Wednesday 19 March 2014

Top Shelf Ultra Mags

In this world of instant connectivity through the internet, it is very easy to keep up with the whacky world of ultra marathon running. If anything, it is possible to get overloaded by the amount of information available through blogs, websites such as IRunFar and Ultra168, and podcasts such as Ultra Runner Podcast and Talk Ultra. But if, like me, you can't get enough of it, here are a couple of magazines that you may find of interest.

First up is UltraRunning magazine, possibly the original source for all things ultra. Since its inception in 1981, UltraRunning magazine has given comprehensive results and reports from the US ultra scene, as well as reams and reams of stats and articles from some of the most knowledgable people in the sport. It is definitely American-centric, possibly making it a little less interesting to people from outside of the States, but there is still a tonne of information in there for anybody looking to improve their running. Plus many of the most well-known races are American anyway, so you can read all about your Western States and Badwaters in there. Until recently, it's been pretty difficult to get hold of in this country, but now you can order it directly from Ultra Marathon Running Store. The January/February edition of the magazine contains interviews with American ultra runners of the year Rob Krar and Michelle Yates, as well as a fantastic article from Ian Sharman about how to finish your first 100-miler and a great review of some of the latest trail running shoes on the market. The March issue is available now.

Bed time reading.
Next up is a very new magazine; Like The Wind. This magazine is not specifically focused on ultra running, but instead aims to collect stories and photos from the track, trail and road to inspire readers into getting out into the great outdoors and enjoy putting one foot in front of the other. This is a very personal project from Simon and Julie Freeman at Freestak, the running-focused social media and marketing agency responsible for the Torq Trail Team (which is currently taking applications for the coming year). The ethos of this magazine is highly commendable, with all proceeds going to charity and each issue printed on responsibly-sourced paper. It is really more of a paper-back coffee table back than a magazine, and the bespoke artwork and photography throughout is stunning. The whole thing drips motivation, with articles from some of the UK's stalwart ultra stars such as Robbie Britton, Mimi Anderson, Stuart Mills and James Adams, as well as exerpts from Scott Jurek's book Eat and Run, sprinter Othroy Marsh's recovery following a serious accident, and blind runner Simon Wheatcroft's amazing introduction to the world of ultras through the use of RunKeeper. I particularly like the concept of the chaos Muppet... It is a little expensive at £9, but the sheer quality and passion contained in the pages makes this totally worth it. Plus you will be supporting what will hopefully prove to be a an incredibly popular and long-running series. Issue one is out now. 

Pretty pictures! But are his legs blue, or is he wearing tights? Think I'd rather have blue legs.
Last up is Ultra Tales, an online ultra running magazine focussed mainly on the UK ultra scene. This magazine is completely free, and is supported entirely by contributions from runners. This community-led approach gives the magazine a very down-to-earth feel, with race reports, articles and runner profiles from runners of all abilities. It is incredibly interesting to read many different runners' experiences of a single race, and can allow you to see how the other half approach a race and cope with the difficulties that are thrown at them. The magazine was created by Paul Ali, along with a small group of volunteers, and thus far the response has been outstanding. Despite the fact that it is put together in spare time, the quality is fantastic, with a crisp modern aesthetic throughout. The size of each of the issues can sometimes be quite overwhelming, testament to the support that it receives, but it is the type of magazine that you flick through from time to time rather than reading from start to finish. Now running as a quarterly release, the next issue will come out at the start of April with race reports from the first quarter of 2014, an interview with the Marvellous Mimi Anderson, a competition from the Ultra Marathon Running Store, and the usual selection of articles and runners' profiles. This magazine survives solely on contributions, so if you have anything that might be of interest to the community please submit it!

Of course there are many other magazines with fantastic information for any aspiring (or indeed veteran) ultra runners, including Trail Running Magazine, Runners' World, et al. But I thought that these three were less likely to already be on people's radars. Hopefully you will find plenty here to keep you entertained! Enjoy.

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