Birmingham Ultra Runner Competes in World Championship 24-Hour Race

Janae Pierre, WBHM

Micah Morgan during a morning run near Brookwood Mall.

Imagine running for an entire day. That’s what dozens of ultra runners plan to do this weekend at the World Championship 24 hour race in Albi, France. The U-S is one of about 40 countries competing in the ultra-marathon. One of those runners is 36-year-old nurse practitioner Micah Morgan, a beloved member of Birmingham’s running community. She’s been running for years but in 2014, Morgan found her love for ultramarathons — races longer than a traditional marathon. 

“The first 12-hour that I did I remember watching this man get up, get his newspaper and then he was mowing the yard later in the day and then he was grilling for his family. And I was like, I’ve literally been running all day, like what’s wrong with me,” Morgan says.  

Since then she’s set a new course record at the Daytona 100, running their second fastest race in 2017. Morgan also ran for 30 hours and nine minutes in the Badwater 135, which starts in Death Valley, California and ends atop Mount Whitney. That’s equivalent to running from Birmingham to Six Flags Over Georgia.

These days, Morgan has her eye on an even bigger challenge, on a much larger platform., This weekend, she’ll run with Team USA for the International Association of Ultrarunners’ World Championship 24 Hour race in France. 

“The goal at this race is of course to do well, represent the U.S. and then try to put up a big number to actually be one of the six scorers for 2021,” she says. 

This year, Morgan will run as the seventh woman on the six member USA Track and Field 24-Hour running team. She’ll run as a non-scoring or alternate member. Howard Nippert is the national team leader. He says this is a huge opportunity for Morgan’s future as an ultra runner on the U.S. team. 

“It would fully immerse Micah into the world championship competition,” Nippert says. “She’ll be running stride for stride and side by side with the best in the world.”  

On a recent Sunday morning, Morgan runs a trail near Brookwood Mall. It’s a light day, which means she’s only running 10 miles. 

Her personal coach and husband, Cary Morgan, runs alongside her.

Cary is the founder of Cadence Run Coaching. He keeps a tally of Micah’s miles each week to better prepare her for the upcoming race. 

“The standard to make the team is 130 (miles), so in order to even qualify for the 2021 team we have to go over 130,” he says. “When I say ‘we’ I always mean ‘she.'”

Morgan says with a great crew and a good strategy, anything is possible in a day-long race.

“I usually go through it as a reward system. You know, these four hours you’re trying to get this many miles and then if you do you get your headphones for an hour and then you take them off and then take a piece of gum here,” she says. “You just try to reward yourself with the little things. But it’s a long day.” 

Morgan calls her body a well-oiled machine and says she’s ready for the long day in France. The U.S. Women’s team is made up of one world record holder and an American record holder. Morgan says now, it’s time to show the world what women in Birmingham are capable of doing.