Who is Courtney Dauwalter? Meet The Woman Who Crushes Ultras

Even if you aren’t a trail runner or ultramarathoner, there’s a good chance you’ve heard the name Courtney Dauwalter. That’s because, in the past five years, Dauwalter has quickly upended the ultra-world with her incredible endurance feats.

Since 2017, Dauwalter has won ultra-marathon after ultra-marathon, besting fast men and setting records. 

Wearing her trademark baggy Salomon shorts and meeting each challenge with a positive attitude and unparalleled toughness, Dauwalter appears to have many more accomplishments ahead of her in the sport of endurance running. She is universally admired and loved for her grit, mental strength, down-to-earth mentality, and giant smile. 

In this article, we get to know more about Dauwalter including:

  • What she did for a living before becoming a pro runner
  • What she eats
  • Where she lives
  • How much she runs
  • Her running history and accomplishments
  • Her family life, and much more. 

So, let’s get to know who Courtney Dauwalter is!

Who is Courtney Dauwalter?

Courtney Dauwalter is an American ultrarunner. She is known as one of the most prestigious endurance athletes in the world, winning races such as the UTMB and Tahoe 200, and setting records including running the longest distance by a female runner in the Big Dog Ultra. 

Dauwalter is characterized as being tough as nails and wearing baggy shorts when most competitors run in light form-fitting clothes.

Related: The Complete Guide to UTMB

What races has Courtney Dauwalter won?

Courtney Dauwalter came in hot to the ultrarunning scene in 2016 when she won the 100-mile race Run Rabbit Run and set a record for the Javelina Jundred 100k. 

She’s been chalking up accolades ever since: 

  • Won the 2014 Ouray 100 miler
  • Won the 2016 Javelina Jundred and set a course record
  • Won the 2016 Run Rabbit Run 100 miler
  • Won the overall 2017 Moab 240 by a 10-hour margin
  • Broke the Tahoe 200 female course record in 2018 by 18+ hours
  • Won the 2019 UTMB (fastest female) and the 2021 UTMB (set course record)
  • Won the overall 2020 Big Dog Backyard Ultra by clocking 283 miles, a female world record
  • Second place at the infamous Barkley Marathons in 2021
  • Named 2018 Ultrarunner of the Year by Ultrarunning Magazine, noting she won 9 of the 12 races she competed in
  • Recipient of the 2020 George Mallory Award for pushing the boundaries of human performance
  • Named one of the 50 Fittest Athletes in the World by Sports Illustrated

Related: The Barkleys Marathon: All You Need to Know & How to Survive One

What’s the longest distance a woman has ever run?

Courtney Dauwalter holds the record for the longest distance ever run by a woman in the Big Dog Ultra. Dauwalter ran 283.3 miles for 68 laps and finished in 56 hours, 52 minutes, and 29 seconds. 

The Big Dog Ultra is a last-man (last-woman) standing race that requires incredible physical and mental fortitude.

Learn more about the Big Dog Ultra here.

After this performance, she was awarded the esteemed George Mallory Award for excellence and pushing beyond human limitations.

Related: Who is Lazurus Lake? Inside the Mind Behind Barkley & Backyard

How old is Courtney Dauwalter?

Courtney Dauwalter is 37-years old. She was born on February 13, 1985, in Hopkins, Minnesota.

Did Courtney Dauwalter run as a child?

Courtney Dauwalter has always been interested in athletics, however, her athletic prowess seemed to be more rooted in cross country skiing. As a child growing up in Minnesota, Dauwalter competed in track, Nordic skiing, and cross country

In high school, she became the four-time Minnesota state champion in Nordic skiing and went to college on a cross country skiing scholarship.

According to her father, Dick Dauwalter, who has crewed her ultramarathon races, she was “born to compete and was natural.” 

Despite not having a lot of money, the family ensured Dauwalter and her brothers were able to be active in sports. 

Where did Courtney Dauwalter go to college?

Dauwalter attended the University of Denver on a cross-country skiing scholarship. 

Upon graduation, she earned her Master’s degree in teaching in 2010 at the University of Mississippi. Dauwalter then served in the Mississippi Teacher Corps before becoming a middle and high school teacher in the Denver, Colorado area.

Related: The World’s 10 Toughest Races

What does Courtney Dauwalter do for a living?

Dauwalter taught science in both middle and high school in Denver before she decided to pursue professional running full-time in 2017. 

Is Courtney Dauwalter sponsored?

Dauwalter is sponsored by Salomon. This is the brand of her trademark baggy shorts.

How much does Courtney Dauwalter run per week?

