A centennial celebration

Justine Morrison at the Vermont City Marathon. She was recently accepted to the USA 100K Team and will compete at the World Championship 100K race, this year in Winschoten, the Netherlands, on September 12. Photo: Courtesy

Justine Morrison at the Vermont City Marathon. She was recently accepted to the USA 100K Team and will compete at the World Championship 100K race, this year in Winschoten, the Netherlands, on September 12. Photo: Courtesy

Justine Morrison makes the USA 100K women’s team and will race in the world championships

Alex Bunten | The Charlotte News

Justine Morrison grew up in Charlotte and went to UVM. While at university she took a marathon training class but never thought she would even run one. The fact that she has recently been accepted to be on the USA 100K Team either shows that people can be fickle in their preferences or that running 100K can be really fun. It’s likely the former.

Justine ran her first 100K race (about 62 miles) in 2005. Ten years later, in November 2014, she ran the JFK 50 Mile in 7 hours and 9 minutes and just qualified under the USA Team cutoff time of 7 hours and 15 minutes. Only six female athletes are chosen each year to represent the USA 100K team.

“I was pretty far down the list and was completely surprised when I got the call this week,” Justine said via email. “My training this year has been focused on a marathon, but luckily I have a few more weeks to get a couple longer runs in which should put me in good shape for race day…I hope.”

On September 12, she will fly with a small group of elite athletes to Winschoten, the Netherlands, and take part in the 2015 World Championships for 100K. She will be representing the USA, Vermont, and even her hometown of Charlotte. Justine is the daughter of Charlotte Selectboard Chair, Lane Morrison.

From her current home in Bethesda, Maryland, between daily runs and while the kids were napping, we caught up with Justine via email.

The Charlotte News: 100K is pretty far. Some people don’t even like to drive that far! When did you run your first and what was it like? 

Justin Morrison: I first heard about ultramarathons while at UVM when I took a marathon training class. To be honest, I thought it sounded nuts and I didn’t think I would ever do one. Fast forward four years and I ran my first 50K trail race and it was awesome. Trail ultras are really like hiking in the woods all day. The pace and intensity is very slow and easy. I ran my first 100K in December 2005. It was in the mountains of Virginia and started at midnight in freezing temps. It was without a doubt the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I’ll never forget it.

CN: Ultramarathons are popping up all over the country. What do you think is behind their relative popularity? Is 100K the new marathon?

JM: Yes, ultras are becoming very popular! Maybe people are realizing how fun it is to spend a day in the woods/mountains. Add in the challenge of a race and it’s so fun and exciting. It’s also a relatively easy and cheap way to stay fit and active.

When I was working in an office full time I couldn’t wait for a long run on the weekends just to spend time outside in the wilderness. At least that is what draws me to it; everyone has different reasons. I’m not sure it would be the new marathon, but maybe. There is an element of discomfort to an ultra that some people will just not enjoy. But there is a very satisfying feeling of accomplishment about simply moving your body from point A to B.

CN: How often do you train and what motivates you to get up and out each time?

JM: Right now I am running every day, but I don’t do a ton of miles, maybe 50-60 a week. I’ve always loved running and staying active so I’m generally pretty motivated. But nothing gets me pumped up to train like signing up for a race! I’m a competitive person so that helps.

CN: Do you have a favorite training route in Charlotte?  

JM: Yes, I LOVE running in Charlotte. From my dad’s house on Lake Road, I turn right, head to Greenbush, take a left on Ferry Road down to the ferry, and Converse Bay Road back home. That is about 7 miles and one of the favorites. It has everything, some mountain and lake views, also both flats and hilly sections, even a little dirt road.

CN: As a nationally recognized athlete in this sport now, what advice would you give to someone that aspired to run or race 100K? 

JM: What I’ve learned is that consistent training is the best way to get in shape. You have to listen to your body and build up mileage VERY slowly, but get that run in every day and it will pay off.

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