16 years of running and adventure

I've been running for the most part since 1999 with my first ultra a year later. Not the best way to do things, since I went on something of a hiatus between 2002-2003, but since January 2004 I've been running non stop.

Sand storm at the 2006 Marathon des Sables
It all started with a challenge to participate in the 15th edition of the Marathon des Sables in 2000. The MDS is often considered among the toughest footraces on earth, not so much because of the distance (240km or 138 miles) but mainly because it takes place in temperatures that can reach 120°F (almost 50°C) and all competitors must carry all their food and equipment (7-12kg, 15-27lbs). The fact that it takes place in six stages over seven days makes it much easier physically then many non-stop ultras, but it can be tough mentally (particularly when sharing a Berber tent with 8 other competitors).

Still, it is not an impossible feat as many prove every year (not the least my father), partly because unlike many trail races the cut-off times are very low, which emphasizes the challenge against oneself, not against the clock.

I trained for a year as best I knew how and finished the MDS somewhere in the middle of the pack. Though I tamed my lifestyle to some degree, I did not become a completely self-obsessed, mega fit runner. But I have gone on to finish the MDS two more times, and compete in over 15 medium to long ultras, including a 100-mile self-sufficient desert run from Wadi Rum to Petra, without overly obsessing about the sport, while juggling family and work obligations.

The beauty of the Costa Brava Extreme
I used to say that I'd finished all the runs I have competed in - but in 2012 I dropped from the TDS (middle sister of the famous UTMB) due to horrendous weather and lack of a 4th change of clothes and, in 2014, the 100-mile UT4M where the upcoming 5500+ foot climb over 5-6 miles defeated me. I don't particular regret the TDS, but I certainly do berate my mental weakness at the UT4M.

So I wanted to share some of that experience and fun, as I also always enjoying reading and hearing about other runners' race accounts and experience.
I call this blog "Daring the Ultra" because my main criteria in selecting racing (since I have neither the time, money or really the desire) is to find a race each year that forces me to keep training and face my fears. I used to add the term "trail" but really what I enjoy is just running - and though I love the mountains and trails near Geneva, Switzerland where I live, I've found a renewed interest in pure road running and flatter ultra marathons.


  1. Eric I am taking on the GUCR in 2019 and seem to have a similar running capacity as yourself, I wanted to see if you would be so kind as to share your training plan for completing the race, really need some assistance and hope you can help. ps did the MDS in 2017 and loved it

  2. Hi John, sorry I missed this comment! I hope you managed ok but if it is still relevant I posted my general training approach at http://www.lhtrailrunning.com/p/on-training.html, there's a specific section on the GUCR.