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Michael Wardian has finished his 10-day 631-mile journey smashing the Fastest Known Time on the Israel National Trail by several days

Ultra superstar Michael Wardian set a new Fastest Known Time (FKT) for the Israel National Trail, covering the 631-mile journey (south to north) in 10 days, 16 hours and 36 minutes (unofficially) March 22 in Israel. 

Event organizer Ian Corless wrote, “it’s difficult to put into words a 10-day journey of 631-miles. Especially when someone has run the whole distance. I have to say, mine was one of relief.

“Mike had done it. He had achieved his target of running the INT in 10-days and to be part of the journey is beyond rewarding. I witnessed intense highs and lows. So, to finally watch Mike touch ‘home’ and finally be able to stop, I had relief and immense satisfaction of a job well done. 

“I truly believe Mike, and maybe us all will need more than a few hours to comprehend the new record, for now though, Michael Wardian is the new record holder of the FKT for the Israel National Trail.“

Others have covered this many miles in 10 days but no one has covered this many miles in this amount of time on such a challenging course.  

Michael’s goal was to complete this journey in 10 days and he did it smashing the FKT by several days.  This may be a record that will never be broken.  

Ian shared this personal note:

"This record has been more than a running adventure. It has been an incredible journey that not only allowed us to cross from one end of a country to another, but it has opened our eyes to the beauty of Israel.

"It’s a diverse landscape all compressed into a very small area. The deserts of the south were truly mind-blowing, the best deserts I have witnessed. The green and stoney trails of the north provided a stunning contrast to the red of the south. And throughout this journey, the people of Israel have welcomed us, supported us and helped Mike in a way that none of us could have predicted.

"But the help has not only come from trekkers or runners, the story of Mike’s journey has spread throughout Israel and made multiple news channels and in doing so has created awareness. People have come out to offer best wishes and even offer a place to sleep or provide food.

This journey has stirred an awareness and challenged people to ask themselves, ‘What can I do to challenge myself?’

(03/22/2019) ⚡AMP
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The Crescent City Fitness Foundation announced a goal of raising $1 million for local nonprofits at this year’s Crescent City Classic 10k

With the 41st run of the Allstate Sugar Bowl Crescent City Classic just a little over six weeks away, officials with the Crescent City Fitness Foundation announced a goal of raising $1 million for local nonprofits.

“The New Orleans community never ceases to amaze us with their generosity when it comes to charitable giving and supporting those in need throughout the area,” said Crescent City Classic Charity Director Hilary Landry. “All we can hope is to continue to outdo ourselves year after year.”

The nonprofit partners recruit and organize teams of 100, 75, 50, or 25 runners and walkers who commit to raising a minimum of $200 for their charity by race day.

Official charity runners receive various perks and incentives as part of the “RUN FOR IT” program including private party tent access, starting position in the charity corral and personal online fundraising page.

The Allstate Sugar Bowl Crescent City Classic 10k road race, expected to attract almost 25,000 runners and walkers, for its 41st running, will be held Saturday, April 20. The 6.2 mile course begins outside the Mercedes Benz Superdome and runs through the historic French Quarter to City Park where the popular Michelob Ultra Post Race Fest is held. This year’s after party will feature the Phunky Monkeys playing in concert as festival-goers enjoy 227 kegs of draft beer and 43,000 servings of red beans and jambalaya.

(03/22/2019) ⚡AMP
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Allstate Sugar Bowl Crescent City Classic 10k

Allstate Sugar Bowl Crescent City Classic 10k

The Classic is New Orleans’ (and the region’s) premier 10k road race, and one of the oldest 10k races in the nation. For40 years, it has combined world class competition, amateur participation and great fun for all participants. Starting in 1979 with 902 participants, the Allstate Sugar Bowl Crescent City Classic has grown to become the preeminent fitness event in...

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Some ultra runners have completed 631 miles or more within 10 days but have any done so on a trail as tough as the one Michael Wardian is running in Israel?

The Israel National Trail (INT) is an approximately 1015km / 631mi hiking trail that crosses Israel from its southern to northern border, traversing a wide range of landscapes, a rich variety of flora and fauna, and a diversity of cultures.

The trail stretches from Eilat on the Gulf of Aqaba to the Dan Kibbutz near the Lebanese border, and was named by National Geographic as one of the 20 best "epic hiking trails" in the world.

We believe the most likely Fastest Known Time on the INT to be set at 15 days in 2013 by Australian Richard Bowles.

On March 12th, 2019, Michael Wardian began his attempt to complete the trail in 10 days.

Wardian is a prodigious American marathoner and ultra-marathoner with a lengthy list of podium finishes at distances from half marathon to 100 miles, with world records such as the fastest time for 7 marathons on 7 continents in 7 days, and the fastest 50k on a treadmill, and who has completed many of the worlds most challenging races. In September 2018 Wardian ran the 184.5 mile C&O Canal Towpath in an FKT of 36h36m, beating Park Barner's 1976 time by just 12 minutes!

Michael is eight days in and has covered 776k with 241k to go according to the website Fastest Known Time which tracks these types of events.  Photos by Ian Corless.

(Editors note: Michael is also part of the Run The World4 Challenge team and all his miles are being logged there.  He is currently in first place with 504.48 miles logged since March 1. His team Elite Men is currently in second place with 2159 miles. Team Kenya is leading with 2304 miles.  This event ends March 30. Five teams of 14 are logging in as many miles as possible within 30 days.)

 

(03/19/2019) ⚡AMP
by Fastest Known Time
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Run The World 4 Global Challenge

Run The World 4 Global Challenge

Run The World Global Challenge is a world wide celebration of running. Participants run or walk and then log in those miles (k’s) on their My Best Runs Account. The goal is for the team to log enough miles (k's) to circle the world. That is 24,901 miles (40,074K). The first three teams that started July 4, August 29 and...

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Kami Semick won every Ultra race she entered in 2009 and now is making a comeback

A decade ago, at 42, Kami Semick reached the pinnacle of ultrarunning. She won every race she entered in 2009, including two world championship events in the 100k and 50k, and earned UltraRunning’s Ultrarunner of the Year title for the second year in a row.

But five years later, she called it quits and disappeared from the sport.

Her breaking point came at The North Face Endurance Championship 50-miler in San Francisco, a race she’d won in 2008. At that event in December 2014 where she finished 17th female, “It felt like I was dragging a load of bricks around,” says Semick, now 52 and living in Bend, Oregon. “The only reason I finished is because I promised myself this was the last time I was going to run 50 miles. I wasn’t coming back because I felt so horrible. I shook hands with my sponsor The North Face and said, ‘Nice knowing you, but I gotta stop.’”

Fast forward another five years to now, and suddenly, Semick’s name is popping up again. Eschewing attention-seeking social media posts, she quietly and cautiously began running longer distances again in 2017. She finished two 50-milers and a 100k in her home state last year, then won a 40-miler and 50k in California. Now she’s getting ready to line up at the hyper-competitive Lake Sonoma 50 in April, and the Lavaredo Ultra 120K in Italy in June.

While those newer to the sport might not even recognize Semick, those of us who began ultrarunning in the mid-2000s probably share my excitement at seeing her return. Personally, I’ll never forget The North Face ad campaign from 2006 that showed Semick trail running with her then-4-year-old daughter strapped onto her back. Semick’s muscly physique, fast times at races, and gutsy combination of running and parenting gave female ultrarunners a powerful role model.

I reached out to Semick to find out what happened, and what it’s like to return to the scene and get ready to race again after a long break after turning 50. She agreed to talk, but with some reluctance as part of her looked forward to showing up to Lake Sonoma without being recognized.

“If nobody knows I’m there at a starting line, I’m so happy about that, because then there’s no expectations,” she says. “I’m trying not to be attached to my history as a runner, and I don’t love the spotlight, but the reason I wanted to talk is because I’m curious about other women’s experiences. If I can share my story, then maybe we can join together as women in our 50s and say, ‘Yes, it’s hard.’ … I feel like we have to band together for support.”

(03/19/2019) ⚡AMP
by Sarah Lavender Smith (Ultra Running Magazine)
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Lake Sonoma 50

Lake Sonoma 50

The race is held on the rugged trails at Lake Sonoma, about 10 miles northwest of Healdsburg. The course is 86% single track and 9% dirt roads, with the first 2.4 miles on a paved country road.The race starts at 6:30 a.m. and has a 14-hour time limit. ...

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Renowned ultramarathoner and bestselling author, Dean Karnazes, is set to run the inaugural MCM50K on October 27

Renowned ultramarathoner and bestselling author, Dean Karnazes, is set to run the inaugural (Marine Corps Marathon) MCM50K on Oct. 27 in Arlington, VA. Karnazes, named by TIME magazine as one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World,” will also be the featured speaker at the MCM Carbo Dining In on Oct. 26, as part of MCM Weekend.

The MCM50K sold out in one hour and is set to be the largest ultra in the United States with nearly double the participants of the 2018 record. Karnazes will add running with the Marines to his impressive resume that includes running 50 marathons in all 50 states in 50 consecutive days; competing on all seven continents; winning the ESPN ESPY Award for Best Outdoor Athlete; and being a three-time winner of Competitor magazine’s Endurance Athlete of the Year.

The NY Times bestselling author has pushed his body and mind to inconceivable limits, such as running across the Sahara Desert and the South Pole; 350 continuous miles without sleep for three nights; and as a solo participant in ten different 200-mile relay races.

“I am thrilled and honored to be part of the inaugural MCM ultramarathon. Going beyond the marathon is the ultimate test of human endurance and I look forward to the challenge,” shares Karnazes.

(03/19/2019) ⚡AMP
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Marine Corps Marathon

Marine Corps Marathon

Recognized for impeccable organization on a scenic course managed by the US Marines in Arlington, VA and the nation's capital, the Marine Corps Marathon is one of the largest marathons in the US and the world. Known as 'the best marathon for beginners,' the MCM is largest marathon in the world that doesn't offer prize money, earning its nickname, “The...

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Did you know? Bone Broth Soup is packed with muscle boosting minerals and sodium for post-race recovery

There were stories about coconut oil and butter making a comeback. Now it’s soup. Long touted as a tool to help fight illness and inflammation, bone broth—a basic soup made with animal bones, among other ingredients—is trending among the smoothie-drinking, health-conscious crowd as a restorative miracle potion. But endurance athletes have been sipping stock for centuries. 

“Homemade bone broth is an excellent source of minerals, like calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and potassium, in forms that your body can easily absorb. It’s also rich in amino acids, collagen and anti-inflammatory compounds, like chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine,” says sports nutritionist Melissa Hartwig. 

“These nutrients improve digestion, aid in muscle repair and growth, reduce joint pain, promote a balanced nervous system, and strengthen the immune system.”

Granted, some nutritionists argue that many of the health claims surrounding bone broth aren’t backed by research, such as stock having anti-inflammatory properties or helping with GI issues; however, one undeniable benefit is the presence of extra minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, which are important for bone health and muscle function, and are not naturally bountiful in the dairy-free Paleo diet, says Leslie Bonci, director of sports nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s Center for Sports Medicine.

