The Quest | The Free Press of Reed College

Reed Senior Runs 27 Hours, Breaks Record

Ethan Linck ’13, a Biology major, joined an elite group of record holding distance runners when he ran the 93-mile Wonderland Trail on Sept. 28. Linck completed the course in 27 hours, 19 minutes, 19 seconds, besting the previous record of 28 hours, 50 minutes. The run was Linck’s second attempt at the Wonderland Trail, a loop that runs around Mount Rainier.

He began his run at 6:30 AM with a sore throat and a few hours of sleep in the car. Running without support, Linck endeavored to travel light, carrying only a water bottle and some 6,000 calories of gels and powerbars to sustain him throughout the run. Gorgeous vistas, existential thoughts, and 10-minute breaks to record his splits and refuel marked Link’s progress on the trail. The run was a series of mental and physical up and downs for Linck. “The miraculous part is you may feel shitty one hour and good the next,” he says. Fighting sleep deprivation and stubborn legs he told himself  “the only way through was out” and at 9:59 AM, a little over 27 hours after he had started, Linck completed his run.

Linck is no stranger to distance running. He describes himself as having been a “mediocre” cross-country runner in high school with a fondness for backpacking. Inspired by his cross-country coach, an ultra-marathon runner, Linck began to experiment with distance running. Ultra-running was a natural synthesis for Linck’s passion for running and backpacking, and it didn’t take long for Linck to discover that he was most comfortable on runs longer than 26 miles.  Gradually he became more ambitious in his running, competing in ultra marathons and completing the Three Sisters Loop.

For Linck, distance running is more than just the prestige of fast splits and miles on the trail. He describes his ultra-running as “meditative and ritualistic” and  “a way to slip everything.” The draw of the distance being the “sense of connection” he’s able to achieve with nature through the exploration of his limits and long hours on the trail.

In addition to ultra-running, Linck runs the Backpack Coop and works in the admissions office as a tour guide, all while working on his thesis on the molecular phylogenetics of the Louisiade white-eye. “I’m busy, but it doesn’t feel that bad,” he says. Linck credits his ability to balance a Reed workload with 70-80 miles of running a week to his desire to accomplish things that are important to him while realizing that getting everything done is unrealistic.

Even in the midst of a busy final year at Reed, Linck is planning his next exploits. Having completed his run around Mount Rainier, the most challenging of the “volcano circumnavigations” in the Pacific Northwest, Linck plans to complete the last on his list, Mount Adams, in the Spring.


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