What's it take to run 100 miles?
Just ask 63-year-old ultrarunner Davy Crockett.
Show up to run 100 miles, and he's one of the old guys at the starting line.
But it wasn't always like this for Davy...
His path to ultrarunning started 20 years ago when he was overweight, out of shape, and didn't even know ultrarunning existed.
Here's what happened...
About 20 years ago, Davy Crockett wasn't much of an exerciser.
Maybe a little walking, but nothing too strenuous. Mostly he was a self-described overweight 230-pound couch potato.
But for about one month a year, he was committed to getting stronger and fitter to go on an annual backpacking trip with buddies.
"Every year, we'd go backpacking together," says Davy.
"I would try to get in shape for it. But I'd only spend about a month before the trip, hiking, walking and running a few miles up and down the road in front of my house."
Jump into the Wayback Machine to 2002, and Davy decided to hike Mount Timpanogos in Utah.
The task: Climb 4,400 feet to the summit (11,752 feet) and hike the 14.5 mile trail up and down the mountain.
He thought it would be a good training hike to get ready for the backpacking trip and gauge his fitness level.
But that's not exactly how it turned out...
"It was a grueling experience that took all day," says Davy. "I was devastated by how out of shape I was."
That was this moment for Davy.
"I was feeling so old and out of shape," says Davy. "I guess I was kind of going through this mid-life crisis. And this was the thing that made me realize it was time to make a change."
Here's the path Davy took:
And then he discovered ultrarunning... and so began a different chapter full of new goals as he began running again.
Living in Utah, Davy had heard of the Wasatch Front 100-Mile Endurance Run, but he didn't really know much about it.
Without ever running an ultra, volunteering at a race, or simply attending as a spectator, Davy tried to get a spot to run 100 miles in the Wasatch Mountains.
Even back then, the race was full.
If he was going to run 100 miles, he needed to find another race.
Davy signed up for the Bear 100 Mile Endurance Run, and decided it might be a good idea to put in a few months of solid training before stepping up to the starting line to run 100 miles.
Along with running and hiking, he tried the following race distances:
Next, run 100 miles...
When Davy stepped up to the starting line at the Bear 100, he thought he was ready to go the distance.
Davy soon learned running 100 miles doesn't always go as planned...
"Everything was going really well until the second day," says Davy. "Around mile 80, I experienced my first bonk ever. I didn't know what was happening. I felt like I was dying."
"I didn't really know it at the time, but clearly I had an electrolyte imbalance and wasn't eating enough."
With long aid station stops and slow-going, Davy moved into last place.
And then it happened...
"Around mile 82, my pacer flagged down a couple guys on motorcycles, and we got a ride to the finish," says Davy.
His first attempt to run 100 miles ended with a DNF.
"I sat there watching people finish the race, and realized I was in way over my head," says Davy. "I started telling myself I could never finish a 100-miler and decided it was a pretty stupid thing to do."
Davy packed up his running shoes and gear. The Bear 100 beat him up with aches, pains, and minor injuries. For more than a month, he couldn't even run.
"I wised up and realized if I wanted to succeed at running 100 miles, I had to turn into a runner instead of a hiker," says Davy.
After losing weight from swimming and adding more trail running to his training, Davy returned to running 100s.
He finished his first 100-mile ultra at the Rocky Racoon 100 in Texas, then made his return to the Bear 100 and finished the race in 32 hours 23 minutes.
"I brought a crew and pacers to the race," says Davy.
"They took a wrong turn getting to an aid station and wrecked my car, ripping a hole in the oil pan. And they basically said, 'Sorry, we have to go home,' without telling me."
When Davy reached the finish line his crew wasn't there, and neither was his car. He had to call his wife to pick him up, then figure out how to get his car towed into town from remote backroads.
"When I got home, I vowed I was done with ultrarunning," says Davy. "I was really discouraged. But like a week later, I changed my mind."
Since he started running ultramarathons more than two decades ago, Davy's long list of wins include...
"I only had about five ideas for shows when I launched the Ultrarunning History podcast," says Davy.
"I had no idea how long I would be able to keep it going."
Sounds a lot like a newbie ultrarunner about to run 100 miles for the first time, right?
"On the first day, about 3,000 people listened to the show," says Davy. "And it kind of took off from there."
103 episodes later, a few that stand out include....
"I keep stumbling on all these different stories about ultrarunning I've heard about," says Davy.
"And that keeps the show going. I write and record a new episode about every other week. For me the real fun is in the discovery."
Davy isn't sure if he's done running 100 mile races.
(He's thinking about running the Salt Flats 100-Mile Endurance Run in Utah)
But he's been doing it long enough to know there's always a chance for a second wind, a comeback, or a pitstop along the way that changes everything.
"At my first 100-mile race, I was in way over my head," says Davy. "I've learned a lot since then."
"When I told a group of new runners at the Wasatch 100 that I've finished more than 100 100-mile races, they looked at me like I was some sort of alien. It's just a reminder that you can learn a lot if you're willing to keep going."
# of 100-mile races I've finished
# of 100-mile races I've won
Favorite running shoe
Favorite ultrarunning food
Bacon. "Late in a race when I'm feeling dehydrated, I eat bacon. Something about the grease and the salt kind of revives me."
Favorite place to run
The Grand Canyon. "I've run more than 1,000 miles in the Grand Canyon. I run it solo. I've run rim to rim. And I go off into remote areas of the canyon. I just enjoy the peace and quite and solitude of the trails there."
Worst races ever
Hydration pack or handhelds?
Ultimate Direction handhelds. "I don't like having anything on my back. It just slows me down."
Young vs. old ultrarunner: What's the difference?
"When I was young, I used to go blasting down the downhills as fast as possible. If I fell, I'd pop right back up like it's no big deal. Now my top priority is not falling, which means running a little slower."
Evan Jensen I crossed paths with Davy Crockett in 2011 when I ran my first 100-miler at Cascade Crest in Washington. I DNFd that year, and he cruised into the finish in the top 50 at 27:24:04. I ran it again in 2012, and finished second to last place. Davy was there for his 49th 100-miler. Of his 107 finishes, he's finished Cascade Crest 100 four times. AMAZING!!!
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