Another nutritional bonus is its high sodium content—good for athletes training for or participating in a long-distance race. 

“There’s a reason broth is served at aid stations during the run portion of an Ironman triathlon,” says sports dietitian Lauren Antonucci. “Toward the end of a race, you’ve lost a lot of salt from sweat and need to replace it in order to prevent muscle cramping and dizziness, but keeping up with your sodium intake is hard, especially because you’re sick of consuming so many sweet, sugary things, like gels and sports drinks. Sipping some broth at that point could play a role in maintaining your fluid balance,” Antonucci says, because sodium helps the body retain fluid. 

One study found that athletes prefer savory over sweet tasting foods later on in an ultra-endurance running event, making broth a no-brainer choice for tired competitors. It doesn’t matter if it’s warm or cold, organic, veggie, chicken or beef—so long as it contains plenty of sodium, it will help you, Antonucci says.

Just remember that a little goes a long way: One four-ounce serving provides at least 200mg of sodium, on average, which is more than three times the amount in a packet of regular Gu. “Consuming just a sip or so at a time [every hour or so] is sufficient,” says Antonucci. “If you know you’re a salty sweater, you could take in a bit more, but in general, broth is something that you won’t need unless you’re going to be active for multiple hours at a time.” 

And don’t forget to accompany it with additional fluids, foods, and electrolyte replacements, like sports drinks, water and gels, chews, or bars when you’re racing, says Bonci. “If broth was your only source of fuel during a prolonged activity, you wouldn’t be consuming adequate amounts of carbs or calories.” 

Endurance athletes looking for broth’s sodium kick can buy boxed veggie, chicken, and beef stock at any grocery store, though some broth pundits would argue that the boxed stuff doesn’t impart the same health benefits as homemade stock. You can order homemade bone broth online or make your own with Hartwig’s easy recipe: system.”

The Ultimate Bone Broth Recipe for Athletes Ingredients: 4 quarts water, 1 teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 2 large onions, unpeeled and coarsely chopped, 2 carrots, scrubbed and coarsely chopped, 3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped, 1 bunch fresh parsley, 2-3 garlic cloves, lightly smashed, 2-4 lbs. meat or poultry bones

Place all ingredients in a large pot on medium-high heat, or in a large slow cooker set on high. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 12 to 24 hours. Strain the stock through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl and discard the waste. Let it cool, and then place the bowl (uncovered) in the fridge for several hours, until the fat rises to the top and hardens. Scrape off the fat with a spoon, reheat your broth and serve. (You can also add leeks, pepper, red pepper flakes, rosemary, thyme, sage and/or ginger.)

 

(03/18/2019) ⚡AMP
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Vegan endurance athlete Robbie Balenger is set to run more than 3,000 miles across the United States

In partnership with dairy-free ice cream brand NadaMoo, Balenger is hoping his challenge will show the world that even ultramarathon runners do not need to eat animals to excel in their field.

In a post on Instagram, the plant-powered athlete wrote, “On Saturday (March 16th) at 7:30 AM, I will put my feet to the pavement and start to run across the country.”

He believes the run will last for 75 days, covering the 3,200 miles from Los Angeles to New York City. “Not only do I plan to survive running an average of 43 miles a day on a 100% plant-based diet, but I hope to show you how I will thrive,” he continued.

Balenger hasn’t always been an athlete; he used to operate restaurants across Austin, Texas. He needed a way of managing the stressful nature of his career path so six years ago, he began running, according to Lifelong Endurance, an endurance coaching website. He now works as an endurance athlete, coaching others in the field.

“By following my passions and dreams, I believe I can make an impact on those around me,” Balenger notes on the website. “My passions are innate and simple: food and running.”

He will use his 3,200-mile challenge to communicate his feelings about dietary choices, according to NadaMoo. The brand notes on its website that as Balenger makes his way across the country, students and members of the community “will be invited to engage in conversations about big goals and smart food choices.”

Balenger isn’t the only athlete showing that a plant-based diet can boost you to achieve major physical feats.

Last year, Mike Curtin, a 27-year-old vegan thru-hiker, hiked 118 miles along the Pacific Crest Trail. The journey — from Windigo Pass in Oregon to Big Lake Youth Camp in Willamette National Forest — took 38 hours and Curtin didn’t stop the whole way.

(03/14/2019) ⚡AMP
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Ultra superstar Michael Wardian started his most challenging ultra ever today, the FKT Israel Project 631 miles in 10 days

Most people would think that running a marathon every day for ten days and averaging under three hours would be enough. But not for ultra superstar Michael Wardian.  For his current challenge he will be averaging 63 miles daily for 10 days.  

He is currently taking on the FKT Israel project. He plans on running 631 miles in 10 days on the National Israel Trail. He started today March 12.

Michael messaged me yesterday and said "I am really excited to attempt a Fastest Know Time on the 1000k Israel National Trail. I can't wait."

His wife, Jennifer, wrote me an hour ago saying "Tough Day I - Michael called out on the trail saying "I am lost in the dark and can't reach anyone, can you help." the call was a bit unsettling." 

FKT Isreal Day 1 - (From Jennifer Wardian): "When I was talking with him this afternoon he said today took longer than expected because he got lost several times and missed trail bases. He said it was very technical and exposed at times otherwise felt great.

The Fastest Know Time Israel Project organizer Ian Corless wrote: "One year of planning finally came to fruition today when Michael departed Eilat, Isreal at 5:46am (March 12) to head south covering a total of 631 miles on the Israell National Trial in a target goal of 10-days,” Ian wrote this morning.  

Later Ian wrote, "At the final feed point, Beer Matak at 61.5km he was notably looking tired and fatigued from the day’s efforts. He was also feeling the heat from the last big climb of the day. It was time to dig deep and push on for a final 18km.

 It was here, as darkness came that disaster struck. Mike followed the marker of the ‘INT’ but unfortunately missed the turn to our bivouac which was off the INT route. He pushed on, following the markers and it was our support runner who notified us that he was ‘missing’ after hearing from another trekker that he passed some 30-minutes early.

“Our camp no cellular connection, so, we departed following the approximate route that Mike would take, It was here that technology took over. We managed to liaise with Mike via WhatsApp, we shared ‘live locations’ and we were able to navigate to him a long way down the ‘INT’ route. The route that he should have done on day-2!

“Mike was surprisingly in good spirits, but he had been out on the trail for almost 13-hours and 20-minutes, it was a tough first day! The only plus side coming that he had eaten in to tomorrow’s mileage.

“Back in camp, it was all about recovery. He hydrated, ate some snacks, wiped down and put on fresh clothes. He soon needed a nap. It had been a very long day, both physically and mentally. The priority was good rest, some quality food and then focus the mind for the challenges that day-2 would present.” 

(03/12/2019) ⚡AMP
by Bob Anderson
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Ultrarunner Rickey Gates gained a new perspective on San Francisco by running every street

Gates, an accomplished mountain and trail runner, had an idea to run every street of his home city, San Francisco.

In a 49 square-mile area, that amounted to 1,100 miles of pavement. He did it in 46 days, averaging just over 28 miles a day, as he had to double up on some streets due to necessity or cul de sacs.

“There is really no way to prepare yourself for ‘this is going to take 36 miles and you’re going to be in this neighbourhood all day’ – and that is the point,” he said in a beautifully shot short film put together by his sponsors Salomon.

He later adds that the people he met along the way and confronting the challenge of being surrounded by people – and you see that he met as wide a demographic as you would imagine in a cosmopolitan city with a mammoth wealth division – “gave me a whole new depth of what empathy is, to try and treat everybody with the same importance”.

The cynic may say he was well looked after with gear, time and other resources by his sponsor – that his is a privileged view of the melting pot of city life.

But we could also see that Gates was touched by the people he met and things he saw. And that, you feel, was his point.

(03/12/2019) ⚡AMP
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Brent Weigner heads the USA group for the Eastern Caribbean Challenge starting March 8, that is 7 marathons in 6 countries in 7 days

We are a few days away from the start of this epic 7 Marathons, 6 Countries, 7 Days cruise adventure called the Eastern Caribbean Challenge 2019.  The group includes runners from around the world with exceptional running resumes.  Nine of the 12 runners who have completed a marathon in 100+ countries will be part of this challenge. Combined, these runners have completed over 4,000 marathons in 180+ countries around the world.. 43 participants from 14 countries will touch down in Guadeloupe to start the challenge.

Here are three of the participants: 

Dr. Brent Weigner (USA):  Brent Weigner (second photo)  is the king of Marathon Globetrotting. He holds multiple World Records in long-distance running. The 70-years old retired Geography teacher has run a marathon in 170 countries which is a World Record.  

He also holds the World Record for completing a marathon on all 7 continents ten times. Moreover, Brent is the only runner in the world to have completed an ultramarathon at both North and South Pole.  What makes his accomplishments even more amazing is due to the fact that he is a 3-times cancer survivor.  Brent is also part of the Run The World 4 Challenge which started March 1 and will last 30 days.

Sidy Diallo (France):  Sidy Diallo (third photo) is a 63-year-old French diplomat and barefoot runner, based in Paris. He was 55 when he ran his first marathon. To-date, he has completed 191 marathons in 73 countries, including 48 marathons in 2013. He is a seven continents marathon and ultramarathon finisher.

Sidy completed his first barefoot marathon on October 11, 2015, in Zagreb (Croatia), and has already run 42 barefoot marathons and one ultramarathon (90 km), in 21 countries. For more information, please visit his website: www.sidy42k.com.

Lichu Sloan (Taiwan): Lichu (first photo), at age 70, is the oldest female on the trip. She has completed 222 marathons in 81 countries across all 7 continents. She qualified for, and ran Boston Marathon, three times; ran 7 marathons on 7 continents in 7 weeks; completed all World Marathon Majors and a marathon in each of 50 US States and D.C., two times. Lichu started marathon running at age 52.

(03/06/2019) ⚡AMP
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Camille Herron 24 Hour World Record has been ratified

It’s a great way to start the week finding out my 24Hr World Record was ratified by the International Association of Ultrarunners !

Thank you so much to everyone who made all this possible! It was the longest and most worthwhile day of my life.  I’m blessed for what my body can do and the amazing team of support around me at Desert Solstice that kept me going and going.  

I’m looking forward to representing our great country next Oct. at the World Championship! 

(Camille Herron wrote this December 10 and posted this on FB.) Thank you everyone for all the messages and following along! We did it!

✅ 24 hr World Best- 162.919 mi at 8:50 per mi

✅ 100 mi Track American Record- 13:25

✅ 200K Track AR- 17:07:27

It was really hard (to say the least hahaa)! 655.48 laps on a track was mind boggling. I mentally and physically prepared myself to work through any road blocks, hydrate and fuel well, maintain structural integrity, and keep moving.

I changed my shoes twice to keep my feet happy. I had an amazing crew of Conor, Ron Foster, and my friend Gretchen Connelie from NYC keeping me going!

