Known for her speed, mental grit, sense of humour and funky running shorts, Courtney Dauwalter is always exploring her limits through ultra running. The Suunto ambassador lives in Golden, Colorado, and trains in the Rocky Mountains.
Time in the Rockies pays off; the former science teacher won the Ultra Trail Mont Blanc in 2019, placing 21st overall. The previous year she won the 100 mile Western States Endurance Run, finishing in 17h 27m – the second fastest time by a woman in the race’s history. The same year she stunned the ultra running community by coming second overall in the Big Backyard’s Ultra race, in which the goal is to run as many 6.7 km (4.167 mile) loops as possible. Courtney completed 67 laps and set the woman’s course record with a mind boggling 449.30 km (279.268 miles).
Raised in Hopkins, Minnesota, Courtney has loved running since her track and cross-country days in high school. She also excelled in Nordic skiing, winning the Minnesota state championships four times in her teens. While her family wasn’t into hiking or camping, Courtney says they spent most of their time active outside. “I run because I love it,” she says. “The challenge of it, just moving yourself by foot for all those miles, all those hours.”
She is fascinated by the power of the mind to help her overcome adversity and achieve incredible things. Gaining a reputation in the racing scene for being a man beater, Courtney has an innate understanding of how to use her mind to work with all the highs, lows and pain of ultra running. “I find a lot of comfort in being uncomfortable,” she says. “I call it the pain cave. The thing I’m seeking in these ultras is to reach the entrance of the pain cave so I get to go in. It’s not a place I’m scared to enter. It’s a place I’m excited to find the entrance to.”
While she has an intuitive approach to training, Courtney uses her Suunto 9 to track all her runs. “If during the week I’m feeling really tired I can look at my workouts and analyze what is going on,” she says. “Then I can see, for example, ‘Oh, it makes sense you’re exhausted because look how much climbing you’ve packed into the last five days’. It also tells me when my last rest day was. It’s a great way to look back and then reflect and figure out what things I need to adjust a little bit.”
Follow Courtney on her awesome ultra adventures via her Instagram feed.
Lead images: © Philipp Reiter