After finishing reading my book Brooks Running. I was asked to elaborate on my ultra-running. So, I will dig deeper in my history (if I can remember) the how, when and what of ultra-running in my life.
In the writing of my book/story, I first put down on paper a timeline of birth, 1947 to present 2021.
Memories were getting jumbled up especially during the prime of my runner years 1980's to 2000, as there was much going on in life and wanted to provide some details and dates of significant life event. Marriage, kids, education, church life, races etc.
Let me focus on Running, since this is my story, my ultra-story of life. Yes I'm still alive. No I'm not running. Read the book.
Briefly, I started running in high school cross-country and track and when I graduated at Irondequoit High 1965 in Rochester, was accepted in college at Missouri Valley college in Missouri and ran cross country my freshman year and went to NAIA nationals. I was good.
When our nation entered the 1960's, things were chaos as well as our colleges and universities. I dropped out in my junior year and was promptly drafted in the peak of Viet Nam era. My dropout from college carried into life. Turn on , Tune in..., You know the rest.
My running had dropped out of my life. Not forever.
1976 was a turning point in my life, when I detoxed from drugs and alcohol. I had a "new life", clean and sober and I decided to get healthy in body, soul, and spirit. I picked up where I left off in the 1960's. I started to run, and like Forest Gump, I ran and I ran and I ran.
5K's, 10K's, 1/2 marathons, and right around that time, the marathon was starting to make it's way into the running scene. I wanted it. I set my goal to run the marathon. Read books, and set a training plan to go the distance. My hero was Jim Fix, Bill Rodgers (Boston Billie). I wanted to qualify to run Boston, but it was a tough goal. After 2 yrs of running and racing couple marathons I qualified running sub 2:50, in 1980, ran Boston #1. What a thrill. Mission accomplished. Not just one, but a total of 20 Boston's over the years 1980- 2000.
Around the 1970's and 80's the running boom was sweeping our city and country. Our local track club (GRTC) had organized our own local marathon. A few of our local runners were entering a different type of running event, the ultra-marathon (any race longer than a marathon distance). They ranged from 50K (31 mi.), 100K (62 mi.) 100 miles or 24 hrs.
A couple of my local friends were running these. Of course, that interested me immensely.
I read up on the execution and training for such events and when I was ready in 1983, signed up for The Nichol City 50. A 50 mi. race in Buffalo NY, a series of loops around the zoo road equaling 50 mi. I don't remember the time but somewhere around 6 hrs something. The good news is that I survived and finished high up in the overall finishers. I was hooked on ultras. Proper pacing and execution, like marathons, is vital for finishing.
Here in town, the ultra-runners in town organized a 24 hr around the U of R track. Longest you can run in 24 hrs. I was all over that. They ran for this several years and I won all that I ran, setting USATF single age records for 50K(3:36), 100K(9:27) and 100 miles (16:42). That definitely put me in a different class of runners. I loved it and didn't hinder my training or execution of my annual Boston trips (pr Boston 2:42).
This led me into doing the ultra-thing on trails. My first ultra-trail was in 1987, JFK 50 in Maryland 7 hr 47 mi. finishing 16 out of over 200 runners. I set my sights on a 100 mi. trail race. 1988 I ran my first trail 100 in Va. Old Dominion 100 (23 hrs). It was a blast. I tell many stories about that race run with horses on mountain trails of Shenandoah National Forest.
You don't have to be superhuman to run ultras. Ambition and training and the mental tenacity to execute, are key to finish running that far, just as running a marathon is. Proper planning for terrain, weather heat/cold/humidity, nutrition, clothing, sleep/rest is vital. Yes, that is a lot to consider, that's why not many chose this route.
What route will you choose????
If you want more life details.... Brooks Running Available Amazon or Barnes and Noble. published 2021 Kharis Media