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 that must 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 “new” event of 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 inaugural Route 66 UltraRun will have the honor of starting the race, to the day, exactly 96 years after the Route was established! 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, 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. Join us in November 2022 for the Route 66 UltraRun, and meet Charles yourself, who will be crewing for his son and will speak at the pre-race meeting!
As Charles 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.
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.
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!
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 will donate a portion of the registration fee to the Association, and encourage you to donate now.
Now we are thrilled that they are excited about the Route 66 UltraRun. We can’t wait to introduce all of you to the Route and boost off-season business for these folks and so many others. We truly fell in love the place, the history, and so many of the people we’ve had the pleasure to meet and work with, and trust you will too. 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.
Your Race Directors
Marshall Ulrich (b. July 4, 1951) is an ultrarunner, mountaineer, and adventure racer who shares his extreme athletic experiences and expertise with others through books, public speaking engagements, magazine articles, and expeditions. He’s been featured in major media, including top news programs, adventure TV shows, and full-length film documentaries.
Endurance Athlete and Stray Dog
Considered the “Endurance King” by Outside magazine, and “Superhuman” by Stan Lee, Ulrich’s specialty is competing in extreme conditions. He has ascended the Seven Summits, including Mount Everest, all on first attempts; is a four-time Badwater Ultra run champion; crossed Death Valley (on foot, in July) a record 30 times; finished more than 130 ultramarathons averaging over 125 miles each; and is one of only two people in the world to have competed in all eleven Eco-Challenge adventure races. He has traveled to, raced, and climbed in 56 countries around the world, including adventures in 31 of those countries.
At the age of 62, Ulrich and a friend were the first ever to circumnavigate Death Valley National Park on foot, about 425 miles in the hottest place on earth.
At 57, he broke two transcontinental speed records when he ran 3,063 miles in 52.5 days from San Francisco to New York, averaging almost 60 miles per day.
From 1991-2020 he held the record for completing the Badwater 146 (a longer precursor to the now 135-mile race) through Death Valley to the top of Mt. Whitney.
He’s run the Death Valley course more times than anyone else, including a fully unaided solo crossing (1999), a 586-mile “quad” (2001), and the first (2020) and only winter crossing.
He was the first person (1993) to complete the Leadville Trail 100 and Pikes Peak marathon on the same weekend, a feat no one else accomplished until 2017.
Now in his 70s, Ulrich intends to continue creating new challenges, and plans to continue traveling and speaking about his adventures to entertain, educate, and motivate others.
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.
Speaker and Guide: Dreams in Action (DNA)
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.
In 1974, immediately after he earned a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from the University of Northern Colorado, Ulrich started and developed a business with net sales up to $4 million annually. He managed the business for 25 years and remained a stockholder in its parent corporation until 2018. He also owns and helps manage corporate farms in Colorado.
Ulrich has raised more than $894,000 for various charities, including the Religious Teachers Filippini, a small order of Sisters who promote the dignity of women and children in some of the poorest countries in the world by providing an education to those who previously had limited opportunities and choices in their lives. Recently he has focused on fundraising for the Alzheimer’s Association in honor of Mace, often with the support of Dr. Bob.
He has guided adult expeditions and cultural tours in Argentina, Ecuador, France, Italy, Mexico, Switzerland, Tanzania, and at home in the Colorado Rockies. The expeditions leading young adults, exploring their own limits, have been in places like deserts of Tunisia, the Amazon jungle in Brazil, and Baffin Island above the Arctic Circle in Canada.
Marshall is the proud father of Elaine (Ed), Taylor (Jen), and Alexandra (Vince), as well as a delighted grandfather. When they’re not traveling around the world, or across America with their travel trailer, he and his wife Heather live in Evergreen, Colorado.
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.