Musings about life

Top Ten Similarities Between UltraRunners and Babies

Following the popularity of a 2014 blog post comparing ultrarunners to aid workers, I

Like two peas in a pod

thought it was high time to examine another similar pairing: ultrarunners and babies. You may not have realized it, but they (we) are totally the same. I came to this realization over the past couple of months while getting to know my niece, who was born on my birthday in June. The similarities were uncanny – it was like looking into a mirror. Read on to find out the top ten similarities between these two strange species.


  1. They like to go to the bathroom whenever, wherever

Whenever I run a road race (which is rare), I always feel a sense of panic on the start line about when and where I will need to go pee. The thought of having to plan my bathroom breaks according to porta potty locations is terrifying. What if I have to go pee at mile 10 and there isn’t an official bathroom until mile 20? The whole concept trap door skirtof having to pee indoors, sitting on a toilet in a stinky hot plastic cube, is completely foreign to me. Think about how much time you waste in lineups!

No, ultrarunners prefer to just go. It is not only more efficient, but it is also a great conversation starter. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stopped for a wee and had other competitors come over to offer me a hand because they think I’m injured. Once they see the stream heading downhill, they understand completely. Embarrassing? Nope! Peeing in public is completely socially acceptable in the ultra world. Thank goodness.

Babies are the same. They just pee away in their diapers whenever the urge arises… and sometimes the urge arises mid-diaper change, sending a stream of urine through the air and inevitably into someone’s eye. Embarrassing? Not in the slightest! Babies are adorable and everything they do, including projectile urine, brings smiles to everyone’s face.

2. Constant feeding

A good friend of mine, Belinda, always tells me that it isn’t a 100 mile race, it is a 100 mile

VERY excited about food at a checkpoint during the Madeira Island Ultra Trail

buffet. I tend to agree. If ultrarunners don’t have some kind of food stuffed in their cheeks at any one time then they are thinking about how long it will be until they can. Potato chips, gels, cookies, pasta, salty soup, protein bars, candies, M&Ms, cheese…. you name it, we eat it. Babies, obviously are the same. They either have a nipple in their mouths or they are searching for one (on their moms, or any person who is holding them at the time, male or female). Babies also follow in the footsteps of a number of high profile vegan ultrarunners, like Scott Jurek. Yup, if you feed on breast milk, you’re apparently a vegan. Google it.

3. Frequent bouts of crying

This was actually me crying at the end of a friend’s race…still counts

If you haven’t cried during or at the end of an ultra, you aren’t doing it right. Period. Same goes for babies. If they aren’t crying at some point, there is something seriously wrong. Crying is just our way of letting out emotion and letting everyone around us know that we are either suffering, hungry, extremely happy, or have soiled ourselves. And yes, you have to guess which one as we will not tell you.

4. They go into the fetal position regularly

Obviously. It is the comfiest position ever, no matter what size you are. And you always feel better, whether it is the middle or end of a race.

fetal position
Amy Sproston, Montrail athlete, placing 2nd at Western States 100 (2016)

5. Adult supervision required

You cannot leave newborn babies alone, unless they are sleeping. Who knows what kinds of trouble they could get into. Same goes for ultrarunners in the last 30 miles of a 100 mile race – pacers are pretty much essential. Ultrarunners cannot be trusted to make good decisions for themselves. Just read my last race report and you’ll see why.

6. Short naps can completely change the mood

During Tor des Geants, I had a seven minute nap on top of a rock in the middle of the night at 3000m and it transported me from suicidal to superhero. Similarly, alien-screaming babies are just a 20 min cat nap away from turning back into cooing little angels. I’ve seen it. I’ve been it.

7. No short term memory

Megan Hicks in Tor des Geants 2014 taking a wee nap

Ever been in a race when you passed a course marker and then 60 seconds later worry whether you’ve gone off course because you can’t remember when you last saw a course marker? Well, this is pretty much how you started out in life. One minute, you’re happy as a clam with a nipple in your mouth. The next minute you’re screaming bloody murder because you can’t remember the last time you ate and you’re convinced your mother wants to starve you to death. Don’t panic: a course marker and a nipple are just around the corner.

8. Crawling is an acceptable form of locomotion

crawling2No one bats an eye when a baby crawls around on the floor. Same for ultrarunners. It is perfectly acceptable to cheer ultrarunners on in the final stages of a race while they attempt to move forward on all four limbs. Moreover, the Washington Post has just declared that ‘crawling is the new planking‘. Seriously.

9. No issues barfing on oneself in public

Babies just spit up whenever the mood feels right. Frequently on themselves, often on others.  Any ultrarunner that tries to convince you he or she hasn’t done this in a race is lying. Or hasn’t been trying hard enough.

diaper-rash10. Diaper rash cream is an essential piece of kit

No one likes diaper rash. But unfortunately, it is a regular occurrence for both ultrarunners and babies, and it is obvious to see why: diaper rash is defined as irritation caused by exposure to urine (or sweat) combined with rubbing against clothing. The only way to survive is by purchasing Costco-sized vats of diaper rash cream. I once went through a whole tube of the stuff to get through a race (note the evidence leaking through my tights, sigh).

Any similarities I missed? Comment below! 🙂

5 comments on “Top Ten Similarities Between UltraRunners and Babies

  1. And last but not least, we are proud of every accomplishment – big or small. Roll over for the first time? AMAZING!!! Finish a race that everyone from all over the world was watching?? STUPENDOUS!!

  2. You’ve sort of got this but – wild mood swings dependent on time (of day or how long awake/moving), temperature (theirs, outside), hunger (or GI issues), locomotion, frustration….sometimes solved with dry clothes, food, meds, a hug, a nap – and sometimes not. Sometimes ultrarunners are like colicky overtired babies – nothing you can do makes it better and you just have to wait for a reset.

  3. I think crying at random moments, not just at the end is where I can be. And that’s only at 5 miles! Not an ultrarunner myself….working on getting my mojo back…one day perhaps? And I love posts about folks like you doing amazing things!

  4. Nice post. Very recognizable.

  5. Jane Currah

    Brilliant comparison! I wondered where you might go with this!

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