I hit a low point around 2-3am and had to get some Taco Bell and beer and walk a few laps. Slowly but surely I got going again. It was really fun to run through the night and then anticipate seeing the sunrise!

There was an overwhelming amount of support out there of people cheering us on throughout the 24 hrs- thank you very much for coming out. There’s a lot of great photos and moments, esp Howie Stern and Jubilee Paige. 

Desert Solstice Invitational Track Meet - 100 Miles & 24 Hours is such a well run event, and I can’t say enough positive things about how much attention to detail Aravaipa Running w/ Hayley Pollack and Jamil Coury put into it and all the record keeping. It was incredible to share the track with so many talented athletes. 

Now the record is official. 

People like to ask me how I can smile when I’m running dozens of miles at a time. It’s because I’m prepared and I fuel myself so that I can enjoy both the run and the results! I love to eat potatoes - a complex carb - to fuel my workouts. And my races. Skin-on potatoes are a good source of potassium and Vitamin B. 

(03/05/2019) ⚡AMP
by Camille Herron
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Australian’ 24-year-old Jacqui Bell is the youngest person lining up for the 323K Alps 2 Ocean Ultra in New Zealand

24-year-old Australian ultra-marathon runner Jacqui Bell is in New Zealand to tackle her longest ultra-marathon.

Bell is lining up in the Alps 2 Ocean Ultra on Sunday with 120 others from 14 countries to run 323 kilometers from Aoraki/Mt Cook to Oamaru in seven days mostly following the off road Alps 2 Ocean cycle trail.

Speaking from Christchurch New Zealand Airport on Wednesday, she told Stuff she expected the race to be "brutal". Completing it will bring her a step closer to being the youngest person in history to run an ultra-marathon on every continent in the world.

"I'm hoping the scenery makes up for the toughness of it. It's a lot of kms, and my body hasn't done any more than 250kms every.

"It's kind of like going into the unknown in that next 73km ... but I'll just try and enjoy it."

Bell said she was looking forward to the "beautiful landscape" in New Zealand.

"I can't wait to clock off from the everyday stresses of life and get to run every day in the mountains.

"I've never been to New Zealand ... I'm not sure what I'm in for."

Bell said she couldn't resist the idea of running 323km.

"It's going to be amazing," she said.

(02/20/2019) ⚡AMP
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Alps 2 Ocean Ultra

Alps 2 Ocean Ultra

New Zealand's First Ultra Staged Run. Starting at the base of New Zealand's highest mountain, travelling on foot 316 kms to the small harbour of Oamaru, located on the shores of the Pacific Ocean. The ultimate adventure race, Alps 2 Ocean Ultra, was a dream that quickly became a reality. And it’s now only weeks until the 126 entrants will...

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Western States 100 course record holder Jim Walmsley makes Hong Kong debut

Hong Kong is in peak trail-running season, and one of the world’s champion runners, Jim Walmsley, has flown in for a series of events that will test his legendary speed and stamina.

Walmsley has set records for running across the Grand Canyon, smashed the Western States record, earned back to back titles as Ultrarunner of the Year, and is the world’s top ranked runner on ITRA. Despite this, he sets new goals tirelessly.

He is visiting Hong Kong primarily to compete in the Fast 50 Miles Ultra trail run: a gruelling 80km dash along a single trail from Route Twisk to Shing Mun and around the Shing Mun Reservoir, with about 2,500 meters of elevation.

(02/12/2019) ⚡AMP
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Michael Wardian finished running ten marathons in ten days on Saturday at a 2:55 avg pace and then Sunday ran a 17:01 5k race! Wow!

Michael Wardian is one of a kind.  Most people would think that running seven marathons in seven days on seven continents would be enough.  It was not enough for Michael.  

On Saturday, Wardian set the pending world record for completing 10 marathons in 10 days, with a cumulative time of 29 hours, 12 minutes, and 46 seconds.

That is an average of 2:55:17 per marathon. And it’s more than 43 minutes faster than the previous record (29 hours, 54 minutes, and 56 seconds), set by Brit Rik Vercoe in 2013.

Before heading off to do the seven in seven in seven, he called a running friend.  “I’d like to add three more. I think I can break the record,’” Michael told Chris Farley, owner of Pacers Running stores. So Farley mapped out an eight-loop, USATF-certified marathon course around Hains Point and invited D.C.’s enthusiastic running community to watch history in the making.

Wardian crossed a makeshift finish line on Hains Point on Saturday afternoon, completing his 10th marathon in as many days, with a time of 2 hours, 44 minutes, and 33 seconds (averaging 6:16 per mile). It was his fastest race of the entire journey.

“I’ve been trying to think of how to put it in context so that people can understand how difficult this is,” said Farley.  “If you did a 30-mile week, that’s a strong week for most runners.  Michael did close to that distance every day for 10 days straight.  He ran more than 262 miles in the last 10 days. And he finished the last 5K of a marathon in under six-minute pace. That’s insane.”

Wardian did all of this on just 20 hours of sleep over the past 10 days. While most of that deprivation can be attributed to his rigorous travel to all seven continents, he slept in his own bed, at his home in Arlington the past three nights. Apparently, that isn’t enough to get a full night’s sleep.

“Too excited,” he explained after the race. “I’m just ready to go.”

This is perhaps what makes Wardian most impressive. He is absolutely relentless.

While elite marathoners tend to do one or two key races in a year, Wardian doesn't hit the brakes. In the distance running community, he’s well known for his punishing race schedule of ultramarathons and marathons.

To successfully tackle an odyssey like this, Wardian kept a rigorous training schedule, which included finishing the one of the most difficult 100-mile courses in the world—the HURT 100—just last month.

“The training for each event just builds on itself,” he explains. “I ran the HURT 100 back in January, which was 27 straight hours of running.”

But Wardian’s training was only part of the equation. There were plenty of other challenges he’d have to face, including hydration and nutrition, travel logistics, and weather.

“During the seven marathons in seven continents in seven days, the most challenging part was staying on top of my nutrition,” says Wardian. “You’re really at the mercy of where you are and what food is in front of you.”

“I just eat whatever my body will tolerate,” he adds, noting that he did get sick during his marathon in Santiago, Chile.

But with such a tight travel schedule, it was just a matter of pushing through the tough parts, get enough calories to fuel his next run. For a vegetarian like Wardian, this can be doubly challenging. 

The weather also threw some curveballs at Wardian. “The temperature fluctuations were tough,” he says. “One day might be cold, and the next is hot. While usually your body gets the chance to acclimate to those conditions, this time it was just go-go-go.”

The very next day after finishing 10 marathons in ten days,  Wardian didn't sleep in or take a day off from running. But instead, he competed in the Love The Run You're With 5K with his vizsla, Rosie, near his home. 

Wardian finished ninth overall in 17:01 (a 5:28 per mile pace). The one-of-a-kind runner can!

(02/11/2019) ⚡AMP
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Maine Woman with MS is running the grand slam of Ultra Running - Marathon Man Gary Allen File 4

Melissa Ossanna, of Bar Harbor, Maine, has big plans for 2019.  Not only will she be turning 50, she has registered for the “Grand Slam of Ultrarunning” (fondly called ‘The Slam’ by those who participate).  This involves running four of the fiveoldest 100-mile footraces in the US, scheduled from June through September. 

This is a laudable and often daunting goal for every runner who attempts it, but Ossanna has another challenge, she has Multiple Sclerosis.  She was diagnosed with the condition in her mid-20’s and struggled quite a bit with temporary blindness, weakness and numbness in her limbs, and severe fatigue, among other issues.  

In 2009, she was unable to stay awake all day at work and was forced to go on intermittent disability.   She thought this might be the beginning of the end of her ability to earn a living, and most importantly, to be able to stay active with her husband and young son. 

Ultimately, she learned that the fatigue was a result of MS-related sleep apnea, which is treatable.   As she started to sleep better, she got some energy back, and was able to return to work full time.  She also decided to take the advice of her neurologist and use this bit of extra vigor to start exercising.  For years, she had been too tired to even consider adding an exercise program to her schedule.  

Where many people would start with a couch to 5K program, an introduction to fitness at the YMCA or something else reasonable, Ossanna happened into town the day before the Mount Desert Island marathon in 2011, had a moment of regret that she wasn’t a marathon runner, and then decided she would become one.  She registered for the MDI marathon 2012 before she even owned running shoes.  

The year of training was a long one, starting with not even beingable to run 0.8 miles (the length of the road she lived on).  However, once marathon day arrived in October 2012, Ossanna was ready and had learned to love running.  

That one marathon led to another, which then led to a 50K, then a trail 50K, then a 50-mile trail race, and then a 100-mile race.    Ever since she started running, Ossanna has not had any notable MS exacerbations.  She attributes her continued health to her running habit, and she never plans to slow down if she can help it.

With her decision to run the Grand Slam this year, Ossanna decided she wanted to raise money for a charity that meant something to her.  She had raised money for the National MS Society in the past, and had considered doing that again, until she ran the Vermont 100 in 2018 and became familiar with Vermont Adaptive.  Vermont Adaptive helps people with disabilities get outside and do active things.  

Becoming active in the outdoors gave Ossanna her life back, and has prevented any permanent disability for her, and she wants to help others to “get outside and play”, regardless of any challenges they face.  

If you want to support Melissa and Vermont Adaptive click on the link.

Top photo: Melissa at the Javelina Jundred 100 miler in AZ

(Marathon Man Gary Allen is an exclusive My Best Runs column.  Gary is one of only a few who have run a sub three hour marathon over five decades and hopes to make it six soon.) 

(02/10/2019) ⚡AMP
by Gary Allen
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Nikki Han is the first woman to break 298km ultramarathon and she never thought about stopping

Nikki Han reached the end of the 298-kilometre Hong Kong Four Trails Ultra Challenge (HK4TUC) in 58 hours and 20 minutes on Friday night, becoming the first ever female “finisher”.

“I felt so good the whole way,” she said. “It isn’t a race. You don’t care about the people in front of you, you don’t care about the people behind you. You just run.”

The HK4TUC links all four of Hong Kong’s major trails – the MacLehose, Wilson, Hong Kong and Lantau Trails. There are no checkpoints or support allowed, but runners have help travelling between the trails. If you reach the end, marked by the postbox in Mui Wo on Lantau Island, in under 60 hours, you are a “finisher”. If you reach the end in under 75 hours, you are a “survivor”.

“I thought I could finish on the ferry over [to Lantau],” said Han, who lives in Discovery Bay. “I’ve done the LT70 before in 11 hours and I thought I could do it, even on tired legs. I pushed a little bit harder.”

Han took advice from Will Hayward, who was a survivor last year, and made sure she brushed her teeth throughout the run. “It just makes you feel so good and so much better,” she said.

Han said she did battle the urge to sleep at the start of the Wilson Trail. “But I never thought about stopping. It was awesome actually. Brutal, but awesome,” she said.

