Tag Archives: Ultra Marathons

Badass Runner Profile: Shalisa Wanet Davis

11350062_10206690880781068_509240391_nName: Shalisa Wanet Davis

Home town: Chicago Illinois. I was born in St. Louis Missouri but I was raised in Chicago.

BAR: When (and why)did you start running?

SD: I’ve always been a runner. I ran in high school but I wasn’t very fast…and I’m still not fast. I love distance running. I got better at running when I joined the Marine Corps at 17-years-old. I wasn’t and still am not very coordinated. However, I don’t have to be coordinated to run. I don’t need to be on a team in order to run. So running was an easy choice for an activity for me to do.

BAR: Why do you run now? What motivates you?

SD: Running is as much a part of my life/being as breathing. I cannot imagine my life without running. I solve all my problems (at least in my head) when I run. Running is my favorite “me” time activity. I can literally run anywhere, at any time, and in any climate (with the proper gear). Also, I love the health benefits of running. It keeps my weight under control along with everything else (i.e. stress relief, lower blood pressure, phenomenal cardiovascular strength, increased endurance and stamina, etc).


Longest race: Florida Keys 100 miler is my longest run.


Hardest course: The Eugene Curnow trail marathon course in Duluth MN was hardest because I had to use ropes to climb up the hills, had to run down extremely narrow paths with significant drops on either side of the path, traverse rocks and boulders, and cross streams. It took me over 7 hours to complete that marathon.  I would never ever run the Eugene Curnow marathon again because I felt that it was too dangerous. There was a point on the course where I wanted to turn around and go back the way that I had come because I was too afraid that I was going to fall off the cliff as I tried to go down an extremely narrow path using too very loose ropes. I prayed to God that I would never return to that race again if he allowed me to finish…..and I plan on keeping my word to God!


Hardest race for you: The North Face Endurance Trail 50K and the Outer Banks 50K were the two hardest races for me. Neither required ropes or had streams to cross but the terrain on both were back breakers. North Face had what felt like 25 significant hills/mountains. It also had rocks to navigate over. It was absolutely grueling. My legs and core were spent. The OBX 50K had 29 miles of soft sand (more like quick sand due to heavy rain) and I was drooling on myself as I used all my energy just to finish the race. I remember having roughly 2 hours to finish 7.5 miles and I honestly thought that I wasn’t going to make it. I would/will definitely run both of these races again.

Favorite race (location / dates in case people would like to try it):

SD: You really don’t want to ask me this question because my favorite races are not favorites of most people because they are difficult. I like challenging races. I also prefer a 50K over a marathon. OBX 50K, is a difficult but beautiful run along the beach. You get the opportunity to watch the sunrise right before your eyes! The race is always around the 1st weekend in May in the Outer Banks North Carolina. http://www.obxultramarathon.com


Favorite course : One of my favorite courses is the Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon in Roanoke VA. It is a challenging yet beautiful course. It is “America’s toughest road marathon.” It has 7,430 feet of total elevation change. It goes on 16 Apr which unfortunately is the same weekend as the North Face Endurance trail 50K.  http://www.blueridgemarathon.com

Another one of my favorite courses is the Freedom’s Run Marathon in Shepherdstown WV. It is 26.2 miles through 4 National Parks. The historical route and race organization has earned a “Top 25 Half Marathon” by Runner’s World Magazine in February 2013 and is the Highlight Race in October 2013 Runner’s World and a Bucket List Race. It is challenging because of the numerous hills that you run through the battlefields. It goes around the 10th of October. http://www.freedomsrun.org/

BAR: What are your favorite and least favorite distances, and why?

SD: 50K is my favorite distance but the 50 miler is slowly taking its place! LOL! I love running long distances and reading/studying about long distance runs. I am a true ultra-marathoner at heart. Therefore, I don’t care for 5Ks. I’ll run them for charitable events or as part of a race series but that’s about it. Just not long enough for me….it is just a tease.


BAR: You seem sometimes almost driven.  You run so many races, so many miles, and always with that big smile.  Was there a point where you “turned the corner” and just gave in to the constant racing?

