The March issue of UltraRunning Magazine is a good one. It is loaded with all sorts of fun articles to read and 2010 statistics to admire. One particular 2010 statistic I am fond of is Virginia's 2nd placement in terms of the number of ultra race completions by runners- 2,818. California is way out in front with 8,949. The next state is Texas with 1,933, still far below Virginia. Each state's number obviously does not include Fat Ass events and runs of the sort (hell, if it did the VHTRC events alone would eclipse California's staggering number) but it is impressive to see Virginia hold a confident 2nd. In fact, I have heard that Virginia is always 2nd in this ranking, next to California, but can't back that up. (Anyone?)
This statistic by itself, on paper, seems remarkable but not when you consider the many great runners who hail from Virginia, the available terrain, history of ultra running and racing in the state and- best of all- it's welcoming culture to new comers. When I close my eyes and imagine running pristine mountain ridgelines or up green valleys I often assume I'm somewhere out west in Colorado, Utah or the Sierras. Oddly enough, what even prompts these reoccurring day dreams are the bountiful memories I have running pristine ridgelines and up green valleys right here at home, in Virginia. The unique and long standing ultra running culture in Virginia is one that we Virginians are proud of and cherish and the number 2,818 is a mere token representation of these feelings. I've commented recently on this blog that I am somewhat new to the whole ultra running thing but I can't imagine a better place to be "new to ultra running" than in Virginia. The mountain trails are the best you'll find anywhere and so are the views. In the end it is the people that always create a culture- certainly not altitude, terrain, etc.- and the people who built and sustain the ultra running culture in Virginia, I find, are truly in a class of their own and who make Virginia a great place for ultra running.