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Confessions of a Cross-Dressing Ultrarunner

“Are those long socks some sort of ultra running thing?”

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A friend asked me this as he joined me for an hour of my recent 25 mile long run. I’m prepping for the upcoming San Diego 100 Mile Endurance Run and along with my training miles, I’m testing gear and nutrition products to see what works best for me for at this upcoming race. One thing I’ve got dialed at this point in my career is what I’m going to touch on in this post – socks.

Yes, I know some ultrarunners prefer to go sock-less in an extension of the minimalist movement, others sport their favorite brand of $12-15 a pair name brand running socks that guarantee a blister free ride. Others have a combination of any number of toes or other compartments, again all claiming to reduce friction and keep our precious feet from falling apart.

I’ve tried many if not all of the above combinations, from going sockless (resulting in bloody feet from shoe rubbing) to being a religious toe sock user and finally using many of the name brand “blister” prevention socks. I’ve used cheap socks from the clearance isle of Ross and even free socks I’ve received from races. What have I settled on?

Cheap ladies socks from Target.

My latest purchase - long & short.
My latest purchase – long & short styles.


Yup, I’m a cross-dressing ultrarunner and I don’t care who knows. All I know is this shit works. The best part about these socks? They are thin, cheap ($1.5 to $2.5 a pair) and I don’t care if I throw them away after a 50 or 100 mile race. But often, they last many, many more miles. An added bonus? Long socks can ward off pesky sawbriars at races such as the Barkley Marathons.

Scrambling through briars in Target's finest.
Scrambling through briars in Target’s finest. (Photo Karen Jackson)

After almost 9 years of running ultras and 1000s of miles my feet are pretty damn tough. I don’t need extra cushion or the latest cooling super fabric to keep blisters at bay. I just need a thin layer of fabric to keep the seams and imperfections of my shoes from rubbing my feet raw. It’s also a hell of a lot easier to clean a pair of socks than a pair of shoes. I’ve run countless ulras now in these cheap Target socks and my feet have come across the finish line in pretty good shape. I can’t remember the last blister I’ve gotten from running. Well there you go Target, your ladies socks have now been endorsed for running ultra marathons.

The only way to slam an energy drink in the middle of a night ultra race - wearing plenty of argyle.
The only way to slam an energy drink in the middle of a night ultra race – wearing plenty of argyle. (Photo Catlow Shipek)


Well now that I’ve in all likelihood eliminated any chances of a sock sponsorship in my future, I hope you have enjoyed my confession. Have fun, run steep, get high!

Just please buy the right size….

Cutting off my too small ladies socks after winning the 2012 Mogollon Monster 100. (Photo Andrew Pielage)