You might think that running 100 miles in 26 hours would be excruciating. Stuart Hockridge said it wasn’t all that bad.
“I know this sounds bizarre, but physically speaking, it’s not that terrible,” said Hockridge, who just came in ninth in the Dragon 100, an ultra-trail footrace from Rhossili Bay to Cardiff Bay in his home country of Wales.
This was the 47-year-old Coastsider’s second 100-mile race in seven months. His first was the Rio del Lago 100-Mile Endurance Run last November in the Sierra foothills. That race started at 5 a.m., whereas the race in Wales began at 6 p.m.
Stuart said that he probably preferred the later start time.
“That way you get to do the night section when you are fresh,” he said. “Running through the night is difficult. When the sun comes up, you get rejuvenated.”
Hockridge has always enjoyed sports, playing rugby, soccer and squash while growing up in the United Kingdom, but he didn’t get into running until about 10 years ago.
At first it was just something to do for exercise, but once his body adjusted to the initial muscle strain, he found he really enjoyed it. He did his first half-marathon around 2010, then, after he had a few of those under his belt, he went for a full marathon around 2012.
“The first marathon is almost always a disaster,” he said. “You get to Mile 16 and everything falls apart.”
He said the fatigue, the blisters, the mental wall of that first marathon were crushing.
Not one to give up, Hockridge soon signed up for his “revenge” marathon, which went much better. By marathon No. 3, he had moved from Wisconsin to California and was looking for a new challenge.
“At that point in time, I had never even heard of ultramarathon being a thing,” he said. “I didn’t do any trail running. In California, there are trail races every weekend if you want them. I thought, ‘50K, wow, interesting’ and decided to sign up for one.”
His first was Skyline to the Sea, a trail run that begins at Saratoga Gap near Castle Rock and descends to Waddell Beach. He thought it couldn’t be too bad since it was mostly downhill.
He was wrong.
“What you don’t realize is that going downhill is very punishing on your legs,” he said. “So that didn’t go as well as planned.”
Despite the pain in his body, Hockridge enjoyed the race. “It was such a beautiful day — blue skies, 60 to 70 degrees, lots of cool people.” From there it was a 50-mile race, then a 100K, and finally a 100-mile event.
Despite having run two 100-mile ultramarathons, Hockridge does not consider himself an elite athlete. He said an elite runner could probably finish the race in Wales in under 16 hours and often runs 100 to 150 miles a week to train.
Hockridge has a pretty demanding job and is lucky to get 70 to 80 miles a week in for training. He is still trying to reach his goal of running 100 miles in less than 24 hours and has no plans on stopping anytime soon.
“I’m looking for a 100-mile race that is flat,” he said. “There is one in Phoenix this October that may work out.”