Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Unsung Heroes of Ultrarunning

Too often a time in ultrarunning we get caught up in talking just about the elite runners. I admit there's a mistique about there speed and ability that makes us in awe of them. The fast guys and gals are well deserving of their achievments. Not only are these folks great athletes, but most are good people who support their communities and give back to the sport of running. They don't necessarily ask for the spotlight, but their success as runners often draws it to them. I wanted to take some time to acknowledge some local Virginia and mid Atlantic runners who I think are some of the great unknown stories in running.

James Moore- James admits he's not the fastest guy in the world, but he may have the biggest heart, and biggest smile. James has run the 370 mile out and back of the C&O canal several times, but probably none more inspiring than his 2001 run. James raised money for the Susan G Komen foundation in support for his wife, Rebecca's battle with cancer. James is not only an accomplished runner, but one of the true spokesman for ultrarunning. The guy is the definition of class. Today, Rebecca is the image of health.

Helen Hipps- an avid walker, Helen can be found at the heart of most volunteer leadership roles. She is usually the first to arrive, last to leave, and never looks for a thank you. While she is not cheering on her husband, the charasmatic and wide smiled Ed "Cappucino", Helen is pouring herself out to those around her. Helen may be the most unsung hero in our community. She does the most, and asks for nothing in return. I speak for many people when I say "Thank you!"

David Snipes- better known as Sniper. Yes David is quite social, but he is often giving advice to younger runners and newbies. He helped me survive my first trail ultra, and willingly will go as slow as needed to make sure you finish. Nobody DNF's under his watch. Sniper also knows more about every trail and every race than probably anyone else. He's a great coach, solid mentor, and dedicates alot of time to hosting training runs, and volunteering. He's also the second person to run the MMT, Old Dominion Memorial, and Old Dominion one hundred milers on three straight weekends!

Other wonderful folks worth mentioning:

Vicki Kendall-ran an inspiring 28 hours at MMT,Vicki may shatter every 60+ woman's record when she gets there. Like a fine wine she only gets better with age. Her usual partner in crime is the wonder woman Barb Isom.

Doug Blackford-I literally first ran into Doug in 2005. I tripped, fell, and ran right into him. Doug has recently entered the 60+ age bracket and is threatening to win many age group awards and records. That is if Mr. Frank Probst isn't running neck and neck with him. Doug runs under the radar, but continues to crank out fast 50 mile and 50k times. Often times, he doesn't accept finisher awards because he already has so many. Keep an eye out for Mr. Blackford.

Tom and Kirstin Corris-good runners, great volunteers, and great people of the community. Tom leads MMT training runs, BBQ's, and Kirstin is right there with him (often with mouth watering recipes). Like a good neighbor, the Corris' are there.

Alisa Springman- again, probably not unsung because she has become one of the more talented female runners out there. Alisa runs 100 milers as training runs, and does stuff like Badwater as her "focus" runs. Sponsored by Brooks, Powerbar, and Drymax. Okay, she may be a bit mainstream for this list, but gotta give props to my friend.

Quattro Hubbard and Joe Clapper- Both are a combination of class clown, life of the party, and big brother. Both fellas dedicate alot of time to VHTRC. Don't underestimate Joe, the guy can still light it up.

If there is anyone I missed, feel free to give them a shout out. I believe these are the folks to make our running communities what they are. They are the reason people come out to trailrunning/road events, and the key reason they stay.


B.Gill said...

great post, Mike. i agree with every last word of it. our sport, and more particularly our club, would be nothing without the passion that the above mentioned folks dedicate day in and day out. thanks to every last one of them!

Speedy said...

dude, you forgot to mention me... its ok. i understand it was a mistake.

Michael Huff said...


Thanks fo the shout out for the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund. It's an honor to be included on your list. See you on the trails soon.


ultrarunnergirl/Kiry said...

Awww, what a nice blog post! Thanks for including us on that list of awesome people! I am flattered.


Runner Tammy said...


You are absolutely right about the unsung hero's of ultra-running. Without the volunteers, crew, and super kind fellow runners who are there to provide support and encouragement this sport would not be as fun or inspirational!

I would propose Anna Bradford is another hero. She fulfills so many roles in many ultra events including: organizer extraordinaire, cheerleader, runner and glue of the Reston Runners.

This past weekend at VT100, I saw Anna working her magic on a runner providing insight, encouragement, enthusiasm and compassion that Anna has in spades!


runsforbeer said...

Wow! Thanks for the shout out, Mike. I don't feel like I've earned my stripes yet like so many others in the VHTRC. It is definitely the fun, generous and supportive personalities that keep me coming back again and again. Well that and the fact that we all recognize the crazy in each other!

Mike Bailey said...

Tammy, you are absolutely right about Anna Bradford, and I added her to the list. I think it's great that we celebrate the lesser known folks who make a difference. There are so many inspiring stories out there, including yourself. You run more races than I could ever dream, and I've never seen you without a smile. It's great to see that when the legs are tired, and the body is week. Thanks for being you!