A Race for Everyone
The Route 66 UltraRun is about the participants. The runners. We honor your commitment to your sport; your training; your efforts in each and every race; your accomplishments, whether you win races or your age group, or if you finish in the middle of the pack, or if you are the last runner to cross the finish line. Without the runners, ultra races wouldn’t exist.
We also know that ultrarunners wouldn’t be able to race without the people that support them, including family, friends, and crew. Without the many volunteers that are the backbone of the events in which they complete, from medical teams, race marshals to ensure compliance with race rules, time station monitors, and start and finish line controllers.. Without the support of communities and businesses where they have the honor to pass through. Without all of the many, many agencies that had to approve the events before a single runner could sign up for the race and toe the starting line. Without all of the creative people that are the force behind the events, from race course dreamers and designers; finishing medal, buckle, logo, and marketing-material artists; and website and signup sites graphic artists and programmers.
So, yes, we strongly believe that every ultra race, including our event, the Route 66 UltraRun, should honor not only the runners but all of those have worked to give you the opportunity to compete.
Even beyond that, we believe – and want every runner, crew, volunteer, supporter, family, and friend to acknowledge – that none of us would be here without the pioneers that made it all possible. For the Route 66 UltraRun, this includes people like Edward Payson Weston, Andy Payne, Edward “The Sheik” Gardner, and Jonny Salo. It also includes all of the people that are, and continue to be, a part of the history of Route 66.
Route 66 history
Route 66 was established on November 11, 1926. That’s right! Participants in the Route 66 UltraRun have the honor of starting the race on the same date the Route was established! November 11th is also Veterans Day in the U.S. We thank and honor our vets, and offer a discount on the registration fees to vets (whether from the US or other country). We also offer a discount to first responders (firefighters, law enforcement officers, paramedics, and emergency medical technicians) to thank all of you for your past, and continuing, service. Finally, November 11th just happens to be Mark ‘Mace” Macy’s birthday! Mace is always and forever a Stray Dog and our inspiration. Thus, every year, no matter the day of the week, the Route 66 UltraRun will start on November 11th. Mark your calendars!
The Route originally ran 2,448 miles (3,940 km) from Chicago, Illinois to Santa Monica, California. What style fits you the best?
Get Your Kicks on Route 66
Glen Frey, kicking up his heels?. Or maybe your Kicks are more the Rolling Stones style?
Whatever your style, Route 66 holds a treasured place in the American memory. You need to come experience it for yourself.
Today Historic Route 66 in Arizona is dotted with small towns filled with mom-and-pop diners, vintage motor courts, blazing neon signs, and classic roadside attractions. From the burros in Oatman, to a gigantic head that may have come aliens in Anteres (We Believe!), to a stone gas station that’s been burned down, blown up in a Hollywood movie, and still rose yet again from the ashes . . . As Roger Naylor wrote in his book Arizona Kicks on Route 66, “Quirky is the coin of the realm” – and so is resilience.
Did you know that a barber in Seligman started the movement to save the highway? Without him Route 66 never would have gained the “Historic” designation. That’s why Seligman is the Birthplace of Historic Route 66. Angel Delgadillo was the founder of the Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona, which served as the model for every other state along the route to do the same. It’s a true story of how one person truly can make a difference. As the Route 66 Historic Association of Arizona says, “It’s preservation is that of our history, and our future.”
The 1928 Bunion Derbies, a 3,400-mile, 84-day footrace from Los Angeles to New York City ran Route 66 through Arizona, and beyond. Charles Kastner is perhaps “the” historian of the Bunion Derbies, including his book about the 1928 race Bunion Derby: The First Footrace Across America. In 2022 ‘Chuck’ joined us to crew for his son, who finished the race with additional crew support from his brother. History past, and history still being made!
As Chuck tells in his book, “Cash and Carry” C.C. Pyle created the race to promote the new highway and provided, sometimes rather poorly, for 199 starters including five African Americans, a Jamaican-born Canadian, and perhaps as many as fifteen Latinos, Native Americans, and Pacific Islanders, representing about ten percent of the competitors. The rest were white. Having this integrated field of competitors was highly unusual for the day. All were chasing a $25,000 first prize, a small fortune in 1928 dollars.
