Out and Back

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What drives people to set seemingly impossible goals, and what fuels them to succeed? Shanty and professional ultra runner Abby Levene dig into these questions with the queen of ultra running, Courtney Dauwalter. Courtney is renowned in the ultra running community and beyond for her definitive wins at everything from the Moab 240-mile trail race, to the Western States 100 Endurance Run, to the 100-mile Ultra Trail de Mont Blanc.

Courtney takes listeners through her Colorado Trail FKT attempt this summer, and her recent win at perhaps the strangest running event of all: Big’s Backyard Ultra. The ultimate test of the mind, athletes at this event run a 4.16-mile loop every hour on the hour until only one person remains. This year, it was Courtney — 68 hours and 283 miles later.

Runners and non-runners alike won’t want to miss this episode to catch Courtney’s infectious optimism, learn what drives her to push barriers, and to pick up some tips on training your brain to endure when your body tells you to stop.

Show Notes

Follow Courtney on Instagram and Facebook to keep up with her physical, psychological, and gustatory adventures.

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Episode Highlights
3:55: How Courtney went from being an elite cross country skier to an ultramarathon runner.
6:52: Courtney’s first 100-mile race did not go according to plan.
9:00: That first 100-mile race flipped a switch in Courtney’s brain. 
10:07: Courtney thinks of her brain as a filing cabinet filled with experiences to draw out and use as needed.
13:35: How Courtney made the leap to quit her job as a high school science teacher to pursue running full time.
18:00: What drove Courtney to jump from racing 100 miles to 240 miles at the Moab 240.
22:35: Things unravel at the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run in 2019.
26:35: How Courtney bounced back mentally and physically from Western States leading up to UTMB.
35:30: Courtney’s legs were not prepared to win UTMB. How she managed to do so, anyway.
39:10: The role Courtney’s husband Kevin plays in Courtney’s success.
41:05: Why Courtney thought running the 500-mile Colorado Trail sounded like a good idea.
44:00: The sleep game of ultra-long distance events.
50:15: Unbeknownst to Courtney, things go horribly wrong on the Colorado Trail.
54:35: The inside-scoop on Courtney’s most recent win at Big’s Backyard Ultra.
1:13:35: Why Courtney exclusively runs in basketball style shorts.
1:15:35: Courtney’s life-saving food on the trail.
1:16:50: The one endurance event Courtney would love to spectate.

What is Out and Back?

In the Out and Back Podcast presented by Gaia GPS, thru-hiker Andrew “Shanty” Baldwin, professional guide/outdoorswoman Mary "Hiker Midnight" Cochenour, and professional athlete Abby Levene dive deep into conversation with long-distance hikers, record-breaking athletes, offroad travelers who sold everything to live full-time on the dusty backroads, and other awesome guests who have mastered their backcountry craft.

In every show, Shanty, Mary, and Abby tap into each backcountry expert’s superpower so you can take their experience and knowledge with you on your next adventure.