At just 21 years old, Drexel LeBow junior Ryan Lange is already a pioneer in his field.
He attained this status outside of the classroom through an almost unbelievable feat: running over 230 miles in October 2017 in the Moab 240 Endurance Race, and becoming the youngest runner ever to complete a race of over 200 miles.
As a competitive ultramarathoner, Lange regularly logs distances of over 50 miles in his races and was again the youngest finisher in two races he completed earlier this year: the North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Miler in Massachusetts and the 81-mile Badwater Salton Sea in California.
Leaving aside the pure numbers of his races, where he runs more miles in a day than even avid runners might in a week, Lange says his greatest accomplishment in this sport is the sense of maturity and self-knowledge he has gained.
“It gives me confidence that I can carry in my back pocket through everything,” he said. “It allows me to say, ‘What can’t I do?’”
He wasn’t out there alone in the Utah wilderness during the Moab run. His father, Chris Lange ’91, followed in a truck and met him at pit stops throughout the course. Friends and family, including his mother Patricia Fenimore-Lange ’90, tracked his progress through the race’s website; ultimately, Lange completed the course in under 87 hours as the 25th runner out of 127 to finish.
Since the Moab race and other ultramarathon events take place during the academic year, Lange regularly consults with his professors at LeBow and other colleges about what tasks and assignments he can complete ahead of time in order to stay on track.
Even with that advance preparation, Lange found it a challenge to return to regular life after Moab. After completing the race on October 16 and taking a few days to recuperate, he was back in class on October 20 and preparing for midterms. “That was honestly the hardest part,” he said.
Surprisingly, Lange took up running only about three years ago in order to lose weight and increase his fitness. “I would run three miles and I thought it was the greatest thing, and I slowly built myself up from there,” he said.
He quickly ramped up to longer distances, running his first marathon in November 2016 and then a 50K in January 2017. Later that year, during his co-op experience with Susquehanna International Group in Bala Cynywd, Lange logged plenty of miles running on the Schuylkill River Trail after work hours. He also made regular trips up to the Delaware Water Gap to practice running through big changes in elevation.
“I fell in love with it,” he said. “I got addicted to the feeling after a big run.”
While Lange repped both Drexel and his favorite sports team, the Philadelphia Eagles, during his Moab run, he has recently sought a way to connect his passion for running with promoting a larger cause. During the Tahoe 200 Endurance Run in September, he wore the logo of Sharing Excess, a nonprofit focused on providing surplus food to homeless populations and currently housed at the Baiada Institute at the Pearlstein Business Learning Center.
Even with his growing track record as an athlete, Lange describes himself as “an average guy.” His path from being a novice to running at an elite level has shown him that “anyone is capable of a lot more than what they think.”