Paul Ronto Is Sharing What He Learned About The State Of Ultra Running

My guest today is part of the team over at where they recently published an in-depth review of the state of ultra running.

When he’s not analyzing data from runners he can usually be found in the midst of some sort of outdoor adventure.

I am looking forward to geeking out over numbers while going a few easy miles with Paul Ronto today.

Paul Ronto

Adventure Was Calling

Paul Ronto is the first to admit that he despised running for a long time.

Though he didn’t like running, Paul stayed active by participating in soccer along with various other outdoor activities.

Post-college Paul took an internship with an Outdoor Leadership school in Wyoming.

Paul loved his time there but he returned home a little overweight and broke.

Once home, Paul began a job working at a University in Colorado.

Paul was in his mid 20’s at this point in his life and wanted to find a way to challenge himself.

Running a marathon was on Paul’s bucket list so he decided to make that his challenge.

Prior to the marathon, Paul had run 1 half marathon on a whim because of a girl.

Centered Around Running

Paul spent 6 months preparing for his first marathon and loved the experience of the training along with the race itself.

During those 6 months, Paul had run more than he had in his entire life and along the way fell in love with the sport.

Ever since he signed up for that first race, running has dictated his career and life ever since.

It was through running that Paul even met his future wife.

Once running became a constant in his life, Paul’s lifestyle began to revolve around being fit and healthy.

Paul lives about a half a mile away from an endless array of trails.

He is also into mountain biking and does most of his biking and running on the trails.

Though he trains mostly on the trails, excluding ultras, Paul has run all of his races on the roads.

Paul Ronto

Drawn To The Ultra World

As Paul got deeper into the running world, he aspired to continue challenging himself.

He came across a local 24-hour loop race that allowed teams to compete.

Paul promptly put together 2 teams and signed up to repeatedly run 6-mile loops.

The relay was a fun and low-pressure way for Paul to dip his toes in the ultra world.

The relay resulted in Paul completing over 38 miles and his team won while also setting a course record.

Paul was especially drawn to the trail scene and the laidback mindset that came with it.

Run Repeat

As mentioned in the intro, Paul is a part of the team.

Run Repeat has been around for about 5 years and is currently the largest athletic footwear review site on the internet.

The main goal of the website is to review shoes, including but not limited to running footwear.

As much information as possible is compiled on all athletic shoes available to the public.

Reviews are also collected from testers and experts and then a “Core Score from 0-100 is given to each shoe based on the information collected.

In as little as 30 seconds, the user can read the pros and cons of each shoe along with seeing how the shoe ranks.

Users can save valuable time with the easy to digest information.

Another valuable feature on the site is the option to find the best price available for any given model.

State Of Ultra Running

Paul is also part of the team at Run Repeat that writes sports-based content.

He helps to produce in-depth data pieces and guides on a variety of sports.

Paul’s most recent article is The State of Ultra Running 2020.

The article is based on the data from over 5 million results spanning over 23 years.

Participation in ultra races has increased by over 1,600% in that time period.

In doing the research, Paul has made some assumptions regarding the rapid growth in ultra running:

  • People seem to always be looking for the next/bigger challenge.
  • Ultra races tend to be in cool and unique places that draw participants.
  • Some ego is often involved in races, to be able to say they’ve done an ultra.
  • In general ultra runners tend to sign up for more races a year than runners of other distances.
  • Ultras are becoming more and more available and there are races for all levels.

One thing that surprised Paul in the findings was that as the distance increased, the gender gap in results narrowed.

Paul Ronto

What The Future Holds

The last set of data Paul used was from 2018, but he is in no way done.

Paul is interested in seeing how the sport continues to evolve and has plans to continue building on the data.

Running appeals to the masses because literally all it takes is a pair of shoes.

For Paul, running has shaped his very being.

It has also been a way to escape technology and a form of meditation.

According to Paul, “People don’t stop running because they’re old, but they get old because they stop running.”

Mentioned In This Article:

Stay connected with Paul Ronto while comparing shoes at Run Repeat.

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3 replies
  1. Greg Pirtle
    Greg Pirtle says:

    In my opinion, Ultra running is growing so quickly because it’s such a challenging event, but you get to slow down and enjoy the experience. Unlike road events, running ultras on the trails has a different vibe and feels more “available” to sub-elite runners. Since the majority of everyday runners are sub-elite, it’s a very appealing event.

      • Greg
        Greg says:

        It’s typically more like a party than a race. During my 24 hour race, the main aid station had beer and liquor, the aid station at the top of the biggest climb had an open bar from 6pm to 2am, and everyone from the 12hr race and those who dropped from the 24hr race stuck around to get drunk and cheer everyone else on as they went around each loop.


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