Dez and Zoe Run An Ultra

Post by 

On an early morning run up Mount Tam last November, San Francisco crew captain Zoe confided in her friend and fellow captain Dez that running an ultra marathon had been on her bucket list for quite some time, but she was having trouble pulling the trigger. Dez, who’d already done one 50k ultra a few years back, was keen to do another. Standing there together watching the sunrise over the entire Bay Area, Dez turned to Zoe and said “Let’s do it”. Just a week or so later, they met at their starting point on December 5th, to run a 50k ultra together all across San Francisco. 

The pair did not do this run entirely on their own, however. Their entire Midnight Runners San Francisco team came out to support them - physically, mentally, and emotionally. Of course, they were all there to celebrate with them as a team at the end. This is Zoe and Dez’s incredible story about how, when you’ve got a community to support you, anything is possible.

Can you describe what you did and how this idea came into existence?

Zoe: Since races were cancelled in 2020, Dez and I started to find our own ways to challenge ourselves. Naturally, we started waking up before sunrise and running a local mountain, Mt. Tam. There’s this 3.25 mile segment straight up 2,400 feet to the peak, and once you get to the top you can see San Francisco, Oakland, the headlands, the ocean. You basically have this sweeping view of the bay area covered in fog that is unbelievable, and on the top of Mt. Tam you really feel like you can do anything.

I had been wanting to run an ultra since I couldn’t race a marathon but couldn’t pull the trigger. It wasn’t until Dez and I were on the top of Tam as the sun was rising that he looked at me and said let’s do it. We can do it. Let’s pick a date and run a 50k. A few weeks later, we had a route drafted and we were meeting before the sun rose to start our ultra around SF.

Dez: I am passionate about helping people achieve their goals, and when Zoe and I started running to the top of Mt. Tam because she wanted to run 10 Tam summits during 2020, she also mentioned that she wanted to run an ultra marathon for her birthday. Zoe’s birthday came and went, but one day we were at the top of Mt. Tam and taking in all of the views, and I said, why don’t we just run the ultra marathon now? And Zoe agreed, so I sent her a strava route that evening. We looked at our calendars and ran it the following weekend.

How was the Midnight Runners community a support for this run?

Dez: At first, Zoe and I were going to run the 50k on our own unsupported, but then we told the rest of the captains, and they in turn told the rest of our community.

Zoe: We wanted to keep it low pressure and to be honest, for me, I didn't believe I could do it, so I didn't want anyone to see me fail, but as the date approached we knew we wanted to bring the community into it. We told them our crazy plan and invited them to run portions with us. What we didn't know was where they would pop up and who would be coming.

Dez: Right at the start, Gary was there to welcome us with a big smile and his camera to capture our adventure! Then when we hit mile 20, Juliette and Kevin were there with a party bag and some of our favorite tunes so we could dance and smile! As we continued to progress to the end of our run, all of the captains joined in and ran with us to the finish where our friends, and loved ones were waiting with confetti guns, snacks and beers to celebrate! 

Zoe: The support was unreal. By the time we got back to the panhandle we had a crew of about 10 running the final two miles with us. When you run with MR, there’s no need to run alone.

Most people wouldn’t consider wasting energy dancing during an ultra marathon. Tell me about your dance breaks?

Zoe: When you’re running long distances, your body starts to get stiff and tired. Dance breaks not only loosen you up but they help you remember to have fun with it. A lot of the time we take racing so seriously, but we can have fun at the same time. 

Dez: Dancing keeps things light hearted, allows you to laugh, and also allows you to loosen up tight muscles so that you can keep going. Most people stop at aid stations to load up on fuel, now just imaging dancing while refueling, you won’t regret it!

What would you say to people who want to run their first ultra? Is there a secret to running an ultramarathon?

Zoe: Have fun with it! An ultra is a feat no matter what pace you are going! Definitely train, log the hours, build the fitness, but no matter how fit you are it will get tough, and when it gets tough it’ll be important that you have a support system to help get you through. Find a community that will believe in you step after step and see you cross that finish line.

Dez: Enjoy the journey and celebrate each step that you take as you surprise yourself and finish your first ultra marathon! Make sure you get lots of time on your feet during your training to make sure your body can withstand the distance, and come up with a fueling plan to make sure you have the energy to complete your ultra marathon.

Zoe and Dez maintain that running an ultra marathon (anything over 42km) isn’t the only way to push yourself. As long as it’s out of your comfort zone, it’s an amazing feat.

What would you say to other people looking to push themselves outside their comfort zones?

Zoe: If it makes you scared, it means you’re living. Set a goal, make a plan, invite your friends in to help you, and get after it. 

Dez: Uncertainty is scary, but so is not growing anymore. Try to embrace the uncertainty and compare yourself to yesterday’s version of yourself and not anybody else. You will be surprised with how much untapped potential is inside of you.

What would you say to people who are interested in joining Midnight Runners?

Zoe: Come! It’s okay to be nervous, it’s okay to feel apprehensive, but come. You will experience a community that will support you and all of your goals no matter what. You will be accepted for who you are and you will be pushed to do more than you think you can because we genuinely believe you can do it.

Dez: Come as you are, whether you’re a seasoned runner, or a new runner, or a collegiate runner, or a casual runner. There is a little bit of something for everybody! Just bring the good vibes!

Midnight Runners San Francisco runs every Wednesday, but if you don’t live in SF, don’t worry! We are in 12 cities around the world and are expanding to new ones, too. Check our website to see if we are already in your city. If we aren’t - stay tuned! We could be turning up near you sooner than you think!

THere's More

Post You mIght Also Like

All Posts
MR Press


MR Music

Running Playlist: September 2023

Run this month to the Midnight Runners vibe
MR Music

Running Playlist: June 2023

Run this month to the Midnight Runners vibe
MR Stories

What Running Means To Me

Friends, fitness, self-confidence, and crazy adventures: This just a little snippet of what running has given me over the years.
MR Stories

Steps to sustainable or sustaining status quo?

Sustainability specialist, Andy, talks us through the Reebok GROW