On Nov. 15, 2014 Greg Ottinger started running through the mountains above Lake Elsinore—and he kept running and running for 100 miles and almost 23 hours straight. Nope. That’s not a typo. 100 miles. No stopping; no sleeping; just running.
Greg participated in the Chimera 100, one of a small number of ultramarathons, which combine the rugged terrain of hiking with the long-distance running of marathons—and then some. “I know this all sounds kind of odd,” Ottinger said. “It is kind of a crazy sport.” Ottinger, Senior Information Technology Officer, started his adventure at 6 a.m., navigating rocky terrain that traversed several peaks and included more than 22,000 feet of climbing and another 22,000 feet of downhill running. That’s more or less the equivalent of running up and down Cowles Mountain more than 20 times in a row.
He finished in fourth place with a time of 22 hours and 58 minutes and was met by his mother, sister, and wife. He was reluctant to talk about his accomplishment, but said he hopes it will help inspire other people to push themselves toward their goals and out of their comfort zone.
So, how did it feel to run 100 miles? “In some ways, it’s the most unique thing I’ve ever experienced in my life,” he said. “Within a couple of minutes, you can go from feeling the lowest low in your life to feeling on top of the world.” There were 18 checkpoints along the way that had snacks and water. Ottinger said he tried to get in and out of those within about a minute. He also had a couple of bags of equipment at two of the check points and a backpack with more stuff.
As for training, he runs—a lot. When he’s training, he’ll run between 70 and 110 miles a week before and after work. It also requires core strengthening and proper nutrition. Then there’s the logistical planning, which he said takes up much of his time in the week or two before the race. “You need to have an A plan, a B plan, and a C plan,” he said. You never really know what you’ll come across in those rugged mountains.
He didn’t start running or hiking until a few years ago, when some friends challenged him to climb San Jacinto Mountain outside of Palm Springs. “I remember that feeling of accomplishment, and that set me off on my way to start hiking local mountains,” he said. He started hiking regularly and also running, participating in his first half marathon not long after. His first ultramarathon was in December 2012, when he ran a 50K in San Francisco. That experience made him want to do more. “I loved it,” he said. “I loved the climbing. I loved the cold. I loved the mud.” But what he enjoyed the most was breaking through a self-imposed limit or perception about how far he could push himself. In April, he ran his first 100-mile race in Zion National Park.
As for the future, there are a couple of 200-mile races out there, but Ottinger said he’ll probably take it relatively easy for a while since he and his wife are expecting their first child in February. Of course, taking it easy still involves miles and miles and miles of running.