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The Changing Landscape of Ultrarunning: 25 Years of Perspective and a Look Forward

Tue, 2024-05-28

Dave Coblentz will speak about ultrarunning at the May 28 Mountaineers meeting. In the past 25 years, ultrarunning (running competitions longer than marathon distance) has transitioned from a fringe sport with about 10,000 total finishes in 1998 to more than 130,000 total finishes in 2023. Consequently, there are many more runners training and competing on remote trails. In contrast to ultrarunners from 25 years ago, many of these runners lack backcountry experience and the number of search and rescue responses involving trail runners has increased markedly in recent years. Coincidently, climate change over the past 25 years has had a significant impact on the hazards present in the backcountry (e.g., affecting wildfire hazard, storm and lightning severity, and the character of avalanches).  In this presentation, issues surrounding the convergence of changes in the sport of ultrarunning with a changing climate will be discussed, with particular focus on safety in the mountains.

David Coblentz is an avid skier and ultrarunner who lives and works in Los Alamos. He ran his first ultramarathon in 1998 and has competed in more than 150 ultramarathons over the past twenty five years.  He is also active in race organization and serves on the Hardrock 100 Board of Directors and the High Altitude Athletics Club (which puts on the local Jemez Mountain Trail Runs).

We welcome all to this Mountaineers’ meeting, on the regular fourth Tuesday of the month. The social hour, with cookies, begins at 6:45 PM and the program at 7:00 PM. The presentation will be streamed at Los Alamos Nature Center; the slides will be live-streamed on Zoom. Registration is required to Zoom and recommended for in-person – we would love to see your smiling face. Registration is at

Dave Coblentz on a June snowfield during the San Juan Solstice 50 race, on his way to 12,856 feet of elevation gain over 50 miles.

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