In 2002 I was a non-active 230-pound couch potato. During that summer in an attempt to get in shape for a backpacking trip, I climbed Mount Timpanogos in Utah for the first time. (A 14-mile, 4,800-foot undertaking). It was a grueling experience that took all day. Young hikers made fun of my slow tortoise pace. After the backpacking trip, I forced myself to climb Mount Timpanogos again the very next weekend. It went better. I vowed that I would get into shape. I quickly increased my mileage and quickly developed injuries. Not to be stopped, I took up swimming and was able to reduce my weight. I learned to swim a mile each morning in 35-40 minutes.
In 2003, still too heavy, I tore my meniscus in my right knee and had it repaired. I was hooked to long distance fast-pack hiking, so within a month I was back at it. My mileage increased and my strength increased.
In 2004, I continued my long-distance hiking and found it harder and harder to find companions who could go those distances in such a short period of time. I searched the Internet in hopes to find a club of long-distance hikers. I stumbled on “ultrarunners.” I had never heard of this sport before. Feeling confident, I entered my first mountain 50K. I finished it, but came in nearly last place. I was humbled, but still confident enough to send in my application to the Bear 100 two months away. Next I ran in my first 50-miler — White River 50. I finished, but came in dead last, 2 seconds after the cutoff. I was in terrible pain. A few weeks later I DNFed a 100k and injured my other knee. Still determined, I ran in the Bear 100, and DNFed at mile 87, experiencing my first terrible bonk. It felt like I was going to die. I went away discouraged. I was in over my head.
Late in 2004, after I recovered from my overuse injuries, I began to transition from a hiker to a runner. I learned how to train and lost more weight. In 2005, I finished seven ultras included two 100-milers. The Bear 100 was one of those. I did DNF two other 100-mile races but continued to learn from them. I was hooked.
To make a long story short, in 2011 I now am an experienced ultrarunner. I’ve lost nearly 60 pounds since 2002. I’m now 52 years old but in the best shape of my life. I’ve now finished over 70 ultras, including over 40 100-mile races. In 2009 I ran in some marathons just to see what I could do and in 2010 ran in the Boston Marathon. In 2010 I won the competitive Across the Years 48-hour race, covering a distance of 187 miles. I now can usually finish 100-mile races in the top 10%.
Why do I run 100 miles? Because I can. Because of the challenge. Because I now enjoy it. Running is now part of my life. Including my long adventures and races, I average about 50 miles of running per week. I do most of my training at night/early morning. I’m very careful about taking days off to rest. I’ve been very lucky since 2004 and have avoided any serious injuries. Any injury has healed within two weeks. I now can run 100-milers within two weeks of each other. I still haven’t peaked, but I know I will soon because of age. With each new year I’ve broken PRs at almost every distance. In 2011, I shattered my 100-mile PR with a 20:27 and third place finish at Antelope Island 100. For road distances of 5K-marathon, I believe I’m among the top-20 runners over 50 in Utah. I enjoy some competition now and then with some of the local elite over-50 runners.
What about that Mount Timpanogos that took me over 10 hours to hike in 2002? I have now summited that mountain over 60 times and hold the record for the most consecutive summits in one stretch (five summits). My normal time for a single round trip is 4 hours. My record is 3:10:36. I now can fly by all those young hikers. They no longer call me a tortoise. Instead they say, “You’re amazing,” “You’re my hero,” “You’re super human.” No, I’m just an old guy who can climb and run a very long way.
My favorite part of running is to blast down technical trails. Three years ago I could hardly run down hills. Now with strong knees, ankles, and quads, I can push hard and really cruise.
My favorite part of running is not the races. I love adventure runs. My blog is full of these runs. I love the Grand Canyon and have run across it and back (rim-to-rim-to-rim) 13 times. I am the first person to run 100 miles in the Canyon in one stretch, the first person to do a double crossing from North Kaibab to Hermits Rest, and the first person to do a double crossing from North Kaibab to Grandview and back (did this on two occasions). I’ve run nearly the entire Tonto Trail through the Grand Canyon (80 miles).
I hope you enjoy reading my adventures. I have taken the time to write these stories to preserve these amazing memories and to help others who wish to pursue the same dream.