Math teacher runs ultramarathon

Math teacher and ultramarathoner Joe Brown

Math teacher Joe Brown is bringing math and science to his love for competitive fitness. On Saturday, Oct. 13, at 8 a.m. and starting at the Runner’s Flat in downtown Cedar Falls, Brown and others raced in the Valley’s first ever 50K Ultra Marathon The race went through the trails of George Wyth Park and the Hartman Reserve.

This was Brown’s eighth ultramarathon that he has participated in. Running 50K is equivalent to running about 31 miles. His last ultramarathon, which was 50 miles, took place three and a half weeks ago.

“I find most of my races by just looking them up but also from word of mouth and from others that I have run with from other races. I actually found out about my last ultramarathon from a guy that I had run a 50 miler with some time before actually. For this race I’m actually wearing a Garmin watch, a heartrate monitor and carrying a Flip camera with me. I’m going to use all of this and take all the data, my body weight before and after, how many ounces of water I drank, and how much food I ate and hopefully be able to use it in science and my math classes,” Brown said.

To be able to bear all of these long, intense races, there has to be a lot of physical and mental training involved.

“I’m really excited for this one because it’s the first in town, but I didn’t really train for this ultramarathon because I’m still recovering from the 50-mile race which I really trained for, but I didn’t do much specific training for this one. My fastest 50K was four hours and seven minutes. I was seventh out of 200 runners, but in my last 50K, I was 21 out of 222 runners,” Brown said.

Even when he’s not training for a specific race, Brown likes to run a lot in his free time and stay in shape for any future races that could be coming up.

“I run for the most part on my own. On Mondays there’s a group of runners that meet up at Pfiffer Park, and on Fridays a couple of people from the math department go on runs, but other than that I run on my own. When I’m really into the training I’m doing, I’ll run for at least seven miles. The farthest nonstop run for me was when I was training, and I ran 18 miles straight when I was training for my 50-mile race. I planned it so that over a three-day span I ran a total of 41 miles because I didn’t ever run more than three miles straight without walking any type of hill,” Brown said.

While training is a very important part of staying in shape and healthy to continue to run races like this, another very important thing for the body is resting and recovering, so runners have time to recharge to do it all over again.

“After this last 50 mile run, I took six days off running. Then I started running every third day, and after two weeks I started up again to running every other day. My favorite type of races are on dirt trails because they’re easier on the body and easier for me to recover from,” Brown said.

Each race is also very unique. There are many different aspects to them, and it’s more than just a straightforward run to the end.

“During the 50-mile race, I fell and rolled a little, but it’s OK because the other runners stopped to help me up and continue. I fell before the first aid station, so not even six miles into the race. The people I meet in these kinds of races [ultramarathons] I actually stay in touch with because at most there are hundreds compared to other [regular marathons] that have thousands of participants. The smallest race I’ve been at, it had not up to 40 participants, and the largest had well over 200. I don’t ever run the whole marathon. I walk uphill and run the rest,” Brown said. “I participated in a 38-mile night run, which started at 10 p.m. where everyone wore headlamps and ran with flashlights. I didn’t finish with that until around 3 a.m. It was really fun and exciting because it was pitch black. Every race is different and every terrain is different, but it’s always nice finding like-minded people, and I love the challenge.

Brown has run many different types of ultramarathons with different experiences, but all of them have aid stations to help the runners recharge and catch their breaths during the intense experience.

“At first when I started I would spend five to ten minutes at the aid stations, but now I spend way less time there. I’m just there now to refuel and keep going. I eat a lot during the races. I mainly just carb load with anything. I want salt, so pretzels, chicken broth, oreos, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, brownies, M&M’s, pretty much anything. Hopefully, they have port-a-potty stations there too,” Brown said.

“I started running cross-country in my junior and senior year of high school. Some people would call it an obsession or even an addiction, but the side effects of running are staying in shape and healthy. It’s good for you, and it’s a great stress reliever. I start running and forget about the day. The next thing I’m going to try is snowshoe racing,” Brown said.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply