We recently talked with Jen Pearson, Race Director for the Long Haul 100 Ultra Marathon. Jen was very open and gracious during our interview. She’s a woman with an intense passion for the charity she helped found, Praxis Haiti, and the ultra marathon which supports Praxis. Jen’s commitment to the race is a direct reflection of the importance she feels is needed to honor the charity.
TAUR: Tell me about the charity that the Long Haul 100 supports.
Jen: Praxis Haiti started working with Haitian refugees in the Dominican Republic but because of the transient nature of the refugee community we realized that it would be best to be based in Haiti. The vision came from three families wanting to be hands on in providing long lasting relief in Haiti. Currently we have an Agricultural and Cooking program with a new program, raising chickens, coming online this year. The new program will provide an opportunity for local farmers to directly supply local restaurants and markets with their products. The whole idea is to help establish a sustainable and vibrant local economy from the inside out and work ourselves out of our jobs.
TAUR: How did you come up with the idea of putting on a 100 mile race?
Jen: I always take things to an extreme. I felt strongly that the charity’s mission and goals were so extreme that the only appropriate distance to express that same level of commitment were ultra distances. We’re very proud that every single dime of proceeds goes toward program on the ground in Haiti.
TAUR: Had you had an opportunity to be a Race Director before?
Jen: No (laugh). The big joke is that I would direct an ultra before ever running one. From conception to the running, our first race was only 3 months.
TAUR: So do you have a history as a runner?
Jen: As a novice only. I was a gymnast from a very young age. We ran a little during that training. After college I ran with the idea that I would ultimately run a marathon. While we were adopting our children from Haiti I was running in Port au Prince with the director of the adoption agency. She encouraged me to run a marathon sooner than later.
TAUR: So did you eventually run an ultra?
Jen: Yes, the Croom Zoom 100k.
TAUR: Mike Morton set an amazing time. (13:18 hundred mile) Did you know anything of Mike before?
Jen: No (laugh). I don’t really focus on knowing the names of elites. The great thing was Mike was so down to earth, even while setting the third fastest trail time ever.
TAUR: Tell me about your plans for next year’s Long Haul 100. Same course and distances?
Jen: Same course and distances. I feel we have the right distances. We might makes some changes to the relay course for the teams as well as any necessary refinements to the overall race.
You can see all of Jen’s work at the following websites: