Second Wind

Second Wind
"Run With Purpose!"

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Ultras! part 1

This is the first of a 2 part series on Ultra Marathons.  Today’s, the first entry, will focus on the personal story of accomplished ultra runner Zane Smith, and the second entry will tell the tale of his most recent race, the Leadville 100, and focus on a Q&A session I had with Zane on training, getting into Ultras, etc.

This past week I got to catch up with ultra-runner Zane Smith.  Zane is from Oak Ridge, TN and now lives in Columbia, TN. 

One of the things I want to stress about Zane is what he would like to stress.  He is not a runner.  Not in the sense that running is solely what defines him and what he identifies his life as being based on – not by a long shot.  
Zane is a Christian, a dedicated husband, and a loving father, who just so happens to run…. A lot.

Zane didn’t grow up as someone who enjoyed running for a hobby, he was no track star or cross country runner, but he grew up very active and always enjoyed hiking with his dad (Ray Smith) – hiking with his father was his first connection to the trails that would later in life become the place where he would spend a large amount of his time. 

Zane really only began running just a few short years ago (mid 2005) and he started out like most other runners, training for his first 5k and seeing running as a good hobby to help him stay in shape.  After completing his first 5k, again as with most of us, he got bit.  A friend asked Zane if he’d like to train for a ½ marathon which he eagerly jumped into and completed.  The disease was really setting in now.  After feeling good after his ½ marathon and wanting to see what else his body was capable of, Zane set out to find a marathon to try, only, he couldn’t find one.  Now, here’s the first departure from the norm.  As I stated, Zane started running like most of us, wanted to bump up mileage like most of us, and got bit by the running bug like all of us, but here’s where the story takes a twist:  when Zane couldn’t find a marathon he didn’t keep looking, he didn’t simply keep training until one came around, he didn’t even drive to another state to find one.  Instead, Zane skipped the marathon entirely and decided to, after just completing his first half marathon, go for his first Ultra; a 50k.

[an “Ultra” is considered any distance greater than 30 miles with the most common distances being 30 miles, 50 miles, and 100 miles.  “Ultras” would also include your 12, 24, and 48 hour timed races]

After his first 50k (just a touch over 31 miles), Zane continued to wonder just what his limits were and soon pushed up to a 50 mile race, and then… 100 miles.  Zane’s first 100 mile Ultra was the MMT in Virginia (Massanutten Mountain Trail).

Since his first 100, Zane has continued to run numerous 100 mile races (including 3 of the most iconic in the United States:  Hardrock, Barkley, and Leadville).  
Zane has only failed to finish 1 race in the allotted time (which is 60 hours), and before you get too comfortable with the idea of that DNF, consider this:
since the Barkley race began in 1986, only 10 people (out of the over 700 who have attempted it) have ever finished it within the time limit. Ten. Yes, 10.  The unofficial slogan for Barkley is “No one finishes The Barkley”, and when you average just over 1 person finishing every 3 years… I’d say it’s a fitting slogan for this brutal behemoth located in Frozen Head State Park, right here in east TN.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Levi, you have captured the sense of adventure and challenge of Zane's ultra running. Laura, Zane's wife, is his trail crew and she assures he is as well cared for on the trail as possible. It seems to me that ultra running for Zane is more than merely running a distance in a limited time, it is a way to achieve self satisfying goals and prove his endurance under conditions most of us will never experience or understand. I enjoy photographing him and the beautiful scenes where he runs.