Rachel Long likes to run…far. She #GetsUnTapped to fuel all of her epic, long training runs and races all around the world. UnTapped has teamed up with Rachel to #bringmapletothemasses and support all of her training and racing adventures on foot. Read on to learn all about her past racing experiences, favorite foods and more!
• Age: 24
• Current Residence: New York City (soon to be Vermont)
• Years running: 6 years
• Race specialties: 50ks, 50 milers
• Website/Social Media: @rachellong91 , www.roamingroots.squarespace.com
How did it all start, what lead you to ultra-running?
Throughout college I always casually ran marathons. I say casually because, while I did train, I never focused on specific workouts or goals. I was really just trying to be a college kid and races for me were a way to keep myself somewhat on track. When it comes to ultras I actually signed up for my first 50k on a whim. The Catamount 50k/25k was having its debut race at Trapp Family Lodge and I thought to myself “my marathon debut was in Vermont, why not stick to my roots and make my ultra debut in Vermont too?”.. So I singed up for the 50k and the rest is history. I’ve also been very fortunate to have people in my life that are always willing to support and motivate me. My friend and former teacher Mary Churchill is an accomplished ultra runner and has also influenced my decision to run ultras greatly. If you run with her or get to know her at all you can see her love and passion for running trails. The feeling and passion has rubbed off on me over the years and really become my own.
The races you participate in take tons of commitment and determination. How do you keep yourself motivated through all 50k, 100 miles etc.?
That’s a really good question. Many people think training is all about the physical aspects but it is also important to train your mind the best you can. So much of the sport is mental, anyone will tell you that, and it can really make or break your race. Getting my mind right is still something I struggle with; there have been many low points in some of my longer races and I expect I will have many more but the will to finish is always there for me and that is really a huge motivator. The ultra running community is also unimaginably supportive. I’ve been made many friends during low points in the races by simply sharing a few footsteps, or encouraging each other to hike up daunting climbs instead of stagger alone. The camaraderie is truly amazing, and I don’t think I would have finished a few of my races without it.
What are your biggest goals as a runner this year?
Recently I’ve taken a step back from racing to let my body recover from my first year of ultra running and have been focused on getting all around stronger and faster. My friend and I, one who I met while hiking (suffering) up a hill in Gorge Falls 100k, plan to run the Timberline trail around Mt. Hood. The Hood run is one of the many adventures I have planned to prepare me for my main goal/race this year and that is Ultra Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB) on August 26. UTMB is a 103 (ish) mile race starting in Chamonix, France that goes into the Italian and Swiss Alps before finishing back in Chamonix. There’s an estimated 33,000 feet of elevation gain, which is double the gain in the Vermont 100 (my first and only 100 to date). Needless to say there’s a lot of preparation happening including a 50k and 100k in Vermont this summer. I head over to Zermatt and then Chamonix on July 18, giving myself a solid 6 weeks of training in the Alps. The stoke is high.
You’re headed out the door for a run, what UnTapped product(s) are you taking?
Easy: multiple syrup packets and at LEAST one waffle (but realistically 2-3). The waffles have currently been a huge win with me. I get pretty hungry on my longer trail runs and they really hit the spot. If I’m really feeling it on the long days I’ll throw some Vermont Peanut Butter (really love to rep all things Vermont) on top and hit the trails even harder.
PSA: running with maple syrup and waffles in the cold is highly recommended, you can taste that chill and it is extra refreshing…and needless to say delicious.
Could you describe one moment in your running that you are most proud of?
Crossing the finish line in the Vermont 100, 27 hours after I started. It wasn’t my proudest moment because it was the longest race that I completed. It meant much more than that to me. Early, around mile 26, in the race I blew my calf and told my crew at mile 30 I wouldn’t finish that day. Fast-forward to mile 88, at the infamous Bills aid station, with a calf three times the size of the other one and with a sleep deprived mind I told my crew that I was done and stubbornly napped for an hour. The day had not gone as planned (classic ultra running story) and I had had enough. Thankfully my crew was relentless in annoying me at the time and told me there was no way that I could quit while napping in a warm barn on a cot. Calling me a wimp is a really good way to get me to finish anything I ever start. Begrudgingly I got up and trudged the 12 miles through the sunrise and dirt roads to the finish. When I crossed the finish line my eyes beamed at my crew and the looks on their faces; smiles, laughs, and mostly relief that their job was done. That moment was my proudest moment in my running career because it took so much more than myself to finish. I truly felt like it was a team effort and my crew was with me for all 27 hours supporting and encouraging me to the finish. It was a really special moment for us and I think we all knew it- regardless of how much they had to put up with me. That moment was so meaningful, it’s pretty wild to look back on.
What do you like to do to relax or enjoy yourself in between the long runs?
In the winter you can usually find me on skis. I love backcountry skiing and really enjoy skinning (even if it is just up a trail) both are really good training. Unfortunately, this winter was a bit sad on the east coast but my hopes are high for next winter. When not running or on skis you can usually find me drinking coffee or some sort of beer or tequila concoction (in moderation, of course). Nothing keeps me grounded like a little caffeine buzz, or just a buzz, post run or on relaxed days.
When you get home from a tough run what are you fueling with for dinner?
My current post run meal is a smoothie followed by some sort of sweet potato black bean mixture. I’ve been really digging sweet potato, black bean, and kale burritos topped with some avocado, cholula, and salsa. Those hit the spot after a long or hard effort run.
Out of all of your ultra-distance races, which one is a favorite? What makes this race so special?
The Catamount 50k holds a special place in my heart. It was my first ultra, my first trail race, and the race where my somewhat obsessive love for trails blossomed. Oh, and it is in Vermont, duh. The overall race is awesome; from the course to the crowd. My first time running it was by far the most fun I’ve ever had running. I met so many cool people and absolutely fell in love with the atmosphere. Also this is where I found out that ultra aid stations are way cooler than marathon aid stations- food is always a major win for me. This will be my third year racing the Catamount 50k, I’m really looking forward to it.
Favorite way to use maple syrup?
A favorite quote of mine sums up my feelings on maple syrup quite nicely:
“I love maple syrup. I love maple syrup on pancakes. I love it on pizza. And I take maple syrup and put a little bit in my hair when I’ve had a rough week. What do you think holds it up, slick?” – Jeremy Grey, Wedding Crashers.
Maple syrup in coffee is also always a win. Oh and have you tried it on eggs? If not, you definitely should. It also makes a great sweetener in cookies or breads so you can ditch that other stuff. You really cannot go wrong with quality maple syrup.
What lead you to UnTapped and bringing #MapleToTheMasses?
I believe in pure nutrition and fueling, supporting local Vermont products, and bringing #MapleToTheMasses because people NEED to know about it. It is simply too good not to be consuming. Coming from Vermont, loving Vermont products, and having a minor maple syrup obsession, Untapped was pretty much a no brainer. I actually remember waiting for it to be released and checking for updates multiple times. Truth be told, I had a really bad experience fueling off other energy gels in my first 50 miler out in San Francisco and ended up throwing up for many miles. I’ve struggled with nutrition a lot during my races but I’ve found that pairing untapped maple packets with the waffles and some other real food is an unbeatable combo for me. Maple sits really well in my stomach and puts a lot of pep in my step when I really need it. If you don’t know, now you know #MapleToTheMasses.