By ABE FIELD
In his first year of running long distance, he has run four 50 kilometer races, countless marathons, and a training half marathon every week. Eric Sauer (’18) is only just getting started.
Sauer grew up in a small town called Washburn, along the shore of Lake Superior in Wisconsin. After training with the soccer team, track team, and downhill skiing teams, he came to Lewis & Clark (LC) looking for a sport to test his body as well as his mind. Sauer joined the ultimate frisbee team, but during his second month of school, he flipped over the handlebars of his bicycle and broke his collarbone and was unable to participate. After a visit to the doctor, Sauer was told to steer clear from contact sports for at least three months. Two weeks into his recovery, Sauer started running to keep his body in shape. He hasn’t stopped yet.
This February, during the spring of the his first year, Sauer ran his first 50km (31 mile) race, the Hagg Lake Ultra. When Sauer arrived at the course on race day, it was pouring rain. “I wasn’t that nervous,” remembers Sauer. “I just wanted to finish.” The course was muddy and slow going, but he finished with a blazing fast time of 4 hours and 58 minutes. “I was happy with how it went, and it got me excited to run another race,” he says.
In the world of ultra marathon running, in which every race is so difficult it is always a question of whether all the runners will finish. Runners train for months to compete in these endurance races, which vary in length from 50 kilometers to 100 miles.
To prepare for one of these races, Sauer runs between 35 and 40 miles per week. On his training days, he runs down Palatine Hill to the south to the Willamette and through Riverwood, and then back up the hill. “Then I do that loop another three or four times, depending on how I feel,” Sauer says.
Of the four Ultra races that Sauer has run, he says the hardest one was the Yakima Skyline Rim 50k. Held in the spring, this course featured not only climbing temperatures, but 9,500 feet in elevation change. “I walked up a lot of those hills,” Saur says with a laugh.
When I asked Sauer if he plans on running any longer races, like the fabled 50 mile and 100 mile races, he just grinned. “It’s all mental,” he says. “Fitness wise, if you can run a 50k you can run a 100. The mental aspect is the part you have to train for.”