Running Through the Wall
Running to the limits of human -endurance.For those who are not content to run merely 26.2 miles, there is ultramarathoning. Some of the biggest ultras are 50 or 100 miles long, races in which people run all day, through the night and on into the next day. What makes them tick? What thoughts go through their minds at mile 93? How is the pain different from that of a marathon? How can you train for such a colossal undertaking? All these questions are answered in 35 interviews with ultramarathoners. Ultramarathoning is the logical next step for those who burn with a desire to achieve and explore their limits. Every kind of ultra runner is included here, and this book will be an indispensable volume for anyone dreaming of running long.

Running Through the Wall Details

TitleRunning Through the Wall
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseApr 1st, 2003
PublisherBreakaway Books
ISBN-139781891369377
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Sports and Games, Sports, Fitness, Autobiography, Memoir, Adventure

Running Through the Wall Review

  • Sheri
    January 1, 1970
    **This review was originally published on my blog in 2011... since then I’ve run a further five marathons and two (shortish) ultras, so it’s not exactly up to date! However I’m just as equally fascinated and alarmed by the longer distances as I ever was... **I’ve never run an ultra – I’m not sure if I ever will. To be honest, the idea of running that far fascinates and alarms me in equal measure. 26.2 miles remains the furthest I’ve ever run, and I’ve only done that once (soon, hopefully, to be **This review was originally published on my blog in 2011... since then I’ve run a further five marathons and two (shortish) ultras, so it’s not exactly up to date! However I’m just as equally fascinated and alarmed by the longer distances as I ever was... **I’ve never run an ultra – I’m not sure if I ever will. To be honest, the idea of running that far fascinates and alarms me in equal measure. 26.2 miles remains the furthest I’ve ever run, and I’ve only done that once (soon, hopefully, to be twice). I’m very intrigued however by the idea of what it’s actually like to do an ultramarathon, so this book, consisting of 39 first-person accounts of running various ultra distances, immediately appealed to me.A huge variety of people have contributed their experiences – from the Type 1 diabetic (Tim Morgan) to the guitarist in a rock band (Michael Dimkich); from the people who win races (Ann Trason, Tim Twietmeyer) to the ones who plod along at the back, hoping only to finish within the cut-off time. Some are veterans of dozens of ultras, others have only run one, some DNF. All are included here. Ultrarunning often seems to be a family affair, with husband/wife pairings and a father/daughter combo (Ed and Lisa Demoney) sharing their experiences and many runners paying tribute to their support crews of family and friends..I hadn’t originally heard of most of the races, which range from 50k upwards, although by the end of the book I felt quite familiar with many of them. A number of races, such as the popular Western States 100, the Massanutten Mountain Trails 100 and Hardrock 100, among others, make several appearances, and Blake Wood and David Horton recount their experiences of the ridiculously impossible-sounding (and eccentric) 100-mile Barkley Marathons, an event which very few have ever completed, and if you read the description of it in the book it’s perfectly obvious why. (It also incorporates a 60 mile “Fun Run” (!) which sounds like anything but.) One event which didn’t feature, but which I would have been interested to read about, is the Badwater ultra – I guess I’ll have to go elsewhere for that.There's also an account of a 24-hour event which Kevin Setnes describes how a run-walk strategy helped him to win, running over 160 miles and setting a US record in the process.I was interested to learn that a number of the races described seem to follow a lap format – typically around 4-5 laps, but in one case (the Umstead 100, recounted here by Tim Morgan) as many as 10. My immediate reaction to this was quite negative but on reflection I suppose it could have its advantages in long and difficult races, particularly with regard to the frequency of support crew/aid stations. Familiarity of terrain after the first lap could be a good or bad thing. I still think 10 laps of 10 miles sounds a bit deadly boring, though. Having said that, there are of course 24 hour track races (and Kevin Setnes in this book ran multiple 1.1 mile laps of a small lake to set his 24 hour record) so I guess it’s not necessarily an issue.Most of the races covered are American, but we also get to hear about a women’s team