Q&A with Ultra Running Team Virginia Tech

Posted October 16th, 2013 by Brian Hock

Guy Love (pictured above right), one of the founders of the Virginia Tech Ultra Running Team sent me a nice note recently to let me know that he loves his Simple Hydration Bottles. He said “I had my best results ever this past spring when I was finally able to cut way down on what I carried during races with the bottles.” During our exchange of e-mails I realized that he was part of the Virginia Tech Ultra Running Team. As someone that follows running at all levels I had never heard of a collegiate ultra running team. I had to learn more and hope you enjoy our interview with Guy. Also pictured in the photo above are Paul “Rudy” Rutemiller (left) and Rachel Corrigan (middle).

Q. How did the Virginia Tech Ultra Running Team get started?

A. Through my second year of college, I ran semi-regularly with the Virginia Tech Triathlon Team. A few guys on that team also ran one or two spring 50k’s every year, and we got connected by happenstance because I was getting more involved with ultrarunning at around the same time. That was 2010-2011. Fast forward to the following spring, 2012, and my friend Rudy, and I realized we had enough students running ultras that we should establish a legitimate team to help support one another and coordinate for both training runs and races.

Q. Are you the first ultra running college team?

A. We are! We had an empty template to work with, so there was a lot of guesswork and experimentation that first year. Our approach, rather than controlling every aspect of the team, was to provide the resources for the team to grow organically and become what the members wanted it to be. Now into our 5th semester, things have definitely changed from our initial ideas, but definitely for better.

Q. How often does your team meet for practice?

A. Most of the team will get together every Wednesday and Sunday and then there are more scattered practices throughout the week like track workouts, tempo runs, and of course weekend long runs.

Q. What is a typical week of practice and where do you train?

A. Training is pretty varied across the team. There is a spread from a few members who run 40-50 mile weeks to be out enjoying the trails all the way to a few others and myself training with higher mileage (90-120 mile weeks) with more specificity like intervals and more frequent 5+ hour runs. I train 6 days a week and got up to a couple 120-mile weeks in August this year.

Q. What is the team make up (men vs. women) and what are some of the challenges of having an Ultra Running Team?

A. We’ve got seven women and sixteen men when it’s all said and done. A few of these are alumni who are still in town, but that count is mostly current students. The biggest difficulty we’ve run into is finding times to get a lot of the group together at once. Everyone has very different schedules so it is difficult for us all to get together frequently.

Q. Is there a structure to your race schedule and do you coordinate so that all team runners compete in the same race or races?

A. Our team schedule revolves around the races Dr. David Horton and Clark Zealand from Liberty University put on. There are three 50ks in the spring and then in the fall there is a 100 mile race, a 50 mile, and a 100k. The normal schedule is the three 50ks and then the fall 50 mile for most runners. Several of us were planning to run the Grindstone 100 mile this fall as well and make it a team event, but it had to be cancelled due to the government shutdown!

Q. How has your team done as far as placing or competing as a team at various races?

A. The biggest turnout we’ve had at a single race was the 2013 Promise Land 50k++. Of the fifteen of us running (between men and women), four men made it into the top 15, with three of us in the top 10. That’s pretty telling of the progress we’ve made since we started working together regularly. Normally we’ll be spread out from top-5 all the way back into the 60s. 3-4 of us will be vying for top-10 places at Mountain Masochist in November.

Members who got top 15 at Promise Land 50K (L-R Steve Sloan, Jordan Chang, Darren Thomas, Rudy Rutemiller, Guy Love)

The Virginia Tech Ultra Running Team having some fun at the Promise Land 50K

Q. Guy, you’ve been a fan of Simple Hydration for a while. What was your reaction to using the Simple Hydration Bottle?

A. Honestly, when I first came across the website I was skeptical; it seemed like a fad. Then I got my first bottle and was hooked (pun unintended). I love being able to carry just a bit of water with me on my daily run in case I need it, and in races I love being able to just carry the essentials—some gels and enough water to get to the next aid station.

Guy Love finishing the Iron Mountain 50 Mile Race in 7:56 (with simple bottle).

Q. Do other team members use the Simple Hydration Bottle?

A. Two other guys use it regularly and I know a few of the others are interested in getting one before the spring racing season.

Rudy Rutemiller running to a 3:53 finish at the New River Trail 50k.

Q. How do you use the bottle in your training?

A. I really like going out for both a morning and evening two-hour run a couple days a week during peak training, and taking my Simple Hydration bottle with me allows me just enough liquid to make it back to my car without feeling depleted, allowing me to train better the next run.

Q. What races remain for the VT Ultra Running Team in 2013?

A. With the cancellation of Grindstone in October, the fall season has become pretty scattered. We’ll have people at the Tussey Mountainback 50 Mile on October 20, Mountain Masochist 50 mile on November 3, Richmond Marathon on November 16, Crooked Road 24-hour on November 23-24, and Hellgate 100k on December 13! The next couple months are full of racing, but of course most members are only doing one or two of these!

Q. Does your team have sponsors?

A. Certainly! We’ve got a few companies on board. First, Patagonia helps us out with our jerseys and discounts on gear. GU Energy Labs for nutrition (I use their recovery drink after every run). Backcountry.com offers discounts on everything. Our local running store, Runabout Sports has been supportive as well. I would also like to thank Dr. Jordan Chang, PT, DPT and Kristen Chang, RD for keeping us moving and eating well!