My First Year of Ultra

By Jeremy Wolf

As winter buries the trails outside, it’s time to look back and reflect on where those trails took me this past year.  In 2013, the buzz surrounding ultra running proved to be too much to resist.  Through a combination of an ideal training environment, friends in the sport, and a desire for new challenges, it was time to give ultra a try.  Little did I know that this year would be one of the best years of running in my life.  In 2013 I went longer, higher, and deeper into the wilderness than ever before.  It's amazing where two feet can take you.  Below is a list of what I saw and learned from ultra running in 2013.

Glacier National Park - Piegan Pass
1. Runs are no longer measured in miles, but in hours.

Mt. Sentinel Snow Run
2. I  know every possible route to get up and down Mt. Sentinel.

Sunset in the Bridgers
3. Nutrition intake is necessary during long runs over two hours and gels work for me.  During races, I tried to take a gel every 45 minutes.

Sunrise from University Mountain
4. It’s ok to power hike instead of run up steep inclines.  And when the power hiking isn't working, it's ok to use hiking poles. 

A storm rolling through the hillsides of Tuscany.

5. If you want to run popular races, sign up way in advance as they fill up quickly.
Running with Jason in the Bitterroots.

6. What use to be my long runs are now my short runs.

North Kootenai Lake - Bitterroots

7. Running with a pack can be comfortable.  I ran with and lived out of my Ultimate Direction pack for 5 days in the Dolomites.
Selfie on Piegan Pass in Glacier Park.

8. Big cushioned shoes work great absorbing the shock from miles of pounding.  Hokas were my main ride for most of the year.
Two bright lights on top of University Mountain.

9. Check with my wife before scheduling 4 hour runs on the weekend.
Yellow Brick Road - Woods Gulch - Rattlesnake Wilderness

10. There’s a bunch of people in Missoula who like ultra running and don’t think running 30 miles is weird.

Start - Phall Phringe Phatty

11. It’s mental.  Physically I could have run an ultra years ago.  This year I decided it wasn’t crazy to do it.
Inaugural Mountain Running Film Festival

12. Spending hours on the trails are an adventure, not just a run.
Jason Schlarb, Matt Lowe, and I in the Dolomites.

13. The body has a limit, training too hard for too long can break it.
Dolomite hut run.

14. Strava is a great app to track distance and elevation if you don’t out run the battery life on your phone.
What it looks like to run through the Sound of Music.

15. A running vacation through the Dolomites with your best friends should be on every trail runners bucket list.  See video here:

Want to share what you learned from ultra running in 2013?  Let us know in your comments below.


  1. Watch out, or with pictures like those you're going to convert the rest of the world to trail running. Happy trails!



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