#6: Harald Zundel – Seeking the path of most resistance

July 6, 2017

Harald Zundel is a renowned adventure racer, ultra-runner, and all-around endurance junkie. Born in Germany, Harald came to the US for university and then joined the Navy. Early in his naval career he somewhat accidentally decided to become a Navy SEAL. As if it’s easy, right?

Harald did his first adventure race on a team with several other Navy SEALs. They won that race and Harald was hooked on adventure racing. He became a professional adventure racer shortly after and spent nearly 8 years travelling and competing full-time before quitting the pro life and endurance sports altogether for a few years.

But Harald is not one to take the relaxing path. More recently, he has gotten back into punishing, I mean, challenging himself by running extremely long distance races like the Barkley Marathons, the Bigfoot 200, and the Ultra trail du Mont Blanc.

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Show notes:

  • [2:27] Harald’s childhood in Germany and being independent from a young age
  • [7:30] How Harald ended up in university in South Carolina
  • [8:30] Culture shock moving from Germany to the US
  • [11:45] How Harald ended up in the Navy
  • [14:00] And how he found out about the Navy SEALs
  • [15:00] How not having a mythology about the SEALs made it easier to sign up without a lot of fear.
  • [16:00] What does it take to be a SEAL?
  • [17:20] What’s the self talk that helped you get through BUDS (Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL)?
  • [18:25] Finding strength in seeing others quit and Harald’s lowest moment during BUDS
  • [20:00] What happens after BUDS?
  • [22:00] Finding adventure racing
  • [24:20] “Stage” vs “Expedition” style adventure racing
  • [26:40] The team aspect of adventure racing
  • [27:10] The life of a professional adventure racer
  • [31:00] The mental aspects of adventure racing: Overcoming obstacles and challenges
  • [34:00] Why Harald retired from adventure racing
  • [35:00] Taking a complete break from endurance sports and just doing yoga for a few years
  • [36:00] Getting back into running and pushing into ultra-marathon distances
  • [38:00] Training for ultras
  • [39:20] Some of the highlight races that Harald has run
  • [40:30] What is the draw of these long, famous races.
  • [42:00] The unique characteristics of the Barkley Marathons (YouTube | Netflix)
  • [45:00] Harald’s 3rd place finish in the Bigfoot 200 and going 70+ hours with just 2 hours of sleep!
  • [47:30] The strategy of competing in extreme endurance sports
  • [48:50] The UTMB (Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc), arguably the most famous ultra-marathon in the world
  • [51:15] How does Harald suggest getting into ultra-marathons?
  • [53:45] What does adventure mean to Harald?
  • [54:50] Why is adventure important?
  • [56:15] Is discipline a required aspect of being adventurous or having adventures?
Lives of Adventure © 2017