Sep | 14

Runners Like Us: Ultra Runner Martin Criminale Hears the Call of the Trail

Inspiration is everywhere when you’re a runner. For Martin Criminale, an ultra runner with Seattle Running Club’s Brooks-sponsored competitive team, the running community, the feeling of the trail and long miles hooked him and keep him coming back. Press play on the video to get to know him and read through his Q&A below.

How did you get into running at first?

My wife trained for and completed a half marathon and for a change I supported her at an event (she had been supporting me at bicycle races for years). The energy of the event was INCREDIBLE. People were so psyched just to finish and everyone cheered for each runner, no matter what their pace was. This was a huge change from bike racing (which was my athletic background), and I thought it was awesome. I impulsively stated that next year I would run this half marathon with her…  Road running is okay, but once I discovered trails I was hooked. The rest is history. Running, mostly ultra trail races, is now my primary sport.

What keeps you running?

  1. 1. I love being active. It improves all aspects of life! I also love to eat and being active helps balance that out.
  2. 2. Exploring trails and mountains is so beautiful and humbling. You get to see sunrise over peaks, go places almost no one else does, trail running makes me feel alive.
  3. 3. Since I started running pretty late in life, it’s still really new to me so all the things everyone else has done I’m still learning to do. I guess I like a challenge.

What it is it about the feeling running gives you that you love?

  1. 1. It’s about as close as you can get to a really basic/primal form of movement. There is something to be said for simplicity and the lack of gear. Of course you can accessorize all you want, but you don’t have to.
  2. 2. I love nature, the woods, seasons, trees, you name it. Some of my best running memories are from runs with what most people would call less-than-ideal weather conditions. Epic rain and wind or unseasonal snow can turn an average run into a BIG adventure. But when you are prepared and you survive, you are on top of the world.
  3. 3. I used to think running was slow, but bombing down a technical descent is a huge adrenaline rush and NOT slow.
  4. 4. On a mellow run you can actually talk to your friends while you exercise, not so easy in some other sports.
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Can you describe the feeling of finishing your first ultra?

Physically, I was wasted but mentally I was blown away and so inspired by what I had just done. Just one year prior to finishing my first ultra, I would have laughed if you told me to go run a marathon.

Your video conveys a feeling of freedom that you get from the run. Can you describe that?

It’s a combination of the simplicity of running and the elation you get when you accomplish something you have never done before. Mostly the latter. When I climb a new mountain or run a new distance or set a new PR, it inspires such confidence and a sense of empowerment that feeds itself and helps me continue to strive for more. It’s that freedom to strive for more that I love. In contrast, some people are scared and intimidated by physical exertion. Not that I am a super star by any means, but I love that I am not afraid to try.

What would you tell someone who’s considering starting running for the first time? How about someone thinking about entering their first Ultra?

For new runners, do it for yourself. So many people live and die by comparisons and that can crush your ego, motivation, confidence and ruin your ability to keep at it. For someone entering their first ultra, especially if you are older, know that you need to run several before you figure it out. So don’t put too much stock in your first effort. Life is not that short. Also, enjoy the journey, I usually carry a camera and take lots of pictures to put less pressure on myself.

What do you love about the way running makes you feel? Let us know in the comments.

About Derek
I’m a runner, a writer, and a shoe lover who enjoys morning coffee, travel, singing in the car, and getting legitimately lost on trail runs. Three things I can’t live without: bubble tea, Fridays, and my Brooks PureFlow’s.

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