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Posts Tagged ‘Wounded Warrior Project’

Jared Busen, pictured here in uniform in Afghanistan. Busen continued training runs while he served there as a Combat Advisor in 2009-2010.

“Ultra” is the right adjective for Jared Busen in more ways than one. This Class of 2000 Quincy High grad has gone on to become something of a real-life superhero. In 2006, Busen joined the Army, went into Basic Training, and discovered that distance running was his passion. Not satisfied with marathons of 26.2 miles, Busen elected to push onward to Ultra-Marathon distances.

An Ultra-Marathon takes one of two forms: it can be a specified distance (often 50k, 100k, 50 miles, 100 miles or 150 miles) or the race can last a set length of time, for example, 24 hours, and the runners will cover all of the distance that they possibly can before time expires.

It’s easy to list out Jared’s accomplishments as a runner and be in awe. He’s competed in 13 Ultras since he began. He took first place in the Farmdale 50 mile in October 2010 and first place in 150 mile McNaughton Trail Run in May 2011. He places regularly in every race he enters. He even continued running and training while he was deployed in Afghanistan — famously recording hundreds of laps around the .6-mile perimeter of Camp Alamo just because he needed somewhere to stretch his legs. During Army leave time in South Korea — where you would imagine a soldier might want to rest — Busen instead ran a 100k, came back three weeks later to run in the Seoul Marathon, and then completed a second 100k a week after that.

Ultra Marathons take place on a variety of surfaces, including rugged trails like this one.

Besides conquering herculean running distances though, what sets Busen apart in my mind is the focus he brings to all of his endeavors and the easy and unassuming way he talks about distance I can only imagine in terms of road trips in my car.

“[Ultra marathoning] is a sport anyone can do. I’m not gifted or special, I’m just a regular dude who decided to do something hard,” he explains. “The first step is to accept that you’re capable of accomplishing that kind of challenge.”

I expressed some disbelief at his assertion that anyone could take on that kind of distance — thinking back on how hard my first two 5k races seemed this year — and he continued to explain how someone makes the jump from small distances to larger ones.

“That’s the only difference. It’s about continual forward progress. It’s about not quitting. It’s hard for me too — really hard. You’re going to hit walls and want to stop no matter what distances you’re training for.  For running you have to be adaptable and know how to overcome.”

Busen recently launched a website dedicated to his Ultras. In race recaps, you start to understand some of the difficulties the sport entails. The logistics of these races are planned months in advance. Each racer requires a small but dedicated team of people to monitor the race, provide the right hydration, nutrition and equipment as conditions dictate. For example, Busen calculated that he consumed over 10,200 calories during the 150-mile McNaughton race. For comparison, that’s eight days worth of calories for me right now. It’s not surprising that this race takes that much fuel though, or that it takes a team to manage it. The trail is a 10-mile loop repeated 15 times with 2,400 feet of elevation change per loop. The total elevation change is 36,000 feet, the equivalent of the height of Mount Everest and Mount Saint Helens combined.

In addition to his physical accomplishments, Busen is an indefatigable teacher and motivator. In the Army and now the Army Reserves, he is a drill sergeant with the rank staff sergeant E-6.  And while he’ll tell you he was the one “all up in everyone’s face, barking orders,” you can see that he was a leader by example. I asked him why such a Zen-guy would want to be a drill sergeant, and he explained that he just wanted to be the best soldier he could be.

“I guess I see a drill sergeant as a model soldier, so aspiring to that forced me to be as focused as I could be. You’re in front of everyone and they’re just waiting for you to screw up — it’s motivation to work even harder and do my best.”

Busen (right) running on a track. He says that long distances only require a commitment to "continual forward progress."

Busen backs his drill sergeant persona down a decibel or two when he helps coach track and cross-country teams at his local high school and junior high.

“It’s been one of the most rewarding experiences, to help kids learn to love running. I hope I inspire them to run their best. They definitely inspire me.”

The “Get Out” blog will feature some of Jared Busen’s own race recaps in upcoming posts. Until then, I’d encourage you to check out his blog at www.runhappens.com or find him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/runhappens?ref=ts.

Jared is currently training for the Badgerland 24-Hour Track Ultra-Marathon and hopes to complete 130-plus miles. He is running this race in support of the Wounded Warrior Project and has set a goal of raising $5,000 to support our military heroes. Please consider making a donation — either a one-time amount or by-the-mile — for this honorable cause. Visit http://tinyurl.com/WWPJaredBusen to make a donation or for more information.

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