Ultrarunner Cameron Hanes on Talent, Hard Work and Motivation

Erica Schuckies
by Erica Schuckies
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Ultrarunner Cameron Hanes on Talent, Hard Work and Motivation

As Under Armour’s longest-tenured athlete, Cameron Hanes flies under the radar as one of the country’s toughest ultrarunners, bowhunters and all-around athletes.

To most runners, placing third in your very first marathon could be considered the unofficial definition of “talent.” But Cameron Hanes, who grabbed a podium spot in his 2003 marathon debut, doesn’t see it that way.

“I don’t feel like I’m talented,” he admits. “But I work really hard.”

And it’s that mindset that has allowed the ultrarunner to see so much success in his running. After growing up in Eugene, Oregon (a town nicknamed Track Town, USA), playing football, baseball and basketball, Hanes used running as a way to connect with his track-and-field-loving father.

“My dad was superman in my eyes,” he says. “And running was always something that we shared in common.

After high school, Hanes became more committed to running, seeing it as more than just a pastime. As a serious backcountry bowhunter, he was no stranger to hiking more than 20 miles in a single day, so building endurance is crucial for a successful hunt.

“I started to see how my passion for bowhunting and endurance sports could marry up,” he says. “I told myself, ‘This is where I can improve my game.’”

So, just like any runner, Hanes started small, running in local 5K and 10K races first, and then worked his way up to longer distances from there. After completing a number of marathons around the country (and beating Lance Armstrong in the 2008 Boston Marathon), he graduated from the 26.2 distance to a 50K, 50-miler, 100K, 100-miler and finally, the Bigfoot 200 in 2016, where he placed 8th.

But all of these race finish lines don’t come easily.

A UNIQUELY PERSONAL TRAINING ROUTINE

It’s was beautiful on the mountain tonight. Did anyone else get their miles in today? @uarunning

A post shared by Cameron Hanes (@cameronrhanes) on

Hanes’ training plan includes a regimen he likes to call “Run. Lift. Shoot.,” that (as the name indicates) includes a 5–20-mile run on a mountain near his home, a weightlifting session and time spent shooting his bow. During the fall and winter months, Hanes focuses on building muscle to protect his joints and stay strong for hunting season, but spring and summertime calls for increased mileage and a de-emphasis on time in the weight room — because carrying less muscle when running 200-something miles makes a huge difference.

But regardless of the time of year or Hanes’ next challenge, it’s pure discipline that keeps him running, lifting and shooting every day, without fail. When asked how he fits it all in, he says his daily training is not an option.

“I just do it,” he says. “It’s not even up for discussion. I don’t have to make a decision on what I’m going to do that day, because I already know I’m going to do it. It’s just part of my routine.”

But Hanes’ life is far from routine. While he has a full-time job at a local energy and utility company in Springfield, Oregon, his sponsorship commitments (Under Armour, Hoyt Archery and Mtn Ops, to name a few) regularly take him around the country and, occasionally, to other countries. But no matter where he is, what the weather is doing or how busy his day, you’ll find him putting in the work to become a better runner, bowhunter and athlete.


READ MORE > 6 TIPS ON HOW TO RUN LONG (WHEN YOU’VE NEVER RUN LONG)


A LEGION OF FANS

When you put in the effort, you’re bound to get recognized eventually — and Hanes has built quite the following in the fitness and bowhunting communities. A quick check of his social media profiles shows follower counts of 260,000 on Instagram, 250,000 on Facebook and 27,000 on Twitter. Browse these accounts and you’ll see him regularly interacting with his followers, responding to their questions and even reposting their personal stories to help them celebrate their achievements.

These digital relationships, however, aren’t the only way he interacts with his fans. For some of his more passionate followers, Hanes’ work ethic and positive attitude are so inspiring, they travel from all over the country just to get the chance to catch him during his daily mountain run.

You know life is crazy sometimes…just today on Instagram I’ve been called gay, on Facebook a douchebag and on Twitter a “trophy killer” by an anti which I guess is a slam? This morning at work? Fairly standard. Nothing that stands out from any other day. But my lunch run, that was different. @midwestbowhunter and his dad, Paul, were waiting for me in the wind and rain at the top of the mountain. Grant is on spring break from U of M and talked his dad into making a road trip from Minnesota to Eugene in the hopes we’d cross paths. Well we did and I’m thankful. Because by this weekend I probably won’t remember what happened this morning at work and I know I won’t remember the sad social media people filled with hate that try to make others miserable, but I’ll never forget shaking the hands of these two men on Mount Pisgah on an otherwise typical Wednesday. Thanks Grant and Paul, I am so glad to have met you. BTW, I posted a video from the top of the mountain in my instastory.

A post shared by Cameron Hanes (@cameronrhanes) on

“Last week, a college kid and his dad drove 19 hours from Minnesota and came to the hill that I run every day at lunch,” he recalls. “There’s no guarantee that I would have been there at that exact time or that I was even in town. But he wanted to do this over his spring break. And what if I had come up with some reason to not run that day? Those guys drove 19 hours for a handshake and picture. I do it because people know they can count on me for always walking the walk.”  

By now, it’s clear that Hanes has people across the world counting on him. Motivation in the form of famous (or even semi-famous) influencers seems to be a dime a dozen these days, but it’s rare to find someone as engaged and open as Cam Hanes. He’s intense, but approachable; accomplished, but inspirational; superhuman, but surprisingly realistic. Hanes says he hears from people who have lost 100 pounds or more, and drew motivation from his achievements and constant hard work to make positive changes in their own lives.

“These people are relying on me for inspiration, and I don’t want to let them down,” he says. “I don’t feel special, but I want to be there for the people who do look to me for motivation. If you’re not making a positive impact, what’s the point?”

HANES’ IMPACT AND MESSAGE TO HIS FANS

For Hanes, the point of running (and lifting and shooting) is very personal, but it’s also empowering for him to see the impact he’s making on others. While he does feel a constant drive to push forward and take on new challenges, he’s quick to point out that he’s made a conscious decision about doing “less chest-pounding” and “more empowering” on his social media accounts.

“I want people to know that with hard work, you can do amazing things,” he says. “I got to where I am today with consistent work. At first, I didn’t believe in myself and other people didn’t believe in me. But I want people to believe they can do great things. They don’t forget that you believe in them.”

As for others getting to the Cam Hanes level, he doesn’t put it out of the question.

“I always say, “If I did this, so can you,’” he says. “No matter where you start, you have to put in consistent work. I’ve been the guy who once struggled through 3 miles. I know what it feels like. I wasn’t born a naturally good runner.”


READ MORE > 14 TIPS ON BECOMING A CONSISTENT RUNNER


GREAT RUNNING AND GREATER MOTIVATION

The fact is, Hanes is a great runner. But he’s also a great motivator and icon for people wanting to challenge themselves and reach their own personal goals.

In true Cameron Hanes style of always looking for the next challenge, he’s currently gearing up for a 234-mile ultramarathon in Moab put on by the organizers of the Bigfoot 200. At 234 miles, this would be the longest ultramarathon in the country.

And that sounds exactly like something Cameron Hanes would do.


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About the Author

Erica Schuckies
Erica Schuckies

Erica is a runner, gym rat and outdoor buff based in Austin, Texas. She is a lifelong athlete, having participated in a number of sports from her youth years well into her adult life. Erica has a passion for creating and sharing information, motivation and inspiration to help athletes-in-training across the world. She previously worked as the Running Editor at ACTIVE.com. You can follow Erica on Twitter or Instagram.

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