SD: Yes! The more I read about running long distances the more I am intrigued by it. I am not a Dean Karnazes but I relate to him on so many levels. Running is my addiction and the more that I do it, the more that I want…almost need…to do it. Preparing for and completing the KEYS 100 miler was my turning point. I learned that the body is this amazing machine that can be pushed to extraordinary levels. I smile because I am on a runner’s high….ALWAYS! I am just so grateful that I have the ability to run injury free. I’ve also learned that I can run as many races as I want as often as I want as long as I maintain a comfortable pace and have great running shoes.

BAR: You have run a number of ultras, but still show up for the ½ marathons and marathons on a regular basis.  What is the difference in mindset when you switch from normal crazy runner to ultra-crazy?


SD: I run halves and full marathons as training for my ultras. All marathons and half marathons are training runs. I want my 50Ks to be training runs too. Also, I am goal oriented and I want to run a half, full, 50K, 50 miler, and trail race in all 50 states. I also want to run a marathon on the 7 continents. So my mindset is to Run Happy no matter what distance that I run. My race, my pace. I race against no one but myself and my goal is always to finish injury free and enjoy the time on my feet.

BAR: Tell us about the military, the Marines, and running…


SD: The Marine Corps was an awesome experience. I joined when I was 17-years-old and the Corps taught me a lot and made me both mentally and physically tough. The mind is the most powerful thing that we possess! It surpasses the limits of the body because it knows better than the body what the limitations truly are. I have learned to run pass a little bit of discomfort and push where most would quit. That’s how I completed the OBX 50K this year. I had run the North Face Endurance trail 50K and two back-to-back marathons just before I ran the OBX. I ran the North Face first, the next weekend I ran marathons in Kentucky and Ohio, and then the next weekend I ran the OBX. I was tired before I even started the OBX 50K. But where my body was tired my mind was strong. Since I wasn’t injured I decided that I could still complete the run. There’s a difference between discomfort and injury. I can run with discomfort and fatigue as long as I am not injured. I learned that from my 24+ years in the Corps. Interestingly enough I hated running with the Marines. I hated the physical fitness test…especially the running. Remember, I am not fast. The Marines pushed me to run a 20.5 minute 3 mile run. That’s less than a 7 minute mile. That hurts! I actually had to recover after that.

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PR   5k / 10k / half / full / more?

PR for 5K is 21 minutes (not including my physical fitness test)

10K….no idea what my PR is. I’ve completed a few but don’t remember my times.

PR for half  is 1:45.

PR for Full is 3:59.

PR for 50K is 5:54.

PR for 50 mile  is 10:46.

PR for 100 mile (only completed one so far) is 30:19.

BAR: I see you in pictures with other runners all the time.  I know you are a member of several running groups.  Can you tell us about them?  What do they do for you – you for them?


SD: I am a member of several running groups such as Black Girls RUN!, National Black Marathoners Association, Team Badass – Miles and Smiles, Marathon Maniacs, 50 States Marathon Club, Half Fanatics, Tidewater Striders Running Club, Ultra Running, and Red, White, and Blue Virginia Beach chapter. Although the teams are unique in their own way they all share a common theme….runners supporting each other. I love the race support and encouragement that I get when I run races and members of any of the teams are out there cheering while running the race too. Some are just local and provide an opportunity for me to run with someone if I want to. Also, I love the information sharing that goes on between these groups. I learn so much for everyone. I learn which races to run and which ones not to run. I get discount information on races. I learn about nutrition options and I get inspired by stories and testimonies. I’ve met some amazing people (in person and virtually) in these groups and I am grateful for the friendships and bonds that have been made. My hope is that I reciprocate all the good that I have received. I hope to encourage, inspire, or motivate someone. I want to cheer everyone on for achieving their personal accomplishments and sharing their stories. And sometimes I simply want to laugh with you all about all that makes us happy. Life is good.

BAR: What are your bucket-list goals as a runner this year and beyond?