 

(02/09/2019) ⚡AMP
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Marine Corps Marathon introduces the MCM50K

The Marine Corps Marathon Organization (MCMO) introduces the MCM50K and enters into the realm of ultras for the first time in the event’s 44 year history. The 50-kilometer run will take place on the same day as the Marine Corps Marathon (MCM), Oct. 27.

This new event diversifies the MCM Weekend experience with more distance options to #RunWithTheMarines. This new distance joins the 10K and 26.2-miles for individuals to run with purpose and finish with pride.

The MCM50K is a fantastic urban ultra that showcases the nation’s capital and Arlington, VA with all of the same on-course amenities as the MCM. This new event appeals to first-time ultra runners with the draw of a paved course and offers seasoned ultra runners a new perspective and patriotic run.

Starting on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. and including portions of the MCM10K course, the MCM50K merges with the MCM course and follows the field of MCM participants. Runners must maintain an 11:30 minute pace-per-mile through mile 14 on Rock Creek Parkway. For the remaining 17 miles, MCM50K participants may run at a 14 minute pace-per-mile. Ultimately, the MCM50K will arrive at a joint finish at the iconic U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington, VA.

(02/08/2019) ⚡AMP
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Marine Corps Marathon

Marine Corps Marathon

Recognized for impeccable organization on a scenic course managed by the US Marines in Arlington, VA and the nation's capital, the Marine Corps Marathon is one of the largest marathons in the US and the world. Known as 'the best marathon for beginners,' the MCM is largest marathon in the world that doesn't offer prize money, earning its nickname, “The...

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William Sawyer who founded the JFK 50 Miler and who ran it at age 75 has died at 90

Buzz Sawyer enjoyed keeping score. In the game of life, it’s safe to say he finished a winner. Sawyer, a former world-ranked distance runner who founded the JFK 50 Mile ultramarathon in Washington County, died Sunday. He was 90.

“He’s never going to be forgotten,” said Mike Spinnler, the JFK 50 race director since 1993, when he took over for Sawyer. “He’s like Red Auerbach with the Celtics or Paul Brown with the Browns. I don’t care how many centuries the JFK goes on, he’s always going to be synonymous with it. It doesn’t exist without him.”

On March 30, 1963, Sawyer answered President John F. Kennedy’s call for Americans to be more physically fit. He and 10 young men from his Cumberland Valley Athletic Club set out to cover 50 miles on foot. The route consisted of the rugged Appalachian Trail, the flat C&O Canal towpath and rolling country roads — almost identical to the course used every year since.

Of the 11 starters in 1963, four finished, including Sawyer. They completed the trek together in 13 hours and 10 minutes.

The next year, there were 16 starters and seven finishers, and the event continued to grow. Similar JFK challenge events across the country faded away.

“Buzz was not that different than guys all over the country who organized JFK 50 events in the spring of 1963,” Spinnler said. “What made him different was that after Kennedy was assassinated, he kept holding the event to memorialize Kennedy. While all the other events disappeared, his continued on his back for 30 years. … I know for a fact that he lost money out of his own pocket to keep that race alive for decades. He just had such passion for it.”

Sawyer was a regular participant in the JFK 50 in his event’s early years. In 1970, at age 41, he finished fifth overall in a personal-best time of 8 hours and 53 minutes in a field of 274 runners and hikers.

But that was his last finish as the event’s director. The JFK was becoming so big that he had to devote all of his energy to managing it on race day.

By 1972, there were more than 1,000 participants. In 1973, the JFK had a starting field of 1,724 — the largest of any foot race in the U.S. that year and nearly 200 more than the Boston Marathon.

(02/06/2019) ⚡AMP
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The king of the trails, Rene Villalobos is a 59-year-old plumber with 350 ultras under his belt

Rene Villalobos is less than halfway through the 2016 Rocky Raccoon 100 in Huntsville State Park, Texas, when the pain in his back returns. A year earlier, he had fallen on a patch of black ice late at night during Arkansas’ Run LOVit 100K and slipped a disk. The doctors told him he wouldn’t be able to run long distance anymore but, well, here he was.

He grimaces as pain shoots up his back. Soon the sun will sink beneath the canopy of oak trees and sweet gums overhead and out of sight. Villalobos uses a few unprintable words to gripe to his “friend” Sal (James Salvador), an Italian ultrarunner who encouraged Villalobos to quit dropping the F-bomb on long miserable runs and find the joy in running.

“Look at this and this and this,” he would tell Villalobos, pointing at the scenery. “And don’t worry about anything else. Enjoy it! This is all a gift.”

Salvador had passed away nearly 10 years prior, in April 2002, during a low-risk planned surgery. He and Villalobos had been running together for 20 years by that time, and were planning to run several ultras together in the coming weeks. Instead, Villalobos found himself and his sister, Clara, with Salvador’s family as the priest read his last rites.

Villalobos says he’s “not really too much into superstition.” He doesn’t have pre-race rituals or lucky socks. But he does have a lot of running buddies like Salvador who have passed away over the years, and he still communicates with them.

“That’s probably about the weirdest thing I do,” he says. “I always say, ‘Well, I’m going to take my angels for a run today.’”

Rene Villalobos, 59, of Fort Worth, Texas, is not your typical runner-looking dude. He has dark skin, bronzed by hours in the sun, salt-and-pepper hair and a goatee to match; until a few years ago, he weighed over 200 pounds and possessed a hefty paunch.

But looks may be deceiving in his case. Villalobos has run over 350 ultras, and over 150 100-milers. At one point, he ran nine 100-mile races in nine weeks. Counting unofficial races, by August 14, 2018 Villalobos says he had run 1,117 marathons. On the Mega Marathon List, he is ranked number five, with 1000 official marathon finishes. Let those stats sink in.

“Trying to explain Rene is almost as difficult as trying to explain trail running,” says Joe Prusaitis, the former longtime owner and race director of Tejas Trails, a collection of respected Texas races that includes Rocky Raccoon. Prusaitis has a long history of racing with and hosting Villalobos at races. “And I think the more you understand trail running, the more you would understand Rene.”

While not a household name or podium contender, Villalobos epitomizes a passionate approach to trail running. His training weeks might make even the pros blanch especially because, for over 30 years, he worked digging ditches and fixing pipes as a plumber, often in 110-degree Texas heat, before going on his weekday runs.

Things changed in 2004 when he got a job as Master Inspector for his hometown of Fort Worth. While he appreciates the air conditioning, being what he calls a “blue-collar runner” makes him proud, and he still does plumbing jobs for friends on the side.

At the 2016 Rocky Raccoon volunteers and spectators caught sight of a Hispanic guy using a thick stick as a cane, moving slowly into the clearing. He’s obviously struggling—his stride is off, and he’s using the stick only halfway into the race. But he doesn’t stop. Villalobos hobbles back into the woods for his third lap, and, when he emerges again, he goes right on for the fourth.

Volunteers watch with concern and hope. The finish line looks increasingly like a ghost town as people pack up and go home.

In the woods, Villalobos repeatedly thumps the stick beside him like a third leg, occasionally griping to Sal, when no one else is around. He shuffles down the singletrack, over little wooden bridges, through brush and pine needles and endless roots as the sun rises.

“Pine trees and roots, that’s all it is,” Villalobos says. “What happens is you do four laps, and on the last lap all the roots have grown a foot.”

When he exits toward the finish for the last time, he is hunched over his stick, barely taking steps. He looks like he’s aged several years in a single night. In the miles since the last aid station, he’s fallen 20 minutes behind the cut-off time.

But he has “finished.” Racers and volunteers have tears in their eyes as he crosses the line. He doesn’t get an official finish time, but the race organizers give him a finisher’s belt, “because they said I was tough,” Villalobos says.

“When he sets out to do something, he just finishes it,” Villalobos’s running buddy Gerardo (Gerry) Ramirez says. “We’ve been through some races, in snow, like knee-deep snow, races where we’re drenched in mud; we’ve been hailed on, but I’ve learned not to give up because of him.”

(02/02/2019) ⚡AMP
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Paul Fosh from Monmouth will have to endure frostbite-threatening minus-30C temperatures in the arduous Yukon Arctic Ultra race

Paul Fosh from Monmouth will have to endure frostbite-threatening minus-30C (-22F) temperatures in the arduous 430-mile Yukon Arctic Ultra race in north west Canada, with just 13 days to finish the trek.

He’s no stranger to the Arctic Circle, having completed two previous races in the Yukon, including the Ultra 300-mile course in 2016, but this will be his longest yet.

The 52-year-old father-of-two, who runs Paul Fosh Auctions, said: “I love the challenge, both physical and mental but know that probably less than a quarter of those entering the race will complete it.”

Last year, because of the extreme conditions and the toll it takes on the body, only one person finished the 300-mile race.

And tragically, experienced ultra race athlete Roberto Zanda from Italy lost both his lower legs and his lower right arm due to catastrophic frostbite damage sustained during the race.

Property auctioneer Paul said: “Over time, you become thrilled to be part of the small percentage that have completed the race.

“I have invested a lot of time, effort and money to get myself out there and I want to do myself proud. I don’t ever want to fail at anything I do.”

All of the 441 entrants, 41 of them in the 430-mile race, are entirely self-sufficient and carry all their belongings, food, clothes, tent and other equipment on a sled called a pulk.

“A lot of people underestimate the mental challenge," says Paul.

“There are those of us that almost enjoy the pain, but if it was too easy there would be no pleasure at the end.”

He is aiming to finish within 10 days by averaging around 43 miles a day, and said: “I know my level of fitness is right to achieve this goal, I have been doing a lot of training for this one as it is the most demanding race I’ve ever done.

“Someone once told me to train hard and play easy. Admittedly, that was in the context of rugby, but I think it can apply to this too.”

Despite the 13-day time limit on the race, there will be very little time for sleep, which means that competitors will spend a lot of time walking both day and night.

“Walking in the daylight is much easier psychologically because you’ve got such fantastic scenery to look at.

“At night, you could be anywhere, you’ve just got your headtorch beam to follow.

“One of my biggest challenges is complacency."

(01/30/2019) ⚡AMP
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Yukon Artic ultra 300 miler

Yukon Artic ultra 300 miler

The Yukon Arctic Ultra is the world's coldest and toughest ultra! Quite simply the world's coldest and toughest ultra. 430 miles of snow, ice, temperatures as low as -40°C and relentless wilderness, the YUA is an incredible undertaking. The Montane® Yukon Arctic Ultra (MYAU) follows the Yukon Quest trail, the trail of the world's toughest Sled Dog Race. Where dog...

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Use running as a way to release stress and quiet the mind - Michael Anderson on Running File 3

Work and life balance can be stressful, so much to do everyday and it seems like there is never enough time to get it all done. We are pulled in every direction and the feeling is one of being in a washing machine.

I can say I suffer with some form of mental despair, its hard for me to shut off my brain.

I feel therapy can be extremely important and its good to have someone to talk with. My advice is not one or the other (therapy or running) but some of both.

Running is a huge form of meditation and can be a perfect way to shut off the brain and focus solely on the task of one foot in front of the other.

Running can lead you to so much beauty especially when you get out on the trails and see true love. When you use running as a way to release stress and quiet the mind you really will see a difference.

