As a 10th grader, Owen Bradley stopped running cross-country because the race length jumped from two miles to a 5k. “I was convinced that was just too far to race,” he remembers.
Fast forward to now: Owen is turning 40 later this year and has completed more than 100 races of marathon length or longer. In the past 10 years, he’s logged nearly 40,000 miles. While his high school self would probably hardly believe it, he’s now considered among the country’s elite ultra runners — and regularly participates in 50k, 50-mile, 100k and 100-mile races. “For me, it’s just kind of a way of life,” he says.
His journey to ultra running began when he joined a running group after college while living in Tuscaloosa. After winning the group’s Grand Prix three years in a row, Owen decided to branch out into trail races and signed up for his first 50k in March of 2009.
It didn’t take long for him to start seeing success and realize he had a knack for endurance racing. When a running buddy asked if he wanted to take over his spot in a 100-mile race in San Francisco in August 2010, Owen agreed. Despite being unprepared and struggling through the second half of the race, he finished fourth with a time of 21 hours and 32 minutes. “In the world of 100-mile running, the bench mark is to be under 24 hour, if possible,” he says. “I was super happy with the result.”
From there, he was hooked. He now wakes up every morning before the sun to run his training miles — usually eight to 11 on weekdays and between 20 and 25 on Saturday — before heading to work at a bank in his hometown of Birmingham, AL. Describing himself as an internally motivated person, Owen says the main reason he keeps training and racing is simple: he enjoys it. “Most of the longer stuff is on trails, so you’re going to fantastic places and seeing scenery the average person doesn’t get a change to see,” he says.
Putting FITS to the Test
In regards to the gear he wears for his races, Owen says quality and reliability are “paramount.” With his extensive training and race commitments, he needs consistency and quality. “For me, I want to know that I’ve run with it before and it does well in the conditions I’m running in,” he says.
And when it comes to socks, Owen relies on FITS. As a longtime FITS-sponsored runner, he runs primarily in the quarter-length Light Hiker or the quarter-length Micro Light Runner. “I wear them every day to train in and every day to run in and have had no issues with blisters,” he says. “They’ve always treated my feet pretty well and I put a pounding on them.”
So, what’s next for Owen? One thing’s for sure: he’s not slowing down any time soon.
With his 40th birthday on the horizon, he will officially be classified as a master runner, which means he’ll compete in a separate category. “I’d like to really ramp it up in the first year of my 40s to see if I can capture awards and accolades,” he says. “I’m just enjoying what I’m doing, so I’m going to keep doing it.”
However, there is a limit to the length race he’ll take on. “According to my wife, if I sign up for a 200-mile race, I’m in trouble,” he says with a laugh.
Want to shop like an ultra runner? Check out our selection of running socks.
Your sock size shouldn’t be a guessing game. Our socks range from small to double XL, but the best way to know the perfect fit for you is to match your shoe size to the chart on the left. That way, you’ll know the size you select will give you the fit and feel you expect.
Between sizes? Go with your gut, but rest assured that your socks will still fit great. If you receive your order and find yourself wishing you’d gone up or down a size, just let us know. We’ll happily send you replacements for your preferred size.
Concerned about laundry mix-ups? All FITS® socks are coordinated by color and size, based on the colors you see on the size chart. So, you won’t have to worry about mixing up your sizes with the other FITS® wearers in your home. (But stray socks mysteriously going missing in the dryer? Unfortunately, we can’t help with that.)
Questions? Let’s talk.