The other day I was at a party trying to explain to a group of 'non-runner' friends about 100 mile races. I know I know, first mistake right? I wasn't doing a great job as usual and one of my friends just looked at me astonished... "you run 100 miles in 24 hours without stopping?" I told him that it was in the mountains so you're hiking some of the ups and running down and you have aid stations where you can rest and get food if you want, but it's important to keep moving. "Soooo," he said as the juices in his brain slowly oozed around, "it's mooore like a hike/run thiiing..." While he was technically correct and I wasn't going to argue about a sport so far outside his frame of reference, I said something about how if you want to finish in 24 hours the pace is 14 min/ mile which looks easy until mile 75. I think he was annoyed at everyone for being so amazed with what I did. I think in his brain he was fighting the idea that we do what most reasonable people feel is impossible. The same way I reacted when I first heard about ultras. I was scared, I was skeptical, I wanted to find the missing link that unveiled what was apparently magic. Okay not magic but something close to the edge of impossibility. I do think that it may seem a bit deceptive to call what we do ultra-'running' when we rarely finish a race without hiking some portion however small. To the uninformed it could look as though we conveniently leave out that detail to impress people. It's probably just easier than saying, "yea I ran/walked/stopped to pee & eat quesadillas for 100 miles". In my view calling it a run/hike also gives the wrong impression. Shouldn't we be allowed to call it running when the whole point is to get from A to B as quickly as possible? We run every step and only when we absolutely cannot run anymore, or when it's more efficient not to, we power hike up a mountain side. That seems like it warrants us to go around claiming we ran a 'hundred'. Maybe for a lot of racers it's not about time or running as much as possible. Maybe the running is just done to avoid cutoffs while spending a magnificent day in the wilderness. But for me, it's running. It's the joy of movement and the challenge of speed and efficiency across vast distances. Having been challenged to better describe my experiences to the uninformed has helped me discover what doing ultras is really about personally. While I don't think most people have a problem with us calling it ultra- running, I'll probably try to call it 'racing' 100 miles in the future.