Dauwalter says she runs every day, sometimes multiple times a day. She doesn’t follow a specific training plan but typically gets 100 to 110 miles in per week. 

Does Courtney Dauwalter have a coach?

No, Dauwalter does not have a running coach. She follows an intuitive training plan in which she listens to her body and runs based on how she feels that day.

“I go by how my body feels and how my brain feels,” she told Women’s Running. “I let my feet guide me when I leave my house every day.”

In the spring is when she maps out what races she wants to do and when she can “go wild” with her training and when she should ease off. 

What does Courtney Dauwalter eat?

Dauwalter reportedly eats a lot of salads and grilled vegetables. But she regularly eats burgers, candy, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch, as well. 

She’s quoted in Footwear News as saying: “I call it a ‘normal person’s diet. ‘ I don’t know if it’s typical, but it’s delicious,” she said. “Not putting limitations on (my diet) makes life more enjoyable; it keeps my body happy.”

Did Courtney Dauwalter sleep during a race?

Dauwalter infamously fell asleep for 21 minutes when she won the inaugural Moab 240 in 2017. As a result, she reportedly suffered from vivid exhaustion-induced hallucinations.

How long has Courtney Dauwalter been running?

Dauwalter fell in love with running when racing the mile in elementary school. She was so talented, she earned a spot on her high school cross-country varsity team in seventh grade. She then went on to compete in track and cross country in high school.

Dauwalter ran her first ultramarathon in 2011 and won her first ultramarathon in 2014. She didn’t become a well-known endurance competitor until 2017.

Is Courtney Dauwalter married?

Courtney Dauwalter’s husband is Kevin Schmidt, who apparently did not run before he met Dauwalter. After years of crewing her races around the globe, Dauwalter has crewed him as he runs races such as the Bear 100 across Utah.

Does Courntey Dauwalter have kids?

Dauwalter has no kids or pets.

Where does Courtney Dauwalter live?

Dauwalter lives and trains at an altitude of about 10, 200 feet in Leadville, Colorado, home to the well-known Leadville Trail 100 ultramarathon.

What is Courtney Dauwalter’s net worth?

Dauwalter is reportedly worth $1.5 million from prize money and her Salomon sponsorship.

Why does Courtney Dauwalter wear long shorts?

Most endurance athletes like to wear tight, light clothes so they don’t feel heavy or restricted. Dauwalter, on the other hand, wears baggy Salomon shorts. Why? 

“It’s pure comfort!” she told Red Bull. “I have always preferred longer shorts and found that in ultramarathons they are still my chosen length.”

Courtney Dauwalter
Wikimedia Commons

What is Courtney Dauwalter like?

Dauwalter is known for her passion and positive attitude. She’s also known for her jokes in which she says she tells herself throughout her long-distance races (like 24-hour races and 240-mile races) to make sure her mind is still working. 

People view her as a contradiction. She’s a serious competitor who trains full-time and runs more than a hundred-mile a week. But she also is smiley and easygoing, follows no strict training plan, and eats candy during her races. 

How is Courtney Dauwalter so tough?

Dauwalter says she can overcome massive physical challenges by not overthinking things. 

According to Deadspin, when she dropped out of her first 100-mile race in 2012 at the 60-mile point because she reflected: 

“I didn’t realize that suffering is normal, or that our brains can help us overcome physical suffering. I was not prepared for the battle. Just like you train your body to be stronger, you can train your mind. It’s amazing what our bodies can do but even more amazing what our brains can do.”

Dauwalter told Women’s Running: “Physically, it always becomes hard and that’s when you can tap into the mental piece of it. I’ve been learning and accumulating the mental piece of running.”

In the last 50K of UTMB when she had nothing left, Dauwalter told herself:

“(That it) was okay, but I was going to keep moving…(and) ‘There’s only one way to get to the finish line.’ If you break it down, it’s really simple.”

Other inspirational quotes from Dauwalter include:

  • “You’re fine. This is fine. Keep going.”
  • “Work hard enough so that the only voice you hear inside your head is yelling at you that you can.”
  • “It’s not running away from your issues – it’s running through them.”

If you want to tackle the ultramarathon distance, check out our Ultramarathon resources

Photo of author
Katelyn is an experienced ultra-marathoner and outdoor enthusiast with a passion for the trails. In the running community, she is known for her ear-to-ear smile, even under the toughest racing conditions. She is a UESCA-certified running coach and loves sharing her knowledge and experience to help people reach their goals and become the best runners they can be. Her biggest passion is to motivate others to hit the trails or road alongside her, have a blast, and run for fun!

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