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In light of a recent article posted on the AUA site concerning Marcy Schwam's induction into the ultarunning hall of fame, here is a little more information about that race as published in the Febuary 2005 edition of Multiday Running magazine.
The First 24 Hour Race
Before I begin this story, I wish to say, that when I tell these stories during races I have no sense of time sequence, something just triggers them off. So you may notice that I go back and forth in time. I hope this is not too confusing, anyway here is the story for the first 24-hour race, and by that I mean the first one organized by the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team, not the first one ever.
The same two runners that told us about the 100-mile race, Jackie Stack and Marcy Schwam, also told us some time later that they had planned to run in the Glassboro 24-hour race. Marcy at that time was one of the top women ultra runners in the US, and she planned to make an attempt at the 100-mile record, she had been training for it for some time. The Glassboro 24-hour race however had just been cancelled so Marcy was very disappointed. The story of the cancelled race was told to Sri Chinmoy and he said that we should try to find a track on which to hold a 24-hour race, but that we should not tell Jackie and Marcy what we were planning. We started a search and after just a couple of days we found a track in Greenwich, Connecticut just behind the city administration building. It was in disrepair but we could use it if we wanted. I remember going to see it early one evening and it was set in a beautiful hollow and seemed quite secluded, and although we were told that it was a ¼ mile track it had a strange shape It was in fact a large triangle with rounded corners. All the same we decided it was perfect for our needs, and when we told Sri Chinmoy he approved. Next we had to tell Jackie and Marcy; they lived in the neighbourhood and often ate dinner at Annam Brahma. When we told them they didn't seem totally surprised but were very happy.
All the arrangements for the race were made, and it was believed that for any possible record to be legal there needed to 3 runners male and female in the race. We didn't have a problem finding 3 women but we could only find 2 men at such short notice. We needed one more volunteer. A young Japanese boy who was visiting said he would have a go, his name was Yasu, he had never run more than 10 miles before and only had one $10 pair of running shoes.
So on a beautiful fall day in Connecticut we held the first Sri Chinmoy 24- hour race. Marcy went out quite strongly and achieved a new American women's 100-mile record. The evening turned out to be cold so once she had the record she decided to stop. Along with a few other runners Yasu continued on through the night eventually amassing a total of 111 miles in his first ever ultra race, it was enough to win the race and also establish a Japanese 24-hour record, and of course create the legend of the young ultramarathon sensation from Japan. The Marathon Team had now entered into the international arena of 24-hour racing.
Due to the small fields recently, I was able to secure the third victory in three weeks this morning at the Self-Transcendence 2 mile race in a time of 14:13. Slower than last week due to a late start and in spite of weather conditions being close to perfect for the time of year nevertheless, three bananas constitutes a bunch and will be the last 2 miler of the year for me as this time next week I will be finishing the 48 hour race in Arizona. Tomorrow will probably be my last run.
Training For A 24 Hour Race
1. Choose your race
It makes some sense to start with the assumption that you can run a marathon. Most healthy people could run a marathon under ideal conditions though relatively few believe it. Actually doing it is still very different from thinking you can do it - that’s the starting point. Believe you can do it. Hundreds of thousands of people every year from kids to octogenarians run marathons and finish alive. Fewer take the next step: the ultra..
The ultramarathon is often defined as any distance beyond 26.2 like a 50 km however, a more common definition is the 50 miler. But ultras don’t stop there. The famous London to Brighton footrace is 88 km and the Comrades marathon in South Africa is 90 km. In the US there are many relatively popular races at the 100 k/100 mile distance like Western States, Leadville, Hardrock and Wasatch to name a few. These races requires patience, will and training spread over at least 3-4 months prior to the race depending on the fitness level. Some of these races are quite difficult as they are run at altitude and over mountainous areas. Western States gives a 30 hour cutoff as does Leadville. Hardrock gives 48 hours while Vermont 100 allows 30 hours as well.
Most, not all, 24 hour races are held on tracks for convenience for both organisers and runners and there crews.
In the UK this year there were two 24 hour races and in the US about a dozen and worldwide about 60 races. Each race is unique in conditions, facilities and quality/quantity of runners so deciding which race you will attempt will involve some detailed planning. In the UK the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team host an annual 24 hour at the Tooting Bec track in London at the beginning of October and the East Hull Harriers 24 hour race at Costello Stadium in 2006 is in the first week of May - Hull in Mid-Spring and Tooting Bec in Mid-Autumn.
In North America, 24 hour races begin with Houston in February and run about one a month finishing with the Across The Years 24/48/72 in Arizona which ends on New Years morning
If this will be your first 24 hour then allow 6 months prior to the event for your preparation if you are able to run a 4-5 hour marathon comfortably at the beginning of your training. This will give you the opportunity to gradually become accustomed to being on the feet for long periods.
Mileage has been non-existent as there has been a lot of things happening. Yesterday At the last minute I ran the 2 mile race and took 14:05 which is ok as it was very cold and ice covered parts of the course and I hadnt run for a week. So this morning I ran long and decided as I went whether or not to do the next section and ended up running 18/19 from Alley Pond back along the Green Line and through Flushing Meadow.
Only 2 weeks of running before Across The Years and the 48 hour race.
its been 2 weeks since I last posted and I thought a lot of things would have changed by now. They have but not the things I'd hoped. The magazine is still tantalisingly close to completion however there are problems using word perfect and the program keeps crashing so now I am teaching myself how to use Indesign to produce the text and then I will rebuild the magazine. This is delaying everything else.
However, the world does not stop in the face of my personal challenges and Mark Dorion sent me news of the demise of two races: Olander 100k and the San Diego One Day Race which this year also incorporated the National 24 Hour Championships. So next year I guess the AUA will be looking for a new venue.
Gregor Knauer, the famous multiday runner, sent me a heads up about an article on Columbia. Called In this footrace, the last 3,000 miles are the toughest
By Alan Bastable its worth a read.
The magazine is several steps closer to completion and Tuesday I hope to start mailing. Fingers crossed.
Also the dates for the Self-Transcendence 10 & 6 Day races are pretty much set.
10 Day Wed. April 26 to Sat. May 6
6 Day Sun. April 30 to Sat. May 6
I will update the main site over the w/e with all the news.
Another reminder today that with all the publicity this year concerning notable super-long distance runners its time to start thinking about next years races. The Colac 6 day and Across The Years stopped taking any more applications at least a month before the race was to take place and ATY was full almost 2 months ahead. I havent heard from Gary Cross about the Arizona 6 day race yet but application requests have been coming in for the Self-Transcendence races in New York. There will probably be about the same number of runners in the 3100 as there were last year, there will be a limit on the 6 day and 10 day numbers according to my sources.
The San Diego One day race results are up on their site and its good to see Danny Ripka doing so well. He came in ninth with 132 miles to his credit. Gary Cross also had a good performance hitting 91 miles. In all, 43 people ran 100 miles or more which is an indicator that this distance is alive and kicking. Congratulations to everyone.