Alabama ultra runner Micah Morgan places 8th worldwide at 24-Hour championship in France – AL.com

Alabama ultra runner Micah Morgan places 8th worldwide at 24-Hour championship in France  AL.com

Birmingham ultramarathon runner Micah Morgan placed 8th in the world at the World 24-Hour Championship in Albi, France, last weekend, securing her place as one of the strongest ultrarunners in the U.S. and in the world.

She ran her personal best distance of 148.69 miles in 24 hours. She beat her previous personal best by more than 8 miles. Her previous personal best was set at Desert Solstice 24-Hour in December 2018, where she ran 140 miles. Only eight American women have ever run farther in 24 hours. She finished in third place among U.S. women, although she ran as an alternate.

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The race was Morgan’s first international race, but she said she hopes it won’t be her last.

“I still feel I have more in the tank, but this was only my third ’24′ so I’m trying to take baby steps and keep climbing the ladder of success, as long as I do not fall off, right?” Morgan said in an email to AL.com early Friday morning.

Both the U.S. men’s and women’s teams took home gold. American runner Camille Herron set a new women’s 24-hour world record, running 167.87 miles.

Birmingham ultramarathon runner Micah Morgan (left) with teammate Courtney Dauwalter after the 24-Hour World Championship race in Albi, France on Oct. 27, 2019. Micah ran 148.69 miles, beating her personal best and earning 8th place among women worldwide. (photo courtesy of Cary Morgan).

Spectators, coaches and trainers alike cheered for Morgan as she made loop after loop on the 1500-meter track. Other team USA runners’ coaches and family members cheered for Micah, including the family of world-renowned ultrarunner Courtney Dauwalter.

Traci Falbo, another renowned ultrarunner, offered advice and even persuaded Morgan to keep eating even when her stomach began to sour.

“The team coach, and staff, especially Bill Schultz, could always be heard cheering for me, so of course that kept me going,” she said. “You do not want to let these people down, so you push harder.”

The spirited spectators also kept her running strong.

“There were guys from other countries dressed in flamingo costumes and other organized groups yelling so loud for all runners, but extra loud for those of us wearing USA gear. One of my favorite examples was a young Japanese boy who saw me and yelled “go U.S. of A!” I felt part of something much bigger. I had to run harder,” she said.

Morgan, 36, a nurse practitioner, and her husband and coach, Cary Morgan, spent the summer training for this race after some nutrition and weather problems forced Micah to stop early during the Dawn to Dusk to Dawn Ultra 24-hour race in May.

Morgan was unable to get warm after cold rain moved in and some nutrition problems arose during the overnight hours, leaving her unable to continue with several hours remaining in the race. She ran 130 miles and took home first place, but she did not qualify to be one of the six women on the U.S. 24-hour team. However, she qualified to run as an alternate, meaning she didn’t score for the U.S., but still ran with the team and wore a U.S. uniform.

This summer, Morgan ran 80 to 100 miles every week and practiced new caffeine and nutrition techniques on long overnight runs. For these overnight runs, she would get up at her usual time, do her usual daily routine, but stayed up late to run from about midnight to sunrise. She also practiced different caffeine and nutrition techniques in hopes of fighting off the sleepiness that comes in the early morning hours before sunrise.

The long training miles, nutrition training and middle of the night runs paid off in France.

In this Facebook live video recorded by Cary Morgan, she hugs him and says “We did it.” He responds, “We killed it. Good job.” The video was recorded with just a few minutes left in the race.

Morgan set out to run far enough in Albi to qualify for one of the six spots on the 2021 U.S. women’s 24-hour team. The qualifying period will remain open until 2021, but Micah is hopeful she can qualify to be a scoring member of the 2021 team.

The 2021 world championship will be held in Romania.

“I received so much love and advice from some of the best ultra runners in the world! I gratefully accepted it and will hopefully use it to move forward, continuing to improve and fine tune this craft. Running with team USA was beyond amazing and I hold much hope that I’ll be on the team in Romania for the 2021 Championships,” she said.