Ultarrunners are a strange breed. Well, crazy might even be a better word. For of all the activities and pursuits that are available to us in this world, we choose to run vast distances.
And within the Ultrarunning world, we have a split between those who like to run distance-oriented events on trails, and those who prefer to run timed events over fixed course. An example of the former would be a 100 mile trail race in which you have 30 hours to complete the course; an example of the latter would be a 24 hour run over a short measured course (or a track) to see how far you can go in that time.
Of course, there are crossovers. While I prefer trails, I once did a 24 hour run on a 400 meter track. While I truly did enjoy that challenge I have not been motivated to repeat it...but anything's possible.
All of this is background to a local timed event just completed this weekend, The Sole Challenge, which consisted of 6, 12, and 24 hour timed runs around a pleasant 1.547 mile paved walking trail in a township park.
I showed up--as a spectator--at about 15 hours into the 24 hour race (1:00 am) to cheer on a close running buddy. In the dark it was a bit problematical to locate the course, then my friend, but soon I settled in under the full moon to observe the widely scattered runners coming thru the start/finish line area. I must have just missed him, as it was a good 20+ minutes before he appeared, running up the slight incline to where his wife was settled under a million blankets on a chair in the crew area.
My friend was around the 70 mile mark, and although he was slowing down and dealing with some issues, he was still moving well. He was on pace to reach 100 miles within the 24 hour limit, which I believe was his A-list goal. Looks like 7 of the 28 runners made it at least to 100 miles, so making that milestone distance is indeed a tough challenge.
I remained only about an hour, as no pacers were permitted on the course, and left, wishing him well.
I just checked out the results and see where he finished in the 80s, so it'll be interesting to get the firsthand account of how the final hours of the race played out. My hat is certainly off to him for a great effort--to stay on course and keep moving continuously for 24 hours is no easy feat.