Today’s guest can usually be found on the trails where she is either running or directing races.
She’s the race director for the Arrowhead Endurance Run and Co-RD for the Shawnee Hills 100 and the Red Cedar Trail Half.
I am looking forward to going a few easy miles with Laura Range today and seeing where our conversation takes us.
A Life-Changing Moment
Laura Range began running from an early age.
She ran on both the track and cross country teams in junior high and high school.
As an adult, she still ran, but mostly to stay fit.
On a whim, she signed up for her first official race, a 5k.
That race was a life-changing moment for Laura.
Her emotions overwhelmed her and she knew the sport would be an important part of her life.
Laura had never heard about marathons or ultra-marathons.
Even though she wasn’t aware of all that running offered at the time, her mileage continued to increase.
Then Versus Now
Laura has been running for 15 years now and a lot has changed in that time.
She completed her first 50k and 50-mile race in 2009.
Her first attempt at the 100-mile distance was the following year.
In 2010, there were maybe sixty to seventy 100-mile races available.
Currently, there are over two hundred 100-mile races available throughout the country each year.
Social media has been one of the biggest factors in making the sport of ultrarunning more accessible.
Races often attract a wider array of runners along with many attempting the distances for the first time.
With more races being available, that also means that athletes don’t have to travel as far to find one.
Learning To Respect The Distance
The first two ultra-distance races that Laura ran went as well as she could have hoped for.
At the time, she incorrectly assumed that if one 50 mile race was fun then 100 miles must be twice the fun.
In hindsight, Laura realized how unprepared she was for the race.
The race itself was a technical point-to-point course and she hadn’t practiced much night running to prepare.
She didn’t have drop bags or certain gear that would have been helpful on the trails.
Ultimately Laura missed a cutoff during the race and had to DNF.
During a 100 mile race, there are always a lot of lessons to be learned even if you fail.
Laura took what she learned from that race and went on to cross the finish of a 100-mile race a few short months later.
Laura has been fortunate in being able to avoid any major injuries during her time as a runner.
She credits a lot of that to listening to her body.
On every run, she knows that the plan may change mid-run depending on how she is feeling that day.
Laura focuses on eating healthy 85% of the time and eating mostly vegetarian.
She also tries to get an ample amount of good quality sleep.
Her lifestyle choices have kept her injury-free and able to achieve PRs at most distances she has raced in the last 3 years.
When covid hit and races were canceled indefinitely, Laura wanted to find some way to stay engaged with running.
She decided to focus on pushing herself and go after some fastest known times (FKTs).
The first one she did was on the Tunnel Hill Trail in Illinois.
She ran around 97 miles on the trail and got the FKT for supported solo female.
Her next FKT was one that hadn’t been done yet.
Laura ran around a local lake, spanning about 30 miles.
Thus far she is the only one to do it and holds the FKT.
Prior to races returning, Laura also completed four solo 100-mile runs.
When Laura began to get into ultrarunning, she knew she wanted to eventually put on races.
Arrowhead Endurance Run is in its 4th year with various distance options available.
The race began as a 6 and 12 hours race, but now also includes a 24-hour option along with a 100-mile distance.
Laura is always looking for ways to improve the race, “If you didn’t ask me, it’s your own fault.”
Her number one goal for any race she directs is to make sure that all the runners are okay.
She is also co-director of the Shawnee Hills 100.
Multiple race distances are offered from a half-marathon up to 100 miles as a way to ensure more runners can participate.
The race settings showcase some of the most beautiful scenery that Illinois has to offer.
Taking Care Of The Trails And Each Other
Laura always makes sure that the trail is in better condition after the race than when they found it.
Her races are routinely sold out as the popularity of ultrarunning continues to grow.
The Red Cedar Trail Half Marathon is the most recent race that Laura is directing.
Laura is passionate about ensuring that her races along with the sport as a whole remain inclusive.
Running has brought life-long friends into her life along with many valuable lessons.
Her first DNF was not her last, but her mental game has improved with each failed attempt.
Ultrarunning isn’t just for the most talented and fastest runners.
Laura is a self-described average runner that’s too stubborn to quit.
Mentioned In This Episode:
- Arrowhead Endurance Run
- Shawnee Hills 100
- Red Cedar Trail Half Marathon
- Arkansas Traveller 100
- Ozark Trail 100 Mile Endurance Run
- River to River Runners
- Orange Mud
- Ornery Mule Racing
Stay connected to Laura Range by following her on Instagram.
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