WeRunFar Profile: Davy Crockett

Before Mike Foote hit the big time, Missoula’s ultra-star got lost during the Old Gabe 50k and ended up doubling back on the course and running the last leg with a guy who’d fueled the whole race on a bag of Twizzlers and a gallon jug of orange juice, both of which he’d carried with him the entire way. “Want one?” he asked, proffering up the sticky red, corn-syrupy sweet. Foote considered it for a moment, then accepted the Twizzler. “Thanks!” He hollered, shortly before crossing the finish line in nearly last place. “You gotta respect that,” Foote told me later.

If there’s one thing all ultarunners appear to share, it’d be a bad case of stubborn perseverance. You’ve heard the stories: Kirk Apt, the 50-year-old Frutia, Colorado-based runner who’s now run Hardrock a record 18 times; Carolyn Erdman, who split her knee open at a 50-mile warm-up race and then ran through the pain until she could see her patella poking through; anyone who attempted the Slickrock 100 debacle last year. But Davy Crockett, mentioned in my previous article, may very well be the poster child for stubborn perseverance. Here’s why:

In 2002, Crockett was a self-described 230-pound couch potato who woke up one morning and figured he’d attempt to get in shape for an upcoming backpacking trip by hiking the 14 mile out-and-back up Utah’s Mt. Timpanogos, “a grueling experience that took all day.” Vowing to get faster, Crockett upped his mileage but quickly got injured and started swimming to drop weight. In 2003, he tore the meniscus in his right knee, but was hooked enough on long distance fast-packing to start Googling around for a distance hiking club… which is how Crockett discovered ultras. Most of you can intuit the story from there. After coming in nearly dead last in his first 50k, Crockett immediately signed up for the White River 50. This time he really did come in dead last, two seconds after the cutoff, yet undeterred Crockett raced, then DNF’d his first 100k, injuring a knee. Unperturbed, Crockett signed up for Bear 100, and DNFed with 13 miles to go.

Davy Crockett - ultrarunner

Davy Crockett running the 2010-11 Across the Years Run. Photo: Aravaipa Running

But that was 2004. In 2005, Crockett finished seven races, including Bear, and he’s been remarkably consistent ever since – with close to 70 ultras under his belt and some solid Grand Canyon adventure running to boot. He’s placed anywhere from first to 96th, donned a coonskin cap for the 2005 Rocky Raccoon 100 as a tribute to the eponymous 19th century folk hero, and once asked Jim Skaggs if he could run the Antelope Island course twice, which required extra forest service permission but was ultimately approved.

So why does Crockett do it? In his words, “because I can.” Browse around his entertaining (and enviably thorough) blog – Davy Crockett’s Running Frontier – and you get the sense, he’s serious. It’s definitely one thing to train to win, but to train obsessively just to run “insanely long and crazy distances” without caring where you finish? That kind of perseverance really does merit a whole new brand of respect.

Which reminds me – aid station Twizzlers. Not a bad idea…

Meaghen Brown

is an assistant editor at Outside Magazine and amateur trail runner. Her work has appeared in Outside, The New Yorker online, The Santa Fe Reporter, and The Atlantic online. When not at her desk, you'll likely find Meaghen getting lost on exploring trails around Santa Fe, New Mexico. Her proudest running accomplishment to date? Beating Nikki Kimball's course record at the Blue Mountain 30k. She claims to owe it all to one yurt dweller and three crazy lawyers from Missoula, Montana.

There are 17 comments

  1. ChrisB

    Davy is one of the first ultrarunners I started following online, back in the day when his blog was unformatted plain-text. He has had a huge positive influence on the sport, and me. Great profile, glad to see him get some well deserved recognition.

  2. Jay

    Davey has contributed to the sport in many ways – through his examples of perseverance and determination, creating and directing the Pony Express Trail 50 & 100, volunteering at numerous races, and pioneering new routes and trails for running (I would proffer Davey has covered more miles on foot in the Grand Canyon than anyone else). He's definitely an original both in tenure and character (what's up with that hat Davey??)

  3. Jon Allen

    I've paced Davy, run with Davy, competed against Davy, and done the R2R2R with him- truly a great guy and great ultra runner. His weekday 2am long runs are legendary. Looking forward to wRF.

  4. Jim Skaggs

    When Davy wanted to run the Antelope Island Buffalo Run 50 mile course twice, yeah, I did have to get permission from the park, but they were fine with it. Indeed, the park had been asking me to put on a 100 mile event and I had been resisting. He started Friday afternoon, and I remember him rolling thru the 50 mile point at about 4am. It was pretty cold and he sat in a car for about 30 minutes warming up, then took off again. There were only a couple of us out on the island that night, so things were pretty lonely for him. He did have a crew of one helping out. We could see his trademark green flashlight from miles away as he was running. He finished Saturday afternoon well under the 50 mile cutoff time of 6:30pm. That was in 2010. Since then the 100 mile distance has been one of the races for the Buffalo Run.

    Davy also does the upkeep and maintenance for the Buffalo Run website for me. He's a great guy.

    Jim Skaggs

    RD Antelope Island Buffalo Run

  5. Van Horn

    I can trace my ultra running lineage directly to Davy Crockett. He inspired a few friends of mine to begin running 'insanely long and crazy distances', who then influenced me. I ran my first ultra last year at the Pony Express 50 Mile. More recently Davy paced me to the finish at Wasatch 100. This guy knows how to finish.

  6. Trail Clown

    I've been reading Davy's exploits on his site for many years now. For awhile it seemed like his race reports were learning towards the "what not to do in a race" category (like challenge for the lead right off the start line and bonk severely half way through the race), but the past few years his reports have mostly just an "epic" quality to them. I especially love his reports of day trips that are not races, and I also love any of his reports that discuss in detail the highs and lows he goes through during the particular journey. Seems like one of the great ambassadors of the sport of ultra running. And his recovery from a broken leg this past year is very inspiring. Of course, reading how he broke it harkens back to "what not to do" (in re: to overtraining and racing on a hurt leg).

  7. LB2

    I think he represents the majority of us out there on the trails very well. I was proud to run in Rocky Raccoon with him this year. I didn't meet him, but I saw his name on the registration list and saw that he finished.

  8. Joe G

    Davy was the first ultra running blog that I ever followed, and he is definately the best one. I've even emailed him out of the blue and he has given me advice. I know ultra runners are very hardcore people, but he epitomizes the word "Hardcore."

  9. J. Robert Creer

    30 October, 2012

    Today I summited Mt. Timpanogos (15th summit), and was signing the register notebook

    and noticed an entry by "that guy", age 70, and his summit count of 575.

    Can someone comment on that?

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