Married to Ultrarunning
Spouses and significant others speak out about their partners’ trail and ultrarunning lifestyles
Photo by BigStockPhoto.
Last March, I found myself huddled around a campfire that Gary “Laz” Cantrell, Race Director of Tennessee’s Barkley Marathons, had made. The flames were just beginning to radiate warmth and thaw a plate of frozen chicken, as well as my numb fingers. I was tired, cold and hungry, and before I could stop myself, I began to retrace the events that had led me to this moment.
“So, I run,” Nick Hollon, my boyfriend, had said on our first date. I nodded, thinking it was his method of keeping fit, like some runners. A hobby. Maybe a few 5Ks sprinkled throughout the year.
“Like, a lot,” he added, emphasizing those words as though I hadn’t understood. And I hadn’t. What he meant was that he regularly raced 100-mile races, for fun. I’ve always been active and love getting out on the trails, but at the time had never run more than 10 miles on a trail at once.
Now, five months later, I was on day three of crewing him for Barkley, a 100-mile run set in the forests of Tennessee’s Frozen Head State Park. It was his third attempt at Barkley, and his thirteenth 100-miler, but it was my first time crewing for anything, let alone a race as long and grueling as Barkley.
Though I wasn’t a trail runner to begin with, both from running a few trail races and by sheer proxy to the trail-running community, I feel like one now; I can talk for hours about FKTs and know the best ways to rid dirty trail shoes of their consistent smell. I’m also prepared to have any food left in my house inhaled if Nick comes over after a training run.
Although we're not married, there are a number of common challenges and joys to being in a committed relationship with a trail runner. I spoke with several other athletes and their spouses about how trail running has affected their relationship and home life.