Utah runner wins 250 mile ultramarathon

May 30, 2023, 2:06 PM | Updated: Oct 30, 2023, 10:59 am

SALT LAKE CITY — Every week, Michael McKnight is running approximately 70 miles.

His latest feat is the Cocodona 250, where he ran 250 miles.

To give an idea of how far that is, it is similar to running from the KSL-TV station in Salt Lake City to Cedar City.

The amount of mileage may leave one wondering, “Why?” and “How?” 

This is McKnight’s story.

“I actually grew up a little bit overweight. I came in last at all my track meets, and I rode the bench in football,” McKnight said.

His sister eventually challenged him to run a half marathon with her. 

He took up the challenge and surprised himself with the results. 

“I decided I wanted to train hard to walk on to the track team at Utah State, the college I was at,” McKnight said.

In the middle of training, he broke his back in a skiing accident.

“Two rods. Nine screws were put into my spine, my back area, and the doctor told me I’d be in bed for quite a while,” he explained. 

On top of that, he lost his job and deferred his college classes for a full year. It brought him to a low but every runner knows something that is called a runner’s high.

“I recovered a lot faster than what he said. I started my running about three weeks after my surgery,” McKnight said.

Running 10 to 20 miles daily, he learned about long-distance races along the way, like the Cocodona 250 in Arizona – 250 miles in one go.

“I ran my hardest ever,” McKnight said.

He said a 200-mile race means a competitor will run for over 48 hours minimum.

With that in mind, taking care of oneself is key.

Michael McKnight

Michael McKnight won the Cocodona 250 ultramarathon. (courtesy: thelowcarbrunner/Instagram)

“It’s a lot of training – and it does – it can weaken your immune system,” McKnight explained. 

The runners use everything from vitamins to Xlear nasal spray. McKnight said sleep is a must. 

He said he can usually push through the entire first night of running.  

For this race, he took a nap. 

“I woke up and my crew told me that I was about 10 hours behind first place, which I’ve never been that far back before. Somewhere between 62 and 75th place is how far back I got,” McKnight said.

This was not just any nap, though. This was a power nap.

“It was basically a marathon to go when I caught him. And so it took like 130-40 miles to catch him, but you know once I caught him, I ended up getting the course record too,” he said.

McKnight said he has laced up for more than the stats as has made every step count.

“When you’re out into a situation where you don’t know if you’re gonna walk again, that situation kind of almost forced you to, like, just want to do everything and anything. You never know what’s going to happen. So for me, it’s just kind of like, ‘My body can do it right now, so I wanna keep doing it until I can’t do it anymore,’” he explained.

Running the Cocodona 250 took him 69 hours to complete, which is just shy of three days.

For new, aspiring, curious, and seasoned runners, his best advice is to commit and stay consistent.

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Utah runner wins 250 mile ultramarathon