The Race Isn't Won Alone

May 3, 2024

Team Injinji Athlete Courtney Dauwalter has been celebrated in the trail running community for nearly a decade for her remarkable resilience, grit, and indomitable spirit. Her incredible racing accomplishments showcase her dedication and prowess in the sport. In 2016, she shattered the Javelina Jundred course record in 8:48:25. She’s secured multiple first-place wins at UTMB, in 2019, 2021, and 2023. Courtney became the first athlete in history to earn the Triple Crown of Ultras: winning the 2023 Western States 100, Hardrock 100, and UTMB in the same season.

When asked about her decision to pursue the sport professionally years ago, Courtney reflects on how she was hooked after running her first-ever ultra race. “I ran my first ultra in 2011. It was a 50k in a park in Texas, and I knew nothing about the sport or all the distance options that existed! When I finished that ultra I knew I needed to find out what else was out there and see if I could be the person who could finish the next distance. I was hooked! The summer of 2017 I decided to pursue ultra running full time. My husband and I wanted to see what was possible if I went full-on into training and racing and didn’t want to wonder ‘what if’ when we were reflecting on our lives in 50 years.”

Courtney Dauwalter leaning against the rock moments after winning the Hardrock 100 ultra in 2023.Courtney Dauwalter leaning against the rock moments after winning the Hardrock 100 ultra in 2023.

Image Credit: Derrick Lytle

Behind Courtney’s race finish and record-breaking performances, she has a network of crew members and pacers, whose commitment and camaraderie help fuel her success.

“For us, this is absolutely a team sport. The crew and, depending on the race, the pacers, play a huge part in getting to those finish lines. Having a crew of people who know you so well and have the same goals as you for the race is huge. Whether it’s meeting you at aid stations and being ready with anything you could possibly need, or being able to look at your face to know if they should tell you a joke, give you a hug, or just kick you out of the chair to keep going, is so helpful.”

Though communication can be a huge part of a runner’s success during ultra races, Courtney notes that the dynamic between her and her team is a bit different. “At this point there actually isn’t much communication and coordination that needs to happen during the actual race. Kevin will usually give me some information on the upcoming sections of the course, and I might let him know about any unusual problems that are popping up just so he’s aware.”

"It’s a whole team effort every time,” Courtney recalls, reflecting on her experiences racing with her team by her side. Her acknowledgement of the collective efforts of her crew highlights the impact of teamwork and camaraderie in the world of endurance sports.

Courtney’s favorite way to celebrate after a race includes three essential components: “Beer, nachos, and storytelling. I love to hear about the crew’s day and all the things that happened while they were out there.” 

Feeling inspired by Courtney, and ready to lace up? Last fall, we chatted with her about her must-have trail running gear that she trusts to keep her feeling confident and ready to take on the toughest challenges. She loves to sport the Injinji Trail Midweight Crew and keeps racing fun and colorful with the Artist Designed series.