Framingham Personal Trainer

ultramarathon running, racing, training, & more

beast of burden winter ultramarathonCelebrating the finish of my 1st ultramarathon; The Beast of Burden Winter 50-Mile Race!

Our ultramarathon journey happens to be a bit non-linear, as we jumped into ultrarunning before we had ever participated in a marathon.

We kind of paid for it, too, with the amount of discomfort experienced afterward (those ankles and feet had seen better days!).

However, the experience was a fun one, shared with friends, and on the road as a destination race (in Lockport, NY, outside of Buffalo).

Tell us all about your ultra running, racing, and training experiences here.

The Beast of Burden Winter Ultra

After having involved ourselves in a number of obstacle course races, 5k and 10k races, we'd been looking for a new challenge.

The Beast of Burden Winter Ultra checked off a number of boxes in providing just that.

  • Firstly, the race was to occur in late January, outside of Buffalo, New York, so we knew the temperatures would be unforgiving.

  • Secondly, where a good amount of our racing had provided the challenge of elevation gain, the course to be followed here was along a nearly flat canal towpath. (We would be in for lots of repetitions in an unchanging movement pattern; something would be bound to end up hurting!)

  • Thirdly, as it was out of State, it was a destination race; sort of a mini-vacation.

Understanding the Course

Winter ultrarunningThink we were bundled up enough before our first ultrarunning experience?

We hadn't had to get ourselves into this sort of "trouble," as there were several distance options from which to choose.

Racers had the option, during registration, to choose from 25 miles, 50 miles, or 100 miles, each of which would follow the same course route.

The course was out-and-back style, following the towpath, where it would be approximately 7 miles from the start to the first aid station, another 6 to the second aid station, which was also the turnaround point, to then follow the same route back to the start.

50 milers would complete this twice; and 100 milers would complete the course 4 times.

The surface was a sort of fine gravel. In the year that we'd raced, there was a bit of hardened snow on the ground. That hardened snow is what challenged our ankles throughout the race, putting our connective tissue and muscles through stresses we hadn't encountered often during training.

In other years, the snow has been seen to be much deeper, creating a different set of challenges.

Ultramarathon Race Timing

Where it was our first race of this distance, it hadn't been a key focus of ours to have a goal finishing time in mind.

There were cut-offs determined by the race directors.

  • 50-mile racers would have 24 hours in which to complete the distance.

  • 100-mile racers would have 30 hours in which to complete the distance.

As many races will begin fairly early in the morning (e.g., 7am or 8am), the starting time for that year's event was 10am.

That start time nearly ensured that we would be running a portion of the race overnight, and thus would be forced to face some of the more harsh temperatures and wind gusts.

"Beware the Chair"

ultramarathon finishAt the Finish of The Beast of Burden 50-mile Ultramarathon! It was finally okay to spend as much time in the chair as we wanted!

Part of ultramarathon race strategy should include a focus on aid station efficiency.

Our strategy, was nearly non-existent, during this first experience.

That was especially true of our time spent in the final aid station of our race, somewhere around 3am, and with about 7 miles left in the race.

Where the winds at that time of night were gusting, and with no place to hide, as we were fully exposed along the canal path, the mental and physical challenges were different than we'd experienced before.

You may often hear, "beware the chair," as it relates to ultra-running, where its comfort can cause significant delays and distractions to the task that you have at hand.

Our delay, in this instance, included about 45 minutes of sitting, right in front of the most powerful, portable heaters we've ever enjoyed.

Approaching The Finish

Once we were moving again, the error of our ways greeted us.

That amount of rest, especially in our first experience of this type, had led to additional discomfort of the ankles with nearly every step. We'd likely have done better to have kept moving.

What was great, however, was that we were able to witness the sunrise as we headed for the finish line.

There we were met by the race directors, friends, and spectators, and other athletes. We enjoyed a cup of coffee, a breakfast sandwich, and as much time in the chair as we wanted!

And, though we haven't been back to the race yet, we do plan on it.

Now, we are armed with improved, ultramarathon training strategies, running workouts geared toward the areas in which there were opportunities for increasing strength and endurance, and better aid-station strategies.

Have You Run An Ultramarathon? Are You Planning To Run One? Tell Us All About Your Journey!

Running an ultramarathon takes a certain level of commitment. If you've run one (or several), or if you are planning to, we'd love to hear all about it!

What have been some of your favorite ultramarathon races? What made you want to attempt one? What were your strategies in training? And, which ultramarathon races are on your bucket list?

The more detail, the better!

Here are some examples of topics you might write about:

  • Running my 1st Ultramarathon

  • The ______ is My Favorite Ultramarathon Race

  • The Toughest Ultramarathon I Ever Ran

  • Here are The Top 5 Best Running Tips for Your First Ultramarathon

  • The Most Beautiful Ultramarathon

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"Hard work is not punishment. Hard work is the price of admission for the opportunity to reach sustained excellence."
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