Most people may not think running for 12 hours straight is an enjoyable birthday celebration. It may sound more like a punishment than a feat of athletic achievement.
For Montara resident Ron Little, it’s simply the next hurdle.
With races canceled or postponed around the country due to concerns about the spread of the coronavirus, a few running communities are posting virtual races. Competitors can be in different time zones but start together, then post results online. Little was planning on running the Quicksilver 100K, a 62-mile race with more than 13,000 feet of elevation gain in Almaden Quicksilver County Park near San Jose on May 9. Those plans were scrapped by race organizers and have been rescheduled for Oct. 3. But Little was in the midst of training and eager for another opportunity. When he stumbled across the Ultra Virus 12-Hour Race, he knew he’d found one.
Little will begin his race at 5 a.m. on Saturday, his 49th birthday. His route will go from his home on Sixth Street to Main Street in Montara, then to Etheldore Street in Moss Beach and back again. Twelve hours later, Little expects to have completed 60 miles through 12 consecutive 5-mile loops. All participants must use Strava, a workout application that tracks a runner’s location and checks in with race organizers via Zoom at the end of each 5-mile segment to show their previous distance.
“I was looking for something to motivate myself,” Little said. “I found something a little different.”
This is Little’s first attempt at a fixed-time event and he’ll have an aid-station in his garage manned by his wife and daughter. Little is no stranger to long-distance runs. He’s a founding member of the Coastside Running Club. He’s run two dozen road marathons, including the Boston Marathon five times.
“It’s a challenge for sure to go that far,” Little said. “It’ll feel difficult in the moment.”
Little explains that the reward, the sense of accomplishment that comes from pushing past a perceived limit, is a huge draw for these races. And he’s no stranger to that feeling. He has run five 100-milers.
Little endured a grueling process to get to the point where he is today. He was new to the sports when he began meeting with a few locals once a week over a decade ago. He was inspired by members of the Coastside Running Club in the early days of the club’s origin in 2006. So, he tried his hand a half-marathon.
“It was a real challenge and struggle to run 13.1 miles consecutively,” Little recalled. “When I finished it, I could not imagine doubling that distance.”
And yet, when Little doubled down on his training, results showed in his races. Eating healthy foods,
drinking more water and getting the right training routine were all key factors. Marathons, 50- and 100-kilometer trail races followed. What started as a weekly hobby has become a lifelong passion. Little hopes this race will prepare him for the next gauntlet, the Tahoe 200 Endurance Run, 200 miles around Lake Tahoe in September. He hopes it will take him about 50 hours, well under the 100-hour time limit.
“That’s uncharted territory for me,” he said, “but this 12-hour race, I hope it will help prepare me for that.”