Podcast with Gary David Part II – Demographics of Ultrarunning

In this show Gary and I discuss more of his extensive ultrarunning survey, including demographics like marital status, location, ultra experience, and race.  I hope you enjoy the show and please comment with your thoughts on the topics.  I’d also like to have listeners comment on why you started ultrarunning.

If you’d like to contact me personally, you may visit my other site www.footfeathers.com or email me at tim [at] footfeathers [dot] com.  Thanks for listening!

et – gary david demographics of ultrarunning

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12 thoughts on “Podcast with Gary David Part II – Demographics of Ultrarunning

  1. We were married for 15 years before having a child, in large part because we (mainly I) wanted to “be free” to get our adventures in before we’d have to “sacrifice” our lifestyle. Now we have an almost three year old, and while our “life has changed”, as so many people used to tell us it would (no shit, huh?), I think our DNA, what makes us tick and what drives our decisionmaking, remains basically the same. If we could make it work pre-child, we can make it work post-child, and if we didn’t have the responsibility of raising a child, life would fill in in some other way that would cause sacrifices and tradeoff decisions.

    I got started in distance running because running on the trails was my favorite thing to do.

  2. Great podcast. I am one of the people who started running to overcome addictions. I quit the self-destructive habits that had been filling up my time and started running for hours by myself instead. Ultrarunning isn’t necessarily a selfish pursuit for a person with a family. When someone spends a lot of time doing something that makes them happy, is healthy, and might involve goals – that is awesome. My daughter saw me finish a 50 miler and she was so proud. She wore the finisher’s shirt to school and bragged to her Gym teacher who had run a 5K that weekend (actually that didn’t go over so well). Years ago she didn’t want me to chaperon a field trip because she was embarrassed of me.

  3. This was another great podcast that covered quite a bit of material, I feel like I need to listen to it again to catch everything that was covered.

    Re the racial demographics part of the discussion, I’d agree that the survey data seems to reflect what you see when you go to any given ultra. Geoff Roes wrote an essay last year about the issue of the lack of ethnic and financial diversity in the ultra/trailrunning scene. But I think part of the conclusion he drew was incorrect, I think folks other than Caucasians ARE running, and they oftentimes have a rich cultural history of distance running. Rather than being seen as nonparticipants in trail/ultrarunning, my personal take is that these populations are just not a part of this ethos or community that Gary has been discussing. Gary mentions, I think in the last podcast, about limitation of “the gift” of this activity/ethos of ours to others, but I also think our community misses out when we don’t enjoy the gift of other populations that also run >26.2 miles.

  4. Thanks for the thoughtful comments! Tim and I were discussing doing something on demographic diversity (or lack thereof) in trail and ultrarunning. And I do remember reading Geoff Roes’s post. I need to go back and re-read it, though.

    Given that there is so much research out there on the benefit of being out in nature, there is much benefit that participating in even short trail runs can have. “Last Child in the Woods” is great about what I believe he calls the “outdoor deficit disorder” in children today. (that may be another podcast about young people in trail running and even ultra running)

  5. I really enjoyed the second podcast. It was a really great interview. I look forward to more like that.
    The first podcast seemed very contradictory. On one hand the two of you talked about “elevating” the level of discourse in the sport, but the first thing that I see when I come to the blog is a giant “STF-UP”. I hardly think that kind of aggressive, in-your-face, confrontational tone constitutes “elevating” the level of discourse. Rather, it feels like it is being dragged down to a new low. I encourage you to take a step back and rethink your approach to the website.
    Keep the good interviews coming!
    Thanks
    Greg

    • First, thanks for taking the time to comment, Greg. Getting right to the meat of what you say, the “STFUP” (it’s in quotes, notice) will stay. I’m not making money off this site or my time and effort in the shows, so I’ll do as I please with the site and content. That said, “elevating” the level of discourse doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be G-rated and politically correct; talk about contradictory, look at society – we are so offended by every small thing that isn’t in our comfort bubble and so holier than thou in our judgement of people, yet follow media that distorts the lens of reality and puts whitey western culture on a pedestal above the truth of poverty and near poverty in our (human) culture, often at the expense of the environment. We bend our perception to make us feel right to smother the guilt and justify the posturing. Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States is one of my favorite books and should be mandatory reading if you plan to visit this site. That’s the 30,000 ft 600 mph fly over of what I’m doing here at ET and “STFUP” is a small part of it.