Being a recovering alcoholic. running saved my life. Before I would escape with drinks but now I put in the miles and the results are endless life.  I do have an addictive personality and I am for sure an running addict and proud of it. 

Running reliefs:

Running is the cure for when you feel down on yourself.  How can you not feel good after pounding out a mile run and giving back to yourself.

Running is the cure for when you have had a hard day at the office, you gotta release the clutter and reset and a good run gets that done.

Running is a cure for stresses at home, wife and baby (love them) but they can add stress too, running is giving back to you and solely to you.

Running is a cure for the bad habits, (drinking and smoking) running will drop the weight and is such a natural high, best high I have ever experienced.

Happy, sad, glad or mad, Running is great for all of these emotions:

Happy- damn it will feel great to open it up.

Sad- flush out the tears and shed them on the roads.

Glad- damn glad to be out here today.

Mad- put that negative energy into pounding the roads, hit the high moments and release.

ALL good and run on!  Michael Anderson on Running

(Michael Anderson has been running all his life.  He has run four marathons including Boston, Big Sur, San Francisco and Seattle and has sights on running his first ultra soon.  He has participated in all three Run The World Global Challenges and plans to do Challenge 4 starting March 1.)

(01/29/2019) ⚡AMP
by Michael Anderson
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Jim Walmsley said that he could beat a 2:05 marathoner if they were matched up on a trail race

Jim Walmsley ran a 1:04:00 in the Houston Half-Marathon last Sunday (January 20).  Many people have been critical of his race and returned to comparing the trail and road running scenes in a futile attempt to try and identify which discipline is more difficult. 

Walmsley is an ultra and trail runner who’s the Western States 100 course record holder, and was formerly a high school and collegiate track runner (8:41.05 3,000m steeplechaser). Walmsley was ranked 23rd male on Sports Illustrated’s Fittest 50 athletes in 2018 (marathon world record-holder Eliud Kipchoge ranked 21st) and is very well known for his accomplishments on the trails. 

His 1:04:00 at Houston qualified him for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Marathon trials where he will run his marathon debut. As Walsmley straddles the boundary between ultra-trail runner and road runner, he’s become a focal point for the trail versus road argument.

Walmsley was a guest on the Citius Mag podcast the week following his half-marathon and was asked to address some of the comments. Here’s what he had to say regarding a 2:05 marathoner being thrown into the Western States Endurance Run.

“The way that I attack the downhills, I will break your quads and you won’t be able to jog the flats afterwards. Like, give me a 2:05 guy, a couple hours in the canyon (like at Western States) and I’ll be the first one out.”  

(01/26/2019) ⚡AMP
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2020 US Olympic Trials Marathon

2020 US Olympic Trials Marathon

Atlanta will host the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Marathon for both men and women, USA Track & Field and the United States Olympic Committee announced Monday. Hosted by Atlanta Track Club as the local organizing committee, the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Marathon will be held Feb. 29, 2020, and will take place in conjunction with the...

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They don't call it HURT for nothing, First Canadian finisher Pargol Lakhan finished top 10 female in 34:02:23

January 19 and 20 marked the 19th year of HURT (Hawaii Ultra Running Team) 100 miler in Oahu, Hawaii. Located in a mountainous tropical rainforest, the course includes five 20-mile (32K) loops with 7,468 metres of elevation gain, and a cutoff of 36 hours. The 99 per cent singletrack consists of 20 stream crossings, exposed ridges, roots, rocks, puddles and mud wallows. Rainfall on race day meant slippery conditions, falls, broken bones, and some DNFs. Seven Canadians started HURT 100, and three finished. First Canadian finisher Pargol Lakhan finished top 10 female in 34:02:23.

HURT 100 is considered one of North America’s toughest 100-milers. Picture a scene from Jurassic Park–except the dinosaurs are muddy and hungry ultrarunners. Canadians Simon Garneau (Que.), Derek Anaquod(Sask.), Karen Johansen (Alta.), Lourdes Gutierrez-Kellam (Alta.), Craig Slagel (B.C.), Lori Herron (B.C.), and Pargol Lakhan (B.C.) toed the line. Due to the weather, injuries, and unanticipated complications, only Gutierrez-Kellam, Anaquod, and Lakhan finished. 

Lakhan traveled from Vancouver, B.C. to Hawaii without a support crew. After a series of serendipitous Facebook conversations, she lucked out with pacers and a crew she had never met. From the 6 a.m. start line through to the finish, Dennis Källerteg and his parents supported Lakhan. In just over 32 hours of racing, these strangers became her friends. Källerteg, a 22-year-old from Sweden, had raced HURT 100 in 2018, but dropped out prior to the 2019 start line. The family ultrarunning vacation became a crewing adventure instead.  

Like most 100-milers, runners risk getting lost, getting injured, falling, feeling nauseous, and anything else Mother Nature throws at them. During the first 32K loop, Lakhan felt strong and was with the top ten women until she went a few kilometers off course. With somewhat fresh legs, she climbed back up the technical trails and found her way. Seeing fellow B.C. ultrarunning family Gary, Linda, and Reed Robbins cheering runners on every loop made Lakhan feel comforted. “It felt like I was running at home.” 

(01/25/2019) ⚡AMP
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Hurt 100 Mile Endurance run

Hurt 100 Mile Endurance run

The Hawaiian Ultra Running Team's Trail 100-Mile Endurance Run, referred to hereafter as the “HURT100”, is a very difficult event designed for the adventurous and well-prepared ultrarunner. It is conducted on trails within the jurisdiction of theState of Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR),Division of Forestry and Wildlife,Nā Ala Hele program. Nā Ala Hele has turned traces of...

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Judy Williams credits Gasparilla Distance Classic for saving her life

Running is a major part of Judy Williams life. She moved to Florida in 1989 and has run in almost every Gasparilla Distance Classic race since.

In 2015, she and her then 16-year-old daughter trained to run all four Gasparilla races, a total of 30-plus miles in two days.

"That year I consider and credit Gasparilla for saving my life," said Williams.

During the course of the weekend, Williams admits that she did not drink enough water to properly rehydrate after all those miles.

"So that night, I would up in the hospital because I kept throwing up. I was dehydrated and could not stop throwing up no matter how much IV they were giving me," she recalls.

In the hospital, the doctors performed a CT scan of her stomach, and that is when they found a cyst. That cyst turned out to be stage 2 ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer is often called the "silent killer" because it does not have many symptoms until the later stages. Oftentimes when it's too late. Without that CT scan, Williams' cancer may have continued to grow.

"I had lost my husband about a year and a half earlier, so my daughters were facing the fact that they might lose their second parent. It was just extraordinary that they found my cancer at stage 2," Williams said.

Following the diagnosis, Williams had an operation to remove the cancer and spent 18 weeks in chemotherapy. The following year in 2016, after the treatments, she and her daughter laced back up their shoes to run all four Gasparilla Distance Classic races again.

"It was extremely emotional the year after I had the chemo and operation," she recalls.

This year, Williams' daughter will come home from college to run the races again. They will line up for the 15K race Saturday and the half marathon on Sunday. It is a new challenge from the Gasparilla Distance Classic called "Michelob Ultra Pure Gold Challenge."

(01/24/2019) ⚡AMP
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Gasparilla Distance Classic

Gasparilla Distance Classic

Run through the city streets of this city overlooking the waters of Tampa, Florida’s Hillsborough Bay at the Gasparilla Distance Classic, which includes a full slate of running events for runners at all levels, including a half marathon, 8K, 15K and 5K. Mostly fast and flat and great for beginners, the race’s half marathon and 8K races take place on...

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Gene Dykes has an insane racing schedule for this year from 5k to 218 milles

Gene Dykes, the 70-year-old from Philadelphia whose marathon world record attempt ended in disappointment when he realized the event he chose (the Jacksonville Marathon in Florida) was not USATF-sanctioned has posted his chosen races for 2019 on his Facebook page–all 34 of them. (His 2:54:23 on a certified course is the fastest ever run by someone 70 plus.)

Dykes is as prolific a racer as 2018 Boston Marathon champion Yuki Kawauchi. Here’s what he has lined up for this year: 34 races, consisting of five marathons (including Boston, Big Sur, New York and Philadelphia), 13 ultras (10 of them on the trails, and including no fewer than four 100-milers and a 24-hour track race), and 16 shorter races.

What does not appear on the schedule is another stab at the record he thought he’d bagged in Jacksonville. Though Dykes told us in December that he was planning another attempt at Ed Whitlock’s M70 record at either the Houston Marathon or the Louisiana Marathon (both are January 20), he has now said that’s off, partly because he’s recovering from a fall at the Wild Azalea 50-miler in Louisiana January 5. 

Gene wrote on his Strava account, "Trail was particularly treacherous this year.  Wet, roots covered in fallen leaves.  I went down hard more than a dozen times.  I banged up my knee pretty badly at the 30 mile mark but I was able to finish off the next 20 miles.

"I couldn't walk that evening or the next day.  Often wondered if I'd ever run again.  It's a week later now, and the swelling has mostly subsided."

He did post on Monday that he is feeling just fine now. He was able to run 8.5 miles January 15 at 7:49/mile pace.  His next race on his schedule is the Chilly Cheeks 11k trail race January 20.

(01/16/2019) ⚡AMP
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Apple cider vinegar Cayenne tea will give a boast to your running - Michael Anderson on Running FIle 1

This time of the year can be a challenge to not get hit with the flu.  For the last year I have been drinking a concoction that helps boost the immune system and fight the nasty. Since I have been drinking the tea my running has taken a huge boost, more energy and less fatigue and better recovery. I have more in the tank.

Apple cider vinegar adds Alkaline to the body A runners  workout will create acid in your body and by drinking the tea it helps to add alkaline to your body. High acid in your body leads to fatigue and muscle soreness. By adding alkaline that is in apple cider vinegar, it neutralizes it.

Add Cayenne pepper which will help the blood flow and will help the boost.  However, be careful with the Cayenne pepper.  Just a little bit goes a long way. 

Here is my recipe:

Honey Cayenne Apple Cider Vinegar Drink

1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar.

2 Tablespoons honey

1 dash cayenne pepper.

2 cups of warm/hot water.

Michael Anderson on Running

(Michael has been running all his life and has already run the Boston Marathon, Big Sur, San Francisco and Seattle and has his sights set on his first ultra.)

(01/12/2019) ⚡AMP
by Michael Anderson
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High school student Jack Davison is running the Marathon Des Sables 251-km six-day run, through the African desert in southern Morocco.

Jack Davison is confident taking on this Marathon Des Sables Challenge. Just 15 years old he was the youngest runner to complete two ultras in 2018. 

The first was the Fuerteventura Des Sables half marathon on the Canary Islands in September. Davison really didn’t know whether he could complete the 120k ordeal on the Spanish archipelago, which is just off the African coast but he did. 

“I went in with an open mind,” he said.

“It was an amazing accomplishment.”

It is believed to be a world record for the youngest ultra marathoner. If not, it is certainly a world-class accomplishment.

