18 Dumb Things Ultra Runners Say & Do

So last week, a few comments on Ultra168 criticised our continued love-hate relationship with our friends over in CrossFit. And it got us thinking that we’re not so special and superior – in fact we’re totally not special at all, no-one is and we do suffer from the big fish, small pond mentality. Almost all sports do in fact.

In that discussion, I think I used the line that self-deprecation is one of the greatest qualities that anyone can master. We all need to be kept on our toes and realise that we’re not that special, we love a bit of humility and self critique is how things in life get better and advance. If we all continually backslap about how awesome we are, then our little bubble will continue to wallow in wonders of mediocrity. Honesty and humility go a long way in life.

So out on a run recently we decided not to take ourselves so seriously and look at our own peace-loving sport, recounting some of the dumb things we say and do. So here goes – this one will not be pretty for some, heck it might even make you a little angry or want to hurl abuse at us (we hope not!). I also know for a fact that we’re as guilty as the next guy for some of these and that we need to have our own mental check-in and self-critique… but remember it’s just for laughs and the important thing is to learn and make things better.

This is not gospel or laying the law down. If you believe in something, stick to your guns, but just have a laugh about it.

#1 “I got on the extended Podium”

Last time we checked the IOC gave out medals for 1st, 2nd and 3rd.  Why this trend of calling up the Top 5 or Top 10 or Top 40 runners dressed as Batman? You win, you don’t – Simple. And as for people posting on FB or Instagram that they made the extended podium – no you didn’t. You were first runner-up which is less memorable than the dude who came last in a 2000lb, 100-year-old diving suit.

#2 “Clean Eating”

When did we lose the plot over food? Since when has food been classed a commodity like fuel? Will OPEC be determining the elasticity of Clif Bars? What is a #Superfood or better still a #Turbofood? Why do we hashtag the shit out of it? Amazing how the average marathon time is rising since the 1970’s, when a steak, a ciggie and a few pints of Guinness were all it took to run sub 2:10. The rise of supplement scoffing, kale loving, lactose and gluten intolerant runners is rife. Everything in moderation and balance and take pleasure in eating as it brings us altogether.

This is a hill/mountain - it is not #vert
This is a hill/mountain – it is not #vert

#3 ‘Vert’

Running is just running? Sometime running involves steep hills but most of the time it is walking up them. Hashtagging went to a whole new level recently when #ChasingVert and #AllAboutTheVert started actually trending! In fact a little monthly vertical challenge competition here in Australia recently was so hotly contested that accusations of cheating flew around. It could not have had more suspicion thrown at it if lance Armstrong had entered! #TapeMeasuresAt20Paces

#4 “I’m an ultrarunner”  

An atheist, a vegan and an ultrarunner walk into a bar – I know because they told everyone! We just love to drop into the conversation that we are ultrarunners. Unfortunately we are big fish in very little ponds and it’s probably the only competitive sport where you can be good without actually being very good at all. Big deal. You run. That is all.

#5 “What’s the Heel to Toe Drop?”

The whole maximalist and minimalist battle still rages between the shoe brands and is just another marketing strategy. When did we start to look beyond just pretty colours of shoes and now need to know to the nearest micron its heel differential? Now where are my super cushioned Huarache sandals?

Yeah but 1mm heel to toe matters man!
Yeah but 1mm heel to toe matters man!

#6 “I need advice on my Hydration & Nutrition Strategy”

Another of those big brand marketing campaigns aimed at us hacks buying liquid sugar or overpriced ionised spring water drained from the tears of an Icelandic Elf! Add into this salt tabs too. All you need on a run is a bit of water and a few gels. Leave the quinoa wraps for dinner, not for the trails.

#7 “I am focussed on Skyrunning this year”

Really? Have you purchased some wings and incorporating some flying techniques into your schedule? This could be interchanged with “I am only running UTWT races in 2015” – Why the need for a ‘brand’ name that basically describes running up and down a mountain?

#8 “It was a training run”

This is a doozy – carried over from our lycra clad brethren in Triathlon and Cycling. When our races don’t go to plan we simply drop into the conversation that is was not our A Race and more like our XYZ run. Nah – you were just not prepared to go head to head with some decent competition and give it a good shot. Oh well – at least you get to wear the nice race shirt.

Personal Branding is taking on a new meaning in ultra running
Personal Branding is taking on a new meaning in ultra running

#9 “This is impacting on my Personal Brand”

Hmmmm let us look at the meaning of a brand. It comes from the Norse word “Brandr” meaning “To burn”, more specifically livestock. The aim to ensure that other people knew whose sheep belonged to whom. Well given the amount of personal brand athletes out there right now, I’d quite happily grab a hot iron fork and do some ‘personal branding’ on a few!

#10 “I have an athlete page”

We just love this one – the need for running friends and colleagues to “differentiate” their running from the rest of their lives on the Douchebag of Faces. Last time we checked you were still a running hack who made most of your friends through running, so why take the view that you are now wanting to be differentiated from them? #EgoGoneMad p.s. I’ll be starting an athlete page soon, so please like me?

#11 “I am so proud to be an Ambassador for this race”

Hmm this is an interesting trend. The need for race directors to see fit to appoint a self-promoting runner to widen their race appeal, all the while massaging the ego of the appointed ambassador. Funny thing is that they do very little for both parties in terms of engaging properly with the running community. Races sell out most of the time and who here can remember the ambassador of their last local trail race? #SeePersonalBrandandAthletePage

What? They test for Ozone Therapy now too?
What? They test for Ozone Therapy now too?

