5 Ways to Know Your Bonking in an Ultra Marathon:

Nov 13

5 Ways to Know Your Bonking in an Ultra Marathon:

Bonking during a marathon is horrible and can be quite painful, but it doesn’t compare to bonking in an ultra marathon.  Bonking or hitting the Wall in an ultra is a new level of misery and it can happen several times throughout the race.  Those of us who have run a few ultras know all to well what the feeling is like but for those of you who haven’t been fortunate enough to have this experience hopefully this will get you an idea of what it’s like.    I’d love to hear any other examples that you have, so leave a comment below.

You know you are bonking in an Ultra Marathon when:

1. You find a piece of food in your teeth and you try and determine how many calories it could be and how much it will carry you.


2. You when you hear someone or something chasing you so you start running, only to find out that it’s you that is making the noise.


3.  You start considering what level of injury it would take to justify dropping out of the race.

Blond Boy Crying

4.  Your pacer and crew have to start treating you like a 2 year old child.

Pacer: Did you eat your gel?

Runner: No they’re gross I don’t want to eat another gel.

Pacer: I’ll let you walk this next section if you do.

Runner: Quietly mumbles to himself and starts eating the gel.
jordan hanlon sawtooth 2011

5.  You start communicating with a series of grunts and head nods instead of words.

Crew: What do you need?

Runner: Sits down in a chair with his head down

Crew: Do you want something to drink?

Runner: Head still down, just shakes his head.

Crew: You should try and eat something.

Runner: Not looking up gives a slight grunt.

Crew: Ok, I’ll go get you some hot soup.

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  1. Allan Holtz /

    I HAVE sometimes during a 100 (100k or 100 mile) heard something/someone behind me, turned around to look and seen nothing/no one.

    With regard to “bonking” per se, not sure I have ever experienced that directly. I usually just reach a point where I can no longer maintain my speed which felt maybe hard but doable up to that point. Then I NEVER get back to feeling “great” and moving strong and fast during that race. I simply continue to fade. So for me, I do not “bonk”, I “fade”. It is a gradual continual decline.

  2. I agree with Allan. I have never bonked but am certainly a fader. Thanks for the laugh.

  3. It’s called the Zumbro 100 Shuffle a 10 hour lap at 1.8 mph.