SD: I want to complete my 50 states goals (half, full, 50K, 50 miler) and my marathon on the 7 continents goal. I want to reach Titanium level (highest level) in the Marathon Maniacs.  I also want complete 10 JFK 50 mile ultra-marathons in order to get into the JFK 500 mile club. I have already completed 6 JFKs. I want to run more ultras and trail runs. I eventually want to transition to running mostly 50 and 100 milers and on trails for both.

BAR: Do you have a favorite pair of shoes, or brand of shoes? If so, why?

SD:  HOKA is my favorite running shoe. I have tried almost every running shoe. Asics Gel Cumulus was my favorite for years but HOKA (Stinson Lite or Stinson Tarmac and Clifton) is the one shoe that allows me to run so many races injury free while saving my legs and core.  It is like running on the moon. It is the ultra-marathoner’s shoe of choice.

BAR: Is there any other gear you consider essential?  Do you recommend one over another?  Are there brands / items you’d like to try?

SD: I am not a big gear person. I only run with the essentials. Less is best. I do like my Orange Mud single and double carrier hydration vest. I sometimes run with my IPOD Nano. Thanks to Sherri Morgan I now run with my RoadID Bracelet.

BAR: What apps / GPS equipment do you use.  Are there others you’d like to try?

SD: I run with a Garmin Forerunner 910XT. That’s it.  Haven’t found anything else that I am interested in trying.

BAR: Any advice for runners trying to catch up and keep up?

SD: My advice is simple. Run for you. Run from your heart. Don’t dread it, love it. Your race, your pace. Keep up with only yourself. Set your goals and enjoy the journey as you run to complete those goals.  ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS RUN HAPPY!

BAR: Final question… when are you going to stop playing…?

SD: LMBO! Never. My mom has been trying to get me to sit down and stop playing since I was a kid. I was playing then and I am playing now. Some things never change.

Badass Runner Profile: Jamila Williams

Jamila1This is the first of what I hope will be a long, interesting and inspirational string of Runner profiles.  I’m not profiling the guys and gals you’ll see in the Olympics (though it wouldn’t surprise me at all if some of those you’ll find here made it).  This blog is about running.  ‘Badass’ is an attitude, a feeling of exhilaration, pride, and accomplishment.  These are runners who inspire me – and at least for now – all members of the “Badass Running” team, formed of like-minded runners who found one another on Facebook.

For my first profile, I have chosen Jamilia Williams…  Over the past year, I have literally been stunned by the sheer volume of races she’s completed, and the miles she’s covered.  ½ marathons, marathons, 50 mile races, and recently well beyond – Jamila truly epitomizes the ideals this site will try to embody… heck, I want to BE her…  Let’s get to the interview:


Facebook Profile: https://www.facebook.com/jamila.williams


Home State : SC

BAR: When did you start running?

JW: I started running 5ks in 2011 and first half marathon in DEC 2012 (Dallas MetroPCS) and first marathon (RNR SD June 2013)

BAR: Why do you run now?

JW: I love the feeling of freedom that running provides. It allows me to go into my own little world. My job is very stressful sometimes and it keeps me busy. Running relaxes me.

BAR: What motivates you?

JW: Lots of things motivate me but I love seeing people who don’t look like what a “typical runner” looks like working out and running. I’m especially motivated by people who have lost legs and arms, those who have battled terminal illnesses, lost a lot of weight, etc. I love hearing stories on how people got involved with running.

BAR: What was your longest race

JW: Nanny Goat 24 hour endurance race ….It took me 23 hrs 17 minutes to run 100 miles

BAR: What was your hardest course?

JW: Monument Valley 50k –What an incredibly scenic race but it required running through sand pits, climbing a mountain up to 6,500 ft, and very rocky terrain. I took lots of pictures though. I have Leadville Marathon next month. That has an elevation of over 13,000 ft so I am sure that will be even harder!

What was the hardest race for you?

JW: Bataan Memorial Death March- I ran a 50 miler and 50k the weeks before Bataan but I still decided to enter the heavy division (38 lb rucksack) and I also decided to bring Old Glory with me! I was so close to quitting several times as I realized that I took the wrong rucksack and packed it incorrectly. My shoulders were killing me! But, I received SO MUCH support on the course and even from wounded vets with no legs! I knew that I couldn’t give up!! It was such a sweet feeling coming across the finish line. Yes, I will do Heavy again. And I will be more prepared!

