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Ian Sharman: From the Jungle to a Grand Slam

20 May 2013

Ultrarunners set goals that seem inhuman to most.  Races covering 100 miles, full days spent in the sun and the heat, or even in faraway places like small islands or jungles.  Those are ultrarunners, and then there is Ian Sharman.  No stranger to ultrarunning, Ian has competed in over 180 marathons and ultraruns, and this year he's decided to go for the most daunting challenge of them all - The Grand Slam.

Jungle Ultra Multi Day

Ian Sharman

Photo courtesy Beyond the Ultimate

Ian starts his epic race season with a multi-day, multi-stage race in the jungles of Peru.  Starting May 26th in the cloud forests at over 10,000 feet elevation, Ian will strap on his favorite T2 Kinabalus and race over 30k every day, finally crossing the finish line May 30th.  With only the supplies on his back and hot water provided at camp, Ian will race through some of the thickest parts of the Amazon Rain Forest and along the Inca Trail.  And while the Jungle Ultra isn't the most well-known of ultra-races, Ian sees it as an opportunity to see new territory and to put in a lot of training miles.  Because where most would see 6 days of racing through the jungle as the ultimate test, Ian sees it as a warm up for his next challenge - the Western 100.  For more information on the Jungle Ultra click here.

Western 100

The Western 100

Image courtesy of Western States Endurance Run

Considered the most important of the 100 mile races in the U.S., the Western 100 takes place the last weekend in June in Squaw Valley, CA.  The Western States 100 miler has been attracting the most high level endurance runners for over 40 years.  June 29th, 2013, with his trusty Kinabalus in tow, Ian will embark on his 4th Western States Run.  The race takes top level competitors 15 to 16 hours to complete, with more than 18,000 feet of climbing and over 23,000 feet of descent by the time they reach the finish line in Auburn, CA.  Ian has consistently finished in the top 10, improving each year from just over 17 hours to just under 16 hours in 2012.  And where one can be concerned with course records and finish time, a top finish at one top-level race isn't Ian's only point of focus.  Ian plans to take the Grand Slam of 100 milers, competing in all 4 U.S. 100 mile races.  For more information on the Wester 100, click here.

The Grand Slam


Photo courtesy of San Francisco Running Company

Consisting of the Western 100, the Vermont 100, the Leadville 100, and finally the Wasatch 100, Ian is one of the few who aims to complete the Grand Slam of ultrarunning.  At the end of all 4 races, all 100 mile times will be added together for a Grand Slam time, pitting only those who choose to race and finish all 4 100 milers against each other.  The greatest challenge of the Grand Slam becomes not to win each race, but to finish each 100 mile race, with only 3 weeks of recovery in between each.  With short recovery times and conditions becoming harder and harder as the summer progresses, Ian will push his own physical boundaries to attempt this extreme goal.

With lofty goals, and unimaginable feats at hand, Ian is still just a guy who loves running.  Ian holds over 10 world records for running in costume, and is known to most as the "Fastest Elvis in a Marathon."  Running long distance for only 8 years, Ian has followed a passion that developed after creating a documentary about running.  While filming, Ian quickly fell in love with the community, the travel, and most of all the running.

Sharman in costume

Photos courtesy of Ian Sharman

Follow Ian's progress on his blog and through the SCOTT Running Twitter and Facebook feeds.