Yeti Ultra 24-Hour Challenge


when i stumbled upon the yeti ultra 24-hour challenge, i was immediately intrigued. 30 miles in 24 hours? wow. how could anyone do that? i could never! i recall seeing updates from other runners on instagram as they finished the challenge. for a few weeks, i went back and forth in my head. initially, it felt so far away from my ability as a new-ish runner who has never run more than 13.1 in one sitting (i accomplished this distance for my first half marathon in march, woot woot!). but then, i read further and realized this was more about mental toughness than physical ability. sure, running five miles every four hours requires a certain level of physical conditioning and run-ability. but, the challenge explicitly states participants can “run or walk” the miles. so why not? of course i wanted to run as much as i could, and i was prepared to, but knowing that i could walk when i had to made me feel really comfortable with the challenge.


“race day” recap: play-by-play of my yeti ultra 24 hour challenge

i signed up on a sunday and completed the challenge the following thursday/friday. i won’t stand on my soapbox and say it was easy. nothing about this challenge was easy. but it was totally doable! the toughest part of the challenge was waking up and running the nighttime miles. i chose to start my challenge thursday at 4pm, which meant i followed this schedule: 4pm – 8pm – 12am – 4am – 8am – 12pm. the midnight and 4am runs were the absolute toughest rounds of the challenge, simply because i had to wake up and rally during a time in which i’m usually fast asleep.


i felt really strong for the first two rounds. following my 8pm run, i took a quick nap (maybe an hour of sleep). my alarm jarred me out of bed and i quickly got dressed, stretched and chugged some tailwind. i put on my running light, grabbed my guard dog and hit the road. my legs were incredibly tired by this round. i ran the first half of the run, walked a little, and then rallied for the final mile. my dog generally slows my pace, but for once i was okay with it. i really enjoyed having his company and protection. i’m certainly not a fan of running at this hour! after the midnight round, i went home and tried to fall asleep – very tough when you’re running on adrenaline! i was able to sneak in an hour of sleep. then, 4am came soooo quickly. i woke up, chugged some more tailwind, and hit the road with my pup again. this was certainly my slowest round, but i was totally okay with it. i wanted to save my energy for the final two rounds. i walked two miles of this run and made it home with time for an hour nap – just before my kiddos woke for the day!


i woke up from my “nap” around 7am, to the sounds of “mommy, wake up!” from my toddler. we went downstairs and i made a quick breakfast for both kids. i ate half of a pb&j sandwich, drank a small cup of coffee, and downed some water. i packed up my hydration vest and tailwind and hit the road at around 8am. i ran my favorite local trail for this round – plus the final round. it was incredible to be running in the daylight once more. the weather was perfect and the scenery was breathtaking. my legs were dead tired, not gonna lie. i ran 4 out of the 5 miles. once home, i had to do a little bit of work (for my marketing director job) and the kids needed some attention…didn’t have time for a nap, but i was still running on adrenaline. only one more round. five miles! i had run 25 miles in the last 24 hours. holy cow. so close!!! round 6 was upon me quickly.


12pm…let’s do this! i grabbed my hydration vest, loaded up the tailwind, and hit the road. i decided to run the same trail route as round 5. my legs were super tired for this round, but i was committed to run as much of it as possible. i also wanted to have a faster pace than my fifth round (this was the only time i really paid attention to my pace). my pace was slightly faster (yay!). with each step, i felt closer to the finish line. so close. you can do it…you can do it! i called my hubby as i turned the corner to our neighborhood. he and the kiddos came outside to greet me as i finished the last part of the run. it felt great to see them as i finished the challenge! it’s our race day tradition: my babes always greet me at the finish line. this felt pretty close to a real finish line ending!


in conclusion, i am so happy i completed this challenge. it’s not for the faint of heart, but it really is doable for a new runner like me. i love pushing myself and doing things outside of my comfort zone…let me tell you, this challenge was way outside of my comfort zone! i’m sharing some of my best tips and advice below. if you are interested, sign up here! if you’re thinking about it, just go for it. and if you have any questions, give me a shout!



my best tips for the yeti ultra 24-hour challenge


before

- hydrate. two days before the challenge, i made sure to start drinking more water/electrolytes. nuun is my favorite electrolyte beverage. definitely adds a nice flavor to water, plus the added benefits of electrolytes with hardly any sugar!

