There are runners who love marathons and the training it takes to compete in marathons. They grind out miles like they’re flipping through the channels looking for something to watch.

There are also runners like Brendan Gilpatrick. When others are finishing a 26.2 mile marathon, Gilpatrick is getting warmed up.

“I’ve done five 100-miles events,” Gilpatrick said. “Eventually, you start to get used to it.”

You get used to a chilly room. You get used to a mild sunburn. How do you get used to putting your body through a 100-mile run?

Ultramarathons are more a mental test than a physical one, and Gilpatrick has sharpened his focus to push on. Those doubts you get, the ones that whisper encouraging words of failure in your ear when you push yourself? Gilpatrick doesn’t get those often, and he tunes them out when he does.

Gilpatrick was a lacrosse player as a student at the University of Southern Maine. He came to running after graduation the same way many do, as a way to stay in shape.


“I had a bunch of energy and I needed to do something,” Gilpatrick said.

The more running, the better. Gilpatrick upped his mileage, and family and friends scratched their heads.

“Initially, some thought that I was crazy. They’re all very supportive now,” Gilpatrick said. “You think of ultramarathons, you hear it’s people suffering in the woods, but then you come and see it and see the huge community around it.”

Gilpatrick’s love of running blossomed into a love of coaching running, and he spent some time as an assistant cross country coach at Thomas College. Now, he’s the head coach of the University of Maine at Augusta’s startup cross country program. He runs with his team daily. At least once a week, he’ll head to the Sugarloaf or Bigelow area to get in some hill work.

On Labor Day weekend, Gilpatrick competed in the Last Man Standing Ultramarathon at Pinelands in New Gloucester. Racing started at noon Saturday. Runners had an hour to complete the 4.2 miles course. A new race began every hour on the hour. If you lined up at the start and finished in the alloted hour, you stayed in the race. If you failed to finish or just didn’t start the next race, you were out. The distance is just long enough to make a brisk walk impossible with the time constraint. It couldn’t be any simpler.

Gilpatrick tried to keep his pace around 47 to 49 minutes. That gave him 10 minutes or so of recovery time before starting the next race. The terrain and 4.2-mile distance were not especially grueling, but do it over and over, then do it over again. Run, rest, repeat. The exhausting effect is cumulative.


As runners dropped out and the field narrowed, what did Gilpatrick do? He sped up. He tried to get his 4.2 mile laps down to 37, 38 minutes. Gilpatrick’s final lap, approximately 80 miles into the event, was 35 minutes.

It’s mental, not physical. Gilpatrick knew his body would do as it was told.

“When you line up like that, and somebody takes off, it makes you wonder if you want to keep going,” Gilpatrick said.

It turned out, the other remaining runner didn’t want to keep going. As he ran his final lap, Gilpatrick noticed he no longer sensed or saw the other guy on the course. When he reached the finish, Gilpatrick learned he was the winner. Mental toughness aside, Gilpatrick did take a few days off from training. On Tuesday, he said he’d run again Wednesday with his team during practice.

Gilpatrick’s first ultramarathon was a 50-miler at Pineland Farms in 2007.

“It didn’t go great,” he said, “but I learned more.”


His first 100-mile race was also in Maine, at Turner Highlands. Gilpatrick has raced all over the world, in events with ominous names like the Hurt 100 in Hawaii. Nothing has ever been more honestly named.

“That’s a 100-mile race pretty much through the jungle. You’re climbing mountains, it’s dark because of the canopy. It’s humid,” Gilpatrick said. “I’ve done well there, and not so well there.”

Gilpatrick knows of 200-mile races, and he’d like to try one. There are races that require 145 miles in 24 hours. One hundred miles is Gilpatrick’s longest race so far, but…

“I guess I think I have more in me,” he said.

There are runners who love marathons, there are runners who love ultramarathons, and there is Gilpatrick.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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