10 Inspiring Ultra Finishes - Page 8
3. Toughing It Out
Hal Koerner, UTMB 2011
Koerner running in Chamonix. Photo by Tim Kemple, courtesy of The North Face.
Like Olson at Hardrock this year, Koerner had every reason to drop out of this race: he was an elite runner considered among the contenders for a win, but as the race unfolded it quickly became clear this was not his day.
Then, impossibly, it got worse: Koerner was struggling simply to move forward and was aggravating an old foot injury to boot. But he slogged ahead, and finished in 38 hours, 55 minutes and 39 seconds, good for 372nd place.
“I really thought Hal would drop at some point, especially after seeing him … at almost two thirds of the distance completed,” Ian Sharman, who was working on Koerner’s crew, wrote. “He’d been moving slowly and had to walk most of the section up to there, then could only really walk on any type of terrain after that.
“But it was inspiring to see him grind out a finish when it clearly wasn’t his day. That seems to be what the race is mainly about for almost everyone, but for someone aiming to be at the front, it takes a huge mental shift to just aim to finish, no matter how long it takes.”
- Matt Carpenter, Leadville 100, 2004
- Dakota Jones, TNF San Francisco, 2013