- do laundry before you start. lay out your running outfits/gear ahead of time. trust me: this little step makes a big difference!

- have snacks ready. pb+j sandwiches and bananas were my favorites! i also made a basic pasta dish earlier in the day, so i snacked on that a few times during the challenge.

- get a running light. believe it or not, before this challenge, i had never run in the dark before! a light helped me stay visible to others and also helped me see in front of me (pretty important, right?).

- have your endurance fuel/hydration gear ready. i pre-mixed my tailwind endurance fuel so that i could easily grab it before i ran. for my daytime runs, i brought my tailwind with me. typically i won’t hydrate during a 5 mile run, but under these circumstances, the hydration really helped me. during my nighttime runs, i didn’t bring water/tailwind and i definitely felt sluggish (since i was wearing a running light on my chest, i didn’t wear my hydration vest).

- arrange for childcare. my hubby and i synced up our schedules so that he could watch the kids during each run. no offense kiddos – i did not want to do any stroller runs for this challenge if i could help it! also, his help was big immediately after i finished the challenge…i was pretty tired and the last thing i wanted to do was carry the kids up the stairs for bath time by myself!

- plan your routes ahead of time. i used three different routes which i knew were 5 miles each. helpful to not have to think – just run!

- do the challenge with a buddy! i was so happy to share this craziness with my friend/coworker, amy. she happens to be a badass marathoner (she’s running her 10th marathon later this year!). we are currently separated by a few hundred miles, but the text message encouragement for each run – especially those night runs – was so helpful. and it was pretty cool knowing that someone else was running at the same time i was!


during

- have a mantra! my mantras: run as much as you can, walk when you have to. give yourself grace and don’t overdo it. take the challenge one mile at a time.

- don’t worry about pace. just finish! as a new runner, this challenge was a huge stretch goal for me. my only goal was to finish (secondary goal was to run as much as i could during each round). my best pace for this challenge (round 1) was 11:07. for reference, my 10k trail run pr from earlier this year was around 55:00, with my first (virtual) half in march at 2:27. my longest run was my virtual half (13 miles) so this was definitely out of my comfort zone.

- hydrate and eat. see comments above regarding snacks and my hydration regiment.

- rotate your shoes. my final 10 miles were on the trail, so my trail shoes gave my feet a nice break from my road shoes. definitely a big help.

- sleep when you can. even the shortest naps helped me. i slept around 3-4 hours total during my nighttime run stretch (slept an hour after my 8pm run, an hour after 12am, and an hour after 4am). running every 4 hours is no joke. you won’t believe how fast time flies between runs!

- be safe. we’re fortunate to live in a very safe neighborhood. even so, running at night is not for the faint of heart. i ended up running my 12am and 4am legs with my lovable guard dog, juno. while he definitely slowed my pace down (10 miles is far beyond our usual 3 mile runs together!), i appreciated having him with me, just in case. i also pre-selected my nighttime routes based on street lights and familiarity. lastly, i brought my phone with me for every run, carried pepper spray, told my husband my routes, and made sure to run without music at night (and with one earbud in during the day).



after

- eat. everything. after the challenge, i immediately ate a pb&j. a few hours later, in-n-out was on the menu: fries, double double and a shake. at 9pm, i was still hungry…so i made a quesadilla. calories well-earned! the morning after the challenge, i enjoyed pastries from our favorite local bakery. yum!

- keep drinking water! and electrolytes. don’t stop just because you stopped running.

- sleep. go to bed early and enjoy that first full night of sleep!

- enjoy the moment. you just did something pretty awesome (or crazy, depending on whom you’re asking). give yourself a pat on the back. you did it!

- shower…and wash your hair. i showered once during the challenge (gross, i know, but i thought sleep was more important than showering, and i maintain that stance). it felt great to shower after this was all over. reminded me of that first shower after a camping trip! campers…you know what i mean. it was glorious.


my yeti 24 hour challenge: by the numbers

- 30 miles

- 24 hours

- 200+ minutes of music

- 3,600+ calories burned

- 396 minutes of activity

- 80+ ounces of tailwind endurance fuel

- 24 articles of clothing

- 10 trail miles

- 10 doggy miles

- 3 bananas and 3 pb&j sandwiches

- 2 pairs of running shoes

- 0 regrets!