The terrain was rocky and hilly, “they love to make you run up hills,” and the temperatures were over 100F degrees. 

The wind blew constantly. The organizers furnished the runners with tents, pitched on a sandy beach next to the ocean. However the wind never stopped blowing, and he remembers the sounds of the tents flapping the entire night.

When he got to the Ica Desert in Peru last month, he was more prepared for what lay ahead.

“I knew what to expect, but I always get pretty nervous before a run.”

There were no tourist buses where they were going, and military vehicles transported the runners for about 12 hours before they got to the starting line.

Running in a sandy desert presented its own challenges. Consider that professional athletes run on sand to make their training more challenging. The was one sandy hill, almost a kilometer long, that he won’t soon forget.

“It took me an hour to run up that sand dune,” he recalls.

He enjoyed the social side of running, meeting people from around the world out to conquer the same goal.

Davison wasn’t in the money, but he finished in the top one-quarter – about 350 in Spain and 400-plus in Peru. He was satisfied with that.

“I went there each time just trying to complete it.”

Surprisingly, Davison doesn’t train with a lot of distance running. He is a provincial calibre tennis player, and his main fitness regimen is spending about 25 hours each week running around a court.

But he is no stranger to distance runs.

His father Aaron is also an ultra marathoner. Aaron has completed the full Marathon Des Sables three times, and will attempt it this year at the age of 51. 

Like his father, Jack finds an incredible sense of achievement in these feats of endurance.

At his age, Jack is not even allowed to run in marathons in Canada, where the minimum age is 18. But he didn’t think it hurt him in any way. After the Canary Islands marathon he rested for about a week.

But last month when he got back from Peru, he found his mom had enrolled him in a tennis tournament, so he only had a few days of rest before he was back in action. He finished second in the tourney.

His tennis coach isn’t crazy about his marathoning, but Davison also plans to complete that epic 251k marathon across the Sahara in Morocco April 5. 

“That will be the highlight of my life so far,” he says. 

(01/10/2019) ⚡AMP
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Marathon Des Sables

Marathon Des Sables

The Marathon des Sables is ranked by the Discovery Channel as the toughest footrace on earth. Known simply as the MdS, the race is a gruelling multi-stage adventure through a formidable landscape in one of the world’s most inhospitable climates - the Sahara desert. The rules require you to be self-sufficient, to carry with you on your back everything except...

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Ultra runner Walter Handloser's 2019 goal is to run 50 races of 100 miles or more

The 36-year-old Walter Handloser of San Luis Obispo, California wants to run 50 races of 100 miles or more in 2019.

If he accomplishes his goal, he’ll set the world record for most 100-mile races run in one year.  The current record is 41 races.

“That would be my ideal,” he said. “Get people interested in this idea that this weird goal is possible, and then hold the record for maybe like a year or two. That would be great, that would be fun. I’m not competitive at all — I’d rather see people succeed at this kind of stuff.”

Handloser’s running career began after he decided to get in shape about eight years ago.

He was the self-described “fattest kid on the cross country team” in high school in the San Diego area and struggled to find an effective fitness routine after finishing his prep football career.

Overweight and approaching 30, Handloser, a former Cal Poly student, decided he wanted to get in the best shape of his life. He joined Sleeping Tiger Fitness and began doing kettlebell and kickboxing workouts.

Steady weight loss followed. Handloser, who stands 5 feet, 6 inches tall, went from about 240 pounds to about 170 pounds.

He ran his first successful marathon in 2014, after a painful half marathon and a failed attempt at a full marathon.

A couple of years later, Handloser ran his first 100-mile race in 2016 in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

“I was hooked,” he said. “That was my distance. I found what felt very natural and very wonderful.”

As of December, Handloser had run 64 races of marathon distance or greater, including 25 marathons, 12 ultra races of 100 miles and four 200-mile runs. His longest race was 240 miles.

(01/09/2019) ⚡AMP
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Top two American’s in the Run The World Challenge which just finished are both over 70

The third Run The World Challenge sponsored by My Best Runs (MBR) has finished.  The team of 105 active runners, who ran and logged miles in 23 different countries, finished last night (January 5) in 68 days 17 hours and 18 minutes.  

The event created by MBR Founder Bob Anderson is all about running and then logging in those miles, posting photos and comments in our runner’s feed to help motivate the team and inspire others.  The team has to run/walk and then log in 24,901 miles (40,074k) to complete the challenge.  

“This is the distance around the world,” says 71-year-old Bob Anderson who himself ran and logged 297 miles. 

“Our team from around the world and ranging in ages from six to 74 did an amazing job,” says Bob.  The team logged an average of 362 miles per day and the team had to stay focused for over two months. “With our busy lives that is not easy,” says Lisa Wall a team member. 

34-year-old Eliud Lokol Esinyen from Kenya and running most of his miles in Eldoret logged the most miles with 1,298.59.  He averaged 18.9 miles daily, many days he worked out three times.  Finishing in second was 27-year-old Boaz Kipyego also from Kenya.  However he spent about five weeks in Minnesota USA running and racing.  He ran and logged in 1,129.41 miles.

First American was 74-year-old Frank Bozanich from Reno Nevada.  The previous five time national champion at 50 miles and 100k ran and logged in 1,036.19, good enough for third place.  “This is his third time around the world with us,” says Bob.  “Many people say that age is only a number and certainly age is not stopping Frank.  He told me he is running a lot slower these days because he has put a lot of miles on his body, however.  Well done Frank, on an age-graded basis this has to be the best performance,” says Bob.

There were five male runners 70 plus in the top 31 places.  In fact 72-year-old Paul Shimon placed sixth overall running most of his 893.06 miles in Winfield Kansas.  Like many of the team he had to deal with a lot of issues including the cold, snow and darkness.  

Super star Michael Wardian (photo top left) placed 8th overall and ran some of the best times including clocking 2:34:54 at the New York City Marathon.  He also ran a tough 50-miler in Israel.  He posted 651 miles  for his third trip around the world with us.  In a few weeks he is going after his world record he set in 2017 at the World Marathon Challenge.  That’s running seven marathons in seven days on seven continents.  

On the women side, ultra super star 48-year-old Gloria Nasr ran and logged 422.54 miles to place first female.  Gloria lives in Paris, France.  Some of her miles were also ran in Peru when she travelled there to run an Ultra (photo upper right). She has also run the six stage race through the desert of Morocco in the past.

In second place was Kenya’s Rosaline Nyawira who currently is living, training and racing in South Africa.  She ran and logged 394.01 miles.  

Third and first America woman was 71-year-old Karen Galati who logged in 223.88 miles.  She ran most of her miles in Rancho Palos Verdes, California.  As she wrote on her profile “Better late than never to this addicting sport.”

Miles run and logged in the top five countries were USA, Kenya, Palau, South Africa and India.  The small country of Palau was in second place the first few weeks.  The Run The World Challenge group there lead by Aaron Salvador have so much spirit.  Most weekends they get together and run ten to fifteen miles.  “You can always count on us to post photos and comments too,” says Aaron. 

Our group from South Africa lead by Lize Dumon has just as much spirit.  During the challenge Lize completed her first marathon and just got over 200 for the team.  The Fourie family in South Africa has to get the top spirit award.  The two kids (Michelle age 6 and Jonathan age 7), the mom (Erika) and grandma (Johanna) posted nearly every day and collectively logged in 455 miles.  Even the dad joined in many days.  

“This was not our best RTW performance but this one has to be our toughest with many challenges,” says Bob.  “Many of our team had to deal with early cold and snow in the United States and Canada.  Our runners in Palau had to deal with heavy rain and wind. In South Africa it was over 100 degrees many days.  In California our runners had to deal with unhealthy air quality for two weeks because of the smoke from the wild fires.  A majority of our team had to deal with shorter days and run in the dark. And on top of everything there were three major holidays during Challenge3.

”I am very proud of our whole team. It is hard to stay focused on something like this for over two months but we did it.  We made it around the world.  For many of us for the third time.  There are so many more stories I want to share’” says Bob.  “Well done team.  Let’s do it again.” 

Details for the next Run The World Challenge will be announced soon. 

(01/06/2019) ⚡AMP
by Bob Anderson Team Caption
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Bracha Deutsch a mother of five is Israel’s most unlikely marathon runner

Clad in a modest skirt and headscarf, Bracha Deutsch, a mother of five from Jerusalem, was first across the finish line at the National Half Marathon Championships, and now she has her sights set on the Olympics.

Israel's most unlikely marathon runner spends her Thursday preparing food for Shabbat. For that's what you do when you are the first female Haredi marathon runner in the country and you have a race Friday morning.

It may sound improbable, perhaps preposterous, but 29-year-old Bracha "Beatie" Deutsch is the real deal. The first female Haredi athlete shocked everyone by winning Israel's National Half Marathon Championship in December, with a personal best of 1 hour, 19 minutes and 51 seconds.  

Deutsch is keeping things in perspective. "It's much harder to mother five children than to run a marathon," she says. "Running is a piece of cake compared to potty training."

Indeed, her Instagram seems to reflect her two loves - her children and running, and is filled with photos of both. Her user name, perhaps unsurprisingly, is "marathonmother." 

"Although my children are small, before I compete, they ask me 'mommy, are you going to win?' The trophy I won at the Half Marathon Championship started a war between my children, they each wanted it for themselves!"  

On January 4, Deutsch will compete in the Tiberias Marathon, where she hopes to place on the podium. And after that, she dreams of the Olympics. And while she is still very far from reaching that goal, she is definitely optimistic.

"I have patience," she says. "I've only been running for three years. I hope to be the first ultra-Orthodox Jewish athlete at the Olympics.

(12/31/2018) ⚡AMP
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My Love Affair with Central Park started 40 years ago tonight - Larry Allen on Running File 5

If you want a useful guide for running in Central Park this isn’t that. There is plenty of concise information available online and all of it will do a far better job telling you exactly how to go for a run in New York City’s favorite 840 acre backyard.

If you want to know about beginning a long term relationship with New York City and running in Central Park, this is my story.

My first run in the park was on December 29, 1978. I was in college on the GI Bill and had taken my slightly unreliable but fun-to-drive MGB from Maine to Florida over Christmas break.

I didn’t want to think about the trip back north. Hitchhiking was still an option in those days if my car gave out but it surely was not what I wanted.

I was already a veteran of two marathons and was ramping up my mileage for the Boston Marathon the following April. I had a glorious couple of weeks of running in the technicolor light and warmth of south Florida and while there even managed to meet Frank Shorter.

I ran twice a day including a couple of two hour runs, went to empty beaches to bask in sunny 60 degree days while bundled up locals looked on, amused and mystified.

All in all it was a great time, went quickly and too soon I was starting the long drive back to Maine.

A couple of uneventful days on the road brought me back to the NJ turnpike two days before New Year Eve. In the fading light of a cold, clear winter afternoon I pulled into a service plaza for gas.

My plan was to continue driving on through the night for the last 500 plus miles vs. spending money I didn’t have for a roadside motel room. A “you are here” map in the foyer of the restroom surprised me with my close proximity to NYC.

