Gary Dudney - Salinas, CA
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Gary Dudney - Salinas, CA

Gary Dudney - Salinas, CA

Running, Writing, and Writing About Running
by Gary Dudney

What makes me different from a crowd of other runners who might be featured as a Runner Story for Road Runner Sports? Probably not my running, although I certainly run a lot, and my race resumé, which includes a slew of ultramarathons, is definitely out on the edge of the bell curve. As I've gotten older (in my 50s), the running just seems to get better and better, so I've done more and more of it. I went from lowering my 10K times to marathoning and from marathoning to ultrarunning. When 50 miles started to look blasé, I took on 100 miles, and now I'm shooting for the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning: Western States, Vermont, Leadville and Wasatch in one summer. But, hey, what's surprising about a Run America Club member doing a lot of running?

Here's where my story departs from the norm. All my life I've dabbled in writing. I wrote a few short stories as a kid, took some creative writing in college, wrote some articles for a newspaper, kept a journal off and on, and sent a few things off to magazines-all with indifferent success. I had no illusions about quitting my day job. I made my last serious attempt at writing in my early forties and then, as had happened so often before, I just let it peter out.

But pushing fifty a few years back (midlife crisis?), the burr under my saddle started itching again. Time to give writing another try, but I decided to take a different approach. I figured during thirty years of running-racing every possible distance, training year in and year out, trying out every kind of shoe and apparel, sampling all the different sports drinks, electrolyte capsules, and energy bars-I'd learned a thing or two. Why not write about running? Plus my daily workouts gave me the one thing every writer covets: time to think. So as I ran along, I brainstormed article ideas, worked up outlines in my head, thought up catchy opening lines, and wrote it all down when I got home.

The very first race report I sent to Ultrarunning magazine appeared in print. Then another and another. While I was racing, I started interviewing whoever happened to be nearby-ultrarunners love nothing more than to pass the time jabbering-and so I had the experiences and the voices of all those ultrarunners to draw on. Those interviews turned into two articles for Trail Runner magazine, one on how to transition from running marathons to running ultras, and the other on knowing when it's time to get rid of your old shoes. I've sold three other running related pieces to Marathon & Beyond and four pieces to different bike magazines about mountain biking, my cross training sport.

I've also fulfilled a lifelong ambition of publishing short stories. One of my stories appeared in Boys' Life and another was in Highlights for Children. It goes without saying that the ideas for these stories came to me out on the trail. The initial success of sharing my running experiences in print encouraged me to keep trying with my fiction and to finally succeed.

So for now I run everyday and I write everyday. And whenever I draw a blank writing fiction, I go back to writing about running. It's like a well with waters that run sweet and deep.

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