Let me break down a few of the most common types for you:
The Newbies: These are the folks who didn’t run in high school or college. They picked it up later, but they became freakishly good in a short time. They have a little bit of a happy-go-lucky approach, and we have no idea how good they really are because they don’t have a road-running resume. Example: Caroline Boller
The Car Dwellers: These folks are surprisingly common in the sport. I’m not sure if it started with Anton or if it had been around longer. However, the fact that they sleep in cars clearly has no bearing on their performance. Examples: David Laney and Sarah Keyes
Road Converts: This group was fast on the roads – really fast. On paper, they should be hard to beat on the trails. Examples: Tim Tollefson, Camille Herron and Magda
The “Yes” Crowd: This name is due to the fact that this group cannot say no to a terrain, distance, etc. 5k? 50k? 100k? Yes, yes and yes! Obstacles? Yes, please! Example: Max King
The Technicians: This group isn’t necessarily the fastest, but they know exactly what they are doing. Their training specificity is unmatched, and their race-day strategies are very methodical. This group won’t win the big races, but they are always around the podium, and their consistency is jaw-dropping. Examples: Ian Sharman and Jeff Browning
The Hoppers: This group is most likely to drink an IPA after a run. They are often found with trucker hats, vintage t-shirts and guitars. Examples: Matt Flaherty and Amanda Basham
The Recovery Crew: These folks may have had issues with alcohol, drugs or both. They found a new, healthier addiction, and their positivity is always welcome on the trails. Examples: Tim Olson, Chris Vargo and Maggie
The Home Run Hitters: In baseball, there are players that hit 50 home runs per year, but they also strike out two hundred times per year. In ultrarunning, these are the folks who run out-of-this-world times or DNF. Don’t get me wrong, no judgment here. You’ll just find that these folks often take an all or nothing approach. Example: Tyler Sigl
The Trail Therapy Crew: It’s no secret that people of all stripes suffer from depression. Some of the most formidable trail runners have been very open about it. Sometimes the best place to ditch those demons is a singletrack to nowhere in particular. Exampes: Rob Krar and Nikki Kimball
The Cool Cats: These are the runners who just look so good all the time – it doesn’t matter the race, distance, weather… whatever. They always look like they came from a photo shoot. Example: Jorge Maravilla
The Untouchables: These folks have come and gone in the sport. When they are on top of their game, they literally cannot be beat. Any distance. Any terrain. Untouchable. Examples: Ann Trason and Jim Walmsley
The Mid-Packers: These folks probably ran a decent road marathon at some point and then got bored. They figured, what the hell, it’s only 31 miles. Then, what the hell, it’s only 50 miles… and on and on.
The Back-of-the-Packers: These folks are tough as nails. They go into every race knowing they will probably be racing cutoffs. And yet, they keep showing up. They work hard on the trails and often have full coolers in their cars for the post-race festivities.
What groups did I miss?