Run 100 Miles: Meet the Old Guy Who's Finished 107+ Ultras

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.

  • He's finished the distance 107 times and has a massive belt-buckle collection to prove it.
  • The most recent...a 14th-place finish at Across the Years 100 in Arizona, where runners chased down 2021 and rang in 2022 at the finish 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...

Change is hard.

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."

When Davy Crockett hiked Mount Timpanogos in Utah about 20 years ago, it was hard. After that hike, he decided to lose weight and get in shape. Today, he's summited Mount Timpanogos 87 times.

The tipping point: Climbing Mount Timpanogos in Utah

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."

  • Ever experienced one of those tipping points where you draw a line in the sand, decide to make a change, and go all in?

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."

So how do you get from where you are to where you want to be?

Here's the path Davy took:

  • He went on the annual backpacking trip knowing he had work to do
  • He came back the very next week and hiked Mount Timpanogos again, this time a little faster
  • He hiked more miles. But too much too soon, led to injuries.
  • He worked up to swimming a mile a day in 35-40 minutes
  • He lost weight, healed from his injuries and returned to hiking and fast-packing

And then he discovered ultrarunning... and so began a different chapter full of new goals as he began running again.

Davy Crockett started running 100-mile races about 20 years ago. Today, he's finished 107 100-mile races, and he's still going...

Run 100 miles: Give up or keep going?

Living in Utah, Davy had heard of the Wasatch Front 100-Mile Endurance Run, but he didn't really know much about it.

  • It's one of the most storied and difficult 100-mile races in the U.S. that's been around for 42 years.
  • Those who try to run 100 miles here face 24,000 feet of elevation gain, climbing peaks and plateaus overlooking the Great Salt Lake.
  • And there's no way Davy could have imagined he would later finish this grueling race four times.

Get in line or find another race...

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.

The Bear 100 was Davy Crockett's first 100-mile ultra, and it ended with a DNF. Since then, he's finished the race eight times.

The Bear 100

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:

  • 50K on the Bear 100 course. "Maybe I'm really good at this," he thought. He wasn't last, but there weren't many runners in the race either.
  • 50-miles at an ultra in Washington. "I came in dead last," says Davy. "Technically, I was two seconds past the cutoff time, but they still recognized me as a finisher.
  • 100K in Oregon. "Ever been the last runner in a race with sweepers right behind you on the course? That was me," says Davy. "I DNFd at about 50 miles."

Next, run 100 miles...

100-mile DNF & swearing off ultrarunning forever

When Davy stepped up to the starting line at the Bear 100, he thought he was ready to go the distance.

  • The Bear 100 is a point-to-point course beginning in Logan, Utah, and ends at Bear Lake in Idaho.
  • The race is held in late September.
  • The course includes 24,000 feet of elevation gain mainly along single-track trails and dirt roads.

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."

  • What would you do after a 100-mile DNF, give up or keep going?

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.

  • He let that DNF sink in. 
  • He swore off ultrarunning for awhile.
  • And then he started thinking about what went right, and what he would need to do to improve.

"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.

Davy Crockett has been running 100-mile races for more than 20 years. He's also the founder and race director for the Pony Express Trail Run in Utah.

The evolution of an ultrarunner

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.

But there was a surprise ending to the race...

"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."

Davy Crockett runs away from Floating Island near the Great Salt Flats in Utah.

And the rest is history...

Since he started running ultramarathons more than two decades ago, Davy's long list of wins include...

When Davy Crockett launched the Ultrarunning History podcast, the first episode got 3,000 listeners. Now there's 103 episodes...

The Ultrarunning History podcast

"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?

He launched the first episode, and something unexpected happened...

"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.... 

  • The truth about the original Western States 100 finishers
  • A 3-day walking race in Chicago in 1876 that turned into a brawl
  • Late 1800s multi-day races with prize money on the line equal to $200,000 today
  • Modern-day ultrarunning legend Andy Milroy, and many others

"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."

At 63 years old, Davy Crockett isn't done running 100 mile races.

More miles to go...

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)

Maybe. 

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."

Davy Crockett is an ultrarunner, host of the Ultrarunning History podcast, and race director for the Pony Express Trail Run.

Fun facts about Davy Crockett

# of 100-mile races I've finished
107...

# of 100-mile races I've won

14

Favorite running shoe

Hoka Speedgoat

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."

Favorite race

The Pony Express 

  • "I thought it would be fun to figure out the original route from 1860 and try to run it." After running the route solo, and with friends, he turned it into a race. "Now it's the longest running 100-miler in Utah without cancellations. We were able to keep the race going during COVID, because every runner has to come with their own crew."

Worst races ever

  • "I broke my hand during the Big Horn 100 one year coming down a slick, grassy slope. I had to hold a stick in my hand to keep the pain down. A doctor checked me out and said I could keep going, and I finished the race."
  • "I ran the Rocky Racoon 100 one year with a broken leg, but I didn't know it. It hurt going into the race. Eventually, I was using my trekking poles like crutches, and making the stress fracture a lot worse. I finished, but I had to use a wheelchair to get on the plane, and it took me six months to get back to running."

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."

Check out some of Davy Crockett's 100-mile finisher buckles.
Rate This:


Share This:

Subscribe

and never miss our new running content!
(you also score chances to win gear)
600
Evan Jensen
Ambassador
SANDY, Oregon

I help RUNNERS reduce injuries, fix running form, run longer & faster by strength training without running ragged. I'm a NASM-certified personal trainer, and hold the record for the most finishes at the Mountain Lakes 100-Mile Ultra in Oregon.

Comments

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!!!

John Jeren Wow. Really inspiring! And what a cool name.

Login to your account to leave a comment.

Related Articles

Trending WeeViews

User uploaded image of Chicago Marathon
User uploaded image of Speedgoat 4
User uploaded image of Anchor Down Ultra
Full Review
User uploaded image of Noxgear Tracer 360
User uploaded image of Arahi 6

Join the Community

It’s FAST and FREE. Create a short profile and link any desired social media accounts, personal websites or blogs.

Search