We asked five of the athletes/heroes competing in the inaugural race about their motivations for taking on this epic challenge. Check out what they had to say below.
Dave is an experienced runner and expedition leader but has never taken on an ultra marathon before, let alone a multi-stage event. He embodies the spirit of adventure that we love: signing up for an epic experience and figuring out the rest as you go along. Ultra X Mexico will be the challenge of his lifetime.
“I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to run in Mexico, but equal parts stupidity and peer pressure may also have been a factor! My goals for Mexico are to enjoy the whole experience, be part of the Ultra X community and finish each stage. I’m not looking for times this time round, just to get my first multi day race under my belt. I will also be honoured to run with the Rarámuri on their home soil, and make history in Ultra X’s first race in Mexico.”
Svitlana is a Ukrainian runner and ice climber. Having discovered a love for the mountains a few years ago, she began trail running as a way to become more self-aware, a kind of “moving meditation” as she describes it. Her passion for multi-stage events was developed after taking part in TRIBE Run for Love and she races for personal development, not to compete with others.
“I simply couldn’t miss an opportunity to follow the footsteps of Tarahumara runners through the majestic canyons and to share this unique experience with like-minded people.”
Gediminas is a veteran of the circuit and one of the very best in the world. Having started ultra-running as treatment to help him cope with PDSD after serving in Iraq with the Lithuanian armed forces, he discovered a passion and serious talent for endurance events. He’s got an unbelievable race CV, including finishing top of the Ultra Trail World Tour in 2016 and 2017 (second in 2018) and has also finished second in a little race known as UTMB! Gediminas is coming into Mexico having completed the ‘Grand Slam’ — four of the most prestigious 100 mile races in the USA — all in one year, so is in peak physical condition.
“I love going and checking my limits and exploring the unexplored — this is what Ultra X Mexico is about for me.”
Sarah is a true all rounder. A surfer, dancer, ultra marathoner and champion martial artist, Sarah lives for fitness. In 2017, she finished second in BBC2’s ‘Ultimate Hell Week’ and has travelled the world as an outdoor expert for Bear Grylls. Sarah is also an Ultra X veteran, having won The Wadi Rum Ultra in 2018, and will no doubt be looking to repeat her success in Mexico.
“When I was 16 I read a book called ‘Born to Run’. I fell in love with the idea of ultra running from the moment I read the first two chapters. At 17, I ran my first ultra, and now I get to step onto the very trails that sparked my enthusiasm for the sport. I am by no means built like an endurance runner, but I believe this to be a test of how you control what’s sat between your own two ears. And that is why I love endurance racing.”
From the USA, Jason is one of the world’s best ultra runners and in 2018 was ranked sixth in the Ultra Runner of the Year awards. He is a previous winner of Hard Rock 100, Run Rabbit Run 100, Ushuaia by UTMB and Oman by UTMB, and finished top American (fourth) at the big dance itself earlier this year, UTMB. A former officer in the US Air Force, he is known for his infectiously positive attitude and effortless style and will be contending for the top spot in Mexico.
“What I look forward to most about Ultra X Mexico is sharing this crazy 5 day running experience with new friends. That shared experience is priceless to me.”
Finally, we have a number of local runners taking part in the event, from the legendary Tarahumara Indian tribe. Famously featured in the book Born to Run, the Tarahumara (or Rarámuri) are the original ultra runners. Perhaps the best known of the bunch, Arnulfo Quimare, beat ultra running champion Scott Jurek in a 50 mile race through the Copper Canyon in 2006 and is generally considered unstoppable. Here’s how author Christopher McDougall describes him in the book:
“I’d learned that Arnulfo Quimare was the greatest living Tarahumara runner, and he came from a clan of cousins, brothers, in-laws, and nephews who were nearly as good.…Three years in a row, Arnulfo had hiked for days to show up in Guachochi for a sixty-mile race through the canyons. It’s an annual all-comers race pitting Tarahumara from throughout the Sierras, plus the rare handful of Mexican runners willing to test their legs and luck against the tribesmen. Three years in a row, Arnulfo won.”
Be warned: watching these events unfold can induce serious FOMO. Luckily, the 2020 edition is already confirmed for the 14th-22nd November and we are expecting it to be huge! Registrations will officially open for Ultra X Mexico 2020 on 9th November 2019 — subscribe here to be the first to know about it.