ISLM #4 | Wally Hesseltine | Ultramarathon Man

#3 (6)

“Get out the front door and get doing it.”
– Wally Hesseltine

Wally Hesseltine, at 73 years-old, is a lawyer and one of the world's premier masters ultramarathon (races of more than 26.2 miles) racers.

More than 35 years ago, he started running as a way to improve his aerobic fitness, augment his performance in other sports like tennis and racquetball, and offset the initial signs of aging.  After his first road race, he was hooked and has run in at least one race a month, every month, for over three decades resulting in a career of over 500 races and more than 170 ultramarathons.

He is an eight-time participant in the Western States 100, one of the most difficult and prestigious ultradistance events in the world, with six finishes under the 30-hour cutoff and three completed in less than 24 hours.  He continues his quest to become the oldest finisher in the race and was the subject of a movie on his 2016 attempt called 30 Hours.

Wally's consistency, determination, and optimism is an inspiration to athletes of all ages.  After listening to this episode, you'll have no more excuses to sit on the couch.  Enjoy!

Listen to this episode on iTunes.
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Stream this episode by clicking here.
Download as an MP3 by clicking here and choosing the “down arrow” on the right side of the player.

Want to hear another episode from an inspiring masters athlete?  In this episode, we talk to the late Dr. Charles Eugster, a world-record holder in track and field about his life, training regime, and why he thinks age is just a number, the title of his breakthrough book.

QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY:  What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode?  Would you like a transcript of this episode?  Who else would you like to see appear on the show?  Please let me know in the comments!

Scroll below for links and show notes…


Learn more about Wally Hesseltine's law practice:  Pedder, Hesseltine, Walker, & Toth LLC


Jim Fixx
Alex Massey


  • What is an ultramarathon? [03:25]
  • What motivated Wally to enter ultra races? [03:37]
  • Are there similar characteristics for success in the law and ultrarunning? [05:04]
  • What motivates Wally to keep going? [05:38]
  • Has Wally's monthly race streak ever been in danger in 35+ years? [06:08]
  • What Wally has learned about himself through running. [07:20]
  • Having a trainer vs. self-training. [10:19]
  • How has Wally's training regime changed over the years? [12:20]
  • What adjustments has Wally made in his training to accommodate aging? [13:52]
  • How does someone prepare to run a 100 mile race? [15:11]
  • Wally takes us through running the Western States 100. [16:46]
  • Lessons learned from not finishing a race. [22:43]
  • Most difficult moment Wally has had in a race. [27:33]
  • What does a typical Wally Hesseltine day look like? [29:14]
  • Who inspires Wally in ultrarunning? [31:21]
  • Is Wally any different than those he competes against? [32:26]
  • How can anyone get their start in ultrarunning? [34:00]
  • Is there any race he hasn't done yet that's on his radar? [37:50]
  • How did he balance fatherhood and professional life with running? [40:05]
  • Takeaways for anyone 50+who aspires to be more active. [43:42]