Bring On The Miles
“I have been in love with trying longer distances and doing more races. You find yourself in some beautiful places and meet some wonderful people in the ultrarunning world.” – Courtney Dauwalter
Ultrarunner Courtney Dauwalter smiles brightly, staying relaxed during interviews, intent on showing that one can accomplish big things through displays of gratitude and fundamentally enjoying the journey. Dauwalter’s Twitter profile sums her up well: “Ultra runner with a love for sunshine, long inseams, and candy.” She’s easy to spot on race day with her long inseam Salomon shorts, tan skin and a wide grin—even hours into a race. Her list of accolades in the trail world is lengthy, but if you met her, she would likely be too humble to mention any of them. Most recently, she took second at the 2018 Big Dog Backyard Ultra, an endurance test that requires competitors to finish a 4.16667-mile loop every hour until all other competitors have dropped out. After completing 279 miles, Dauwalter completed one final loop to finish in second place. She won the 2017 Moab 240 Mile Endurance Run, the 2017 Run Rabbit Run 100 and, most recently, the 2018 Western States 100, running the second-fastest women’s time on the course.
“I think it is so cool what we are physically and mentally capable of, and I plan to continue to explore that by running long distances,” Dauwalter recently told Women’s Running. Her Western States victory earlier this year concluded a special race that many trail and ultrarunners know about and celebrate. “Western States 100 is one of the most competitive 100-mile races in the United States. It is also the world’s oldest 100-mile trail race. It was really special to be able to take part in the race this year as the history, the stacked field and the beautiful trails make it a ‘bucket list’ race for many. To have all of the training and preparation come together pretty smoothly on race day and to share the experience with so many runners, volunteers, friends and crews, made it a day that I’ll never forget.”
Dauwalter started endurance racing after college, when she participated in a few road marathons. After her first 50K race, “I guess since then it’s snowballed,” she said. That snowball effect has led to a lot of success on the trails and to Dauwalter challenging the norm in the trail running world, running race distances of 100 miles and more often. Dauwalter is raising the bar for women’s trail running and jumping to new heights in distance, showing what the body and mind can do when put to the test.
Last year, Dauwalter made the jump from being a science teacher to a full-time athlete—and she’s been enjoying the adventure. “There have been many, many shared miles with pacers and fellow racers that stand out in my mind when I think of some of my favorite miles in certain races,” Dauwalter said. Those that know her well are familiar not only with her good humor on the trail but her tendency to hallucinate once the miles go long. “I think the hallucinations I have during races are pretty entertaining to think of afterwards. Seeing a leopard in a hammock and a cello player in the middle of the woods at night are hard to forget.”
Dauwalter has a long bucket list of races that she wants to check off (including endurance races in Europe like the Spartathlon, a 150-mile road race across Greece). Now that she has checked the Big Dog Backyard Ultra off her list, she’s preparing for the end of her 2018 season on a track in Arizona, where the goal is to complete as many miles as possible within a 24-hour period.