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A runner’s ultra revenge: Take that, ex-girlfriend

By on November 29, 2017 in Outdoor Fun with 0 Comments

Ed runs through the desert vistas of the Cuyamaca 100K — which he finished in 13 hours and 32 minutes.

By Danielle Worley

At first running was all about revenge for Ed Henley.

He had a girlfriend who ran and when she broke up with him, “I decided to run, too, and I was going to be the best and fastest and win all the races and show her just who she passed up.”

He turned into a regular participant at local trail runs and races, but the ex-girlfriend was nowhere to be found. It didn’t matter, by then Ed was hooked and was running for himself.

That was 2014 and since then, Ed’s passion for the sport has transformed him into an ultra-runner, a select group of athletes that regularly run races with distances greater than 26.2 miles.

Currently Ed is shooting for lottery entrance into the Western States 100, a world famous ultra race of 100 miles.

He didn’t get from revenge to 100 miles in his sights over night. “I started out on a C-2-5-K app. It stands for Couch To Five K and it is a plan designed to get a beginner from nothing to a five kilometer distance (3.1 miles) over a span of three months.”

He ran a few 5Ks and gradually increased the distance of his training runs and that’s when the bane of most distance runners started to haunt him. After running a race in the wrong shoes for his physique Ed found that the proper footwear and gear is essential for best performance but won’t necessarily keep regular injuries, aches and pains away.

Despite the discomfort, Ed enjoyed all aspects of running immensely; from product and technique research to the training, to shoe fitting and connecting with other runners who also shared his lifestyle.

After mastering 5Ks, Ed moved up to half marathons, which were a killer for him.

Then in the fall of 2015 he made his first marathon debut. “I finished the Oktoberfest Marathon in terrible shape. I had never hurt so bad in my life.” The toll 26.2 miles took on his body was a huge shock to his system, but he was determined to keep running.

Constant runner’s pain like plantar fasciitis and minor shin splints continued to plague him, like they do most long distance runners, and yet he completed two more marathons in 2016 before jumping into the ultra circuit, as his desire for the next bigger and better race got a hold of him.

Ed gorged on Ted Talks and running books full of ultra training advice.

His fiancée, Megan Weakley, picked up one of his favorite books at Hastings going out of business sale. Running Your First Ultra by Krissy Moehl, piqued his interest. “I had focused on books by male ultra runners for some reason, which were very basic, and her book blew me away with its depth and detail.”

Ed especially appreciated the time and attention Krissy gave to writing about how an ultra-runner should take care of their crew of people who support them along the course. “Most of the guys books had a paragraph or two on their crew, but Krissy had a whole chapter dedicated to how to take care of your crew.”

He started following her training plan and following other local and world-renowned ultra runners. This year, he’s completed two different 100K races.

The Gorge Waterfalls 100K he ran last April was his first 100K and longest run up to that point. The course boasts views of countless rushing waterfalls, but for Ed, the best parts of the run were during the sun-filtered segments through the evergreen forest trails where everything seemed right with the world.

As if the scenery wasn’t enough, one of the best known ultra-runners, Jim Walmsley, passed him on the course and another, Yassine Diboun, encouraged him as he went through an aid station.

The combination of minimal injuries, moderate temperatures, beautiful trails and terrain, meeting two famous runners and having a supportive crew, which consisted of his fiancée, two sons, aunt and good friend, at the ready for him were just what he needed to finish in 13 hours and eight minutes and qualify for his Western States 100 ticket.

“Every step past mile 30 of that race was a growing state of blissful amazement for me because up until that day I had never run more than 30 miles.”

Because the Western States 100 course traverses U.S. Forest Service trails and is so well-known among ultra-runners, entrance is highly sought after but admission is limited to 369 participants.

Permission is granted through only a few means, one of which is a lottery system. There are several races that runners can participate in throughout the year that can grant them a space in the lottery.

When Ed finished the Gorge Waterfalls 100K, he won his lottery ticket; but a ticket wasn’t all he was looking for. He liked the challenge and camaraderie of the culture too much to turn down an offer to run with fellow athletes.

“A buddy of mine still needed to qualify for the WS100 lottery and asked me to run the Cuyamaca 100K with him in San Diego. I only had a month and a half to train for it because of an injury, but I couldn’t say no to a chance to support a fellow runner and friend.”

The bleak desert vistas of the Cuyamaca 100K was nothing like the picturesque and forested Gorge Waterfalls race. He barely finished the grueling 63.2 mile ultra run that included a summit of a 6,500-foot mountain peak.

If it hadn’t been for the phenomenal aid stations, like the “cowboy bar” at mile 39 where they actually served him an ice-cold beer as he rested, he says he might not have made it.

He did finish with a time of 13 hours and 32 minutes and took away some amazing race swag along with valuable lessons about proper hydration, nutrition and training for different types of elevation and climates that will come in handy as he continues racing.

Results of the Western States 100 lottery will be announced in December.

In the meantime, Ed trains faithfully. He favors early morning runs on local trails but can also be found on the Apple Capital Loop for club runs on Thursdays with fellow Run Wenatchee trailmates.

Ed sees many more races in his future; it seems the only thing he doesn’t see is an end to his running lifestyle.

“Running has taught me that everything we need to be peaceful, powerful and whole is inside of us. We just have to want it bad enough to be willing to work for it.”

You can follow Ed’s progression on Instagram at: edhenleyii.

Danielle Worley, a local author writing under the penname Lucy H. Delaney, is one of Ed’s trailmates on Thursday club runs with Run Wenatchee. To read more by her, see: 


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