The next thing I remember is rummaging through the stuff in my car for an address book with the phone number of a longtime summer friend from Maine who spent the balance of his life on upper west side of New York.

I searched between the seats for change to make a call on a pay phone and was fortunate that my friend even answered. He graciously said I could crash for the night.

I’d never even been into NYC proper and the prospects for the evening were exciting if not a little intimidating.

I finally made it safely down from the high bridge over the Hudson River into the city and found a place to park near Grant’s Tomb on Riverside Drive, a few blocks west of my friend’s apartment not far from Columbia University.

I made the wise choice to schlep all of my stuff to the apartment for fear that the patched convertible top and dodgy locks of my car wouldn’t deter anyone in 1970s NYC, from breaking in looking for anything of value.

I said a quick hello and thank you to my friend on arrival but needed a run before I could eat or do anything else. He understood and gave me directions to Central Park and showed me how to buzz myself back into his high rise building.

Running down Broadway entailed dodging and weaving along hopelessly crowded evening sidewalks, scents from all manner of ethnic food wafting as I made my way through the 20 red lights, one per block, for a mile.

Eventually a left turn, to the east for a few more blocks to enter the park around 100th St at Central Park West.

The park was dark and cold, full of energy but it oddly felt peaceful too. The air was filled with different smells; diesel bus fumes, horse manure, musty fallen leaves, street pretzels, roasted nuts and yes, adrenaline, some of it mine.

Traffic hadn’t been banned from the park drives in the evening yet so it was full of yellow cabs and giant 70s era sedans moving slowly in heavy evening traffic.

I looked around for a landmark, something to remember so I could find my way back out of the park onto the same street in hopes of finding my way back to my friend’s place through what felt like barely contained chaos on the city streets.

I took note of a broken, graffiti covered park bench in this far less than gentrified version of the city. It seemed memorable enough and I guess it was.

Inside the park there was a lane for running. Parallel were two traffic lanes around what I’d been told was a six mile loop circling the park just inside the perimeter.

In spite of the hummock and pot-hole filled streets, particularly in the nearly bankrupt version of the city at the time, I recall the park drives being remarkably smooth pavement.

I turned right, running downtown on the west side.  The rolling hills also seemed more downhill than up too, something I confirmed in years and miles to come.

At first it was a gentle contained pace, working out the stiffness in my legs and back after a day long drive from North Carolina on a bad suspension and the hard seats in my car.

The grade of the rolling hills and gently winding turns in the park seemed worn-in to the landscape. It felt perfect for running, almost carved into the city like the equivalent of glacial wear but from the mass of some number of the eight million city residents using the park day after day.

Making my way down the west side for a mile offered peeks through the leafless trees and scenic overlooks of the lights and architecture of pre war apartment buildings forming what appeared to be a tall, impenetrable wall along the avenue fronting the park.

Periodically there were glimpses further downtown to the iconic skyscrapers in midtown. The Empire State Building and Chrysler Building most familiar amongst a forest of others that seemed just as big if not as well known.

I simply didn’t want to stop running, the pull was almost magnetic, my tempo gradually increasing around the next corner or over the next hill, all just to see what was ahead.

It was all a bit like a party that you didn’t want to leave for fear of missing something good that might happen.

Just before reaching a first opportunity to choose between veering left from the main park drive or continuing straight toward the high rises of midtown; I went by what, in a few years, would be renamed Strawberry Fields.  It was in honor of John Lennon; murdered not far away at the entrance to his building, the Dakota, which overlooks the park here.

The park is a perfect rectangle, slightly off of an exact north to south axis extending from 110th St to 59th St., 2.5 miles on each side and slightly over .75 mile between 5th Avenue on the east side and Central Park West on the other.

Years later I learned that the cutoff (or shortcut) I had seen and gone by at 72nd St and another I hadn’t reached yet at 102nd St made for a seemingly endless variety of options for creating and running multiples of loops of 2, 4, 5 miles and of course the full 6 mile circuit.

The New York Road Runners used the counterclockwise 6+ miles of the full park four times plus the slightly less than two mile loop from the bottom of the park to 72nd St for the 26 miles 385 yards for the 55 finishers of first New York Marathon in 1970.

The marathon still uses the park, but only about half of it for part of the final three miles of the race.

I read somewhere that 20,000 people run in Central Park on an average day. There are days and seasons during the year when that number seems high but other days and times during the year when it is certainly low. I guess that’s what they mean by average.

There are over 30 races in Central Park every year. Most hosted by the New York Road Runners Club and a few by other organizations.

Nearly all have thousands of participants, racing distances ranging from a 1 mile kids race to a 60k ultra marathon. Some with top invited international and American stars, some simply very large competitive local races. Every one a variation in the options for running loops in the park.

I continued running through the park, next past a big open meadow on the left, learning later that it was the 15 acre Sheep’s Meadow.

It has been a historic spot for protests over the past 100 years, up to 30,000 sunbathers on a nice day and 150,000 for a Barbra Streisand concert in the 1960s and yes sheep, from the 1860s until the 1930s.

Adjacent to the finish line of the marathon at Tavern on the Green the meadow also was a post race staging area for a few years.

22 months after my first run in the park I was back here, finishing my first marathon in New York. My last run up the hill to that familiar finish line was 32 years later.

The buildings along the southern edge of the park loom up just a few hundred yards away from the marathon finish. Columbus Circle marks one of the four corners of the park here and is a block from where I lived for 10 years when I finally moved to the city.

Almost every day was a 15 minute walk home from work at MoMA for me, dogs out for a walk and then into the park for an evening run. Sometimes clockwise, up the westside, the opposite direction of my first run.

Often I ran the same counterclockwise direction I was running that night. Across the bottom of the park to the east side, the legendary Plaza Hotel, the Central Park Zoo and the Wollman Skating rink anchoring the corner on that side.

I saw the familiar sign for the Essex House hotel along the way on my first run in the park that night and invariably still take a glance up at it on every run 40 years later.

Turning back north on the east side of the park led me up a gentle hill through dramatic exposed rock outcroppings of Manhattan’s bedrock schist. Apparently something which allowed New York to more easily build foundations for it’s famous skyscrapers over the last century.

I ran past playgrounds, the 100 year old children’s carousel and about a mile beyond Columbus Circle, to the other end of the 72nd St cutoff.

In years ahead it became a familiar corner. Nearby is the start and finish for the New Years Eve 4 mile race in the park, starting at the stroke of midnight with fireworks. 

The corner is also near the start of one of the bigger hills in the park, this one known among local runners as “cat hill”. Midway up the 1/4 mile climb is a sculpture of a life sized and menacing mountain lion, seemingly ready to pounce from a natural stone overhang directly over the runner’s lane.

It was too dark to see the cat that night but is familiar enough now. Cat hill is a popular place for training for some of the dozens of running clubs that meet up and use the park for weekly group training sessions.

A couple of minutes more led me past what I didn’t know at the time was the back of the massive Metropolitan Museum of Art. Around it and closer to 5th Avenue for another half mile brought me near a building I did recognize, Frank Lloyd Wright’s landmark cylindrical Guggenheim Museum.

The nearby entrance to the park would become familiar later as the place where the marathon enters the park for the last 2.5 miles of the race headed back in the direction from which I’d just come.

The summer after my first NY marathon and having entering my 2nd, there was a fundraising appeal in my race confirmation. The NYRR was trying to raise money to purchase a six story Beaux Arts townhouse just opposite the Guggenheim for one million dollars.

They were successful and for 36 years it served as headquarters, clubhouse and place to pick up bibs for their many races. It was listed for sale this past year for 25 million dollars as they apparently need something fancier and/or bigger.

Nearby is a statue of the late, charismatic leader of the NYRR, Fred Lebow. His vision arguably responsible for the explosive growth of urban marathons around the world for decades. His likeness stands looking at a stopwatch, appearing to be silently calling out time splits to runners just inside the park.

The entrance of the 1.5 mile long reservoir running path is there too, named for Jacquelin Kennedy Onassis, a nearby resident for decades, she was known to jog on the scenic cinder path and reportedly was even seen wearing long white formal evening dress gloves on cool days.

At the reservoir it felt like I had run between 5-6 miles, I knew it was six around the park but then maybe 10 minutes more to and from my friends place.

I was moving along briskly, feeling good but thinking I should get back but had reached the point where it made more sense to continue on vs. turning back. Maybe three miles to go.

Just 1/4 mile past the flat straight section along the reservoir the drive started down a hill and turned toward the center of the park from the perimeter. I felt a change. There were fewer street lights, less traffic and not as many people around. It all seemed a bit more ominous.

A half mile further brought me to the 2nd cutoff between the east side and the west. This one at 102nd St. It was very dark, narrow and almost foreboding.

In 1989 this section of the park, down the hill from the reservoir to the 102nd St cutoff became notorious as the site of a series of “wilding” gang assaults on a number of runners and pedestrians over one hour on a frightening night that April. It culminated in the vicious assault and rape of the “Central Park jogger” on the cutoff road I was passing.

Even 11 years prior to that night it felt dangerous. Today most runners and running clubs practice a buddy system when running at night in the park as a result of what happened in 1989.

There is a prominent police presence in this area and thankfully crime in the city and the park has declined precipitously too.

In all of my thousands of miles in the park over the years, many at night, I’ve never personally experienced a threat or even witnessed one and I’m grateful for that.

The almost kaleidoscopic park quickly changes again at the far north end. The park drive quickly snakes through a steep S shaped descent with high bluffs overhead on one side and an open high view of Harlem on the other; the Meer waters and the Conservatory Gardens in the foreground.

The far north end of the park remains the most natural with unspoiled ravines, dramatic rock faces, waterfalls and streams all tucked away.

On runs here I’ve seen families of raccoons crossing the road at night and hawks swoop down for unsuspecting squirrels during the day but nothing of the sort on this particular night.

Midway down the hill brought me past a large skating rink outfitted for youth hockey. I learned later that it does double duty as a community pool in the summer.

Now at the north edge of the park I could see into Harlem. I made the turn, running to the west. Just outside the park were dilapidated tire changing shops, gas stations, boarded up windows, burned out cars and a trash can with a makeshift bonfire offering warmth to a few men huddled around.

Continuing on, anticipating a turn to the south to complete my circuit of the park it quickly became evident that I was going to climb a good hill.

Runners in NY refer to this climb with some dread as THE Harlem Hill, it climbs about 150 ft in half a mile and then just as quickly drops down again. I wasn’t far beyond where it leveled out again and suddenly on my right, there it was!  

The familiar broken, graffiti covered bench that I’d decided to use as part of my trail of bread crumbs when I entered the park.

Not much had changed on the surface. Traffic had lessened somewhat as the evening rush was concluding. The smells were the same but had become permanently imprinted in my brain vs. something new to experience.

I slowed my pace for the few blocks back toward Broadway and a final right turn north for the last mile up toward Columbia.

