Welcome back to Ultra Talk 102, your guide to the language of Ultra running, its conversational etiquette, nonverbal elements, grammar, vocabulary, and syntax. Let’s see if you’ve learned anything. This test is designed for runners who have spent some time studying the language of ultra running and practiced it with native speakers, not for beginners lurking on social media. If you are a novice, you might want to review the info at
before getting started.
1. If your pacer tells you that “the next aid station is right around the corner,” you hear:
A. “The next aid station is right around the corner.”
B. “You look like death, and. The next aid station is miles from here, so I will sweeten your last moments with an innocent lie.”
C. “You look gullible enough to believe that there is another aid station in this race . . . Muahaha!”
2. You are running Western States. It’s about 120 degrees in the canyons. As you run/walk/crawl your way up to Devil’s Thumb, you see another competitor sprawled on his back, in corpse pose, across the trail. What is the correct way to initiate a conversation?
A. “Oh my god, are you okay???”
B. “This is not a designated aid station.”
C. “The cutoff time is coming up really fast. Better get up and moving.”
3. You are pacing a friend at mile 88 of a tough 100. It’s about 7 a.m, and she is deep in the pain cave. Things are going downhill fast, except for food items, which keep coming back up. Suddenly, her tortured features relax into a broad grin. Her eyes brighten. She points ahead, into the forest, and exclaims:”Look! An aid station!” You obediently look, but see only trees. How do you respond?
A. “You are hallucinating. Probably low blood sugar. Have another Fig Newton!”
B. “What the hell is wrong with you?”
C. “Yes! Listen to those cow bells! Look at that beautiful tent! Wow, there’s bacon frying! Let’s try to get there a little quicker, shall we?”
4. You are heading out for a training run on Saturday morning. Your spouse inquires when you will be back. You say:
A. “In about a couple of hours. I left a map with the route I am taking highlighted in red, and I’ll have my phone with me, so if I bonk, I can call you and you can come pick me up!”
B. “In three or four hours. I’m heading in the general direction of Hermit’s Peak. If Im not back at sunset, come. Look for me!”
C. “I don’t know. Some time today, or maybe tomorrow, depending on how I feel. Go ahead and have dinner without me if I’m not back by tonight!”
5. A non-running friend asks you: “Why would anyone run 100 miles? I don’t even like to drive my car this far!” You answer:
A. “It’s a beautiful experience that will put you in touch with your deepest self. You should try it sometime!”
B. “We are humans, and therefore born to run. It’s much more natural than watching television. Have you read Born to Run? No? Then you should! Here’s a copy.
C. “How else am I going to reach the finish line? Duh!”
6. You are on Ultrasignup, browsing for a new adventure. Which race description is likely to pique your interest?
A. “Come run the Fuzzy Slipper 50 – an easy, fun 50k on groomed trails meandering through gently rolling meadows. There are aid stations every three miles and marking ribbons every three feet. Weather conditions will likely be dry and cool. Look forward to encountering baby deer and cute little bunny rabbits as you cruise toward the finish line!”
B. “The Jagged Millstone is a 50-plus mile race over technical, rocky terrain with 15 000 feet of gain along the way. It’s point to point, and its all uphill. Be prepared for heat, rattlesnakes, grizzly bears, thunderstorms, and sudden blizzards. Carry at least a gallon of water, as you will be on your own for many hours between aid stations!”
C. “Certain Death 100 – only qualified lunatics need apply for the lottery process that might get you into this race if you’re really, really lucky and really, really out of your mind!”
You have a lot to learn.
You are on your way.
What asylum did you escape from? That’s ok, we don’t really care. Welcome to the tribe!