It’s 5 a.m. The city is asleep and it’s going to be dark for a while. Arthur just sits and looks at the clock. Worn out New Balance 110s are waiting for the 50-mile trail ahead.
While living in North Carolina three years ago, Arthur Elias, an English junior from Stillwater, felt his life was going downhill.
He weighed about 400 pounds, was taking pills and drinking whatever was cheap every day. Arthur and his girlfriend had broken up, and he was so depressed he was almost suicidal, he said.
“It was a pretty bad time. I’m glad it’s over, and I’m glad I lived it. It was a real humbling time,” Arthur said.
Arthur found out about ultra running and felt like that’s what he had to do.
An ultra marathon is anything farther than 26.2 miles.
“31 (miles) is considered the first step for an ultra runner, like a 50K,” Arthur said.
These miles make his shoes last one month.
“I should really throw shoes away every two weeks,” he said.
Arthur began incorporating a healthy lifestyle by drinking a lot of water and becoming a vegetarian.
“I still smoked cigarettes for the first three months and only drank on occasion,” he said. “I just wanted to look better and feel better about myself. Honestly, I just thought I would make it to like a 5K.”
It took about two years to shed weight, and three to run up to 50 miles.
“My first half marathon I thought I was going to die,” he said. “My first ultra was a 50K that went well. The hardest part was my first-ever mile run, honestly.”
Failing “stopped being a thing” once he started running ultra marathons, Arthur said.
“You run until you can’t run anymore, and just enjoy the fact that you’re alive and in such a beautiful moment in life,” he said. “Failure is when you stop living adventures and start thinking you’re done. It’s just one foot in front of the other.”
He said that the freedom running provides is what draws him into it.
“There’s so many points in a person’s life where you can say it’s this person’s fault or I wish I weren’t held back,” Arthur said. “But when it comes to running, it’s so pure that the only reason you would fail is because of yourself. It brought an inner peace.”
There are other times when he feels completely shut off from running. Arthur will not run for two or three days and just cycle about 50 miles a day.
He sets high goals to continue training.
“I make all these ridiculous commitments towards running so I have to continue training,” he said. “It keeps me really pushing. I want people to think that it’s like outrageous what I plan on doing, because it is.”
Arthur wakes up around 4:30 a.m. every day and runs for about three hours. If he doesn’t have time to complete the run in a setting, he will split it throughout the day. If he misses a day, Arthur will run double the next day.
Arthur runs lake McMurtry and Lake Carl Blackwell and usually trains at the Oklahoma State University cross-country course.
“It’s such a little hidden gem in Stillwater,” he said.
While he runs, Arthur listens to soft, slow music. His favorite artists to run with are post-rock Sigur Rós and indie folk band Bon Iver. Sometimes he listens to classical music. Arthur can’t stand fast-pace music for running — it’s too distracting and makes him feel aggressive, he said.
Trey Nixon, Arthur’s good friend, helps him with a lot of his running.
“He knows a lot about ultra running although he is not an ultra runner,” Arthur said.
Trey takes him to the cross-country course as early as 2 a.m. and helps during big runs. They also put together races that don’t require a registration fee, like The Churn and Burn 50K at Lake Carl Blackwell in the summer.
Trey and Arthur are organizing an ultra marathon. They want to name it The Dirty 30 for Trey’s 30th birthday. It will be from Babcock Park in Stillwater to Guthrie.
Bobby Wintle, owner of District Bicycles and Bill Ford, owner of Old School Bagel Café, provide items to give away. Big-name companies will also send free packets.
Although he likes competition, Arthur doesn’t run a lot of races. He just likes running with his friends and enjoying himself for free, he said.
Ford puts together the Red Dirt Bagel Run in Stillwater every summer. This 16-mile loop is Arthur’s favorite race.
This winter, Arthur will try to break the fastest known time to cross Oklahoma from north to south, which covers 235 miles in about one week. Arthur plans on finishing the run in two days by taking dirt roads and trails, extending the run to 348 miles.
Arthur said he will try to break the Appalachian Trail record. The trail stretches from Georgia to Maine and is about 2,100 miles. People usually walk or hike it; others do different sections each summer. Arthur wants to run it at once, though it may take about two weeks to complete and one year to train for.
Arthur also hopes to be the first one to run the Land Run 100 bike race put together by District Bicycles in the spring. This race is 100 miles long and is made up of gravel and dirt roads that surround the site of the Oklahoma Land Run of 1889, according to www.landrun100.com.
Arthur’s best running memory took place Aug. 17, 2013, when he completed his first 50-mile run.
“Watching my GPS hit 50 miles was just amazing,” he said.
Some challenges are always present.
“It’s intimidating to wake up in the morning and realize you’re running 50 miles. There are times your body feels like it is shutting down, and it’s scary because you don’t know if you did everything right,” Arthur said. “But it’s part of the sport.”
Arthur said running is something he could do for the rest of his life. He hopes to move to Oregon or Washington in the future to buy land and host 100-mile races for a living.
Arthur’s relationship with running is a passion, a hobby and a lifestyle.
“You know when you’re 16 and you see that couple and no one wants to be around them because they are always talking about each other — that’s me and running. I’ll sit there and talk about it until nobody wants to talk about it,” he said.