Ever wondered, what is too much in an ultra?


Ever wondered, what is too much in an ultra?

Canadian, Mike Murphy last week ran The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica. He was having a battle royal with South African, Iain Don Wauchope. Showing real grit, on day two Mike pulled back a huge time deficit (due to going off course on day one) and took over the race lead.


Mike then lost the lead again on day three. The stage was set for a head-to-head battle but Mike started to suffer… on the evening of day five (with just one day left) Mike was pulled out of the race by the medics and eventually ended up in hospital.


All is okay and Mike is now back in Canada. But he just sent me this message:

“I’m ALIVE! Got home from the hospital (Vancouver) last night, and my issues/injuries seem to stable and/or improving. The list is:
Broken Radius, Arm/elbow infection, Heat stroke, Hyponatremia, Blood loss (causing anemia).”

Believe me, Mike is one of the most committed runners I have ever witnessed in a race. Costa Rica and The Coastal Challenge offered each and every competitor a unique set of challenges. Lets face it, that is the attraction isn’t it? Relentless heat, high humidity, long stretches of open beach, dense forest, fire roads, water crossings, technical river beds and a plethora of other challenges.


But can you be too committed in a race?

Welcome your thoughts and have you ever pushed yourself too far?

2 thoughts on “Ever wondered, what is too much in an ultra?

  1. There is no answer to your question because every person has a different set of criteria for “what is too much”, and the whole ethos of ultrarunning is that it’s an individual challenge (mentally, physically, and emotionally) between the runner and the race and between the racer and him/herself. Race directors can set standards for what THEY believe is “too much” (such as weight loss limits at weight checks, time limits, etc), but in reality those are arbitrary decisions made by one person (or a committee of people) and then imposed on the entire race field. I believe a strong arguement could be made for allowing each participant to make the call as to “what is too much” for themselves. Given the events are in and of themselves considered “too much” by 99.9% of the population, it seems like a moot point to then try and decide what the limit is when the event is off the charts in terms of extreme exertion. I liken it to those who attempt to talk of morality in war; it’s an oxymoron.

    • Mark, get your point but in my interview with Mike he openly says he didn’t have the ‘off’ switch. Had the medics not pulled him from the race the consequences would have been disastrous. There was no ‘imposed’ criteria at TCC. So, your comment, “I believe a strong argument could be made for allowing each participant to make the call as to “what is too much” for themselves.” Is irrelevant as Mike has openly said, he could not make that call and he has thanked the medical team for making that decision for him.

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