Donald is an ultramarathon runner. An ultramarathon is any foot race longer than a typical marathon, which is 42 kilometers (26 miles and 385 yards) long. He has competed in many races in the U.S. state of California, including the 161-kilometer (100-mile) Western States Endurance Run in Squaw Valley, the Miwok 100-kilometer (62-mile) Trail Race in the Marin Headlands, and the Quicksilver 80.5-kilometer (50-mile) Endurance Run in San Jose.

Donald is also the rehabilitation manager for the Central Coast Visiting Nurse Association and Hospice in Monterey, California.

EARLY WORK

Donald says he didn’t compete in endurance sports growing up. “I was kind of a team sports kid,” he says. “I was the basketball/baseball/soccer player growing up.”

While attending J.K. Mullen High School in Denver, Colorado, Donald gravitated toward classes in human biology and anatomy. “When I was in high school, I thought I wanted to be a doctor,” he says.

Donald pursued his interest by majoring in exercise physiology at the University of California, Los Angeles, and getting his master's degree in physical therapy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

After competing in traditional endurance running events, including the Big Sur International Marathon in Big Sur, California, and the Vineman Ironman Triathlon in Sonoma County, California, Donald began entering ultramarathons. His first was the Carmel Valley 50K (31 miles) in Carmel Valley, California, in 2003.

MOST EXCITING PART OF YOUR WORK

“It’s pushing your body to the point where you question whether you can carry on—and then pushing on.”

MOST DEMANDING PART OF YOUR WORK

Donald says it is very difficult to override your body’s instincts to quit when you are competing in ultramarathons. “It’s basically pushing through your body telling you to stop,” he says.

HOW DO YOU DEFINE GEOGRAPHY?

“I think of terrain and the characteristics of a certain outdoor area.”

GEO-CONNECTION

Donald says he determines which ultramarathons he will enter by looking into geographic features of the course—the amount of climbing in the race, the type of technical terrain, and the beauty of the region.

Terrain also dictates where Donald chooses to train. “I just try to find as many hills as I can,” he says.

He carries a GPS receiver when going out on long training runs. “I pretty much use it to figure out how far I run,” he says.

Before running an ultramarathon, Donald looks over topographic maps of the race course. “That’s so you know where a hill will be at what point in the race,” he says.

SO, YOU WANT TO BE AN . . . ULTRAMARATHONER

Donald suggests entering other running competitions first. “You can do a lot of trail races that aren’t ultras,” he says.

He also says it is beneficial to develop other outdoor interests, suck as rock climbing, hiking, and backpacking.

GET INVOLVED

Donald says that by volunteering at running competitions or assisting racers, individuals can become interested in ultramarathons. “The people who aren’t ultra-runners can get into it by supporting someone in a race,” he says.

Ultramarathoner: Donald Buraglio
Don Buraglio is an ultramarathoner.
anatomy
Noun

structure of an organism.

biology
Noun

study of living things.

characteristic
Noun

physical, cultural, or psychological feature of an organism, place, or object.

determine
Verb

to decide.

endurance
Noun

ability to accept and deal with hardship.

exercise physiology
Noun

study of a body's physical reaction to exercise.

geographic
Adjective

having to do with places and the relationships between people and their environments.

GPS receiver
Noun

device that gets radio signals from satellites in orbit above Earth in order to calculate a precise location.

gravitate
Verb

to move toward or be attracted to something.

headland
Noun

point of land, usually a steep cliff, that descends into a body of water.

Noun

land that rises above its surroundings and has a rounded summit, usually less than 300 meters (1,000 feet).

instinct
Noun

natural motivation or behavior.

marathon
Noun

42.195 kilometer (26 mile, 385 yard) foot race.

master's degree
Noun

level of education between the bachelor's and the doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees.

physical therapy
Noun

regimen for management of or recovery from physical disability.

rehabilitation manager
Noun

person who oversees the activities and procedures of a facility where people with injuries and illnesses can find help.

terrain
Noun

topographic features of an area.

topographic map
Noun

map showing natural and human-made features of the land, and marked by contour lines showing elevation.

triathlon
Noun

endurance sport involving any three athletic events performed in a rowusually swimming, bicycling, and running.

ultramarathon
Noun

any foot race longer than a typical marathon (26 miles, 385 yards).