Ed Ettinghausen completed his 29th and 30th 100-mile run of the year on Oct. 17-19.
Running 135 marathons in a year was enough to get Ed Ettinghausen, 52, a CPR instructor from Wildomar, Calif., in the Guinness Book of World Records. But records are made to be broken and Ed’s was. Ettinghausen, known as “The Jester” due to his colorful racing kit, is now in the midst of a new quest—to set the record for running the most 100-mile races in a year.
This past Sunday, at an hour when many were stretching out after a long run or sitting down to a relaxed brunch, The Jester was finishing his second 100-mile race of the weekend—as in completing twice the number of 100-mile races most would consider doing in a lifetime in one weekend. He was fourth to cross the line in 21:45:57 at the Pony Express Trail 100 in Utah during the wee hours of Saturday morning, and celebrated by rushing to the airport so he could make it to Norco, Calif. and run the 100 Mile Club Endurance Challenge that began later that same morning. The official start time was 7 a.m., but Ettinghausen was allowed to begin about an hour late due to his travel schedule. He finished in 29:09 and was the second-to-last person to make the 30-hour cutoff. His logistical and endurance success put him at a total of 30 hundreds for the year—Liz Bauer set the current world record of 36 hundreds in a year in 2012. (He’s already surpassed the men’s world record of 27 100-milers set by Scott Brockmeier, who ran 27 alongside Bauer in 2012.) Ettinghausen’s goal is is to complete 40 100-plus mile events by the end of the year.
Why 100 miles?
Marathons are great events, and I love them. But 100 miles is more of a challenge for me. There aren’t many people who go for that kind of distance. I’m a social runner and appreciate the strong community and good friendships in our small running world. Everyone running it understands the struggle. A 100-mile race is a competition, but we are also struggling together and working together. It’s also a totally different beast because there is so much that can happen over the course of 100 miles.
What was your first 100-mile race?
It was the Nanny Goat 24, a 24-hour race held on a one-mile dirt loop at a horse ranch in Riverside, Calif. I completed 102 laps and finished in third place. I enjoyed the challenge, but it scared me enough that it took me another year to run a 100. I remember when I first heard about the Badwater 135—my thought was, “someone who does that must be crazy.” (Ettinghausen has since run Badwater four times.)
How do you train for so many long races?
My training is the race itself. I might go out once or twice a week to do a 10- or 15-mile run, but it’s also nice to take a break during the week so I can go into a race well-rested. I think that’s why I’m excited every time I get to the starting line. I love every run I do–at least I do once I get started! Races are the best, that’s where I have a really great time.
How is your body holding up to the stress of your goal, and how do you recover?
A lot of it is pure luck and good genes. I recover fast and can run 100 miles one weekend and be ready to go the next. I live a healthy lifestyle and get plenty of sleep, have a positive mental attitude, eat clean and don’t drink. My wife is a massage therapist, and it helps that she can do deep tissue work on tight spots before they become a problem. I’m more nervous about twisting an ankle while crossing the street than I am about getting injured during a 100.
Physical preparedness is one thing, how to you get ready mentally?
Attitude makes all the difference. Physically, there isn’t much you can do when things start to go awry in a race. But mentally you can. You can control your thoughts and how you handle challenges. I always have a plan A. If that doesn’t work, I resort to plans B, C, D or E so I can adjust and adapt to whatever comes my way. Any time you get too confident, the ultra Gods will give you a DNF (Did Not Finish). As humbling as a DNF is, it reveals your weakest spots and where you need to improve. If you haven’t DNF’d, I don’t think you’ve pushed yourself hard enough or done a hard enough race.
What’s up with the jester costume?
It’s something that evolved. I’m a founder of the Riverside Road Runners Marathon Training Club in Riverside, Calif. We trained as a club to run the Surf City Marathon and I ran it in a surfer dude outfit I wore during a club skit, and had fun. Then I started running in different hats. When I put on a jester hat, it really seemed to suit my personality. I eventually added the skirt, white tights, gaiters and gloves. And my trusty cowbell, I always run with that.
How do others outside the ultra community react to your goal?
I don’t really talk about running 100-mile races in public because people think you’re nuts. My family has seen me evolve into an ultrarunner and they are good with it. They understand that running is a big part of my life. My wife is always my crew chief. She knows me inside and out and can always tell how I’m really doing in a race.