taking on – and hoping to win - the Hong Kong Trailwalker 100k, and Jurgen Ankenbrand’s account of his experience at the Marathon des Sables. Some of the stories are quite emotional and I was particularly struck by Catra Corbett-McNeely’s account of running and racing after the death of her mother, and Tracy Baldyga’s experience of how running ultras helped her deal with severe and enduring mental illness. There’s also an honest and affectionate tribute to Joel Zucker, who tragically collapsed and died in 1998 after completing his third Hardrock 100. Most of the stories are well written and very interesting to read. Admittedly there’s only so many times you really want to read “I got up at 4.30am and ate my cereal before heading off to the start”, but on the other hand the logistics of such things are an important component and it is good to know how people go about their preparation.By the end of the book I found I’d lost most of my perspective on how far 100 miles, for instance, actually was. After reading so many accounts of running scary distances, they had started to seem normal. 50 miles sounded quite short, really. A mere marathon sounded like the equivalent of a gentle stroll to the post box and back. I needed to go on a long training run to bring me back to reality…. There are some amazing achievements described herein, from Stan Jensen’s completion of the “Last Great Race” of six 100-milers in 4 months, to the people who overcame incredible odds to run at all.All in all I found this a very interesting read. As each story is short and self-contained, it’s easy to dip in and out of, and there is lots of interesting and inspiring stuff. Great when you are needing a bit of extra motivation.So will I ever run an ultra?… well, maybe…
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  • Luis Martinez
    January 1, 1970
    Great introduction to have an idea of what to expect when running more than a Marathon.
  • Jeffrey
    January 1, 1970
    Most people think of an ultramarathon as something only 'crazy people' do. I used to think that myself, before I ran one. An ultra, though, is nothing more than a test of a runner's determination to conquer him or herself. At least, that's the lesson I gleaned from this collection of essays in which runners from all walks of life--working mother of three, retired marine, executive, guitarist with The Cult--write about their experiences running an ultramarathon.Neal Jameson corralled some big nam Most people think of an ultramarathon as something only 'crazy people' do. I used to think that myself, before I ran one. An ultra, though, is nothing more than a test of a runner's determination to conquer him or herself. At least, that's the lesson I gleaned from this collection of essays in which runners from all walks of life--working mother of three, retired marine, executive, guitarist with The Cult--write about their experiences running an ultramarathon.Neal Jameson corralled some big names for this collection. Tim Twietmeyer writes about the 1995 Western States 100, when the temperature during the course of the race varied from freezing temperatures and a trail covered in snow, to more than 100˚F for much of the last half of the race. Suze Cope writes about her last 100 mile run in Virginia's George Washington National Forest in May of 2002. Kevin Setnes relates his run/walk strategy that led him to break the American 24-hour record--that's where the runner who clocks the most miles in 24-hours wins--running around a 1.1 mile loop at Oleander Park. Sue Johnston writes about developing pulmonary edema at mile 90 of the Hardrock 100 and being so exhausted she couldn't even celebrate being the first woman. "I coughed up green sputum for about 24 hours after the race," she writes, "and had a lingering cough for about three weeks after the race."More compelling than these stories are the ones by the middle-of-the-pack runners who don't win the races they run. Their only goal is to complete. Ed Demoney writes about finishing 33rd of 37 finishers at the race he directs, the MMT 100. Blake Wood laments "Taps" being played to mark the end of his attempt to be the first person to complete the Barkely. Anthony Humpage relates losing almost a hundred pounds and running his first 100 mile race, the VT 100, in just under 28 hours. Marc Witkes writes about running after a traumatic injury that almost killed him when he was 21.These are stories to inspire, stories that make me want to get outside and run. While I'm laid up here with a broken foot, I read these tales of running 50 or 100 miles and look forward to the day when I'll be back out on the road, and will again be in training for my next big race. If you want to be inspired to run, this is the book for you.
