Skip to content

Giving Back to the Community: Henry Howard

Henry Howard's trail running journey would lead to giving back to the community that welcomed him.
Henry Howard
Year started: 2011
Next race: Winter Trail Marathon (WTF), half marathon, February in Indianapolis
Favorite gear:

My favorite gear is the combination UltrAspire waist light with the Plexus waist pack. Waist light illuminates the ground directly in front of me better than a headlamp and the waist pack gets weight off my shoulders. 

We all have goals and dreams that seem unattainable at first. For Henry Howard, running a marathon was on his bucket list for years, but it wasn’t until his early 40s that he finally started running consistently. What began with a short 1.6 mile loop that left him winded blossomed into completing dozens of marathons and ultras, including three 100-mile races. This journey into ultramarathons would lead to giving back to the community that welcomed him.

Henry’s Running Journey 

Henry’s running journey shows that with dedication and incremental goal-setting, major fitness accomplishments can happen at any age. When he first set out to train for a marathon, he could barely finish the 1.6 mile loop near his home. But Henry didn’t let early struggles discourage him. He steadily built fitness through cross-training and shorter races like 5Ks and half marathons. Eighteen months after that first attempted 1.6 mile run left him vomiting in his driveway, Henry completed his first full marathon.

Marathons Were Only the Beginning

Marathons were only the beginning for Henry. After the Leadville Trail Marathon at high elevation, his coach encouraged him to try an ultra distance. Just five years after struggling to run two miles, Henry finished a 50K race. He was hooked on ultrarunning and continued to push his limits by taking on progressively longer events. These events included several 50-milers and a 100K. Henry heard about the iconic Western States 100 Mile race and set a long-term goal of qualifying to run it someday. Although the last 20 miles presented extreme challenges, Henry’s first attempt and Western States qualifier at the 100 mile distance at Rio Del Lago reinforced that his ultrarunning journey was just getting started.

A Publication Dedicated to Sharing Inspirational Stories

Now a seasoned ultrarunner, Henry is focused on giving back to the community that has welcomed him over the years. He paces other runners and volunteers at races to give back. Henry started RunSpirited, a publication dedicated to sharing inspirational stories from runners. Henry notes the positive impact that ultrarunning has had on all aspects of his life. He credits ultraruning for making him a better son, spouse, father, and employee. He hopes his own story similarly motivates others who want to get active and take that first step toward a goal. Regardless of  how impossible it may initially seem, you have to get started. Small, gradual progress builds fitness levels to make big goals achievable.

It’s Never Too Late

As Henry’s experience racing ultramarathons shows, you don’t have to be an elite athlete. You also don’t have to start young to accomplish amazing fitness feats. Dreams like qualifying for an iconic 100 mile trail race can become reality through starting slow, celebrating small wins, and relentlessly pursuing your goals over time. Henry’s journey is an example that it’s never too late to achieve your goals. He also shows us how giving back to the community can reinforce those goals.