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A Conversation with Bill Carr

On a chilly Friday afternoon this February, I got to sit down for an e-conversation with Bill Carr and I loved every minute of it. If you don’t know Bill, he’s the jack of all trades workhorse behind UltraSignup. And if that wasn’t enough, he’s also a gregarious human with a big heart and a passion for the sport of trail running. I’m excited to share our conversation with you. Folks, meet Bill Carr!

How long have you been with UltraSignup?

I’ve been affiliated with UltraSignup for over 10 years. I reached out to Mark (Gilligan – Founder of UltraSignup) to see if he needed help with the site. It grew from just helping with the site to my role today, which is much more involved.

What does a day on the backside of UltraSignup look like?

Originally 10 years ago it started as gathering race results, updating race registration pages, to today it’s doing customer operations, pre-sales, sales support, to interacting with race directors and runners on a consistent basis. I would almost call myself a jack-of-all-trades. In a nutshell, a question comes into UltraSignup and I have to triage if it’s a race director, runner, or potential sales question. Depending on the question, I have to solve it. From race dates to misspelled names, it’s the whole gambit.

When you get a chance to disconnect from UltraSignup, what do you do for fun, relaxation? 

It’s tough to disconnect at times because I’m constantly thinking about race and runner related items. One of the ways I disconnect is by being a trail and ultra runner. Being outside helps. Being able to get involved in races, as a volunteer. Crewing is hard but is one way I love to give back. If you’ve never crewed before, it’s the team that supports the runner during the race. The crew person sits at an aid station for an exorbitant amount of hours to see the participant for a few minutes, then it’s in the back in the car to the next place to do it all over again. 

Do you listen to music or podcasts during a run? 

I do music and podcasts. I listen to podcasts to occupy my mind while I’m alone. If I’m running with friends it might just be music in the background. I don’t really have any favorites, it depends on the mood I’m in. I’ll  run the gambit from 80s to rap – depends on the terrain and my goal for the run.

Have you always been a trail runner?

I fell into it 10+ years ago because I wanted to try something new from road running and I fell in love with it. loved being outside, loved the people, loved the sport.

If you could run any trail in the world, which would you choose?

I don’t know. I live in Northern California and I predominantly run there. Most of my running is in Northern California and Nevada. I don’t like taking travel time away from my family and I like running in my community. 

Bill Carr with his dog.

What’s one thing about Bill Carr that surprises people?

When I talk about going for a long run I’m usually running 5+ hours, 20+ miles. 

Is there running gear you can’t run without?

3 things. My Garmin watch because I have to know how far I’ve run. My iPhone so I can check work emails and tickets. And my headphones for music. 

What was your most memorable race? What made it significant?

I’d have to check the year but it was a Western States finish when I was able to run with friends and my son crossed the finish line with me. He was probably about 7 years old.  It was a 100 miler and at mile 99 he joined me. To paraphrase my son, he said, “Dad, let’s run!” and I had to say, “I AM running!”

Any tips for a road-runner getting into trail running?

It’s a mental shift and an eating contest. 

Most road stuff is shorter so fueling may not be as critical. With ultras, you’re out there for such a long period of time that a cliff bar just isn’t going to cut it. I’ve been known to eat McDonald’s cheeseburgers out on the course. I get it without pickles but with extra ketchup so it’s still moist when I get to it hours later. And leaving it in a dropbox in summer isn’t a great idea. That’s where the value of a crew comes in.

Mentally, you can’t maintain an 8-minute mile pace the whole time. The terrain dictates your pace so you just have to accept that.

Big thank you to Bill for letting us steal some time to get to know him. UltraSignup is lucky to have him working tirelessly behind the scenes and the running community is lucky to have him as a runner. Next time you enjoy a McDonald’s cheeseburger (no pickles, extra ketchup) say a little thank you that there are people out in the running world as uplifting and kind as Bill Carr.