I got to thinking about ultrarunning style after reading a post from ultrarunner and race director Candice Burt about “The Style of the Elite Runner Girl”. She was contemplating how to differentiate herself as a female ultrarunner and create her own unique style. Her post explored her frustration in finding that for every good idea she came up with, that look was already taken by some other girl.
I”m not someone that has consciously been concerned about my style (or lack thereof), but I am aware I have inadvertently created my own in the sport. My own “look” has evolved quite considerably over the past seven years as an ultra runner and I have come to embrace my own unique style. I’ve become known as the guy in the board shorts or the guy with the long flowing hair and brightly colored sunglasses. Sometimes I’m even mistaken for other elite runners already sporting the gaunt “Jesus” look.
I had already been contemplating my look after seeing photos from my recent 3rd place finish at the Zane Grey 50 mile this year, when I stumbled across Candice’s article. While I have recently been upping the ante in the bright, colorful and weird department when it comes to my race day outfits, I honestly felt like I may have crossed the line last month. I found myself in my tent on race morning putting on pink and grey zebra striped knee high socks, dark blue “Paul Frank” devil monkey board shorts and a cropped bright yellow Mogollon Monster belly shirt (think Scott Jurek circa 1999). Add in a Buff headband and some puke green Mizuno Musha shoes and I looked absolutely ridiculous. I know I got a handful of snickers at the start time and I’m sure some outright “what the hell is that guy thinking” at the first couple aid stations. I though to myself as I received my finisher photo from Joe at the 260 Trailhead that afternoon that maybe it’s time for a new look?
So how did I get to this point? There was a time when I wore more traditional running attire during races. When I first started trail running in 2005 I wore simple cheap running shorts and cotton shirts. In 2009 I wore an Adidas adizero racing kit with short black shorts and a lightweight red & white “WMRC” singlet for my win at Zane Grey, 3rd place Jemez 50 miler and my finish at the Hardrock 100. I was all about going light and minimal and I was very serious and focused about my training and goals. At some point I stopped taking my running so seriously, having more of a zen approach and began to dig the style of Zach Gingerich and Evan Hone who were sporting long basketball shorts while winning ultras across the country. I liked the carefree attitude and casual nature of long shorts and loved running in a pair of swim trunks while down in Copper Canyon. I started to adopt my own style. I soon began wearing board shorts to run in and it quickly became my obsession.
I wore a pair of bright green ones at the 2011 Angeles Crest 100 proving once and for all that board shorts are not just for surfer bums, but suitable attire for racing 100 miles. I had my new calling card and I proceeded to race in board shorts for much of 2012 and into 2013. I won the Mogollon Monster in the same pair of green board shorts and some crazy long mismatched neon plaid socks. They were ladies socks and a size too small…. I literally had to cut them off after finishing the race. Now I don’t even think about racing unless I’m wearing a pair of $2 neon colored socks from Target. I prefer to compliment my long shorts & sock combo by going shirtless (even if it is in the 30’s at the start), wearing a Buff and big, bright, cheap sunglasses. I’m not sure where exactly the line is between cool and obnoxious, but I think I”m pretty damn close. Question is, where do I go from here?