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Ultrarunning for a Cause: Dave E. and the 35 lb Pack

Dave Elliott is a Texas ultra/trail runner and the first Ultrarunning for a Cause profile on Endurance Buzz.

Dave will share with us his ultrarunning journey, the charity he is raising funds for, and the event he is preparing for in association with the charity.

Check it out.

What brought you to this wacky sport? Why ultra/trail running?

trail-runner-DaveE-packTwo years ago I was sitting on the couch watching the White Rock Marathon, fat and out of shape. Over the past 12 years I had run two marathons prior, but swore off such foolishness after each of them.  That Sunday afternoon after watching the Rock, I ran/walked/crawled two miles and lamented to myself how far I had fallen from grace.

Just 14 months later I completed the Grasslands 50 miler.  How I got to the point of running ultras is something I am still not sure about.  My innate personality has always been drawn to extreme endurance events.  The difference between this running streak and my previous “six month marathon training streaks” is that this ultra/trail running stuff has embedded itself deep in my soul.

The ultra community has aided in my love for ultra/trail running.  They are truly the best in the world.  You can share the trail with a runner for a 50K and by the end of that run you have become friends for life.  Don’t ultras do that…boil down life’s lessons in a raw, brutal, and honest way that would normally take months, maybe years.  I love that about ultras and ultra runners.  I am humbled at how the ultra community, even the really good runners, is ever so helpful.  I am just a middle of the pack kind a guy just trying to get’er done!

What charity are you currently raising funds for within your ultra/trail running journey?

You may also know I served in the U.S. Marine Corps for 6 years…and without ever receiving a scratch.  I am blessed.

Unfortunately, not all that defend our Freedoms in this great country serve without peril and harm.  So when I decided to run the Bataan Memorial Death March (marathon) on March 21st, 2010, I thought that this would be a great opportunity to raise money for the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund.

This organization raises money and supports Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines that have been gravely injured in combat.  They help with specialized equipment, transportation, remodel of homes to handle wheel chairs, etc.  Many times the families of the servicemen cannot afford to travel to the location of their loved one while they are rehabilitating.  This organization helps with this too.

Here is one short story of the Semper Fi Fund in action:

(If you can’t see the video, click here.)

You can find out more at:  Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund (The About Us page has some good overview information.)

My goal is $5000.00.

Tell us more about the Baatan Memorial Death March and the type of training you are doing to get ready for this event.

In mid December 2009, I decided that I wanted to run the Bataan Memorial Death March (marathon) the next year.  I have always been a history guy and knowing the perils and trials that the Bataan Death March survivors endured during World War II, this just seems like a natural race for me.  Additionally they have some of the survivors of that fateful event at the race, so the time was now rather than later.

This is a unique event in itself.  First it is held in the desert of White Sands New Mexico and second, they offer the option of running the marathon heavy…meaning running it with a 35 lb pack.  That is really my only option.  I don’t think I could show my face to my Marine buddies if I did it any other way.

The training for this has been a bit unique as well.  Having a good running base, I really started focusing on core training.  After completing the Palo Duro 50 miler this past year, I vowed to become more overall fit.

I kept up with cardio, but started doing four hours of core/upper body work a week.  I started hitting two 5:30 A.M boot camps a week and two strength weight classes a week.


My running included doing a weekly speed workout, usually mile repeats….of course speed work is relative.  My weekend runs became paramount as I ran “long” with a 40 lb pack on Saturday and five miles with that pack on Sunday.  The Saturday run would range from 15 to 18 miles and the Sunday run was more a mental thing than a physical…making my mind deal with something it would rather not deal with so early in the morning.  I run four minutes and walk one minute during these long runs. On benign terrain, I can average about 14.5 minutes a mile.

This race will be run with the back rather than the legs. It is the back that always starts to tighten up before the legs give out.  I have to give a shout out the Karen Riddle who gave me advice on running with a pack, and a couple of personal trainers who have helped with my core training:  my blog buddy, Shannon Tipton who constantly reiterated how important core strength would be for this race and Adrian Gipson who implemented the training.


I also want to thank all my North Texas Trail running buddies who encourage me and to my wonderful wife, Bren, and three rugrats, Luke, Macy, and Hope….who know Daddy likes to run a long way.

To donate, go to (All donations both large and small make a difference.): Donation: Semper Fi Fund – Bataan Marathon

How does a marathon sound with a 35 lb pack? Wow.

You can follow Dave’s training and other musings on his blog at …And The Adventure Continues .

Thanks for sharing this with us, Dave.

If you are a TALON (Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, or New Mexico) ultra/trail runner that is raising funds for a specific charity and would like to be profiled on Endurance Buzz, please send a message through my Contact page.

Be active – Feel the buzz!

David –

About the author

David Hanenburg David Hanenburg is the passionate dirt-lovin' creator of Endurance Buzz and has been playing in the endurance sports world since 2000 after knockin' the dust off of his Trek 950 hardtail thanks to a friend asking to go ride some local dirt. In 2007 he ran his first ultra on the trails and fell in love with the sport and its people. For more information on David's endurance sports journey, check out the About page.

4 Responses to “Ultrarunning for a Cause: Dave E. and the 35 lb Pack”

  1. on 25 Feb 2010 at 2:54 pm Missy

    …Because Dave rocks! Dave is truly the nicest man in America, I swear. He is the first of my blog buddies to call or drop a note of encouragement when needed. He understands going to ‘that dark place’ in these endurance sports, yet, wakes up each day and forges on (even when he’s rolling around town with his pack at 2am). Yeah, he’s THAT GUY!!!

  2. on 01 Mar 2010 at 10:36 am Melissa "Melicious" Joulwan

    Thanks for sharing this profile of Dave E! Super inspiring and motivating.

  3. on 01 Mar 2010 at 2:12 pm David Hanenburg

    Missy – Thanks for sharing additional insight on the man behind the cause. 🙂

    Melissa – Your welcome. 🙂

  4. on 02 Mar 2010 at 2:38 pm Bill Roger

    I feel a little responcible for all that running for I was Daves neighbor for a long time and he use to think I was crazy for all that running. He is truly one of those crazys and I wish him well and one day will be out there running one of those races with him. He still hasn’t beat me and I bet deep down that is one of his goals. Keep it up Dave and see you on the road.