Ultrarunning phenom Courtney Dauwalter spends her life exploring the limits of human endurance. She finally found one she couldn’t run through.
Known as one of the busiest ultrarunners in the United States, the Minnesota transplant who lives in Golden dropped out of the Desert Solstice 24-hour race on a track in Phoenix on Saturday after running just under 60 miles in eight hours. She was attempting to break the 24-hour world record of 161.55 miles set in 2017 by Patrycja Bereznowska of Poland. Bereznowska’s record fell in the Phoenix race to Camille Herron of Warr Acres, Okla., who finished with 162.9 miles.
“I’m glad I tried,” said Dauwalter, 33. ”You don’t know unless you try.”
Dauwalter ran 12 ultras in 2018 and won nine, including the prestigious Western States 100 in June. The toll of frequent racing finally caught up with her, she said.
“In the weeks leading up to it I thought that I was rested up and had one more in me, maybe, but I wasn’t sure,” Dauwalter said. “It turns out I didn’t. It was a good lesson for me, to be reminded of the importance of resting and recovering and giving your body what it needs. I hope I’m smart and I learn from it and turn it into something that can be useful.”
Dauwalter started the race trying to run the pace it would take to break the world record (just under 9 minutes per mile), but soon realized she didn’t have it.
“By four hours in, I was feeling how I should be feeling at like 14 hours,” Dauwalter said. “It was indicating that things weren’t going in my favor. I gave it some time to see if I could turn it around, or move that through that phase, and it just didn’t happen.”
Dauwalter’s next planned race is New Zealand’s Terawera Ultra in February. Until then, her focus will be on recovery.
“I’m going to take the resting pretty seriously and do a lot of sitting,” Dauwalter said, “focusing on family and friends and enjoying the holiday season and giving my body some time to heal up for hopefully a big 2019.”