Ultra X Mex­ico 2019: Meet The Ath­letes

Writ­ten By Chris Taylor

Chris is Oper­a­tions Man­ager at Ultra X and takes the lead on plan­ning new races and events. His interests include (and are lim­ited to): ultra run­ning, plant-based foods to eat whilst ultra run­ning, and ultra run­ning with dogs.

28 Octo­ber 2019

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Read­ing Time: 5 minutes

It’s nearly here! In one week, Ultra X Mex­ico 2019, the toughest multi-stage ultra in the world, will begin.

Our events are for every­one and once again we have a diverse range of par­ti­cipants tak­ing part, from first-timers and mid-pack­ers, to seasoned endur­ance ath­letes and pro ultra run­ners. 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 Sculthorpe

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 Lavren­chuk

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 Grini­us

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 Thom­son

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.”  

Jason Sch­larb

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.”  

Arnulfo Quimare

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 … Three years in a row, Arnulfo had hiked for days to show up in Gua­cho­chi for a sixty-mile race through the canyons … Three years in a row, Arnulfo won.”

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