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Performance Life: The Grand Slam of Ultrarunning

Why Run so Far?


Brian Pilgrim 


When a person goes out to run 100 miles, the reasons and motivations are as numerous as there are runners. When that same person tackles four exhausting footraces in one year, the inner drive turns epic.

Brian Pilgrim, a finisher of the 2012 Grand Slam, started running in 2005 at the age of 38. Since then he has run 31 ultras, 10 of which have been 100 milers. What made Pilgrim want to dive into such a challenge?

He said he wanted to, “in a small way be part of the history of the sport, one of the very few runners who have actually completed the Slam since its inception. Doing the Slam was about reaching back into history and joining with those runners who came before me and, with them, attempt to do something so audacious.”

Dan Brenden has done more than 180 ultras and has completed the Grand Slam seven times. Brenden explained that originally he was motivated to finish the Slam and receive the trophy. He also ended up with a T-shirt. His girlfriend liked the shirt and wanted one in her size, so Brenden returned the next year and finished the four races to get a size small for her. He now has one that fits him and six size smalls.

The best documenter of the event would be Stan Jenson. His website,, is a great reference source. Jenson completed the Grand Slam in 1999. He went into the Slam with some serious training. He had finished 90 ultramarathons, including eight 100-mile races. His motivation: “It was an event that so few people (less than 100) had been able to complete in the first 12 years.”




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