To Slam or Not to Slam, That is the Question

After making it into Western States 100 via the lottery, the next logical question is– Should I go for a Grand Slam? (For those of you who don’t know, it is a ultrarunning series where an individual runner completes four of the oldest 100mile foot races over 10 weeks in a single summer). It’s an intense physical and mental test of physical ability, good training and quick recovery. 

I got the idea in my head last summer with five weeks between the Ring and Grindstone and how quickly I recovered after each of those. The idea kept creeping into my head that with a solid training base I could complete a Grand Slam and race 400miles in 10weeks. When I was toeing the line at MMTR with Beth I considered- what if I had to run a 100miler today instead of 50miles? At the finish line of MMTR, could I turn around a run back to the start? The answer was, yes, I could, it wouldn’t be fast and it was going to hurt, but I could do it.

So, when my name was chosen to run the Western States l00, the decision quickly moved from hypothetical into reality. Could I really race 400miles in 10 weeks while traveling across the country this summer? I asked Adam, my family, ultrarunning friends, non-running friends, Facebook and coworkers for opinions and I set an arbitrary deadline for myself to make a decision.

Pros Cons
  • Amazing experience to run four of the oldest 100milers in the country
  • I think I could do it
  • It would be a big challenge (it scares the heck out of me!)
  • Give focus and purpose to my training
  • So many logistics and moving parts!!
  • All consuming of my summer (and vacation leave)
  • Huge commitment from Adam (and his vacation leave)
  • Expensive
  • My stomach issues and dietary needs make traveling for races challenging
  • Potential to become a burden as the summer goes on
  • Not able to “race” WSER with 300mi still to race

I went running alone with my mind racing, I tried to talk to Adam who was firm in his decision to not influence my decision, but as it came down to my deadline, I came to a decision. It’s a crazy notion, but I used reason rather than emotion, pride or desire. I feel good about my decision, no Grand Slam this year. I realized that just because I think I could, it doesn’t mean that I should. 

I’ve had a few days to sit with it now and I am completely at peace with this. I know that it means I can train with focus on Western States, potentially do other things than ultrarunning this summer, hello bike touring? diving? non-running travel? I am not sure yet what I will be doing, but it has been decided, it won’t be a Grand Slam. Maybe a Western States 100 and Eastern States 100 Double?!


  1. ultrarunnergirl

    Good call, in my opinion. A Grand Slam is a heck of an accomplishment to have under your belt, but life is short and there’s so many other things to do! I’m always happier when I’m mixing in other things along with my running.

    Excited for you and your WS100 debut!!

    1. robin (Post author)

      Thanks, lady! I am so excited for this opportunity. I really do want to be able to enjoy WS100 and the finish life without having the stress of 3 more races to run.
      I am really happy with my decision. We are going to get some sweet training runs in this spring! can’t wait!

  2. Mary G

    I’ve been meaning to comment on this post, as I read it soon after reading fellow randonneur and ultracyclist’s reasoning about not doing RAAM in 2015. You may find it of interest and you may see some overlap: There is so much to weigh when making these kinds of decisions, and it is easy to be on the outside looking in with an opinion. Ultimately, it comes down to your own unique circumstances as to what is right for you. Have a great 2015! I’m looking forward to more of your posts!


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