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UTMB dreams and qualifying nightmares

By Andrew Skurka / July 12, 2016 / 11 Comments

The qualifying requirements for Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB), Europe’s marquee 102-mile ultra marathon, are unique and complex — and, some might say, brazen. They also underwent significant changes for the 2015 season. To help avoid disappointment or mid-season race shuffling (as I just went through), I thought I would provide an overview, and some insight…

Race Report: Indian Creek 50M || 9:46, 1st place

By Andrew Skurka / October 17, 2016 / 4 Comments

If the Indian Creek 50M had been held 72, 48, or even 24 hours earlier, the outcome for me would likely have been very different. I woke up on Tuesday with a sore throat and had full-on cold symptoms by the end of the day: coughing, wicked congestion, body aches, and a slight fever. I…

Race calendar 2017: Boston, Bighorn, and Blanc

By Andrew Skurka / January 25, 2017 / 7 Comments

In March I will turn 36 years-old. Sadly, for a male long-distance runner I am thought to be at the end of my physical prime, if not already beyond it. Sure, many older runners do phenomenal things. For example, last year 85-year Ed Whitlock ran a sub-4:00 marathon, and 44-year-old Jeff Browning was the second-ranked ultra runner in the…

From ultra(slow) runner to 2:3X marathoner || Training methodology, with coach David Roche

By Andrew Skurka / March 11, 2017 / 6 Comments

For the last three years I have perhaps been more serious about running than about backpacking. It’s a function of lifestyle and age: running 10-20 hours per week is more compatible with marriage than thru-hiking would be, and at nearly 36-years-old I have only a few years left in which to run really fast lifetime PR’s. I took…

Strength AND speed: 100-mile ultra training philosophy || Interview with David Roche

By Andrew Skurka / June 10, 2017 / 1 Comment

On Friday I toe the line for my second race of the year, the Bighorn 100 in Wyoming’s Bighorn Mountains. Like the Boston Marathon, Bighorn is an endurance running event. But the races are different animals in nearly all other respects. Most notably, Bighorn has 100 miles of singletrack and jeep roads, features 20,000 vertical feet of climbing, and reaches a…

New FKT: Pawnee-Buchanan Loop || Take note, UTMB

By Andrew Skurka / August 16, 2017 / 2 Comments

The Pawnee-Buchanan Loop has become a classic among ultra runners and backpackers. It’s about 27 miles long, includes two 12,000-foot passes over the Continental Divide, and the starting trailhead is a 60-minute drive from my front door. (Side note: To spice up this loop, use the Pfiffner Traverse to connect Buchanan and Cascade Creeks, rather…

Help me decide: Hoka Speedgoat 2 or Salomon Sense Ultra for UTMB?

By Andrew Skurka / August 22, 2017 / 30 Comments

On Friday I leave for France and UTMB, so much of this week is dedicated to race preparation. One decision with which I’m struggling is my footwear. I have narrowed it to: Hoka One One Speedgoat 2 (read my review; buy now), and Salomon Sense Ultra (read my review; buy now). Ultimately, I may be obsessing…

Training program for UTMB, my 2017 apex race || Interview with David Roche

By Andrew Skurka / August 27, 2017 / 10 Comments

How have I trained for Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB), the world’s premier ultra marathon? As part of an ongoing series, I interviewed again my coach, David Roche, transcript below. But to fully understand the context of this training, it may be necessary to read similar interviews prior to my two other big races…

Gear List: Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB) || Personal & obligatory gear

By Andrew Skurka / August 29, 2017 / 18 Comments

Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB) and its growing race series (CCC, TDS, OCC, and PTL) are held in the last week of August in the Savoy Alps, an extreme mountain environment. Since the first race in 2001, racers have experienced a wild range of weather: snow, cold rain and snow, fierce winds, relentless sun,…

Track me live as I race around Mont-Blanc on Friday & Saturday

By Andrew Skurka / August 31, 2017 / 12 Comments

UTMB takes live tracking to the next level. Their coverage is easily accessible, remarkably accurate, and incredibly extensive. The race starts at 6 pm on Friday. Chamonix is +1 hour relative to GMT/UTC; for those in the US, the race starts at: ET: 12 pm CT: 11 am MT: 10 am PT: 9 am I…