Ryan Young set to take on rigorous 100-mile race for charity

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Ryan Young

By ERIKA HARDISON

We have all read or heard about a story where people have suddenly changed their lives by having some sort of health epiphany. The kind of change where, all of a sudden, they are able to changed their life dramatically and become the poster child for fitness. Usually these testimonies are accompanied with trendy crash diets or miraculous diet pills, but Ryan Young proclaims his life changed in 10 minutes.

That short time turned the model into a commendable and dedicated runner that chooses marathons and races which test his mental and physical strengths. How does one transform from a regular gym enthusiast to an ULTRA Runner? This Valentine's weekend, Feb. 13-15, Ryan will be running the Susitna100, a rigorous 100-mile race through the frozen topography of Northern Anchorage -– all while raising money for a charity close to his heart, the 100 Mile Club, an organization that encourages elementary school children to run or walk the equivalent of 100 miles per school year with the aim of getting students moving, and curbing childhood obesity.

What do you think is the hardest point of this particular race will be versus the other races?

I believe the hardest point of the Susitna 100 will be the isolation. Alone on the trail for up to 48 hours gives my mind plenty of time to play tricks and doubt; but its also an incredibly opportunity to wonder, bask in the surreal Alaskan environment and coach myself with positive thoughts.

You basically started out as a regular gym enthusiast turned into marathon runner. You said your life changed in a course of 10 minutes on the treadmill. What are some of the physical burdens you have had to endure from running?

Those first 10 minutes were a life changing moment. Carefully listening to my body, pushing it forward and pulling it back when appropriate, I haven't endured many physical burdens. My challenge has been more mental. I may be conquering distances of significant length now, but those first 10 on the treadmill weren't much different. Then I didn't love the act of running and I wanted to get off before the time was up. Yet, as I pushed through putting in more time on the treadmill and the trails, I've seen other areas of my life open and expand. With some work, mental barriers fade.

How much time do you need to train for your ULTRA races?

For each race, I set unique goals; maybe speed or mileage, or to have the most fun running with friends. I spent close to six months training for my first marathon and because I always like to have a next goal to reach, I can't say I've ever slowed down for significant periods. Approaching training as a year round event, I'm usually able to pick up and head out for a solid distance run.

Can you list all of the organizations you are working with?

I'm excited to be raising funds for the 100 Mile Club. The organization encourages children to run or walk 100 miles per school year earning rewards along the way. The goal is not only to teach kids the value of physical activity, but to set goals that seem insurmountable. With a little work and devotion each day, these goals, dreams, become achievable.

What is the biggest misconception of running?

The biggest misconception of running it that its an individual sport. A runner may be out on the trail solo but like many parts of life its community support that keeps us going. As I've pushed forward I've been trusted with numerous stories of overcoming odds, setting goals and smashing through them, facing fears and achieving greatness whether its a certain mileage, a personal time record or lacing up and taking a walk for the first time in years. We all have stories to tell, voices that need to be heard and running is a vehicle that brings community together.

Follow Ryan Young on Instagram to see how he is prepping for his ULTRA race.

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