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  • Deidre
    January 1, 1970
    This is a book only crazy, obsessed, and ultimately insane runners will enjoy. It's a collection of stories from various ultra-distance runners (those who run further than the marathon-standard of 26.2, usually on crazy mountain/desert/Arctic/other-insane-places-on-earth type locations), and it's not really designed or set-up to appeal to the average individual who isn't aware of or interested in ultrarunning, for a few reasons:1) The stories generally read like a bunch of high school kids havin This is a book only crazy, obsessed, and ultimately insane runners will enjoy. It's a collection of stories from various ultra-distance runners (those who run further than the marathon-standard of 26.2, usually on crazy mountain/desert/Arctic/other-insane-places-on-earth type locations), and it's not really designed or set-up to appeal to the average individual who isn't aware of or interested in ultrarunning, for a few reasons:1) The stories generally read like a bunch of high school kids having to write essays as an assignment for their English class, where minimal correcting happens and the emphasis is in just getting it turned in on time. Don't get me wrong, many of the writers were very engaging, and had a good sense of "personality" in their stories, but the general feel was very minimal, leaving the only room for sense of personal attachment to the teacher reading, and maybe the parents, who would put the paper on the refigerator with a big yellow smiley-face magnet.2) Since the stories are so minimal, they won't appeal to too many people outside a specific community. I loved them, because I'm a crazy, obsessed runner myself, and didn't need convincing that they weren't just insane individuals with too much running time on their hands, but I can't see myself recommending this book to even my runner friends, because it won't appeal to those outside a narrow range. That being said, if you're a distance-crazed, trail-loving freak of a person, the stories shared are interesting, enlightening, and quite inspiring. I personlly can't wait to get back out and hit the trails again.
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  • C
    January 1, 1970
    Good book for those considering or curious about ultra marathons. This offers the point of view of multiple insiders through as they relate the story of their more memorable races. I was personally looking for stories that detailed that moment of "I just can't go on" and how those people got past the moment(s), but while this is not a focus, of course it does come up ("What would Shackleton do? lol). (btw, I realize that I also misunderstood "the wall" as a point of mental exhaustion, rather tha Good book for those considering or curious about ultra marathons. This offers the point of view of multiple insiders through as they relate the story of their more memorable races. I was personally looking for stories that detailed that moment of "I just can't go on" and how those people got past the moment(s), but while this is not a focus, of course it does come up ("What would Shackleton do? lol). (btw, I realize that I also misunderstood "the wall" as a point of mental exhaustion, rather than the correct "terminology" of it as: your body is out of fuel. kaput.)I am amazed at the concept of not running for just a half hour or an hour, but 22 hours... not "10 miles" or "20 miles" but ...100... plus another 60, if you feel like it...I am curious to read more on the topic, even if I doubt I'll be doing any "50k" races anytime soon. I also feel for these folks. While I really enjoyed Born to Run, I think the book catapulted Ultra Marathon into mainstream American culture, and what has been an insiders "community" sport is about to become a popular pastime. That's never a comfortable growing pain for those who have loved that tight knit community feeling of being on the 'inside' of something no one else really understands.
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  • Erin
    January 1, 1970
    “Whatever you think you can do or believe you can do, begin it. Action has magic, grace and power in it.” -GoetheThis book is a collection of essays from ultramarathoners of all ages and experience levels. It was great to read an essay here and there over the past couple of months, rather than reading the book as a whole. I think the best part of the book was how it opened my eyes to the fact that these are just people - not Olympic athletes, or fitness-obsessed anorexics - just regular people w “Whatever you think you can do or believe you can do, begin it. Action has magic, grace and power in it.” -GoetheThis book is a collection of essays from ultramarathoners of all ages and experience levels. It was great to read an essay here and there over the past couple of months, rather than reading the book as a whole. I think the best part of the book was how it opened my eyes to the fact that these are just people - not Olympic athletes, or fitness-obsessed anorexics - just regular people who have chosen to put their heart and soul into the goal of running races of 50-100 miles. The recurring theme was the importance of attempting the impossible. It won't happen unless you get out there and try it. Unlike shorter races, ultramarathons tend to be more about finishing than setting a record. If you're having a bad day and you need a little inspiration, this book is highly recommended.
