Five Questions with rucker Chris Cantrell

Chris Cantrell – Rucking Towards a Hundred Miler

Name: Chris Cantrell

Age: 45

Place: Eastern Iowa

Happily Married (At least that’s what my wife tells me.)

Chris Cantrell
Chris Cantrell

1. How many ultras have you run? Which ones?

Well, I’m new to ultrarunning so I only have two 50Ks under my belt. I’ve run the Doggone Tired Utlra-Trail Run 50K the last two years. In 2017, I’m planning to tackle the Hawkeye 50K and the Cacapon 12 Hour Challenge in addition to returning to the Doggone Tired Ultra.

2. Is it true that you did one of them in boots and a rucksack? What’s that all about?

Actually I “rucked” the 50K both times.

Rucking races designed for runners… Well, a few years ago I suffered several nagging little running injuries back to back which caused me to have to take repeated breaks from running. So I started looking for an alternative that would allow me to maintain some level of fitness and be less likely to cause injury.

I spent what I’ll just refer to as my “formative years” in the Marine Corps infantry where I learned to carry heavy loads for long distances over all types of terrain. So I went back to what was familiar, I started strapping on a 30 to 50 pound rucksack, lacing up my boots, and hitting the roads and trails several times a week. I get an inexplicable satisfaction from putting miles under my boots will carrying a rucksack. At first, I was satisfied with just walking. It didn’t take long for me to start calculating split times and thinking I could do better. This all lead to my current habit of completing road and trail races with a combination of running and fast walking while wearing a rucksack.

3. What are your goals for running?

I’d like to be able to ruck a 50 miler and run a 100 miler in the not too distant future.

4. What have you learned so far?

Two things stick out in my mind.

First, you have to properly fuel your body. I really learned this in one hard lesson: In about 2013, I spent 10 hours in the car driving to the western South Dakota. Upon arrival, I hopped out of the car and had a short visit with some friends in Rapid City. After about thirty minutes, I jumped back in the car and drove up to Sylvan Lake Day Use Area.  The parking lot for the trail to the fire tower located atop Harney Peak is over a mile higher than the elevation where I live, and the last thing I’d had to eat was at lunchtime about 5 hours earlier. Without much thought to any of that, I strapped on a 30 pound rucksack, grabbed two 12 ounce bottles of water and a vanilla bean GU, and headed up the trail. It is about a 7 mile round trip to the peak with over 1,600 feet of elevation gain. The views from 7,242 feet were beautiful, and I felt good as I’d not taken too long to make the ascent. As I started down, the fire tower steps to start back towards my car, I realized there was not much left in the tank for return trip. It was a slow, painful descent.

However, I think the biggest thing I’ve learned has been that God has given me the ability to accomplish much more with this body than I ever thought possible.

5. What are your favorite trails that are local to you?

The Old Creamery Trail and the Rodgers Park Lake Trial

Bonus: What’s your favorite beer?

1919 Root Beer. It is dark, rich, and not over carbonated.

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