The Beards of Ultrarunning
Fear the beard. Or admire it. At the very least, envy it.
Trail runners are cut from a different cloth than their clean-shaven brethren on the roads. And the longest events on the trails pull another type of eccentric breed entirely.
Maybe it’s because beard-growers are tough and strong; maybe it’s because a lot of ultrarunners want the competition to think they are tough and strong. Whatever the reason, the “ultra beard” – that phenomenon occurring when ultrarunning meets facial hair – has never been more popular. Here are a few of our favorite examples:
Fastest Beard: Rob Krar
2014 Western States 100 Champion; 2013 TNF 50 San Francisco and UROC 100k Champion
Photo by Tanner Johnson
In addition to powering along its proprietor to a win in nearly every race he enters, Rob Krar’s beard flows with the same kind of well-maintained-yet-effortless look that your favorite band emanates with their clothing.
The legend of his beard has grown almost as fast as that of Krar’s racing prowess, and it has its own Twitter account (@RobKrarsBeard) to prove it. Krar admits he grew the beard to improve his chances of courting his now-wife Christina Bauer and “coaxing her to move from Salt Lake City for Flagstaff,” where Krar was (and is) based.
Whatever its origins, this beard is responsible for bringing oversized facial hair into the mainstream of ultrarunning. “Fashion will come and go,” Krar says. “But I’ll keep it as long as it feels right.”
Most Voluminous Beard: Leon Lutz
Photo by iRunFar.com/Bryon Powell
At first, growing a beard (if you can pull it off) is great. You are complimented left and right for, in essence, doing nothing. Quite the opposite: you are neglecting a component of your hygiene. No one praises you for not paying your bills, or for your tartar buildup. Beards are a loophole in an otherwise demanding world.
To a point. If your beard grows long enough, it becomes more work than just about anything in your life. Maintaining its shape (and smell) can be as big of tasks as coaxing the bed-beard out of your face after waking up every morning.
For this reason, Leon Lutz and his very large, very long beard deserve special praise – beyond his win in the sideburns category in the 2009 New York City Beard and Mustache Competition. There is more to it than simply throwing away your razor.
Best-Groomed Beard: Hal Koerner
2012 Hardrock 100 Champion; 2007 and 2009 Western States 100 Champion; Owner, Rogue Valley Runners
Photo by Brett Rivers/San Francisco Running Company
In a sport that often glorifies the dirtbag lifestyle, Hal Koerner always seems a little different. A little too…put together. A little too clean.
But between applications of hair gel and Axe Body Spray, he meticulously trims and shapes his beard to a well-tapered state of perfection. The result is that win or lose, Hal does it in style.