Events: Ultrarunning, mountain running, trail running
Weight: 128 lbs
Current Residence: Cairo, Egypt
Sponsor: LaSportiva/GoLite, Honey Stinger
Thirty-two year old Mark Werner grew up in South Africa and long before he started running, has memories of his entire family waking at 6 a.m. to watch the Comrades Ultramarathon, one of the most important athletic events in South Africa. When he moved to Boulder, Colo., to pursue a Ph.D. in mathematics where he was surrounded by so many great runners and inspired by his images of the Comrades Ultramaraton, he started competitive running. Werner realized he had talent for high-level competition when he competed in several international mountain races, including a 17,000 ft. volcano in Mexico in 1997 and the 1998 Skyrunning world championships in the Italian Alps, the latter with his arm in a cast from a fall in a mountain race two weeks prior. "I enjoy the sense of being able to run and run and run; of being able to complete long distances without the need for convenient modern inventions. I love the ability to cover miles and miles completely self-propelled. I also love the competition aspect," says Werner of his talent and motivation.
In 2001 he ran a 2:27 marathon PR, his first marathon win of four in various venues across the U.S. He was an alternate to the U.S. Mountain Running team in 2003, placing 18th in the Challenge Stellina, a competitive uphill race in Susa, Italy, and later that year delivered a strong performance in the open race at the world mountain running championships in Alaska. Werner has won races on three continents.
Werner's most memorable running experience as an emerging runner was winning the Marathon in the Parks, from Bethesda to Rockville, Md., in November 2001. At halfway Werner was 1:15 behind two Ethiopians and a well-known Russian runner who had beaten him earlier that year. At mile 21 Werner overtook the Ethiopians and just before mile 25, he caught the Russian and went on win in 2:27, a 13-minute PR.
This is Werner's first year at the ultramarathon distance who was inspired by his father during a Christmas visit to South Africa, who has run Comrades twice and competed at numerous ultramarathons across South Africa. So far, 2004 has been a productive year for Werner. He started in April by placing 2nd at the AUA American 100K, a finish that earned him a berth on the 2004 USATF 100 km team. He followed that achievement with a course record trail marathon win near Ann Arbor, Mich., in May. In June Mark was 4th American among a highly competitive field at the U.S. Mountain Running Championships at Mt. Washington, N.H. In July, he came from behind to win the Mt. Fuji race in Japan, a 13-mile race with 10,000-ft. elevation gain and a very important event on the Japanese athletic calendar.
Werner is coached by Thomas Schwartz from Eugene, Ore., and he believes that a coach is essential for most runners to run their best. Werner admits that he doesn't know enough about running to design the best workouts for himself. He has been coached consistently since his entry in the sport by good coaches of great runners. When Werner first started competitive running in 1997 in Boulder, Colo., he was coached by Bobby McGee, who coached 4-time Olympian Colleen DeReuck as well as 1996 Olympic Marathon gold medalist Josiah Thugwane. Later he trained with Arturo Barrios and the professional runners from the United States Army.
Werner moved to Egypt in August 2004 to become a statistics professor at the American University in Cairo, a universities with plenty of competitive running opportunities ranging from Kenya/Ethiopia in the south to Europe and the Alps in the north.
In their own words
Running achievement I am most proud of: A tie between winning Mt. Fuji and running a 40-minute final 10 km at the 2004 100 km World Cup in the Netherlands to finish 39th overall.
Why I run: I love the competition aspect of giving all you have - to test your limits and go beyond your normal boundaries. I also love the feeling of cruising along mile after mile without the need for modern conveniences, just you and nature.
Future Goals: Getting a team medal at the world championships.
Favorite quote: "There is no such thing as failure, only results, with some more successful than others" -- Jeff Keller.
9/04; Rev 10/05