I first met Ellie at Miles’ Pancake Run in June, but had the opportunity to get to know her a little bit better at Julie’s bridal shower, bachelorette party, and then the wedding when Ellie was one of Julie’s bridesmaids.  Ellie and Julie ran track together in high school, have stayed close friends, and ran a half marathon together this spring.

Late in the summer, Ellie decided that she wanted to run the entire 44.82-mile length of the W&OD Trail.  She set her sights on October 11, but an aggravated IT-Band forced her to rescheduled to November 8.  She let friends know her plans and welcomed anyone to join her for a few miles, or to bring snacks!

If you remember, last year my son Joseph ran the length of the W&OD Trail in the Crusiers’ 45-Mile Ultra Marathon that I organized for him.  When Julie wasn’t running with Joseph she helped crew, so she had a very good idea of what Ellie would need along the way.  Much like we had prepared for Joseph’s ultra, Julie had the back of her SUV packed with peanut butter sandwiches, granola bars, Swedish fish, water, Gatorade, and other snacks to last the day for Ellie and her team.

A couple of days before her ultra, Ellie had her running buddies and crew download the app Glympse. She then added us to her event, so we could follow her along on the run. It was a great way for us to see where she was on the trail, and determine when to arrive at our meeting place to join her.


Joseph, Julie, and Ellie started at the western end of the W&OD Trail in Purcellville at 5:45 AM with Joseph running alongside Ellie, and Julie driving.  It was still dark when they started, but the moon was bright and nearly full, and illuminated their way.


Photo credit: Joseph

Bill and I arrived at Clark’s Gap 6 miles into the run just in time to cheer Ellie and Joseph in, and send Ellie off with Julie for about 3.5 miles.

With Julie on the trail, Joseph took over crewing responsibilities, and we drove ahead to Loudoun County High School to wait for Ellie and Julie.  Bill and I were next up to keep Ellie company for about 11 miles.  We picked up when Ellie was 9.5 miles into her run, and feeling strong.

Joseph and Julie were waiting to cheer us on at couple of places before we got out of Leesburg, and I convinced everyone to gather for a shoe selfie at one of our stops.

Running along we suddenly heard a crazy-loud chattering noise, and looked over just in time to see a squirrel holding a nut.  Perhaps he was warning us not to get any closer…  This prompted Ellie to tell us about her first two animal encounters of the day.  Her first encounter was with a deer standing on the trail while it was still dark, that refused to move off of the trail as she and Joseph ran by.  Her second animal encounter was with a dead snake that she saw when running with Julie.  Dead or not, she said the snake freaked her out!

About half way into our run together, I noticed that Ellie was starting to limp when walking during one of our porta potty breaks.  She said her IT-Band was starting to bother her, and we talked about taking Advil. I texted Julie’s mom Janet who was going to be joining Ellie later, and asked her to bring along some Advil.

Julie continued crewing, and met us at a couple of places to give Ellie food and refill her water pack. We were about 17 miles into Ellie’s run at this stop in Ashburn.

Even though it was a bit breezy and cold at times, overall, it was a gorgeous day for an ultramarathon!

Bill and I ran with Ellie to her 20.5 mile point in Dulles where Janet joined in on the fun.  If you look closely, you can see Julie photo-bombing the picture.  Or perhaps she was contemplating how to get her Bulldogs sweatshirt back, and sneaking up behind them to make the steal.


Our Cruiser friend Beth (who joined Joseph for 15 miles during his ultra), was waiting to join Ellie and Janet in Reston as Ellie finished 27 miles.  By now, the Advil was kicking in and Ellie was starting to feel a lot better.

After Janet left, Beth ran with Ellie to the 32 mile point, and snapped this picture of Ellie when she got to her 30-mile point.  The miles are marked on the W&OD Trail from east to west, and Ellie ran from west to east, so the mile markers were counting down.


Photo credit: Beth

Once Beth left, Ellie ran alone for a half mile, the only time she was alone during her entire run.

At the 32.5 mile point, Joseph took over crewing again, so Julie could run with Ellie from miles 32 to 37.  As they crossed over the Capital Beltway (I-495), Julie snapped this picture.  By the time they reached 37 miles, it was starting to get dark, and Joseph ran with Ellie to mile 39 so she would have a guy on the trail with her.


Photo credit: Julie

Using the rule that there’s safety in numbers, Janet returned to the trail to run the final 5.5 miles with Ellie, Julie, and another high school friend, Melissa.  Julie’s dad Rich had now joined in to take over crewing, and was pretty close by with the car.

After a long day of chasing a dream, Ellie met her goal of running the length of the W&OD Trail when she reached the end of the trail in Shirlington.  Her current three running buddies, ran ahead to take pictures of her crossing the finish line.


Photo credit: Janet

Ellie may be giving two thumbs up because she’s happy to be finished, but all of her friends are giving her two thumbs up on a job well done!


Photo credit: Janet

Ellie was lucky enough to have someone running with her the entire time except for a half mile.  Here are the total miles run by each of her friends that joined in on the fun:

Ellie – 45 miles
Julie – 14 miles
Janet – 12 miles
Bill – 11 miles
Debbie – 11 miles
Joseph – 8 miles
Melissa – 5.5 mile
Beth – 5 miles

On Sunday morning, less than 18 hours after she finished her run, Ellie told Julie that she was sad her run was over, and looks forward to her next ultra.  What’s up next for this amazing young lady?  She wants to move on from an ultra run to an ultra race, and is shooting for a 50-miler.


  • Questions:
  • Would you attempt an ultra that wasn’t part of an organized race?
  • Have you ever crewed for anyone?
  • What is the longest distance you’ve run, or would like to run?