Random thoughts on 24 hour races


I know that I go on and on about long events that I just finished. One reason for it: during the next few days afterward, my sleep becomes segmented; right now I am in one of those “awake in the middle of the night” periods. I get that way when I get fatigued. There is some evidence that humans once slept in segments.

So I am using this awake time to read (articles like this one) and organize photos, etc.

Random thoughts:
1. The best performers, with a few exceptions, tend to be people in their 30’s and 40’s. There are old timers such as the lady I am walking with. She is in her 70’s and can still walk briskly for 40-50 miles; previously she has won the walking event. I also walked a few steps with past winners of the event (both as runners and as walkers); they can’t do what they once did, but they ended up with 70 and 80 plus miles respectively.

It is tempting to say “well, if old timer X can do this, why can’t you?”. But it is helpful to remember that the old timers who show up are often those who were very good when they were younger.
On the other hand, I have always sucked; I am transitioning from a slow younger person to an even more glacial older person. 🙂 Most people of my ability have learned to give it up when they get older.

2. My poor performance at this event reflected my limited training (two 20 mile walks TOTAL as opposed to the 2 20’s in a single weekend that I used to do when I was serious). But I could do the event safely as I knew when to take a long break.

3, TMI: I always stink after I’ve walked or ran a long distance. Some of it might be due to the high tech fabric and the type of bacteria that grows on such fabric. But I always get a very specific type of odor after a very long ultra; that hasn’t changed with time. I am not sure why; I suspect it is a body chemistry thing.

4. I often get to walk with others for at least a bit of distance; for some reason I hear some life stories and grow to like the person I am walking with, even if I have never seen them before and never see them again.
In the days of old, that used to happen in marathons.

5. At night and at dawn, we saw some animals. We joked about the turtle and how it “was moving faster than we were.”.

6. At night we wear headlamps or use a flashlight. Some spandex makes quite the light show when you see it…and yes, for some reason, I noticed this much more on the females than the males. There is nothing like a cute shimmering butt to keep you going. 🙂

7. At these loop events, slower people (like me) see faster people…a LOT. So one is not only a participant and a competitor (though this year, I was more of the former than the latter) but also a fan. Though the truly competitive have a few extra concerns (such as getting out of the aid stations quickly), much of their experience is shared with the others. How do I know this? Part of this I got from reading their accounts, and part of this comes from the times when I showed up with a performance goal in mind and had to take those little extra things into account.

8. One has to find the balance between being realistic and pushing yourself; there are times when one should push through the mental or physical anguish and times when it is necessary to take a break. My long break was necessary; the shorter breaks at the end were more due to mental fatigue than anything else. Proper training helps with BOTH aspects, and I didn’t have that this time around.

Other photos:

The winner of the 12 hour (51 miles) is also a mathematics professor (John Greene). John is a US Centurion.

We had 5 new Centurions who walked 100+ miles in 24 hours. We had an Australian couple Sharon and Justin Scholz (who bicycled from New York to Minnesota prior to the race!), two from the Netherlands (Jantinus Meints and Antoine Hunting) and Rob Robertson from Oklahoma (blue shirt)


Yes, I walked 101 miles in 24 hours back in 2004, but that was not a Centurion race and there were no walking judges, so I am not a Centurion. But what these folks did was more difficult than what I did, as I had a track and perfect conditions; these people endured heat, humidity and then a rainstorm and some wet gravelly roads. I was so impressed at how they overcame the various extra challenges.

Note: Betty Green took the above photos.


June 9, 2015 - Posted by | Friends, ultra, walking | ,

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