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Do you have what it takes to run an ultra-marathon? Marshall Ulrich does

May 13, 2011|By Roy Wallack, Special to the Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
  • Marshall Ulrich, right, is an ultra-marathoner who has covered thousands of miles, including a run across the U.S.
Marshall Ulrich, right, is an ultra-marathoner who has covered thousands… (Richard Hartog / Los Angeles…)

For some people, running a single marathon is a once-in-a-lifetime achievement. For ultra-runner Marshall Ulrich, it's a warm-up. Join a live Web chat with Ulrich on Monday, May 16, at 11 a.m. Pacific Time (1 p.m. CT, 2 p.m. ET) as he discusses his amazing feats, including running 3,063.2 miles across the U.S. in 52 days, winning the Badwater race four times and competing in nine Eco-Challenges. Ulrich is the author of "Running on Empty: An Ultramarathoner's Story of Love, Loss, and a Record-Setting Run Across America."

He started ultra-marathoning 25 years ago when he was in his mid-30s. About to turn 60, how does age affect the athlete?

"I physically peaked between ages 42 to 44 and have been declining ever since," he said. "I'm about 20% slower, don't recover as quickly and am more susceptible to injuries -- but greater mental strength offsets it. I'm as tough as I've ever been, maybe tougher. I can manipulate and shift my mind in different ways.

"For example," he added, "in my run across the country, I got plantar fasciitis in my right foot at the 800-mile mark and had a lateral tear the last 2,000 miles. Every step was pain. I got an MRI in Sterling, Colo., that found no stress fracture. So I turned to my wife, Heather, and said, 'My focus cannot be on this foot anymore. Therefore, I disown this foot. It is not who I am. It doesn't fit where I'm going and what I'm trying to accomplish. It's just not there anymore.' And I went out and finished 30 miles that day and the 2,000 miles after that. I took a year and half to heal, to get full function in that foot back. But it was worth it. I completed my goal. I completed the event that would help me tell my story, write my book, tie all the adventures of my life together."

Do you have a question for Marshall Ulrich? Email chat moderator Roy Wallack at and join the chat to see the answer.

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