Bookstrucker Photography

My name is Ian MacNairn. I am a PhD/MD student at the University of Calgary in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. I am the Principal Investigator of a global ethnographic project (The Ultra Ethnography) in the discipline of social and cultural anthropology. The project is an exploration of the process and experience of building community through sport. Ultrarunning is my case study.


I have participated in ultrarunning since 2008 and I have grown increasingly interested in the peculiarities of the sport through my experience as researcher, journalist, and athlete: the processes of embodiment, the extremes of endurance, and, not surprisingly, ultrarunners themselves. In this project I explore what the ultrarunning community is through the stories, experience, and voice of ultrarunners.


The Ultra Culture is a platform for information about and participation in my current project, The Ultrarunning Ethnography. The site also serves as a hub for ultrarunning media, resources, and community. Follow the project on social media through the tag #ultraethnography.

Interviews and final data collection
2017 summer and fall


Leaders in Medicine Research Symposium - Calgary, AB
November 3, 2017 
The Golden Ultra -
Golden, BC
September 22-24, 2017


"I recently attended a Western Slipstream event in Squamish, BC., hosted by Connected in Motion. I met a fellow type 1 diabetic and ultra runner, Ian MacNairn...We re-connected after the weekend and thought a great way to reach out to the type 1 community would be through a bit of a Q&A. Here are the segments of our conversation, I’m sure you’ll find it as inspiring as I do, and hopefully this will help you in reaching your own goals..."

"They call the Tsingy de Bemaraha forest the land where one cannot walk barefoot, a landscape of limestone spires and dry tropical forest in western Madagascar. Bekopaka, in the south, is a tourist hub. The northern portion of the forest remains wholly untamed and unexplored — a wild mystery on the map..."