The ultimate endurance athlete, Marshall Ulrich has run more than 120 ultra marathons averaging over 125 miles each, completed 12 expedition-length adventure races, and climbed the Seven Summits all on his first attempts. He is the only person in the world to complete the Triple Crown of Extreme Sports: world-class ultra runner, record-setting adventure racer, and Seven Summits mountaineer.
Knowing that his wife and mother of their newborn daughter was going to die of cancer, Marshall’s heart rate went through the roof. To release the pressure he started running.
It helped him through the rest of his life to deal with the loss of his wife, his personal challenges of being a parent, to rediscover how to love later in life, as well as to overcome a mountain of self-doubt and insecurity. But it also let him explore the world and set numerous records by climbing the Seven Summits, running across America and Death Valley.
Besides four times winning the Badwater Ultramarathon, Marshall has crossed Death Valley on foot in July 28 times, including a self-contained, unaided solo “quad” of nearly 600 miles.
He also completed the first-ever self-supported circumnavigation of Death Valley National Park, about 425 miles in one of the hottest, driest places on earth, during the most blistering month in U.S. history (July 2012).
“Doing these events just for me doesn’t make any sense, so this year I’m running in honor of my first wife, Jean, who passed away in 1981 at age 30 from invasive breast cancer,” Marshall explains. Before getting sick, Jean completed law school, passing the bar exam when she was eight months pregnant. After Jean’s passing, the JEAN SCHMID ULRICH ENDOWED SCHOLARSHIP FUND was established at the University of Denver, her alma mater. Every year, an aspiring attorney is granted a scholarship. “We desperately need more honest, decent attorneys like Jean,” Marshall says.
He finished his first 5K in less than 20 minutes, and finished fifth in his first 50-miler in 1983. At his first 24 hour run, he won by covering over 122 miles. In 1989, he was the first person to complete all six 100-mile trail races, finishing top ten in all but one race.
He has ranked his record-setting transcontinental 52,5-day run of more than 3,000 miles from San Francisco to New York City as most challenging. It was the subject of his memoir, Running on Empty, where he also writes openly about his grief after the loss of his first wife.
Being in his sixties, Marshall inspires adventurers, active and armchair athletes, and a growing general audience by sharing his experiences and defying the ideas of “too far,” “too old,” and “not possible.”
“Discover what you’re made of; it’s more than you think!”