Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Ultra memories...and the new generation

Check out this dude.

Kyle Skaggs.

In July, he won the Hardrock 100 Endurance Race in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. Skaggs won the race in 23 hours, 23 minutes and 30 seconds destroying the old record of 26 hours and 8 minutes.

Hardrock has an average elevation around 11,000, a total of 33,000 feet of climb and 13 peaks over 12,000-feet; finishing is a feat in itself.

This ultra man runs around 150 miles a week, mostly on the trails he races on. He represents the new generation of ultrarunners, those who are taking the sport to the next level.

It's a long, far cry from my ultra existence. I have yet to break 24 hours for 100 miles (24:32 is my best) and I was racing on relatively "flat" ground in places such as Ohio, North Carolina and Vermont.

But it's all good nonetheless. The great thing about ultrarunning is that most of us don't compete against each other, but rather ourselves. It's the war against our own inner spirit; many times quitting or finishing rides on a razor thin line.

So, I wanted to wax on a bit about my great ultra memories. Here's a portal into my mind, the wonderful elements that make this sport so epic and exciting:

  • I was racing Mark Carroll at the Michigan Trail 50 mile. We were only a few footsteps apart through the first half, when we made the turnaround (around a tree) on the out-and-back course. Mark was about 25 yards ahead of me, and we stared into each others' eyes. Mark got further ahead, and I ran beyond my limits, hoping to catch sight of him at the road section of the course where it was possible to see a few hundred yards ahead. When I got to that place, he was long gone. I chased him into the finish, and was a bit pouty about his win. Mark admonished me, and made me realize this was about fun and the overall experience...I never forgot that day.
  • Running the JFK 50 mile in Maryland, I was holding a brisk 8-hour pace through the early sections of the Appalachian Trail...it's rough and rocky, and I was racing with Kim Martin, one of the fastest female racers in the sport. Just as I complimented Kim on her great trail pace, she took a terrible fall on a rough, rocky downhill. She knocked the wind out of herself and was disoriented, and ordered me to move on without her. Did I jinx her run? I felt bad until she blew by me late in the race, while we were on the towpath next to the Potomac River.
If you like some of these old-time anecdotes, drop me a comment and I'll rant on a bit more in the next entry!

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