Pam Reed: The Ultramarathon Woman


I bought a book at National Book Store entitled “The Extra Mile” by Pam Reed. This is the story of Pam Reed, a runner, wife, and a mother who started to bring awareness to the public through the media on ultramarathon races. Long before Dean Karnazes became popular as the Ultramarathon Man, Pam Reed was already making a name in ultramarathons when she won the Badwater Ultramarathon in 2002 and 2003. Dean Karnazes initially participated in the Badwater Ultramarathon on 2003 but he was defeated by Pam Reed by 25 minutes. Of course, Dean K won the next year’s event in 2004.

As I was reading the book, I could imagine the place and the distance where the Badwater Ultramarathon is done annually during the middle of the month of July. One time, my family and I visited Las Vegas during the month of July and while on the road going to Las Vegas, I could see along the Death Valley desert the giant Thermometer with the reading of 120 degrees Fahrenheit and this is the place where the ultramarathon starts. Badwater Ultrmarathon is considered as the “most challenging and hardest” route for an ultramarathon event. The race starts at an elevation of 282 feet below sea level (Badwater at Death Valley Desert) and finishes at Mount Whitney with an elevation of 8,360 feet. The race covers a distance of 135 miles or 216 kilometers and each runner should be able to finish the race in 60 hours.

The flat distance of 216 kilometers is from Manila to Damortis, La Union or from Laoag City to Balaoan, La Union or running along the North Luzon Expressway three times (up to Mabalacat Exit). But if you consider the terrain and the heat of the sun/temperature in this event, this event becomes even harder. Pam Reed still holds the women’s record of finishing this event in 27 hours and 56 minutes and covering the distance with an average speed of 7.7 kilometers per hour.

These are the tips I got from the book:

1. Ultramarathoners train as marathoners.

2. Run conservatively slow and the goal is to be able to Finish the race.

3. You must have a “handler” and a crew who will support you along the way.

4. The first “17 miles” of the race must be ran without any support or crew. After the 17th mile, your crew can pace, spray you with water, give you water and food, and accompany you along the route.

5. Divide the distance in segments and finish each segment one at a time. The distance may vary from 5 miles or 1 mile per segment. Ultramarathon requires “extreme” patience and mental toughness.

6. Take a break but keep on moving your legs.   

7. Drink Plenty of Fluids. Ensure, Red Bull, Gatorade, and Water are the favorite drinks of Pam Reed. She finished 40 cans of Ensure during her fourth Badwater Ultra.

8. Eat and store calories or put additional pounds of body weight within 3 weeks before the race. These calories and extra pounds will be needed on the last half distance of the race. 

This is a nice book to read, most especally to runners. The book is very inspiring as Pam Reed balances her training, work, family, health and the races she joined. I am higly recommending this book.  

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