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Ultra Fit column

Posted by Stephen Regenold Aug 15, 2007

My new weekly column -- "Ultra Fit" -- debuted in the Minneapolis Star Tribune today. (See here:


This column will focus on fitness, the outdoors, and all things "ultra," including adventure racing, century rides, ultra running, etc.



I hope to syndicate this column nationally over the coming months a la The Gear Junkie.






This week's story is on something I dubbed The Marathon Lifestyle, which is a way of being held by tens of thousands of Americans who are in a continual training regimen, a marathon always on the horizon, always there for motivation.



I'm one of them.



For me, the marathon experience makes most other things in life seem easy, physical or otherwise. It's a top reason why I love the sport.



Marathons have also propelled me into ultra racing, where competitors run, bike or trek for 24 hours straight or longer. To other (maybe more normal) runners, marathons can boost the ego and breed mental toughness or self-confidence.



Watch this blog for Ultra Fit updates over the coming weeks. . .






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What does it take to run the Badwater 135? Ask Blake Benke,

a 30-year-old athlete and ex-Marine from New York City who finished in eight

place during this year's event.




I wrote about Benke this week for the Minneapolis Star

Tribune, covering his Badwater epic -- blisters, sun burn, hallucinations,

fatigue, self-doubt, and all.



Billed as "the world's toughest footrace," the

Badwater Ultramarathon follows roads for 135 miles from Death Valley, through

three mountain ranges, and up and down thousands of feet of elevation to finish

at a trailhead on Mt. Whitney in California at 8,360 feet.



Runners go nonstop, tromping through the day and night past

tall dunes and over mountain passes.




Average finisher times during Badwater hover around 40 hours

of consistent pavement pounding and foot travel.




Benke's Badwater experience began on July 23, at 10 a.m.,

when he started jogging north in a white sun suit with about 85 other runners.

He kept a fast pace for the first 17 miles, pounding out consecutive 8.5-minute

miles to keep him near the front of the pack.




But by mile 45, Benke had hit his low point. About one-third

of the way through the course, stomach problems started to overwhelm.




"I puked in the sand," he said.




See my full story on Benke's Badwater epic here:



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It was one year ago this month that I went riverboarding

on the Green River in eastern Utah, where my view of the gorge was wet and half

submerged at face level with the whitewater.






The sport of riverboarding -- a whitewater niche that

involves running rapids on your belly with a buoyant boogie-board-like shell --

has garnered a small following in the United States. Colorado, California, West

Virginia, and Oregon, notably, have riverboarding scenes; it's a rising fringe

with whitewater aficionados elsewhere.




In Utah, dressed head to toe for the sport in fins,

booties, a wetsuit, padding, a life vest, webbed neoprene gloves, and a helmet,

I had an absolute blast busting through waves and shooting the swift slots

between boulders, ominous and half submerged on a Class III section of the





This story -- -- talks about my epic three-hour-long

downriver run, while hashing through some of the esoteric gear of the sport.




Plus, there's a slideshow of some pro riverboarders in

action. Click the main image at the top of the page here:



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