Vasque Athlete and 2-time Leadville Trail 100 winner Duncan Callahan answers some questions posed to him about why he runs. We will post these in segments over the next couple of weeks, so check back frequently to see what’s new.
1. What is the lure of ultra-running for you? What got you into it in the first place? Why is it so compelling to you? What intrigued you at first? Why are you still interested in it now?
Duncan – Ultra running inspires me to challenge myself on a daily basis. The lure of pushing myself for 100 miles, not to mention the difficulty of the training load… this is what hooked me. This is what keeps me coming back. I love this stuff. Several friends (Scott Drum and Jake Jones) further planted the seeds for me to begin running ultras and once those seeds were planted… it was just a matter of time.
Duncan 2010 Leadville Trail 100
I think the most intriguing thing for me in running these races is the “mystery of finding out what is deep within me.” I am reminded of a quote from the Leadville 100 race t-shirt: “Do not be fooled by her beauty; for deep within is the grits, guts, and determination to move mountains.” I want to test myself to find where the grits, guts, and determination are within me. That motivates me. That inspires me. That gets me up in the morning. That is what gets me out the door, not just for running, but also in life. Lastly, I feel that I am gifted to endure. I feel one of the best ways for me to use this gift, at this time in my life, is to run ultra-distances. The current ‘medium’ for me to learn about endurance is ultra-running. My goal with running ultras and with my day job, ski coaching, is this: “Set goal, state goal, work toward goal, keep eye on goal, achieve goal. Then? Inspire or teach others to do the same.” Ultra-running fits with this mission statement well. I don’t know how much longer I will run ultras, but I do know that I want to work within this mission statement forever.
From a training standpoint, I love the concept of “holding my hand to the fire.” I enjoy working at a high level and dealing with fatigue and discomfort. I believe that the more I can push through fatigue and discomfort… the further I can go next time. Repeat the cycle and there are no limits. I must believe this concept and I must get better at applying this concept to the rest of my life. I think too many of us shy away from discomfort, (myself included in certain arenas) and it is my intention to learn how to handle discomfort and challenges and difficult situations in the rest of my life as well. I think ultra-running can, will and does help with this process. I also believe there are so many runners out there who have learned to apply ‘ultra-running lessons’ to their daily lives. It is my intention to seek them out and learn from them.