I’ve always thought that runners are some of the most dedicated athletes out there. Now that I know about ultramarathons, it’s a confirmed fact. Amongst a growing trend of foot races, ultras stand in a class all their own. An ultramarathon is an endurance race that lasts from six to 24 hours and has only one main rule – just keep going.
The Anchor Down Ultra, held at Colt State Park August 19-20, is the only 24 hour Ultra held in Rhode Island. In addition to the physical and mental strain of endurance running, the challenge of the ADU is compounded by the fact that it’s held on one of the hottest weekends of the year. So how did this intense event become so popular? Founder Jason Paganelli attributes it to the niche crowd they target as well as Colt State’s coastline. “There are no obstacles, color packets, costumes or beer sponsors,” he says. “This is an old-fashioned ultramarathon in a beautiful place. It’s as authentic as it gets.”
Maria Chevalier is one of five people, and the only Rhode Islander, who hit 100 miles in last year’s race. This year she’s going for her fifth attempt. (She’s tried three times before, hitting her first 100 in Boulder in 2012.) Her advice for runners who may be hesitant to attempt an ultra is to just do it. “Hesitation is typically fueled by your own self-doubt or fear of the unknown,” Maria says. “It is absolutely amazing what the human mind can convince the body to do.”