The Boston Marathon elite field is impressive enough, but a closer look at the race entrants found a few more elite runners—elite ultrarunners, to be more specific.
Several runners who have found great success in ultras are taking a break from the trails and running the Boston Marathon on Monday. Here’s a look at a few of them:
Just more than a week ago, Alex Varner was in California crossing the finish line in first place at the Lake Sonoma 50 in a course-record 6:09:39. The 29-year-old Nike Trail Elite athlete also placed top 3 at The North Face Endurance Challenge last December, and 7th at last year's Western States 100. But he's not just an ultrarunner—though most of his time is spent on trails, he did run both the Boston Marathon (2:32:05) and the New York City Marathon (2:25:45) last year. The 9-day turnaround from Lake Sonoma to Boston is nothing new to him—he did it last year, too. (Photo: Derrick Lytle)
Canaday started his professional career as a road racer and ran in both the 2008 and 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials marathons, and set a personal-best marathon in 2011 at Rock 'n' Roll San Diego (2:16:52). He started ultrarunning in 2012 and has had great success, most recently winning The North Face Endurance Challenge 50-miler last December in 6:07:52. But he never fully abandoned the roads, and most recently clocked a 2:20 at last month's LA Marathon. Canaday is running Boston hoping to qualify for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials marathon (he'll need to run 2:18:00 to do it). (Photo: Scott Draper)
A former marathoner-turned-ultrarunner, Denucci recently placed 2nd at the Gorge Waterfalls 100K in Oregon on March 28th, finishing in 9:49:18 and earning an invitation to the Western States 100. Though focused mostly on the trails, he ran the Boston Marathon last year, as well, finishing in 2:38. (Photo: Mario Fraioli)
When it comes to racing, Michael Wardian has no prejudice between road or trails—he'll do them all. Probably the most impressive serial racer out there, Wardian ran the Lake Sonoma 50 on April 11, will run the Boston Marathon on Monday and the Big Sur International Marathon next weekend in California. Sounds intense, but it's a pretty normal schedule for Wardian. He completed 54 races in 2014, including a 2:23:32 showing at the Boston Marathon—good enough for 44th place.
One of the greatest ultrarunners of all time has never run the Boston Marathon—until this year. Jurek, who was spotted training along the Charles River this weekend, is running as a sighted guide for the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired's Team With a Vision. He will be guiding Thomas Panek, CEO of the nonprofit Guiding Eyes for the Blind. (Photo: Scott Draper)