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Product Review: Hal Koerner’s Field Guide to Ultrarunning

Hal Koerner's Field Guide to Ultrarunning. Velopress. (Photo Credit: Velopress).

Hal Koerner's Field Guide to Ultrarunning. Velopress. (Photo Credit: Velopress).

I have a handful of running idols that I look up to. Not many, but a few. One of them is Hal Koerner. For those of you not familiar with the name, Hal owns a running shop in Ashland, Oregon called Rogue Valley Runners. But owning a running store isn’t the only thing that is super cool about Hal. He has won Western States twice, has participated in 122 (+) ultra-marathons since 1999, and was the first place finisher of The North Face Endurance Challenge in 2012. Hal is also a North Face sponsored athlete. I love The North Face running products, so this is notably awesome for me.

But you know what is really awesome about Hal? He wrote a book about ultra-running for the novice or professional athlete. His book, Hal Koerner’s Field Guide to Ultrarunning, is what sold me on adding an ultra-marathon to my running bucket list. The Field Guide to Ultrarunning is a quick and useful read (a little over 200 pages), regardless of if you are interested in pursuing an ultra-marathon. As I will discuss below, I found a number of points Hal, and Adam Chase, who collaborated in writing the book, discuss to be valuable information for half marathons, 25k trail runs, and marathon events, too.

Hal Koerner’s Field Guide to Ultrarunning has eight distinct chapters that are packed with relevant information. They include:

  1. Getting Started
  2. Training
  3. Nutrition & Hydration
  4. Gear
  5. Maintenance, Self Care and First Aid
  6. Dealing with Your Environment
  7. Race Day, and
  8. Training Plans

Hal Koerner, The North Face sponsored athlete. (Photo Credit: The North Face website).

Chapter six, “Dealing With Your Environment” was an exceptionally appealing chapter for me. Being a veteran road racer, and just beginning to fully tackle the trail racing more, this chapter answered a myriad of questions for me, and thus, makes me much more confident trail running. For example, do you know how to really run in the mud, ice, snow or how to tackle a water crossing? How about this! Going to the bathroom! Here are some excerpts on mud, water crossings, and going to the bathroom that I absolutely cherish, and share with fellow runners whenever I can – road race or trail race runners!

“Getting dirty is a part of trail racing. Embrace it if you can. The North Face championships in 2012 turned out to be a mud bowl of epic proportions. Some runners were completely defeated by it. Watching them slog through the course, you could see they had no motivation, no momentum. Others, however, ran through it like kids playing in mud puddles, embracing it and having a good time with it. Same conditions, different attitude …”

“In one of my first Colorado races, a group of us were running in the Collegiate Peaks Trail Run when we came upon a flooded dirt road. For a second, we all stood there, assessing, reluctant to go in. I remember I began tiptoeing around it, a little like a cat, when suddenly a runner came up behind us and ran directly through the middle of it, spraying water everywhere. After that, I learned to take on water boldly and with conviction.”

“When you feel the urge to go, take the time to do it properly … Make sure you are off the trail and as far away as possible from high-traffic areas … Watch out for thorns or poison ivy or oak … One you go, take the time to cover it.”

Truly, you will find useful, what I now considered treasured, insight into everything you will want, and need, to know about ultrarunning. But additionally, you will be able to learn from a highly experienced and recognized ultrarunner. Also, the book offers three, quite detailed, training plans for the 50k, 50-mile to 100k, and 100-mile ultra marathons. This is exceptionally useful, runners! This book will remain a permanent fixture on my book shelf, in a good way! Now to just make a trip from Eugene to Ashland to visit Rogue Valley Runners, and maybe see one of my running idols in person.

Book Details: Hal Koerner’s Field Guide to Ultrarunning. Velopress. ISBN: 978-1-937715-22-9.

About Jessica Mumme (247 Articles)
Jessica Mumme, a Portland native, currently lives in Eugene with her husband and three cats (children). Her favorite distances are the 10k and marathon, but she will run any race distances, and especially loves competing in running events. She is Half Fanatic #2635, and has completed 42 half marathons since May, 2009. Jessica tackled her first ultra marathon distance at the 2015 McKenzie River Trail 50k Ultra. See her race calendar and other fun stuff at her personal blog,

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