Ever since I was five years old, running around the fields of our small family dairy farm and climbing towers we made of hay bales, I dreamed of summiting Mount Everest and achieving other “great” things in my life. Largely because of the solid work ethic I’d learned on the farm, as an adult I was able to pursue many of those dreams for real, even while running a successful business and raising a family.
By the time I was in my forties, I was considered an accomplished ultramarathoner, having completed well over 100 events averaging over 100 miles each. I was also an adventure racer, competing in multi-day, multidiscipline team events of 300 to 500 miles, which included sports such as running, mountain biking, kayaking, rafting, technical climbing, and horse (or even camel) riding. In my fifties, I began climbing mountains, reaching all seven summits on my first attempts, including realizing, in 2004, my childhood dream of standing atop Mount Everest. How exhilarating!
But I wasn’t done yet. Before I reached my sixtieth birthday, I wanted to run across America, coast to coast over 3,000 miles, and I intended to do it as fast as possible, maybe even fast enough to break the Guinness World Record, which was set by a 28-year-old back in the 1980s. Plans started to come together for me in 2007, and I was training in earnest by early 2008. But such an effort doesn’t happen without financial support and quality equipment.
In the summer of 2008, I got word that VitaMix was joining the team. Not only would the company provide funds to the project, but they also sent me one of their machines well ahead of the start date for our transcontinental run. Honestly, I was a bit skeptical that it would be better than my everyday kitchen blender, but I was in for a pleasant surprise! The quality of the VitaMix machine was evident immediately. I made my first fruit smoothies right away and couldn’t believe how quickly the Vitamix blended the bananas, strawberries and ice together. No lumps!
My wife started using it to puree onions, peppers, and other magical ingredients to make Mexican green chili, one of my favorites, and she loved not having to chop and chop and chop. I continued using my newly-found favorite kitchen equipment to make smoothies and shakes to aid my training for the upcoming run across the United Sates. When folks at VitaMix learned that I loved “real” meat protein, including steak, they set out to develop a pureed steak recipe for me that was palatable. Yes, not only was the quality of the machine amazing, but the customer service was outstanding as well.
When I arrived at our San Francisco starting line, VitaMix had representatives on site to instruct the support team on use of the VitaMix, as well as provide some of their favorite recipes. Our VitaMix found a home on the counter of the RV that would serve as a rolling base for me as I attempted to run almost 70 miles per day, each and every day. On September 13, 2008, at the age of 57, I left the steps of City Hall to begin running toward New York City.
I did run 70 miles a day for about a week, before I simply had to cut back to about 60 miles per day. Covering that many miles, which took me an average of about 18 hours per day, requires a lot of calories: about 10,000 to 12,000 calories per day. That’s a lot of chewing! I ate all of my meals on the go, in a cup or wrapper, while running. My support crew would stop each and every mile to bring me something to eat and drink, including blended smoothies they’d whizzed up in the VitaMix.
In the end, I completed the 3,063.2 miles in 52 1/2 days, the equivalent of running 117 marathons. While I didn’t break the overall world record, I did set new Master’s and Grand Master’s records, completing the third fastest crossing ever on that route. I couldn’t have done it without support of companies like VitaMix!
Marshall Ulrich, Colorado