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How to run 100K (in 20 steps)

Alex MacLean initially only planned to run 50K on his "bales to trails" backyard route

Alex MacLean was recently inspired to run 100K on his family farm in Arichat on Cape Breton Island., N.S. He didn’t intentionally set out to run so far, and here he shares the experience and his tongue-in-cheek description of the 20-step process that took him to that ultrarunning milestone.

MacLean describes himself as a general outdoor enthusiast based out of Halifax. “Primarily a climber until recently, my interest in ultrarunning began when I set out for an 18-kilometre run, accidentally missed my turn-around point, and ran 30 kilometres instead,” he says.  “As for the 104K, I was really just curious if I could do it! I’d been working on clearing the trail on the farm whenever I visited home, since about January.” MacLean adds “a trail run with a friend inspired me to explore my own backyard and the outdoor spaces I grew up in.”

Photo: Alex MacLean

Alex’s guide to running 100K

1. Surround yourself with friends who like big days. Eventually, someone will ask you to run a 50km trail with them.

2. Tell everyone you know you’re training for a big trail run.

3. Have the race get cancelled for reasons outside of your control.

4. Realize you’ve told too many people about it to not do some sort of big day outside.

5. Create a ~5.5km loop on the family farm, and organize your own run.

Photo: Alex MacLean

6. Plan to run 10 laps of said loop, in order to reach the original goal of 50 km.

7. Finish lap number nine and realize the loop is slightly more than 5.5 km, you’ve already hit 50 km.

8. You’ve done nine, may as well go for 10 laps.

9. Realize you’re so close to 60 km, just one more lap.

50-mile smile. Photo: Alex MacLean

10. That’s 11, may as well make it 12. Half a day of running!

11. Two more laps and you’ll hit the next ultra milestone, a 50-miler (80K)!

12. Realize that if you want to run 100 miles someday, you’re gonna have to run all 80 of those kilometers that you just ran all over again.

13. Do some rough math in your head. Realize you MIGHT be able to get away with only three more laps.

Down to the beach on lap 3 Photo: Alex MacLean

14. Say out loud “Oh boy, here we go.”

15. Fall less than 2 km short of the 100 km mark. One more lap it is.

16. Finish your eighteenth 5.78 km run of the day and text Mom to see if she’ll pick you up in the truck so you don’t have to walk the 200 metres through the field to the house.

17. Wake up on the dining room floor because you fell asleep while trying to foam roll your legs.

18. Drag yourself to bed.

19.  Eat everything and anything you want the following day, if you can manage to hobble over to the kitchen.

The Aftermath Photo: Alex MacLean

20. Congratulations, you’ve just run your first 100K! Celebrate!

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