January 24, 2012

Struth! Running for your life

IN his continuing search for the more weird, wacky and wondrous in the world of travel, David Ellis tells the story of ultra-runner, mountaineer and adventure racer, Marshall Ulrich who at 57 years of age ran 4,932km across America from San Francisco to New York, has climbed the highest peaks of all seven continents, and run across Death Valley more times than anyone else – 23 in total, including a record-breaking 235km from Badwater that's 88m below ground level, to the top of Mount Whitney that's 4,493m high.

He's also completed the Leadville Trail 100 and Pikes Peak Marathon on the same weekend... something no one else has ever achieved.

Along the way he's had his toenails surgically removed because of extreme pain inside his running shoes, used 32 pairs of shoes on his trans-America effort, nearly drowned in an icy stream near the peak of Mt Everest…. and been bitten by a rattle snake.

He's also raced and climbed in twenty-six countries from Antarctica and Australia to Morocco, Tibet, Tunisia and Vietnam.

Mr Ulrich who is also still a farmer and dog-food manufacturer in north-east Colorado, embarked on his bizarre athletic career at an age when a lot of us are thinking more about taking-up lawn bowls than conquering Everest, and spoke of his achievements during a series of talks aboard mega motor-cruiser, SeaDream I as it made its annual Atlantic repositioning from the Mediterranean to the Caribbean earlier this month – taking a run around the deck a couple of times a day to keep in practice.

He told amazed audiences that his trans-America run required him to cover 644km a week during the equivalent of a whopping 117 back-to-back marathons –   and how he consumed 9000 calories of food a day to maintain his energy, lost only 2kg over the entire 52 consecutive days, and broke the Masters and Grand Masters (over 40- and over 50-years of age) American-transcontinental records.

And if you'll excuse the pun, he's recently written a book of his feats called Running on Empty and published by Penguin. See www.MarshallUlrich.com


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