Chris Ward Has Found Adventure and Himself In Multi-Day Stage Races
Chris Ward was first on the show a couple of years ago and is joining me today for round two.
In the time since our first chat, he and his wife have had another baby, his podcast is still going strong, and he’s fresh off of winning a 6 day, 143-mile stage race.
I am looking forward to catching up with Chris Ward over a few easy miles.
Entryway To Adventure
The first time Chris joined me on the show his favorite distance to race was the 50k.
While he still loves that distance and considers it the “entryway to adventure,” his answer has since changed.
Just recently Chris won a 6 day, 143-mile stage race.
This was his second year running it and each time the experience has been life-changing.
Stage races are unique and unlike any other event in the commitment that they require to prepare.
The heavy toll it takes on a body makes it that typically an individual can only run one stage race a year.
The Desert RATS Kokopelli 150 is a multi-day footrace that takes place through Colorado and Utah over the course of 6 days.
Chris explained how the distances are broken up from day to day:
- First Day- 20 miles
- Second Day- 38 miles
- Third Day- 9 miles (The sprint day). The body has time to recover between days 2 and 4 which are the heaviest volume of miles.
- Fourth Day- 42-43 miles (The expedition day). Extensive amounts of climbing and elevation occur.
- Fifth Day- Rest day. The athlete has a day to recover and rest to prepare for the final day.
- Sixth Day- 26 miles
Chris has learned through advice and experience the need to constantly eat.
Fueling his body with enough calories ensures that his body will be able to adapt during the race and recover appropriately.
The various strategies for approaching a stage race can vary greatly from person to person.
Above all Chris focuses on self-preservation and being able to complete the race.
He goes into stage races with no expectations due to all the variables that can occur that aren’t in his control.
Some of his tried and true strategies are:
- Adjust your pace and plan according to what the weather provides each day.
- Be regimented about eating every hour. Set an hourly alarm to ensure you eat calories, hydrate, and take in electrolytes if needed.
- Once you get hungry during an ultra it’s often too late to catch up on your caloric needs for the remainder of the race.
- Eat and hydrate at each aid station as well as every hour.
- Practice power hiking. Chris is more focused on his pace when he is hiking rather than when he is running.
Anyone can be capable of completing a stage race given the right preparation.
Trail running is unlike road races in multiple ways.
The athletes competing in trail races and multi-day events don’t look like the elites winning marathons.
Trail runners look more like the everyday person and share similar qualities that make them suited for the trails.
Chris has observed that the runners most successful on the trails are tough, tenacious, stubborn, and always searching for adventure.
Multi-day stage races are special for many reasons but according to Chris, it’s mostly due to the people.
Chris compared the 6-day race to a “summer camp but with more chafing and blisters.”
The community in these races will always care for their fellow runner without question.
Acceptance Over Expectation
Stage races are much more common overseas and still relatively new in the United States.
Chris has learned many lessons over the various ultras he has finished and above all he reminds himself to embrace acceptance over expectations.
Many things can and will go wrong during an ultra and a successful athlete doesn’t go into races with too many expectations.
Each year Chris has run the Desert RATS race he has experienced a paradigm shift during the race.
Over the course of the 6-day race, Chris battled his inner self-doubt but ultimately he overcame it.
Chris attributed his most recent win to ideal weather and strong competitors that pushed him to run a better race than he ever imagined.
Like a Bigfoot
Chris is the creator and host of “Like a Bigfoot Podcast.”
He applies the same strategies to growing his podcast as he does to his training and racing.
Chris is a big believer in the power of consistency and how it can be applied to just about anything in life.
The only way to build the skills needed to be successful at something is to keep trying and improving.
No amazing human feat occurred overnight and the same goes for any goal.
Chris Ward is proof that regular everyday people can accomplish just about anything with the appropriate amount of drive and stubbornness.
When faced with challenging periods during races, Chris overcomes them by focusing on the lifetime of work that led him to that moment.
Mentioned In This Episode:
- Desert RATS Kokopelli 150 Multi-Day Footrace
- Grand To Grand Ultra
- TransRockies Run
- Chris Ward Loves the Trails and Living Life Like a Bigfoot (Round 1)
- Like A Bigfoot Podcast: Host of “Diz Runs Radio” on Wisdom Through Running (Episode #149)
Stay connected with Chris Ward by checking out his Website and/or following him on Instagram and Twitter.
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