Archive for August, 2008

Drink Your Way to Success

On Sunday, August 10, Luis Stoute (Panama City, Panama) lined up in the dark at 5:30 AM at the Rommel Fernandez Stadium in Panama City, Panama for the 30th running of the Panama City International Marathon. 

Luis knew that with the extreme temperature and high humidity that a good hydration plan started early in the race would save him later as opposed to waiting till it was too late.  His daughter was also positioned at aid stations with sports drink to urge Luis to continue drinking.   When Luis reached the half way point, he and a great number of fellow runners were on 3:40 pace, but when the sun beat down after 7AM, Luis held a relatively strong, consistent pace, while the others who had not prepared and executed as well, faded.  Luis ended up with a strong 3:51:44, going well under his 4:00 goal.

Dog Days of Summer

Steve Crowder (Botetourt, VA) stepped to the starting line for the first time in nearly 3 months on Saturday, August 9 at the Dog Days 5K in Staunton, VA.  The race was appropriately named as the heat and humidity of Central Virginia confirmed the “dog days” name, while the hilly course added its own challenge.  After a 5:20 lead off mile, Steve found himself running alone in third place with two collegiate runners having taken the pace out much more aggressively.  Steve held the pace steady to finish in the 3rd place position overall with a time of 16:42. 

Rick Rocks Catoctin

On Saturday, August 2, 2008, Rick Moyer (Reading, PA) lined up in Gambrill State Park on top of Catoctin Mountain for the Catoctin 50K in Frederick, MD.  The race is essentially 15.5 miles downhill until the turn-around in Cunningham State Park and climb back to the top of the mountain.  In between lies some of the rockiest, rootiest, and roughest single track trail and dirt road one might ever encounter.  The race director even warns the participants on the starting line that the course is sparsely marked and that there’s the best chance that you will get lost at some point along the way. 

Rick took off running relaxed but strong and taking in fluid, fuel, and electrolytes that he knew would be necessary if he was to climb his way back out after the day’s heat progressed.  At the half-way turnaround Rick felt strong until the cool mist that accompanied runners for nearly the first 3 ½ hours gave way to bright sunlight and extreme heat and humidity.  Rick was able to continue strong to the finish in 7:13:55 good for 48th place out of 115 finishers and nearly 40 minutes better than last year’s time.

Rick said afterwards that before the extreme heat set in that he felt almost “machine-like” while running strong either uphill or down without extreme effort and maintaining a strong, even pace. 

That’s exactly how you should feel, Rick.

Beautiful But Tough

Saturday’s White River 50 Mile, the 2008 USATF 50 Mile Trail National Championship lined up as a “Who’s Who?” of American Ultra Trail Running.  With numerous national champions, U.S. National Team members, and course record holders from trail and road ultras across the country, Josh Brimhall (Henderson, NV) was ready to mix it up.  As a lead pack of about 10 men topped out the first climb at the 13.7 mile mark, Josh was comfortable and looked strong.   Contested in the mountains around Crystal Mountain Ski Resort with a backdrop of the majestic Mt. Ranier, the course would make as good a week long hike and camping excursion.  However, these athletes were here not for the views, but for the competition.

As the race progressed, Josh maintained his position and remained strong as several competitors fell by the wayside; products of the grueling terrain (featuring 17,400 feet of elevation change) and tough pace set by the leaders.

Josh’s 7:14:53 finish time was his best on the course and also good for 7th place overall and 5th in the USATF 50 Mile National Championship competition.

  • A Fair ExchangeLike hundreds of other athletes, Devon Crosby-Helms (Seattle, WA) prepared single-mindedly through the spring in anticipation of toeing the line at the legendary Western States 100 Mile in late June.  However, just days before, Devon and the others stood stunned, wondering what they would do when it was announced that the numerous fires in Northern California had not only ruined the air quality, but come dangerously close to the race course, causing cancellation of the event.Luckily and thoughtfully, race directors of two equally beautiful and challenging events were able at the last minute to re-open entries to a limited number of athletes previously scheduled to compete at Western States.While a number of athletes chose the Tahoe Rim Trail 100 Mile in Nevada, Devon found herself on her way to the
    Vermont 100.Devon made the best of her entry spot as she took the lead of the women’s race early and never relinquished it, finishing as first place female and 8th place overall in a time of 18:31.34.

    Devon’s longest race distance prior to Vermont was 100Km, while her longest training run time-wise was just under 9 hours, but her preparation had provided her with the physical strength and endurance and the mental strength and confidence to be successful.  Devon put it all to good use when she combined her preparation with her fierce competitiveness for a win in one of the most prestigious 100 milers in the country.

  • You Can’t Stop Leo

The Buckeye Trail 50K in Brecksville, Ohio, put on by Vertical Runner Running Shop proved a formidable challenge for Leo Lightner (Rocky River, OH) on Saturday, July 19.  Between temperatures at race start in the high 70’s which reached the 90’s at points in the race, and a rolling, hilly, trail course, Leo fought off cramps from just over half way and battled dehydration to finish in 152nd place in 9:14:35.  At age 79, the next youngest finisher in the race was 17 years Leo’s junior.  Leo admitted not drinking or taking enough electrolytes early, which put him in a deficit.  When he realized and started taking fuel more often, he was able to rebound and make his way to the finish.

Country Roads, Take Me Home 

As much as I enjoy being in Colorado, there are times when I wish I could let the “Country Roads, Take Me Home” to my adopted home, West Virginia.  Nick Whited (Raven, VA) and Miriam Smith (Meridian, MS), headed into the heart of Charleston, West Virginia, and Kanawha State Forest for the Rattlesnake 50K, held Saturday, July 12.  Nick ran about 15 miles with the eventual winner before some stomach disruption caused him to fall off the pace.  Luckily, the problem didn’t last long, and Nick got back on his way to finish strong over the last 10 miles for second place in 4:28:40.  The course consists of 9 climbs to the ridge and descents back down as it basically rings the beautiful heavily forested park that always seems to be 15-20 degrees cooler than the surrounding city. 

While Nick was battling for the men’s title, relative newcomer to ultras, Miriam showed her strong climbing ability and the results of her consistent training with a 6th place finish in the women’s division.  Recently after a move to Mississippi, Miriam hasn’t been able to train on hills similar to those she encountered in Charleston, but her years of prior trail running and strength training have not been lost, and when she called on them Saturday, they answered to carry her through to a great 5:34:30 finish, right on the heels of 5th place.