Magazine Feature / People

DU staffer runs 100 mile races


Squires poses at the finish line of the Arkansas Traveller 100, his most recent 100 mile run. PHOTO BY: Andy Matthews.

Don’t judge Chase Squires until you walk a mile — no, scratch that — until you run 100 miles in his shoes. 

Squires, a senior public affairs specialist in the University Communications department and a journalist for 19 years, came to DU in 2006 after leaving a job with The Associated Press. He is what you call an ultra-distance runner — the folks who use a marathon to get warmed up and often run 100 miles. 

For those counting, that’s just a little jaunt from DU’s campus to CU-Boulder’s campus, back to DU, and, uh, yes, back to CU.  

And yes, people like to judge these runners. “I think a lot of folks think we’re nuts,” Squires says.

You might not pick Squires out of a crowd as someone who could run 100 miles, or even one mile for that matter. He’s 5-foot, 4-inches tall, thinning on top and weighs in at about 150. He’s a self-described 42-year-old “desk jockey, nothing special.”

“I’m not an athlete, just some slug who’s too dumb to quit when his whole body hurts and his mind tells him to call it a day.”

But that gets at the message Squires wants most to impart: “You can do this.” 

He’s kind of an evangelist for the sport of ultra-distance, the father of farther, the pastor of faster. “I really believe that people cheat themselves if they say, ‘I could never do that.’ Heck, did you try? I’ll bet you never tried!” 

The key, he says, is to get three miles under your belt “until you think that’s nothing.”

From there, you just build on the miles. Maybe five at first, then seven, then 10. 

“Before you know it, 18 miles isn’t that far,” he says.

Squires himself entered the sport slowly. In 2001, he weighed 205, ate a lot of pizza, burgers and fried chicken and nursed a cholesterol level north of 300. 

His wife signed him up for a YMCA class. “I went in, walked 20 minutes on a treadmill and thought I was going to die.”

But he kept at it. From 20 minutes to 30 minutes, then jogging. First two miles, then three. About 18 months later he bagged his first marathon in 4 hours, 30 minutes. He was hooked. Four months later he broke four hours. “That’s when I got serious,” he says.

And today he’s run several 100-mile races. The most recent was in October: the Arkansas Traveller 100 in the rolling mountains outside Little Rock.

What’s it like to run 100 miles (which takes Squires 28 hours, on average)? 

“From about midnight on … you see some weird things. I start hallucinating from sleep deprivation.” 

One time he says he looked down at a puddle at 3 a.m. and saw a duck sitting in it next to a miniature statue of the Stanley Cup. “Weird. By the time the sun comes up, I’ve got 10 or 20 miles to go and I just want to finish. My body hurts and it’s slow going.” 

Nevertheless, he likes it. “You know what? It’s fun.”

And he adds that ultras are typically in “wild and fantastic” settings. 

“There’s a saying in the sport: ‘Thanks to ultra running, I’ve thrown up in some of the world’s most beautiful places.’”

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