PM360 recently spoke to Nick Ferrara, Product Director, Immunology at Janssen Biotech, about running ultramarathons and the challenges he overcame.
PM360: Nick, we hear that you run long distance marathons. Tell us about that?
I began running marathons nine years ago, then ultramarathons, which include any distance beyond the traditional 26.2 miles. I completed several 100 milers that include two of the most well-known around the world—the Western States Endurance Run and Leadville Trail 100.
Wow, I’ve never heard of “ultramarathons.” How did you go from marathons to ultramarathons?
I began running marathons in 2005 when I trained for and ran the New York Marathon. My initial goal was to get through the finish line and lose some weight in the process. Then I quickly realized how much I loved running this distance and set a goal to break three hours. It took five years to achieve this goal and my best time to date has been two hours and 54 minutes. Running helped improved my fitness, increase my spiritual faith and has helped me to grow in all areas of my life. Ultramarathons require a great deal of discipline and perseverance in a manner that no other sporting event does, in my opinion, and can truly impact one’s perspective on life.
How did you get into this sport and what challenges, if any, did you have to overcome?
I was not athletic and didn’t play any sports growing up. Having asthma in my teens and being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis as an adult made me doubt my ability to be active. After realizing that running was something I enjoyed, it helped me understand I am capable of much more than I ever imagined.
Running these distances is much more than a physical challenge. It requires mental perseverance, which helps me better manage and overcome challenges in my personal and professional life. It also serves to motivate and guide me in other areas of my life. I became so passionate about running that I started a blog called “Footprints on the Course” (www.footprintsonthecourse.com).
That’s so inspiring, Nick. How fulfilling is it when you run these marathons?
Running on a regular basis and competing in events that generally take an average of 24 consecutive hours helps remind me how blessed I am. I am always humbled and surprised when others share that I have inspired them in some way. If my story helps anyone get up and be more active, then I feel I have done much more than I would have thought possible a few years ago.
Who were your inspirations or mentors along the way?
There are so many people who have contributed to my growth, including my wife and children. But it was my good friend, Bob, who asked me to pace him for the last 40 miles of his first 100 mile race. I had never run that far but seeing him fight doubt and difficulties was so inspiring that is was a real turning point for me.
Apart from running, what else do you do in your spare time?
When I am not running, I love spending time with my wife and four children (ages 9 to 16).