On May 26, 1928, 55 weary men made their final laps around the track in Madison Square Garden. Three of the top ten finishers were runners of color, including the $25,000 first prize winner, Andy Payne, a part Cherokee Indian from Oklahoma, the $5,000 third place winner, Phillip Granville of Canada, and the $1,000 eighth place winner, Eddie Gardner of Seattle. In honor of Andy’s historic win, the Route 66 UltraRun as the only (that we know of) traveling trophy: The Andy Payne Cup. The winner of the race ‘gets’ the cup, but only for one year, until the next race is held. Then, if he or she wins again, it’s ‘theirs’ for another year but, if someone else beats them to the finish at Topock66 on the Colorado River, they have to pass it on to the new winner. Yes, ala the Stanley Cup.
During the Dust Bowl in the 1930s, “Oakies” – mostly farming families from Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas, and Texas – used Route 66 to travel to what they hoped would be salvation, or at least the ability to work and support themselves and their families. In John Steinbeck’s classic American novel, The Grapes of Wrath (1939) and the 1940 film of the same name directed by John Ford, the Route symbolized escape and loss. Check out the Route 66 Museum in Kingman to learn more about the Oakies and more!
During WWII, as explained on the National Park Service site “Route 66 served as a military transport corridor moving troops and supplies from one military reservation to another. Motels saw an increase in occupancy, as families of servicemen stationed at military bases stayed for long stretches. But more significantly, Route 66 facilitated perhaps the single greatest wartime mobilization, as thousands of job seekers headed to California, Oregon, and Washington to work in defense plants.
When the war ended, traffic increased as rationing and travel restrictions were lifted. Automobile ownership grew dramatically over the next 10 years, with 52.1 million cars registered in 1955 (compared to the 25.8 million at the end of the war). With more cars and leisure time, families headed west on Route 66 to the Grand Canyon, Disneyland, and the beaches of Southern California. With the heavier traffic, businesses along the highway boomed, and the image of Route 66 as a Dustbowl migration route changed to one of freedom and kicks.” Then the interstates came.
With the construction of I-40 in Arizona, Route 66 was officially removed from the United States Highway System in 1985. And when we say removed, we mean completely removed from paper road maps and atlases – yes, you had to be able to read a map before there was GPS in your car and on your phone – as if the cities and towns, and the people and businesses along the Route, didn’t even exist. Losing almost all of the traffic along the Route was the death knell for many mom-and-pop motels, restaurants, and shops.
The first Route 66 Association was founded in Seligman in 1987: a true grassroots resurgence leading to official recognition that Route 66 had “become a symbol of the American people’s heritage of travel and their legacy of seeking a better life.”
You will be running in, and retracing, the steps of so many other before you! The Route 66 UltraRun truly is 140 miles of history, and a race for everyone including those that came before us and those striving to keep history alive.
Route 66 Businesses
We were honored that all of these businesses helped us with the Alzheimer’s Association fundraising efforts associated with our walk across all 158 miles on Historic Route 66 February 26 through March 3, 2022: 6 Marathons in 6 Days on Route 66 in honor of Mace. Our work to End ALZ continues with this race: we donate a portion of the registration fee to the Association, and encourage you to donate now.
Now we are thrilled that they have shown their excitement about, and support of, the Route 66 UltraRun. In 2022, our inaugural year, just in Seligman, Lilo’s Westside Cafe opened uber-early just to feed our runners and crew and packed to-go breakfasts for our staff and volunteers. Angel’s Gift Shop opened before the 7AM start to provide last-minute shopping and facilities; and Angel himself started the race for us. What an honor!!! The Canyon Lodge Motel served as race headquarters, renting almost all of their rooms to us for race staff and volunteers, and numerous other hotels hosted participants and their crews.