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  • cory
    January 1, 1970
    a few of the stories are boring. some inspirational. the rest were so inspirational they made me cry. stories of people overcoming depression and suicide, dealing with loss of loved ones, getting beyond eating/body issues, running as a team with the family as crew or pacers, escaping the banality of typical day to day life. that and people who are just crazy and can do awesome stuff. the stories range from those who have run dozens of ultras and rank in the top, to those with crazy dreams who re a few of the stories are boring. some inspirational. the rest were so inspirational they made me cry. stories of people overcoming depression and suicide, dealing with loss of loved ones, getting beyond eating/body issues, running as a team with the family as crew or pacers, escaping the banality of typical day to day life. that and people who are just crazy and can do awesome stuff. the stories range from those who have run dozens of ultras and rank in the top, to those with crazy dreams who repetitively DNF and just keep trying until they succeed. i liked hearing about how ultras are a more communal and collaborative endeavor than typical road races. runners help each other out, encourage each other, get to know each other race by race and year by year. hopefully this holds true when i run my first ultra this september
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  • Cherie
    January 1, 1970
    Mark lent me this book and I think it's actually quite good. (A lot of the times I have read running anthologies or magazines, the quality is not very good, and the writing is poor.) The writing was really engaging and inspirational, and I have added a few ultras to my previous goal of doing Badwater at some point (when I'm old and crazy!)--Hardrock sounds absolutely insane (but in a fun way). I can't wait to do my ultras. Ultras are different than regular running. When you do a marathon, you ar Mark lent me this book and I think it's actually quite good. (A lot of the times I have read running anthologies or magazines, the quality is not very good, and the writing is poor.) The writing was really engaging and inspirational, and I have added a few ultras to my previous goal of doing Badwater at some point (when I'm old and crazy!)--Hardrock sounds absolutely insane (but in a fun way). I can't wait to do my ultras. Ultras are different than regular running. When you do a marathon, you are going all out. When you do an ultra, your whole body and mind is engaged and the challenges are so unreal and you feel as if you might die (and sadly, some people do) and it is a spiritual experience. This book is for anyone who wants to dream and run and run and run.
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  • Jeannie
    January 1, 1970
    My ultra running friend Ralph Hirt loaned me this book months ago. I did enjoy it. How else do you think I realized that I myself had hit the wall at my last 50 in July. In the book there are about 39 stories from ultramarathoners about their experience and encounters with the ultramarathon. It's the good, the bad and the ugly. I truly enjoyed each story. My favorites were the ones from the people I know, about the Barkley, Hawaii Hurt 100, Leadville, Western States. But probably the one that st My ultra running friend Ralph Hirt loaned me this book months ago. I did enjoy it. How else do you think I realized that I myself had hit the wall at my last 50 in July. In the book there are about 39 stories from ultramarathoners about their experience and encounters with the ultramarathon. It's the good, the bad and the ugly. I truly enjoyed each story. My favorites were the ones from the people I know, about the Barkley, Hawaii Hurt 100, Leadville, Western States. But probably the one that stuck to me the most was from a gal named Tracy Baldyga. Really good book, suggest to everyone.
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  • Michelle Lines
    January 1, 1970
    I found this book to be "mostly" interesting. There seemed to be a high proportion of articles from runners from Virginia, which led to a few too many tales about the same race (Massanutten 100). I would have liked to hear more accounts from runners/races in Colorado.The big takeaway I got from this book is that it doesn't appear to take great athletic prowess to run ultras...just indestructible mental toughness and an iron will. "Just" those things, ha. Nonetheless, I have already picked out my I found this book to be "mostly" interesting. There seemed to be a high proportion of articles from runners from Virginia, which led to a few too many tales about the same race (Massanutten 100). I would have liked to hear more accounts from runners/races in Colorado.The big takeaway I got from this book is that it doesn't appear to take great athletic prowess to run ultras...just indestructible mental toughness and an iron will. "Just" those things, ha. Nonetheless, I have already picked out my first ultra race and am finally ready to take my running journey to the next level.
