Additional input is welcome.

  3. SF 12 hour doesn't really fit your criteria unless you just like to visit SF. it's a flat mile loop (all good for you), but it's run during the day at a crowded park, and some years the nike women's marathon runs through there too. so, very nice, but probably hard for someone as fast as you to get a really "good" time.

  4. Greg – I just took our earlier correspondence and expanded it a bit; I'm really hoping we can get a few guys under 13:00 next year and you are certainly one of the favorites to do so.

  5. Greg — I'll accept the challenge. But, I feel I need to talk to you more before I finalize your schedule, as I'm not sure I completely understand how you want to mesh together the four criteria you list.– Bob

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