We can’t wait for YOU to have the opportunity to meet all of the amazing people and businesses along the Route. You will provide an off-season boost and will experience real hometown America: it is still out there! After the race participants only regret seemed to be not taking the time – either before or after the event – to experience more of the history and beauty of the area. Learn from their mistakes: come out and stay awhile! You will see why we have truly fallen in love the place, the history, and so many of the people we’ve had the pleasure to meet and work with. Please stop by and see these folks, a spend a few dollars if you’re so inclined. They are the working heart and living soul of Historic Route 66.
Legendary ultra-endurance athlete Marshall Ulrich is dubbed the “Endurance King” by Outside magazine for his decades-long position at the top of the world of ultra distance racing. He has reached the top of all Seven Summits and was the subject of the documentary Running America about his record-setting + 3,000-mile transcontinental (US) run. He holds the record for finishing the Badwater 146 in Death Valley more times than anyone else and set numerous other records. He is one of only two people in the world to compete in all 10 Eco-Challenge Adventure Races, and has raised almost one million dollars for various charities, recently focusing on fundraising for the Alzheimer’s Association and the Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona in connection with the race.
Stray Dog Adventure Racing Team
Marshall is a proud founder of the Stray Dogs Adventure Racing Team, along with fellow Stray Dog Mark Macy (Mace), Bob Haugh (Dr. Bob), and Lisa Smith-Batchen. He and Mace competed as Stray Dogs in eight of the eleven Eco-Challenge races. As featured in the Amazon Prime series World’s Toughest Race, Eco-Challenge Fiji, he and Dr. Bob raced alongside Mace – a member of Team Endure with Mace’s son Travis – in Fiji in 2019 after Mace had been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s.
Ulrich’s memoir, Running on Empty was published by Avery/Penguin in 2011. The highest compliment Marshall receives from readers is when they realize, “This isn’t a book about running at all,” it’s a love story, and a philosophical review of how to live your life.” His second book, Both Feet on the Ground, Reflections from the Outside, focuses on the importance of reconnecting with nature through stories about Mount Everest and Denali, Death Valley, adventure racing, and growing up on a farm, thus encouraging others to get outside. In addition to his books, he has published numerous articles for trade magazines and contributed to other people’s books.
Through his company DNA, Ulrich speaks on topics including active aging, athletics/sports (especially extreme endurance sports), business and finance, competition, goal setting, health and wellness, and travel. Marshall has spoken to the Royal Geographical Society, Germain Racing, several Wilderness Medicine conferences, businesses and financial groups, universities, sports teams, outdoor retailers, fundraising events, major marathon expos, training clinics, and public and school groups; as well as on several cruise lines and at numerous book signings while promoting is best-selling books.
Marshall is the proud father of Elaine (Ed), Taylor (Jen), and Alexandra (Vince), as well as a delighted grandfather. He and Heather split their time between Evergreen, CO and Lake Havasu City, AZ so they can as in-state RDs for the race.
A bona fide veteran support team member and Marshall’s logistics lead on numerous global adventures, Heather brings a wealth of firsthand wisdom and experience on the front lines of ultra-endurance events across the globe. With a degree in Environmental Journalism, she worked in marketing in the environmental, consulting, and high tech sectors before becoming the “Endurance Queen” for her tireless efforts to champion the sport of ultra-racing. She also coordinates Marshall’s engagements and edits his books. As a crucial part of the R66 UR, she raises awareness and funds for the Alzheimer’s Association in honor of Mace and the Historic Route 66 Association of AZ in honor of Angel. Heather is particularly honored to introduce Route 66 to as many people as she can through the race, and beyond.
The Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona
The Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona, a non-profit organization, is dedicated to the preservation, protection, and promotion of both the surface, and the memories along Arizona’s portion of Route 66. The Route 66 UltraRun supports the Historic Association by donating a portion of your race entry fee. You can donate now to personally help the Association continue their tireless work to preserve, protect, and promote Route 66, ensuring that the Mother Road will be enjoyed by generation after generation for years to come.
The mission of the Alzheimer’s Association is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. Their vision is a world without Alzheimer’s.
You can Donate Now to help their vision
become a reality.