He Can't Feel His Toes

Running On Empty author Marshall UlrichBrett Hochmuth, Eagle Eye Photography

In late 2008, Marshall Ulrich ran across the United States in 52 days. Ulrich would later say that the run was the most challenging event of his career, which includes four consecutive crossings of Death Valley and an ascent of Everest's north route. The run set masters and grand masters records and made Ulrich, then 57, the third-fastest person to run across the country. Ulrich began running in 1974, shortly before his wife Jean died of cancer. In the aftermath of Jean's death, running became Ulrich's coping mechanism, often at the expense of his family. His new book, Running On Empty, details the transcontinental run and his struggle to bring running and life back into balance.

Have you recovered? Are your toes still numb from the pounding?
My big toes are still numb. That may be permanent damage because they’re not getting any better. But it’s not that big of a deal. Mentally I’m coming around—it’s been over two and a half years and I think I’m still recovering. Physically I’d say I’m 90 percent recovered, and mentally I’m somewhere in the same category. Ninety or ninety-five percent. 

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