Tuesday, October 13, 2009


It is amazing the variety of questions I get asked when I tell people that I run Ultra-Marathons. The same set of questions come up, perhaps with a little more intrigue, when I tell them that I am running across the state of New Hampshire. I guess this is normal practice for human beings... there is a certain level of mystery and uncertainty when you tell someone you are about to run further then that like to drive. And fielding these questions can be both fun.. and actually kind of bothersome. So.. I'd like to offer up some of those answers now in a little FAQ. Below you'll see the question followed by my best answer.

So wait... you run 125 miles... do you stop?
Sure... I stop quite a few times. I know of only 2 or 3 people in the country (if not the world) who can run so far without having to stop and even they don;t do it too often. But it IS possible to run that far without stopping, though not recommended.

Do you Run The Whole Time?
No... same answer as above. Not many people can or do. I run when I can, walk when I have to and crawl if I must. Usually I walk all the uphills and run the rest. On sections of long long downhill running (Like Epsom to Lee) I'll take walking breaks to give my muscles a rest.

Do you eat?
Yes.. I LOVE to eat. I do it every day. It's what fuels me. You have to put gas in the tank to get the engine to go. And you have to keep it filled or else you'll run out! I love banana's, watermelon, grapes, PB&J Sandwiches, Gummi Bears, grilled cheese, ramen soup, oranges, potato chips. These are typically the foods I eat the most of on the run. During this run I'll also consume around 80 Powergel Energy Gel's and maybe 8-12 Boost Protein Shakes.

Do you Sleep?
The goal is to try and not sleep. Last year I took cat naps anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes in length. But they don't even count as sleep. I lay on the ground and close my eyes. My brain puts me into what feels like a heavy sleep, but I am very much awake in that I can hear what is going on around me, conversations etc. It's a pretty weird state to be in. This year I'm going to try consuming some 5 Hour Energy shots and I have a bit more company coming with me.

What about if you have to go to the bathroom?
I run off into the woods, or into a gas station.. and go to the bathroom. It's a really novel concept. Why? What do you do when you have to go?

So do you have a crew or anyone who follows you?
Yes... I have an amazing crew of individuals who support me and my efforts. They consist of family, friends and fellow ultra-runners. They get me to the start and then their work begins. They'll have our portable aid station all set up for my arrival at pre-selected locations along the route. They drive ahead to the location, set it all up and wait for me. Once i come in, they assist me with whatever I need, make sure I'm ok, and then send me on my way. They they pack it all up, drive ahead and repeat. I'll see them every 5-8 miles on average. Later in the run, Miles 100-125, I see them every 3. They do great work. CREW is an acronym for Cranky Runner Endless Waiting.

What if it rains or snows?
Then it rains or snows. Thats a fact of life here in New Hampshire. Mother nature has a temper and a rather un-funny sense of humor this time of year. I have things like a rain coat and rain pants... winter running clothing. It's all about being prepared and expecting the unexpected.

How long will it take you?
Last year it took me 31 hours and 50 minutes to run 125 miles. This is a running total time.. which include food and bathroom break, nap breaks, media stops, etc etc etc... thats not bad to average 6 mph for a day and a quarter no?

So what does your family and friends think about you doing this?
They think I'm crazy... just like you. But for the most part they get over it, and they accept as I do, that anything is possible and I love to show my fellow humans what possible is.

What do you do when it's dark? Is it scary?
I put a head lamp on and some reflective clothing and keep on running. Yes it's scary... last year I watched what appeared to be a drunk driver, driving west on route 4 in the wrong lane at about 60 mph... this was in Northwood around 4am. THAT was scary.

Why The Seacoast Science Center?
Thats an easy one. The provide individuals of all ages an opportunity to learn a little more about one of our worlds biggest mysteries, the ocean. A lot of children go here to learn about the sea and the local New England ecology, it's programs like this that educate our children the most because they walk away with more than just knowledge; they walk away with an experience.

To show you I can.. so that you know you can too. So quit asking these silly questions, and explore your own human potential!

To learn more about Sherpa John and what he loves to do visit: www.sherpajohn.blogspot.com

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