      Trolls aren’t welcome here but thoughtful criticism is. All I ask is that you think long and hard about what you write here because I’m self-paid schooled from a tough neighborhood and love duels of wordsmithing. That said, comments, good or bad, nice or (constructively) hurtful are welcome here. It’s an open forum with none of the censorship like you see at places like irunfar. It’s real here and we talk about things that are beyond the comfort zone of a comfortable suburban life. If people don’t agree with what’s discussed on ET, then tell us to “STFUP” and back it with your view (like you did here, Greg. It’s welcome). If people are uncomfortable with what we do or say here, then move on – lots of places out there talking about MAF and the latest color of new running shoes.

      • Wow. It appears I touched a sore nerve without intending to. Obviously you can do what you want with your time and money.
        Just curious. How do you plan on keeping Trolls out without engaging in the so-called “censorship you see at places like irunfar”?

      • No sore nerve but a strong sentiment in seeing things the way they are and not soften the edges of reality to make ourselves feel better or justified.

        I’m light on the censorship button but I consider trolling to be extrinsic to the topic, personal attacking based on race, looks, social status, and other things (arguably) outside of a person’s control (capitalists may shudder now). Frankly, 99.9% of comments go through to public view; I’ve found that it typically gets sorted out through the angry mob pitchforks and torches of the online townsfolk.

        In other words, I respect what people think, regardless who they are (as I did/do your comment), just like I expect people to respect what we do here, whether it’s written word, recorded speech, or simple logo. Or, like I said in my previous comment, they’re welcome to move on to a site and/or commentary that makes them feel comfortable.

  6. How did I go from 10ks and marathons to ultras? Simply moving to Colorado and becoming a “mountain runner”. Yes, I was intrigued by Killian and what he’s been doing for years as well as those featured in Born to Run and Unbreakable, but it was going up, down and around mountains that naturally lent itself to running longer. The boredom of running roads with the same terrain and views went away when I discovered the joy of running trails. There’s just something about traveling around mountains with their varying views, ecosystems and terrain that kept me out there longer.

    One comment I’ll make about balancing UR with family life is that there has to be good communication between spouses/partners as the race schedule is being set. In our case, he is a mtn biker and I found that I can’t enjoy my adventures unless he gets his. Finding that kind of trade off so that the other one doesn’t feel like they’re left with the kids is really important.

  7. Loving the podcast, and have really enjoyed the discussion with Gary David. Keep up the great work, it keeps me motivated to throw on the trail shoes after being stuck in this cube for 8 hours.

  8. Another great run. I just caught up with all of them while at the gym and walking the dog really good stuff!

    The one point I wanted to get back to from this one in particular was when Gary mentioned his friend who does Boston and NYC every single year and those are his two races. You brought up the people that have a solitary event (JFK, etc) on their UltraSignup pages and that is all they do from year to year.

    I’d argue that there is still a large difference between these two types of people. Maybe not, but I think there is. For example, I only have 2 Ultra races to my name yet I have completed numerous adventure runs with friends that would be considered tough Ultras. I think the type of person that runs an Ultra is much more likely to have other adventures that they explore than a person who runs road marathons. There is too much focus on pace, splits, etc. for many road runners to ever venture out and run a marathon just to do it and check out a new area.

    Even if this isn’t the case and the person only does the one race and no other runs of that distance all year, there’s a good chance the difference lies in the training. How many times can you run a road route before getting sick of it? How about a trail? I know I can run the same trail 100s of times if not more before it ever gets old but a road route gets old after a few trips. The training that goes with an Ultra tends to pull a very different type of person that a marathon IMO.

    Anyway, just a few thoughts. Keep up the great work!

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