#12 “Surely there are no drugs in Ultrarunning as there is no money in the sport”

And Father Christmas is real and Lance Armstrong will one day be named a Saint. It is going to happen one day and we will all be in shock, expecting Oprah to turn up and do the interview. To be honest while we all took the moral high ground and bashed our dope smoking ultrarunning friends last month, we are more likely to be surprised at our own friends closer to home who seem to just burst onto the scene at their local Park Run. Yep, next time you line up just look left and right and try to guess who the drug cheat is? We hear Ozone Therapy is all the rage right now… I’m off to the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney with a WADA ID badge and a boat load of syringes to collect blood.

#13 “Is it still OK to wear the race shirt even though I DNFed?”

“No!” End of – never ask this again.

#14 Ultrarunning Beards

Shave it off – you look like a hobo wearing $1500 worth of stolen Salomon gear. Unless of course you can carry it off like Rob. He’s the only dude allowed right now because his beard is epic 🙂

This dude is the only guy allowed to have a beard in ultra running (credit The North Face)
This dude is the only guy allowed to have a beard in ultra running (credit The North Face)

#15 #TrailPorn

Please stop using this ridiculous term. Just stop and think about what you are actually saying. Are you seriously contemplating sex on the trail? Are two or more trails meeting somewhere special to participate in an orgy of singletrack? And more importantly, if you still insist on using it, just remember who is monitoring your computer while you read this at work today!

#16″Woohoo I am a Sponsored Runner”

No you are not – a free pair of shoes and a few bits of clothing with your name on them does not make you a sponsored runner. Last time we checked, not even Kilian could justifiably say he makes a good living purely from trail running. SkiMo bank rolls his mountain running exploits. All you are doing is some half-arsed marketing work for a lazy brand manager who has blown his budget putting a logo on some race.

#17 Charity Runners

Now before we get started on this one, I’ll say this. There are some very highly thought of and commendable people out there who dedicate their lives to raising funds for charity, but importantly, pay their own way to do so and make sure that whatever funds they raise go straight into the charity box. BUT, how often now do we see requests for some sort of “Kickstarter” fund to support a mediocre runner who sees it fit to spend the next six weeks gallivanting across the globe?


Millions of runners every weekend would love to go out and save the rhino but they do it the old-fashioned way – they work for a living and simply donate – unconditionally without fuss or fanfare. But for those that see fit to gallivant, when do we actually get to see a cheque handed over for the same amount of money they declared they raised?  (Minus of course the PR agency costs of promotion, flights and other “administrative costs” of the trip) #LetsSeeTheFinances

Well done, you're a hero of your backyard
Well done, you’re a hero of your backyard

#18 “I just landed the FKT”

As a kid I grew up with backyard cricket and every time my mates came round to play I always won – why? Well I had a few local rules specific to my own backyard of course like one hand one bounce off the wheelbarrow. This has now spread to Ultrarunning where someone, somewhere is currently running up and down their local hill setting all manner of records but only from their doorstep and not their neighbours. Good on you. You are champion of your backyard. The issue starts to arise when people start interpreting their own rules and therefore making comparisons impossible #MedalsInThePost #StravaSux


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Dan on Twitter
I'm a mediocre runner who can bat above his average when I train hard. A man of extremes, I do enjoy everything life offers and consider it an absolute pleasure just to be able to put one foot in front of the other and let my mind wander somewhere different.

32 thoughts on “18 Dumb Things Ultra Runners Say & Do

  1. Haha. I love it. Too many hipster beardos out there. Some of us have to work full time jobs where we need to look respectable. Now I better get out and set some strava records!

  2. Bahahahahahahahahahaha this is such an AWESOME post. Love it. I love the im an ULTRARUNNER bit sooo much. Hear that all the time up in Brissy when someone has run there first ultra. Bahahahahahahahaha. Like you say its just running peeps.

  3. Issues with diet like gluten and lactose intolerance aren’t made up for an elitist agenda. These are complicated and serious problems which can’t just be solved by saying “all things in moderation”.

  4. I really don’t know what to think about this article….its similar to picking a fight with Facebook…you’re not gonna win and end up getting trolled half to death

  5. How about not bitching about what other people do. That should probably be number one followed by not complaining on blogs.
    If someone wants to grow a beard they can grow a beard. If someone wants to wear a shirt let them wear a fucking shirt. This sport is quickly going the route of cycling and triathlon. “Looks like I’m better than you because I can type on a computer.”

    1. Hey Josh, this is not a bitch. It’s a satirical piece. Did you read the intro to the article? Heck I do some or most of these too, so how can I be better than others? I’m not, we’re just having a laugh at our sport. And that’s the key thing here. It’s not personal to anyone, so why get offended over it? If you want to get angry, get angry at some real issues in life like the mistreatment of immigrants in Australia, or inequality in the US and the gap between rich and poor.

  6. I am writing dialogue now for a little film. Three smiley faces means you grant permission to use above muses and of course credit. Just kidding really don’t need permission as nothing is original anymore. Running has been severely infected by that soccer mom/dad psychosis. Just do it your way you are Frank Sinatra.

  7. I long for the days back in the early 90’s when we showed up with cash on race day for the entry fee, a hand bottle and a frozen powerbar. When we suffered in shitty weather because Gor-Tex was way too expensive, and it was fucking awesome when there was free beer at the end.

  8. Thank you for the entertaining read. Ego naturally does creep into the sport and needs to be tempered with humility. Let’s face it anyone can be an ultra runner if they really wanted to. And yes I do have a beard but only because it makes my skinny face look more manly 🙂

  9. Very funny!!

    The use of the word ‘recovery’ gets me.

    “I went on a 10 mile recovery run” – it was a 10 miles run that you did after a run that was longer.

    “Time for some recovery food” – you ate some food that was probably healthy and had a good mix of protein and carbs. Magazines like to write about recovery food.
    It is food, and a glass of milk and a peanutbutter sandwich is easier to make than a sweet potato and quinoa salad!

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