I first met today’s guest at an aid station in the middle of the night not too long ago.
She’s an ultra runner that is currently in the midst of a pretty big challenge with another running friend.
I am looking forward to going a few easy miles with Celia Eicheldinger for a conversation you won’t want to miss.
Started And Never Stopped
Celia Eicheldinger was always athletic but was not always a runner.
At the age of 13, she decided that she wanted to become a runner and so she did just that.
She grew up in a rural area surrounded by hilly dirt roads.
A summer of running hills prepared Celia for joining the cross country team at her school.
Celia ran competitively for her high school career but chose to not run in college.
Celia completed her first marathon at the age of 18
She credits being influenced by her boyfriend’s father who was a cross country coach at a university.
She still continued to run during college and beyond, but did it because she loved the sport.
Running Was A Constant
Running long distances has been a part of Celia from early on.
Before graduating from college, she ran 3 more marathons.
At the age of 22, Celia got married and shortly after began having kids.
Life naturally got busier which limited her opportunities to train for and run long distances.
Celia adjusted, not by quitting running, but by dialing back by training for shorter races.
Celia’s marriage ended in a divorce, but in the bad, she managed to find some good.
As a result of her divorce, she began to share custody of her kids.
When she didn’t have her children, Celia found she had more time to resume doing what she truly loved which was running longer.
The Lure Of The Ultra
The very first race Celia ran after her divorce was also her first 50k.
The hard race was just what she needed in the moment and upon finishing she signed up for her next longest race, a 50 miler.
Celia enjoys running on both the roads and the trails, but the overall experience of each is entirely different.
She quickly fell in love with the ultra community and along with running the races, she also volunteers for them whenever she is able.
The volunteer experience isn’t talked about enough and it should be.
She finds an immense amount of joy in helping others reach their goals and helping them out of dark places.
Celia also loves the fact that she can include her kids in the volunteering and make it a family affair.
Ultra runners are extremely appreciative and it doesn’t take much to give them a boost mid-race.
Over the years of running long distances, Celia has surrounded herself with other like-minded people.
Ultra runners aren’t known for going small and Celia and her friend lived up to that stereotype.
Crossing the entire 2,000 miles plus of the Appalachian Trail (AT) was a goal of both Celia and her friend.
They were aware of their limitations which included kids, jobs, and other life obligations.
Since they were unable to do a thru-hike, they brainstormed about other ways they could traverse the AT.
Celia and her friend determined that the best way for them would be to do small sections once every 3 to 4 weeks.
On average they cover about 150 to 170 miles in 3 to 4 days increments.
In order to accomplish that, they need to be hyper-focused on the planning and logistics involved.
Training And Preparing
Training for this physical challenge took some trial and error.
Celia prepared her body by focusing on multi-day back-to-back runs along with a lot of time on her feet.
Even with all that training, Celia admitted that her body broke down quite a bit in the early segments.
Multiple specialists (acupuncture, chiropractor) helped Celia to repair her body enabling her to continue each section as planned.
Celia has found what works for her during this challenge and it all centers around balance.
During the sections, she “goes as hard as she can go and as gentle as she can go.”
Celia hikes as much as she can, therefore, reducing the stressors on the body that can occur with running.
She embraces rest/recovery when she is at home and not on the trail which has also contributed to her success thus far.
From Idea To Reality
Currently, they are about halfway through their journey and just finished up their last section in Pennsylvania.
The next section will begin in New York and take place in October.
Following the October hike, they will take a brief hiatus over winter until the weather becomes more favorable on the AT.
Though they will be taking a break from progress on the AT, they wanted to ensure that they maintained some fitness.
Both Celia and her friend have an ultra on their schedules during the downtime between segments.
Celia is signed up to run The Fierce Dragon 200 mile race in January of 2022.
It will be her longest race to date and she has multiple goals that all start with finish and have fun.
A Goal Bigger Than Themselves
When Celia and her friend first began planning for their adventure they knew that they didn’t want it to be just about them and their goals.
After doing some research, they chose to work with the charity organization Soles 4 Souls.
Soles 4 Souls is a non-profit that is “turning unwanted shoes and clothing into opportunity” providing relief for both people and the planet.
Celia and her friend are in the planning stages for when/how to resume their AT RunVenture.
March or April will likely mark their return to the AT while continuing to make progress both on the route and in their fundraising goals.
Mentioned In This Episode:
- Soles 4 Souls
- AT RunVenture Project Blog
- Thrill In The Hills
- The Georgia Jewel
- Fierce Dragon
- The Smokies Challenge Adventure Run (SCAR)
- Athens Running Company
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