Winning a marathon is lung- and leg-busting work, but winning an ultra-marathon is exponentially harder. So what does it say about an athlete who runs a hundred ultras during a decade and consistently finishes near the top?
Hal Koerner defines an “Ultra” as being any race over the official marathon-distance of 26.2 miles, and typically up to 100 miles or more. To date he’s run 94 ultra’s, won 24 of them and finished in the top three in 75 percent of his races. That astounding level of success puts him in an elite league of athlete, and The North Face welcomes him to their Endurance Team.
An outdoor enthusiast since age 10, Hal has hiked, biked and burned shoe rubber on trails all over the United States. He set the speed record for the 500 mile Colorado trail in 2003 with a time of nine days, 10 hours, 19 minutes (which went unbroken for three years). He won the 2007 Western States 100 miler, the oldest and most prestigious hundred-miler in the world, finishing with the fifth fastest time (16:12:16) since it’s inception in 1977, and he won the event again in 2009. His goal, he says, is to cross that finish line in 15.30. Hal is also a two-time champion of the Angeles Crest 100 miler in California, and five-time champion of the Bear 100 in Utah.
All that backcountry running has led to some close encounters with oversized wildlife. While competing in the 2004 Western States he and a fellow runner flushed out a bear, which Hal describes as “yeti sized,” and which almost bowled his friend over as it lumbered away. And near the end of the Bear 100 in the Wasatch Mountains, Hal was shadowed for a while by a large mountain lion. “I found a rusty old shovel and proceeded to clang it against the hillside the final 3 miles,” he recalls.
Trail running is obviously Hal’s passion, and for the last seven years he’s been named one of the top ten ultra-runners in North America by Ultrarunning magazine. He’s equally proud of his role as a mentor of the sport, which can be seen in the form of the local races he organizes and the running store he owns and operates, Rogue Valley Runners, in Hal’s hometown of Ashland, Oregon.
TRAINING WITH A COACH: THE NORTH FACE ENDURANCE CHALLANEGE
December 3, 2014
Race day for The North Face Endurance Challenge Championship GORE-TEX 50 Mile is near. On December 6 elite professionals and amateur runners alike will line up in the Marin Headlands just north of San Francisco, California. Among those looking to best the field will be The North Face ultrarunner Timothy Olson, who recently started training with a running coach for the first time since turning pro. Fellow The North Face teammate Ashley Arnold caught up with Timothy to see how his prep is going with race day around the corner.. Read More
THE NORTH FACE ENDURANCE CHALLENGE: PHOTO GALLERY
December 11, 2014
With muddy conditions underfoot, the 2014 The North Face Endurance Challenge Championship went off last weekend (Dec 6-7) in California’s Marin Headlands, just over the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco. Elite ultrarunners and amateur athletes alike toed the line for distances ranging from 50 miles to 5K, capping off another successful season of the six-race series. Read More
TIMOTHY OLSON: FINDING HEALING IN THE HILLS
August 13, 2014
In 2012 when ultrarunner Timothy Olson set the still-standing course record at the prestigious Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run in California, it marked the beginning of an era during which Olson commanded a lead as perhaps one of the best ultrarunners in the sport. And yet, his life wasn’t always like this. A decade ago he was addicted to alcohol and drugs and was living a life he didn’t want. Read More
- 2 X Western States 100 Champion
- 2 X Angeles Crest 100 Champion
- 5 X Bear 100 Champions
- USATF 50 Mile Champion