No Such Thing as too Much Distance with Allen Currano

For some of us, running 26.2 miles on a paved road is a tremendous accomplishment, regardless of how long it takes.

So how can we even wrap our heads around 50-mile, 100-mile or even 211-mile trail runs?

Ultra-marathon Man

Allen Currano is a former rock climber, now avid ultra-distance trail runner. He ran his first 50k in 2010 and has since run several 50k’s, the North Face 50-miler in Marin, the Miwok 100k, the Wasatch Front 100 mile and Tahoe Rim Trail 100 mile trail races. He has also run the Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim, and for a while had the Fastest Known Time (FKT) on the East Bay Skyline Trail. He enjoys the competitive and social aspect of trail races, but what really excites him is long, self-sufficient adventure runs in the High Sierra.

Allen Currano Cover RTTT

Photo: Glenn Tachiyama 

211 miles unsupported running the John Muir Trail

Allen has made several attempts to run the entire John Muir Trail (JMT), a 211 mile section of the Pacific Crest Trail, self-sufficient and non-stop. In 2015 he tried (unsuccessfully) to set a new Unsupported FKT on the John Muir Trail, and produced a documentary film called “Unsupported” about this rather obscure pursuit.

“Unsupported”, a movie documenting his, and others’, attempts at this feat was made in 2016 and Allen lets us know when, where and how the film will be shown.

Allen shares with us his entry into ultra trail running and why he is so passionate about it. He also explains the relatively new discipline of the FKT (Fastest Known Time) movement. Listen as he discusses his training and preparation as well as his favorite gear.

Cars and houses – hallucinations on the trail 

He goes into detail about the strange, sleep deprived, hallucinogenic effects of hard trail running for days at a time, the dangers of weather and the narrow margin of safety involved in his quest to conquer the John Muir Trail.

His experiences may just inspire you to grab some poles and a hydration pack and see how far you can take yourself in the wild.

Questions Allen is asked:

2:48 First Four:

  1. How old are you?
  2. Where were you born?
  3. Where do you live now?
  4. What is your favorite race distance or type of race?

3:22 What made you change your focus from rock climbing to ultra-running?

6:10 What was your first 50k like, how did you perform and what did you learn from it?

8:29 What about your first 50-mile race?

9:35 Were you better prepared for your first 50-miler than for your first 50k?

10:02 What gear do you use for training runs and if so what brands?

13:44 How do you prepare for an unsupported run vs. an ultra race?

15:10 Do you use poles on your training runs?

16:12 What are some of the routes you have done and what they’re like?

18:22 How did you become involved with the JMT?

21:13 Were you going North-South or South-North and which is easier?

24:25 How many miles are you doing per day?

24:55 How many times have you attempted and how many times have you completed it?

29:28 How hard of a decision is it to call a run before you finish?

30:09 Can you talk about hallucinations on these long runs?

34:38 What was the reason for making the movie and what is it about?

38:25 How can people see the film?

41:35 How important is running to you and what’s in your future?

50:07 Final Kick Round:

  1. What is your favorite local training run (location, starting point, parking, distance, terrain and safety issues)?
  2. Favorite running book(s)?
  3. Words of Wisdom or Humor?
  4. Who or what would you like to have featured on the Run To The Top podcast?

Quotes by Allen:

“I’m much more inspired by getting out on the trails and in the wilderness, so I like to train specifically for that. I think the trails beat up your body less than pavement, too.”

“We were out there (on the JMT) for 10 days and did about 180 miles of (211 miles), doing about 18 miles a day. And just thinking, ‘Wow, some guy did this in basically 3.5 days…’; it was mind-blowing. And it got me thinking, ‘Maybe I could come back and do this in a week.’ ”

“With the pretty minimal gear that most people carry, there’s a fine line between being safe enough and not being safe.”

“When you have a big storm coming in, it’s going to slow you down so you’re probably not going to have any real chance of an FKT anyway, so it makes sense to just call it at that point.”

“The last day is really the kicker; you never know how anybody’s trip is going to end up until that last day.”

“Your eyes play tricks on you and everything looks like something else.”

Take a Listen on Your Next Run

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Mentioned in this podcast:

Run To The Top Winners Circle Facebook Community

RunnersConnect Facebook page

Ultimate direction soft water bottles

Altra – Olympus trail running shoes

La Sportiva – Akasha Trail Running Shoes

Hoka – Speedgoat 2 Trail Running Shoe

Hoka One One – Clifton running shoe

Nimitz running trail Berkeley Hills

Black Diamond – Distance Carbon Z poles (lightest model)

Article on Buzz Burrell and FKT

Article on Peter Bakwin, Trail Runner

John Muir Trail homepage

Article on Brett Maune’s JMT FKT run

Tilden Regional Park Running Trails

Book: Relentless Forward Progress by Bryon Powell

I Run Far homepage

The Muir Project Facebook Page

Follow Allen on:


Allen’s Blog

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