Deep within the Sonoran Desert, among the towering saguaro cactus, you may very well find a woman by the name of Susie Kramer out for a run —a very long run.
The 54-year-old ultra-distance runner from Peoria, Arizona signed up for her first 50K in 2005, and says she was hooked. Not only that, but she’s found she has a talent for going the distance.
In fact, Ultrasignup has Kramer listed as completing over 30 ultramarathons which includes more than ten 100-mile races and a 200-mile race—many of them ranking her near or at 100%. According to Kramer, it was her finish at the BigFoot 200 in 2017, which is her greatest achievement so far.
“My greatest running achievement would have to be Bigfoot 200 in 2017,” she said. “I finished in under 73 hours, and was the second place female overall!”
Even with such a landmark race, Kramer has her goals set high, with several ultras already on deck for 2020.
“This year, I was fortunate enough to be chosen in the Western States 100 lottery!” she said. “I have been putting in for six years. My goal is to complete WSER 100 and to also take my endurance horse to the Western States Endurance Ride, also known as The Tevis Cup, 5 weeks later in August.”
Just around the corner, on February 15, Kramer will be participating in the Black Canyon Ultras 100K, which is one of Aravaipa Running’s events.This race will keep Kramer on her home turf of the Sonoran Desert trails, which Kramer is excited about. And as a member of the Aravaipa Racing Team, Kramer says Black Canyon is one of many events this organization puts on that she loves.
“This is my fourth year on the Aravaipa Racing Team,” she said. “I absolutely love the Mongollon Monster 100 mile race! I’ve run it and made the podium three times. I also love the Javelina Jundred races.”
As Kramer prepares to race in the coming days, and as she trains to reach her short- and long-term goals, there are some things that help her be successful. One of those things is having a bright light to help her see while running long hours in the dark.
“I use the Kogalla Ultra Trail Light, because it isn’t a headlamp, and headlamps make me dizzy and cast too many shadows if you are wearing a hat,” she said. “When I first used it, thought, ‘Holy cow, that’s a bright light!’” I love the ‘red light’ feature because I see better in the dark with the red light. It also alleviates the shadow problem.”
Along with having a light to see in the dark, Kramer says it’s important to have the support of loved ones, namely her life partner and her dog.
“My life partner, Brad is undoubtedly my greatest support,” she said. “We have been training and racing together for over three years now, and he never lets me down. He encourages me to get out the door everyday and to never give up the dream. Also knowing that I have a training plan to follow and a dog that likes to run the 2-3 mile warm-up loop before we hit the higher mileage is what gets me up in the morning.”
But as is often the case, the long ultra miles can be lonely and hard, which is why Kramer also depends on positive thoughts to get her through.
“My personal mantra is to listen to your body and it will take care of you in the end,” she said. “When racing, it is important to run your own race by not letting other people’s expectations of you dictate how your race should go. We all have bad days for different reasons, and not every race is meant to be your best. If you always give your best effort, you will usually attain personal satisfaction at the finish line.”
Main Photo: Susie at Squaw Peak PC - Clay Shaw