I was asked in the comments of my last post what I thought was required to be considered part of the ultrarunning community, to be someone “inside the community.” I know the commenters wanted me to say something like “you have to have run X distance in order to be admitted to the club.” But I did not give a simple answer because the community does not just include people who have run a certain distance or time. It’s much more profound than that. When I started this blog a few years ago I did a synchroblog on the WS Family which I thought was a pretty damn good post. In that post I included the succinct answer from Shannon Weil, WSER co-founder, non-runner, and then VP of the board of trustees, to the question of what the WS family is:
“The WS Family is simple to join; it includes anyone who has ever been moved by the spirit of the Western States Run or the Western States Trail Ride.”
I don’t think I could say it any better than Shannon. So, giving her full credit for the sentiment, this is my answer:
If you’ve ever been moved by the spirit of ultrarunning then you are part of the ultrarunning community.
If that is too quasi-foofoo for you and you’re still wondering whether you are part of the ultrarunning community or not I offer you (Americans) this simple test. If three or more of these apply to you then you are NOT part of the ultrarunning community.
1. You have no idea who Gordy Ansleigh is.
2. You don’t have a subscription to or access to UltraRunning Magazine.
3. You’ve never held a detached toenail in your hand.
4. You’ve never read Conduct The Juices.
5. You don’t know anybody with a trail name.
6. You’ve never run, crewed, or volunteered (real or forced) at an ultra.
7. You have no idea what the big dartmouth list is.
8. You’ve never received or given an S-cap or gel when cramping or bonking.
9. When you hear someone talk about running 100 miles you say or think, “I don’t even like to drive that far.”
10. You need to take this test to determine if you are in the community or not.