The Mutants Next Door

They don't have sponsors, and they're not getting paid to train. But these day-job-holding athletes compete like elites. Follow their lead and you can, too.

Neal Gorman     Photo: Photo by Jeff Minton

Neal Gorman
Ultrarunner; Washington, D.C.

It's called the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning: the four most prestigious 100-mile races in the country (Western States, Vermont, Leadville, and Wasatch Front), all taking place within a span of 11 weeks. Not only did 34-year-old insurance broker Neal Gorman complete the Slam last summer—finishing between second and thirteenth in each race—but the unsponsored runner's cumulative time was the fastest in the event's 25-year history. To prepare, Gorman logged up to 120 miles a week on top of his full-time job managing the corporate-insurance firm he cofounded.

HIS SECRET: "You have to stay healthy to improve. I run up to 20 hours a week, but I also stretch after each run, do core and strength work a few times a week, and recently added yoga to give back to my body. With a few hours of this work every week, I no longer have to take days off from training. But to find the time, I had to trim the fat. It came down to deciding what I wanted most, which was running, so I cut back on other things I love, like woodworking. A sport like this is mostly about focus. I make sure to keep it light—have fun at the office, laugh, and carry on. I'll be damned if I'm going to do my job every day and not be happy."

ON NEAL: White S/S crew ($45) and Space jacket ($295) by Aether Apparel (aetherapparel.com); Matchstick jeans by Levi's Water <Less ($128; levi.com); Center Hi shoes by PF Flyers ($70; pfflyers.com); Neal's own belt.

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