Food for Thought

36. From the front to the back, Jeff Browning & Marc Sanderson give us a 360 degree view of running the 2019 Bear 100

December 19, 2019

This episode of Food for Thought is an engaging, entertaining and insightful conversation with elite ultra-runner, Jeff Browning (aka Broncobilly), winner of The 2019 Bear 100 in 19:06 and Marc Sanderson who finished 173rd out of 204 finishers in 34:55 yielding a 360 degree view of what it's like to run a 100 Mile trail mountain ultra. This year's version of 'The Bear' lived up to it's name with some of the worst conditions in the history of the race. 

To give perspective Jeff's time reflects not only his level of ability and training but also the simple fact he was fortunate to outrun the weather whereas Mark was caught in were some of Jeff's clients whom he coaches. A lot of time is spent on the huge challenges faced by middle and back of the pack runners and the enduring grit that makes up the sport of ultrarunning. The sport's ultra-inclusiveness is also discussed in the conversation another reason so many people are drawn to the challenge of ultras.....while it is a personal journey of transformation the camaraderie and support to bring everyone along to persevere and overcome the challenge is what makes competition truly great....we all get better as a result. 

Both Jeff and Mark are 48 years old, have extensive ultra-running resumes they bring to this conversation but more so they both have fascinating personal journeys of overcoming health challenges. 

After several years of having severe GI issues which were only worsening, in late 2015 Jeff made the switch to OFM and the use of Vespa from a Primal diet and conventional fueling in his ultras. Since that time he has never looked back. His performance skyrocketed with an overall win in his first race just a month into the program at the 2016 HURT 100  and since then Jeff has risen to be one of the top elite ultra-runners at the 100 Mile Mountain Ultra Distance with wins at HURT, Hardrock, Bear, and, most recently Bloodrock tying Ann Trason for lifetime wins at the distance at 22 wins. 

Marc Sanderson is equally experienced having dozens of ultras including several 100+ mile distance ultras. In 2004 he completed the coveted Grand Slam of Ultrarunning completing Western States in under 24 hours, Vermont in under 20 hours, Leadville in just over 27 hours and Wasatch in just over 28 hours. During a random checkup in 2016 and completely asymptomatic Marc was diagnosed with Stage IV Mantle cell Lymphoma and immediately went into chemotherapy. Less than 2 years later Marc returned to ultra-running but with a different mindset. After his battle with Lymphoma he realized that, in spite of the training he needed to do more and that he could not outrun a diet that was not optimal. In the summer of 2019, 2 years after his diagnosis he made the switch to OFM and 3 months later he completed The Bear, his first 100 after beating cancer!

Here is his email:

---------- Forwarded message ---------
From: Marc Sanderson <>
Date: Tue, Jul 9, 2019 at 5:08 PM
Subject: Re: New customer message on July 7, 2019 at 7:19 pm
To: Pam Miller <>

It’s been a few years - hope you are doing great?

I’ve been through the ringer the last couple of years — Lucky for me I work for a hospital, had a random cardiac calcium scan and found myself with a stage 4 Mantel Cell Lymphoma.  I’m two years post stem cell transplant and doing great. 

I’m needing to make a come back running and I’m having a hell of a time dropping the extra  20 lbs gained through my treatment in combination with just not being able to run like I did before being sick.   I’m going to run my first 100 since being diagnosed at the end of September this year and was wondering if you felt, given my circumstances that I could benefit from VESPA.  I used it on and off years ago after meeting you at one of the race expos and really felt like it help with a couple races that I ran.....  but like alway, cost and consistency was a struggle. 

I need something.....  I read every damn email I get from VESPA and I feel like it is something that I need to give a go with??  

I would love an opportunity to chat with you again, I’m looking for some advice on weight loss and then coming back from my cancer treatments that damn near killed me. I did crazy high doses of chemo living inpatient at Huntsman Cancer Center in Salt Lake City over six months leading to my stem cell transplant. I need to fix myself or just give up the idea of ever competing again and just be happy that I’m alive?  

I have a great attitude towards life, I’m committed to fix myself or at least give it one hell of a go!!  I just turned 48 and would love not only to break the course record at the Utah Valley Marathon for the 50 age group in two years by running a sub 3 hour again but also to be able to enjoy the long distance running events 50k, 100k and 100 milers?  

Sorry for the long email, I just feel like you could help me — it’s the reason I’m reaching out. 

Thanks for reading, I’d make myself available to talk, email or if needed —I’d fly down and have myself a one on one evaluation, discussion/appointment.....  that’s how bad I need to do something different, because my way is not working. 

Marc Sanderson


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