My excellent Conversation with Lazarus Lake, ultra-marathons

Here is the audio, video, and transcript.  Here is the episode summary:

Lazarus Lake is a renowned ultramarathon runner and designer. His most famous creation (along with his friend Raw Dog) is the Barkley Marathons, an absurdly difficult 100-mile race through the Tennessee wilderness that only 17 people have ever finished in its nearly 30-year existence.

]Tyler and Laz discuss what running 100 miles tells you about yourself that running 26 miles does not, why so many STEM professionals do ultramarathons, which skill holds people back the most, why his entrance fee is no more or less than $1.60, the importance of the Barkley’s opaque application process, how much each race costs to mount, whether he sees a decline in stoicism and inner strength in America, what accounting taught him about running, which books influenced him the most, who’s going to win the NBA title next year, how he’s coping with increasing fame, the competition he’s most focused on now, and more.

And one excerpt:

COWEN: Of all of those skills, which is the most scarce? Which holds people back the most, apart from just the running and the endurance? What are they most likely to screw up?

LAKE: I think these days, navigation is a bigger problem than it used to be because people have become dependent upon GPS. If you don’t use part of your brain, it withers. If you’re not accustomed to knowing, in your head, where you are and just listening for a little voice to tell you when to turn next, it’s something of a problem because they don’t get to take GPS.

COWEN: They literally end up lost in the woods, some people.

LAKE: It happens.

COWEN: What happens to them then? They stay there for the rest of their lives? They wander slowly back to civilization, or . . . What becomes of them? They send out a call for help?

LAKE: If they don’t find their way out in a couple of days, we’ll go look for them. Usually, they will. So far, they’ve always found their way out.

COWEN: That’s the incentive.

LAKE: Sometimes they wander around for an extended period of time lost, but that’s what they signed up for. They’re on their own. All the electronics and all the conveniences of modern life are gone, and they just rely on themselves.


COWEN: How did carrying bodies to the morgue influence your subsequent life?

LAKE: [laughs] How did you know I did that?

As I’ve said before, CWT guests who do not have a college degree are better on average (in equilibrium).


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