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  • Ryan
    January 1, 1970
    The first two stories are clunkers, but by the third I was getting the sense of what it took mentally and physically to run an ultramarathon and what the overall experience of these races might be like. This book motivated me out the door many times this winter as it elevated my desire to get back to the trails. Massanutten sounds sick, as does Hardrock, HURT 100 and Western States. At least one of them is on my bucket list now.
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  • Enric
    January 1, 1970
    I am seriously hooked to this kind of literature. In this book I lived through the miles with the different narrators. And as interesting as the experiences and the lore is for me the lessons that I can learn from each of them, some are practical tips that I myself can use and some others purely inspirational. Loved the book.
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  • AJ
    January 1, 1970
    I love reading books about running and runners. This one is a great compilation of essays from ultra runners. While it certainly hasn't motivated me to sign up for a 50K, 50mi, or 100mi race, it was interesting to read about the brutal experience so many men and women have done, and continue to do, with enthusiasm. I'll stick to marathons. :)
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  • Andreas Michaelides
    January 1, 1970
    A great book, amazing stories, I read this book a few months after I started running and it really inspired me, I loved the stories of the people that run more than 26.2 miles and it showed me what a person can do it has the will, the persistent and the time management to accomplish it.
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  • Tammy Ikram
    January 1, 1970
    I loved this book. I read it as inspiration while marathon training. After reading these stories I definitely felt crazy complaining about a measly 26.2 when these warriors are running 100 milers. I would compare it to a chicken soup book, (short inspirational stories throughout).
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  • Michel B.
    January 1, 1970
    Interesting stories and perspectives. I found the writing lacking at times. Although the book aims to give as many different looks at the same subject - I did find it repetitive at times. This being said - these true stories are awe inspiring.
  • Jocelyn
    January 1, 1970
    A collection of short stories from runners who have run ultras. The first few stories didn't hook me, but I found some of the others to be inspirational. Amazing what these runners can do physically and mentally!
  • Jayme Ball
    January 1, 1970
    I am absolutely fascinated by the individual battles to accomplish ultras. I enjoyed reading all of the stories. I love how the mental strength is required whether you finish first second or last. The ultra community is absolutely wonderful and this book accents that nicely.
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  • Joe Rydel
    January 1, 1970
    This book is a nice compilation of ultra runner experiences and stories. As a rookie ultra runner the only problem I had with the book is that it seems to have ignited a desire within me to keep going longer!
  • Nic
    January 1, 1970
    This is a book ONLY for those interested in Ultra-marathoning... I really enjoyed the portions I got read (I will take this out of the library again, I just need to get caught up), I just doubt the majority of people would...
  • Andy Pele
    January 1, 1970
    Only for ultra fans. Much of the writing is uninspired, though the stories are truly inspirational.
  • Jen
    January 1, 1970
    A pretty good read! I recognized the names of several of the runners in this book, and have met one. :)
  • Jeffrey
    January 1, 1970
    Interesting accounts of running ultras. I am glad that they actually included some last place finishers accounts. Wish they had included more than just a couple.
  • Crista Roa
    January 1, 1970
    Totally inspirational. Ok I am a dork...I got a little teary eyed during certain stories, but boy am I ready to tackle my first Ultra!!! I am san I only have a few storie left :(
  • Scott Bodien
    January 1, 1970
    All the stories got me excited for my 40 mile Uwharrie run
  • George Mrosko
    January 1, 1970
    This ia a collection of short stories of experiences with ultras. Some are pretty touching. All have the same theme of not quitting. Good stuff.
  • Jackie Ensley
    January 1, 1970
    Older book but great real life stories of ultra running
  • Lisa
    January 1, 1970
    If one loves race reports, especially about impossible races, this is the book for you!!Help inspire my desire to run ultras.
  • Donald
    January 1, 1970
    Very inspirational book on Ultra Marathons. This book will make you want to fly out of bed and put some miles down. It's a bunch of short stories regarding people's experience running Ultra's.
  • Mark Fallon
    January 1, 1970
    Nice compilation of ultramarathon race reports. I think he could've left out the people who were unprepared, and blew up on the course.
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