Get Out There teams up with ultrarunner Maggie Guterl
New ambassador to provide inside look at elite ultrarunning as well as her new passion for fastpacking and more
We are happy to introduce Get Out There’s latest ambassador — ultrarunner Maggie Guterl.
Guterl has been doing all kinds of interesting adventures around her home in Colorado, including her latest foray — fastpacking. But, she will also soon be getting ready to return to racing, at least in a small way, when the Big Dog Backyard Ultra returns next month.
Big’s has become one of the biggest races on the ultra calendar, thanks in part to its illustrious founder Lazarus Lake, who has another pretty well-known race as well in the Barkley Marathons. The race takes place on Lake’s property in Bell Buckle, Tennessee. Runners must complete a 4.16667-mile loop every hour until there is just one hardy competitor standing. In 2019, that competitor was Guterl.
“I was thinking this is going to go for at least 400 miles so just keep doing what you are doing,” is the answer offered by American ultra trail runner Maggie Guterl when asked what she was thinking about at the tail end of last year’s Big Dog Backyard Ultra.
She didn’t quite go that far, but she did log 250 miles to become the first woman to win the race. It was the highlight of her career… so far.
“It felt like a culmination of everything I have learned in ultra running (and life),” she says.
She plans on returning to defend her title at this year’s race scheduled for Oct. 17. although Bigs looks different this year as only 12-15 competitors will be in Tennessee at the official race site while others will taking part in satellite races around the world.
“It will be my only race this year,” she says. “I just love the format and it will be nice to see some friends (even if it's only 12-15 of us) and see if we can't get to that 300 or even 400 miles mark. I have a good feeling about this year.”
Guterl grew up in Philadelphia, PA. Although she says she ran in grade school, the runner they call “Maggatron” was not involved in sports at all in high school and college.
She didn’t get back into running until she went for a jog with her college friend Leah to the Brooklyn Bridge and back (she went to school in Brooklyn). “I also would jump on a treadmill from time to time,” she says. “But other than that I didn't start running until 2007 and then it was off and on until 2009 when I finally got serious and ran my first marathon that November.”
A couple of years later it was time for her first ultra. But why?
“Not sure I signed up because I thought it was a good idea,” she explains. “But for the past two years, I would see people running in these loops in the evening and again when I went back out in the morning. They looked miserable and I was intrigued to see what it was all about.”
She signed up for an ultra when she was back in Philadelphia.
“It was a 24-hour race held on an 8.5-mile city loop us locals called the Kelly Drive Loop and it was in the middle of July. Not a great set up for success,” she says. “Philly can be sweltering in July. But it was a fun race and a good vibe.”
Now she’s a veteran of the ultrarunning scene and one of the top competitors in North America. Looking down her list of races and finishes and one can’t help but be impressed.
In 2014 she made the US 24-hour Team and competed at the world championships in Turin, Italy where she finished fourth after running 146 miles and her team won gold.
And in 2016, she had a mammoth year.
“I made a goal to go for a Golden Ticket to earn my entry to Western States. I ran the Georgia Death Race and got second and in June ran Western States. I had a steady race and got eighth place female there. My dream of top 10 was achieved,” she says. “Then to finish off the year in December I ran Brazos Bend 100 for the second time trying to get a sub-15 hour. I was also shooting for the American Traill Record (an unofficial record) at the time that still stands (14:22). I didn't quite get that but ran a 14:47 and finished with literally nothing left in the tank.”
She relocated to Durango, Colorado in 2019 for her work with Tailwind Nutrition where she is the athlete and events manager. She lives with her partner and her dogs.
“I love Durango but do miss my PA trails like a hill we call “Leg Destroyer,” she says. “But here in Durango, during the summer there are endless options with breathtaking scenery.”
That was one of the reasons she decided to take up fast-packing, which is a combination of long-distance trail running, hiking and light backpacking enabling participants to leave crowds far behind and extend trips well into wilderness areas.
“There is a lot of stuff here in Colorado that is too much for a day hike/run so stopping overnight is necessary to get really out there and explore,” Guterl explains. “And I love the freedom of having everything you need on your back and being able to wander.”
Guterl just got back from an outing where she reached nine summits!
“There is no shortage of mountains and wilderness here,” she says. “But there are certainly other areas that are remote I would love to check out like the Sierras and places in Wyoming.”
But she is also slowly moving back into running mode, with Bigs on the horizon, even though events currently still have social distancing in place, if they are happening at all.
“The ones that are happening now seem to have some sort of social distancing in place. But for now, I am really enjoying the freedom to explore my backyard,” Guterl says. “Although I do have to focus and get some road running in now that Bigs is on. The weekends are still for spending tons of time on my feet even if it's not moving really fast. The scenery is too beautiful to move too fast.”
With Get Out There, Guterl will give some insight on her new pursuit of fastpacking in addition to providing readers with an inside look at elite level ultrarunning.