Fairview-based ultrarunner Peter Ripmaster on the trails on Lookout Mountain in Montreat
Chicago Marathon, Illinois: Between 2008 and 2012, Ripmaster ran 50 marathons in all 50 states (one per month) and raised more than $60,000 for cancer research. His most noted 26-miler is the Boston Marathon, which he ran in 2014, the year after the bombings at the race.
Iditarod Trail Invitational, Alaska: Ripmaster ran the “short” 350-mile version of this trail invitational twice, in 2014 and 2015. It’s noted for being the world’s longest winter ultra and follows the route of the famed dogsled race.
The trails around Montreat are some of Ripmaster’s favorite places to train, and a far cry from the freezing terrain he tackled in his most recent race, the 1,000-mile Iditarod Trail Invitational in Alaska.
Arrowhead 135, Minnesota: Lowell ran this 135-mile winter ultra in 2007 to raise money for her student diagnosed with Stage IV cancer. With temps reaching -45°, Lowell was the only person on foot to finish the race.
6633 Arctic Ultra, Canada: In January 2008, Lowell was the only person to finish all 350 miles of this ultra, noted as the coldest race of the year. The first in the four-part Arctic Grand Slam race series, she went on to complete the remaining three ultras in the months that followed, and in July, completed the Badwater 135, the year’s hottest race.
With a running career spanning nearly 40 years, Sarah Lowell is considered one of the top female arctic runners in the world, and her training ground is Western North Carolina.
Harlan is a five-time champion of the Mt. Mitchell 40-mile Challenge, 2009 champion of the Copper Canyon 50-mile ultra, and holds the speed record for running the Appalachian Trail unsupported across the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. As for his most memorable race? The Fig Leaf 5K in Georgia, which is a naked race.
Shut-in Ridge Trail Run, WNC: Last year, this 17.8-mile trail run from the French Broad River to Mt. Pisgah saw the worst weather in the race’s history, with snow and wind gusts up to 40 mph. Harlan finished second.
Copper Canyon Ultra, Mexico: In 2009, Harlan placed first in this 50-mile race made famous by the best-selling book Born to Run. Last year’s race was cancelled due to drug-related gang violence.
2014 Illinois Marathon: In a move to raise awareness about the Tarahumara people of Mexico, Harlan ran this race sporting their indigenous clothing and leather sandals.
Thompson running the North Pole Marathon, the northernmost marathon on Earth
North Pole Marathon: Facing temperatures that hit -22°F, Thompson completed this marathon in 2014, racing for the American Cancer Society. He finished 13th in just over eight hours.
Atacama Crossing Race, Chile: In 2010, Thompson completed this 155-mile, seven-day race across the world’s highest and driest desert. Despite having to tote all his gear and temps that hit 110°F, he finished in 59 hours.
Inca Trail Marathon, Peru: On the famed path most finish in four days, Thompson ran in 11 hours in 2015. The 10,000 feet of elevation gain didn’t slow him; he finished 13th.