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The Red Bulletin Podcast: Ultrarunning’s Crazy Godfather

Words: Andreas Tzortzis
Photo: Cameron Baird/Red Bull Content Pool

The sport of ultrarunning was born when Gordy Ansleigh decided to enter a horse race without a horse. And why did he do that? As with most of his stories it begins with a girl, and a friend who wronged him.

Gordy Ansleigh is available by phone. The man many consider the godfather of the brutal—and growing—sport of ultrarunning still lives in Auburn, the Northern California town of his youth and the finish line of the sport’s Super Bowl.

The Western States 100 has been run from the Squaw Valley ski resort to Auburn, through twisting canyons and brutal flatlands, since the 1950s—as a horse race. But when Ansleigh’s horse came up lame in 1973, he decided a year later to see if he could cover 100 miles in 24 hours on foot. The race organizers obliged, and an extreme sport was born.

We talked to the endurance athlete—still going strong at 68—on this week’s preview podcast, and had a tough time editing the colorful narrative that is his life down to a suitable time limit.

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