BAR: What was your favorite race (location / dates in case people would like to try it)?

JW: I love the Disney races. I ran the Disney half marathon, Disney marathon (January in Orlando), Wine and Dine twice (November in Orlando), Disneyland half (CA), and Avengers half marathon (November -CA). They give me a chance to enjoy myself and take pictures with characters. My goal is always to take pictures with ALL the characters and not worrying about my time at all

BAR: What is your favorite course?

JW: Tough to pick one. I would say Marine Corps Marathon. I can go on and on about this course! I love the Blue Mile where they honored service members who had passed away. The guy behind me called out all their names and I broke down in tears and got choked up. Several of my friends were also there cheering at different points along the route. Very emotional and beautiful experience for me. Can’t wait to do it again!

BAR: What are your favorite and least favorite distances, and why?

JW: Least – 2 mile APFT (Army Physical Fitness Test) and 5ks because they are more sprinting- oriented events. I consider myself a distance runner so I love running at a much slower pace for a longer time.

Favorite- marathons and 50 milers – I love distance running so the further the better J

BAR: I see a lot of pictures of you with cupcakes. What is it about cupcakes?

JW: They’re delicious! So many different flavors to choose from!

BAR: Do you mind sharing your PRs?

JW: Half PR: 1:58:22   Marathon: 4:13:06  50 miler: 11:27:39 100 miler: 23:17

BAR: You often carry the American Flag with you… you and Old Glory on the road together. How did that start, and what does it mean to you? How far will you carry her?

JW: I started being interested in running with Old Glory after going to several races and seeing people run with her. I love my country, love serving in the Active Duty Army, and have been deployed. I love running with Old Glory. It’s my way of showing support and honoring fellow veterans, those currently fighting in combat, and those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice

BAR: You have a lot of running companions, and some groups. Can you tell us a little bit about them? What other runners, professionals, friends, etc. inspire you and why?

JW: Yes! I belong to several running groups such as Black Girls Run, Half Fanatics, Marathon Maniacs, 50 state half marathon club, 50 state marathon club, Team RWB, Wear Blue Run to Remember, National Black Marathoners Association (NBMA), Team Badass (of course), and  Run it Fast. Each has its own different mission BUT they are all focused on running, working out, and staying fit. Several members in each of the clubs and groups that I belong to inspire me. Some are BQs, 100 miler gurus, and some who believe in “getting their money’s worth” on the course. Others are not even runners but they are positive minded individuals who believe in doing their best and making a difference in this world. My parents also inspire me! They are my biggest fans and I am very appreciative of everything that they have done for me.

BAR: What are your bucket-list goals as a runner, this year and beyond?

JW: I have a four year (when I’m 40) plan to qualify for Boston and run Leadville 100 miler (one of the toughest in the US). If I accomplish these before I’m 40 then I’ll have to find new and more challenging goals J

BAR: Do you have a favorite pair of shoes, or brand of shoes? Why?

JW: I am a die-hard Brooks fan (still am) because their shoes are the most comfortable. I have several pairs of Brooks Dyad shoes.

BAR: Is there any other gear you consider essential? Do you recommend one over another? Are there brands / items you’d like to try?

JW: I like my Orange Mud HydraQuiver Single Barrel for trail runs but I wear my Fitletic belt during races but honestly I don’t like to carry much gear on me ..I don’t like feeling weighed down

BAR: What apps / GPS equipment do you use. Are there others you’d like to try?

JW: Nike Plus, Garmin Forerunner 310XT. I would love to try the Garmin Forerunner 920XT or the new Apple watch though J!!!

BAR: Any advice for runners trying to catch up and keep up?

JW: Enjoy yourself and find your passion. For me, it started with 5k fun runs. I like running them occasionally because it feels good not worrying about time. Each person’s journey is different. Some are faster than others. Don’t compare yourself either. You’ll never be happy that way. My biggest piece of advice is to stay humble, compete against yourself, and never forget where you came from. Encourage those around you too. We all have our momentsJ