After less than an hour on foot I felt like I understood New York to some extent....and I liked it. The prospects for the evening seemed exciting enough when I decided to spend the night but I had no idea.

Even before I finished the run one big thing had changed. I knew or at least hoped that I’d spend part of my life in the city. 

My wife, step daughter and I have been fortunate to have lived the last 21 years of our life together in New York and adjacent to Central Park, 10 years on one corner of the park and the last 11 years a few blocks from the far opposite corner. In part, all due to one unforgettable run around Central Park on a cold December night 40 years ago tonight.

(Larry Allen on Running is an exclusive My Best Runs Running News Daily feature.  Additionally Larry is doing the Run The World Challenge for the third time.) 

(12/28/2018) ⚡AMP
by Larry Allen
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Colin O’Brady, became the first person ever to traverse Antarctica from coast to coast solo, unsupported and unaided

The final miles of a nearly two-month race across Antarctica — a lonely effort marked by long days, short nights and stunning endurance — ended Wednesday with a sprint to the finish.

In what could go down as one of the great feats in polar history, the American Colin O’Brady, 33, covered the final 77.54 miles of the 921-mile journey across Antarctica in one final sleepless, 32-hour burst, becoming the first person ever to traverse Antarctica from coast to coast solo, unsupported and unaided by wind.

O’Brady’s transcontinental feat, which took him an actual total of 932 miles with some zigzags along the course, was remarkable enough; but to complete the final 77.54 miles in one shot — essentially tacking an ultramarathon onto the 53rd day of an already unprecedented journey — set an even higher bar for anyone who tries to surpass it.

“I don’t know, something overcame me,” O’Brady said in a telephone interview. “I just felt locked in for the last 32 hours, like a deep flow state. I didn’t listen to any music — just locked in, like I’m going until I’m done. It was profound, it was beautiful, and it was an amazing way to finish up the project.”

O’Brady’s culminating effort joined some of the most remarkable achievements in polar history, including expeditions led by Norway’s Roald Amundsen and by Robert Falcon Scott of England, who battled Amundsen to become the first to reach the magnetic South Pole. There was also Borge Ousland’s magnificent traverse in 1996-97, when he became the first to cross the continent alone and unsupported — though he was aided by a kite.

(12/27/2018) ⚡AMP
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A new running podcast is going to start up January 10 from Strava

Strava is starting another running podcast beginning January 10. The fitness tracking app is about to unveil a new podcast entitled “Athletes Unfiltered,” for the runners and cyclists who use it.

It will be hosted by The North Face-sponsored ultrarunner Hillary Allen and feature interviews with extraordinary athletes and athletes in extraordinary circumstances.

One of the first episodes will feature an interview with Gene Dykes (photo), who recently broke the late Canadian marathoner Ed Whitlock‘s WMA M70 marathon record with his 2:54:23 performance in Jacksonville, Florida. 

Strava posted this on their website, “Athletes Unfiltered features normal athletes. They're good, inspiring people, daring enough to share their journey day after day, whether that's breaking a marathon PR or cutting a run short to desperately search for the nearest toilet.”

(12/23/2018) ⚡AMP
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A Journey in the world of extreme ultra running, Challenging The Impossible.

This new movie gets into the minds of the runners, to understand why they would undertake such a huge challenge and follow how they set about preparing for the task. 

The Movie Breaking 60 was shot over a period of five months in the build up to and during the challenge days, the film explores the world of extreme ultra running.

In January 2017, 22 determined runners embraced the challenge of a single self supported effort over Hong Hong's grueling four ultra trails. 

The movie Breaking 60 is the story of that challenge.

This movie has recieved raved reviews such as, “Finishing under 60 hours is more about the mind, more about stubbornness... just dealing with the pain,” wrote Scottie Callaghan.

(12/23/2018) ⚡AMP
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8-year-old Nate Viands blasted through the NCR Marathon as he is battling Leukemia

“He just took off,” says his father, Scott Viands — an ultrarunner who accompanied Nate during that 26.2-mile race — in a story published Thursday in Runner’s World.

But beginning around mile eight, Nate’s sub-eight-minutes-per-mile pace propelled him ahead of his father. “Every once in a while at an aid station, I’d ask, ‘Did you see a little guy come through?’ and they’d be like, ‘Yeah, he’s 10 minutes ahead of you.’ ”

The young Pennsylvania resident felt sore the following morning after finishing the NCR Marathon in 3:32, but he’s experienced greater physical pain.

Just a month before turning 4 — while fighting symptoms such as dark circles under his eyes, nosebleeds, fatigue and fevers — Nate was diagnosed with leukemia. The next nine months saw intensive chemotherapy treatments, which made his energy plummet so low that he had difficulty walking up stairs.

“It’s not really something you’re expecting to ever, ever hear or deal with, you know? It changed our lives forever,” Viands tells Runner’s World of Nate’s illness.

But the treatments became less intense, and less frequent. And although Nate won’t know if he’s clear of cancer until June, he regained energy and strength — and took to sports.

From a young age, skateboarding was a passion, then it was riding bicycles. But in 2015, he began running by accident. One day, at age 5, he had intended to ride his bike alongside his father, who was going on a run in a park near their home — but they had forgotten to load the bicycle in the car.

“I’ll just run with you,” Viands recalls his son saying. That day, he ran a few miles, with natural form — and eventually, running replaced biking.

The NCR Marathon is Baltimore's oldest continuously running marathon presented by the Baltimore Road Runners Club.  The 2018 race took place November 24.

(12/21/2018) ⚡AMP
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Joe Adamson is preparing to run a gruelling 250Km race in the punishing heat of the Sahara Desert.

A soldier who played for Bangor Rugby Club is spending his Christmas and New Year in Afghanistan training to run a gruelling 250Km race in the punishing heat of the Sahara Desert.

Captain Joe Adamson was deployed to Afghanistan some weeks ago.

Joe has set himself a target of competing in one of the most arduous and exhausting challenges on the planet – ‘The Marathon de Sables’.

This race, which translates into ‘Marathon of the Sands’ sees around 1000 runners compete in the ultra-marathon over a distance of 250km (156 miles) equivalent to six regular marathons, across the burning sands of Morocco’s Sahara Desert, with temperatures reaching 50 C degrees.

The runners aim to complete the race inside six-days and during that time remain self-sufficient throughout, carrying all their essential equipment, including cooking equipment, food and sleeping bag in the kit bag on their backs.

Joe is a platoon commander with the Gurkhas and it is his job to plan and execute Advisor Force Protection missions. The UK troops are out in Kabul providing protection and security to the NATO advisors and mentors.

(12/21/2018) ⚡AMP
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Aaron Saft has created a 24-hour race on New Year´s Eve at North River Farms

A new race has been created in Mills River that allows runners to literally run into the new year — provided they are willing to run for six, 12 or 24 hours straight.

On New Year’s Eve, around 50 runners will descend on a 1.5-mile dirt loop track around North River Farms.  Starting at 12 a.m. Dec. 31, competitors will run around the loop, trying to complete as much distance as they can before the new year.

Aaron Saft, a veteran trail and ultramarathon runner and Mills River resident, thought it would be a good way to ring in the new year. Saft is a race director, the owner of Root RX running store in South Asheville and president and founder of the Run 828 Foundation — a nonprofit supporting healthy, active and outdoor lifestyles in Western North Carolina.

Four events will take place on the same loop: a 24-hour solo run and relay, a 12-hour solo run starting at noon and a six-hour solo run starting at 6 p.m. All races will finish at midnight Jan. 1, with the award ceremony taking place at 12:15 a.m.

“It allows people to accomplish whatever goal they have in mind,” said Saft. “Get a new distance record, try to go farther than they ever have before. So it’s really individualized.”

Saft said most runners shoot for 100 miles in 24 hours. All runners who complete 100 miles will receive a custom race logo buckle.

There’s very little sleep involved. Some will stop and grab food periodically and take a walk break, but others will run the entire time.

“You can walk the whole way if you want to,” said Saft. “It’s really up to the individual.”

(12/21/2018) ⚡AMP
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Best Racing Moment of 2018 and My Best Runs 2019 World Best 100 Races were announced today

My Best Runs "Best Racing Moment in 2018" and the My Best Runs "2019 World Best 100 Races" were announced today in Mountain View, California at the My Best Runs (MBR) headquarters.

First on the agenda was the announcement of the 2018 Best Racing Moment. MBR founder Bob Anderson stated, "Eluid Kipchoge was all smiles as he crossed the finish line at the Berlin Marathon September 29." 

"He had just smashed the world marathon record clocking 2:01:39.  Eliud ran the last 17k without pacers, pushing himself, taking off one minute and 18 seconds off of Dennis Kimetto's record."

"The world has rarely seen one event so dominated by one man, Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge," says Bob who also was the founder of Runner's World magazine (1966) and publisher for 18 years.

Eliud has won many awards this year including World Athletes of the Year at the IAAF Awards.

Next up on the agenda was the annoucement of the 4th Annual My Best Runs 2019 World Best 100 Races. 

"There are so many good races in the world.  This list could easily be much bigger.  However, as we have done now for four years, we have narrowed it down to the top 100," stated Bob. 

The featured race at 44 of the best 100 are marathons.  There are 20 half marathons and 14 10ks.  There is the Western States 100 miler and the Comrades Ultra marathon in South Africa.

The shortest race is the New Balance 5th Avenue Mile in New York City.  The longest is the 156 mile Marathon Des Sables coming up March 5 in Morocco. 

Most offer prize money totally million of US dollars.  The Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon coming up January 26 is offering $1,316,000.  This marathon which was first held in 2000 top four men at the 2018 race all ran under between 2:04:00 and 2:04:06.  Four women ran between 2:19:17 and 2:19:53.

"It is good to see over $21 million (from races MBR are featuring) in prize money being offered runners," says Bob.  "Running is what these runners do and the money is well deserved and important for our sport."

Of course the Berlin Marathon is one of our top 100 but so is the Valencia Half Marathon (Spain) where Abraham Kiptum broke the world half marathon record in the 2018 race by clocking 58:18. 

The Birell 10k Race in Prague, CZE also made the list again for the 4th year. 18-year-old Phonex Kipruto from Kenya clocked 26:46 while Caroline Kipkirui clocked 30:19.  "This is one fast evening race and obviously belongs on our top 100 list," stated Bob.

The list has races from 23 different countries. 

"You can not go wrong in running any of these races," says Bob Anderson. "Your biggest challenge in many of these races will be to be able to be on the starting line. But if you can get in, you will have a blast."

(12/19/2018) ⚡AMP
by My Best Runs
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Marios Giannakou from Greece was the youngest finisher in one of the most difficult races in the world at Al Marmoom

Marios Giannakou is a 26-year-old runner from the city of Drama in Macedonia, Greece. His extraordinary story of perseverance, as he transformed himself from a smoker into an ultra-fit runner, can serve as an inspiration to all.

He was the youngest finisher in one of the most difficult races in the world, the 270-kilometer (168 mile) “Ultra Marathon”, which took place in the deserts of Dubai between December 11–15.

Giannakou wasn’t always a fit athlete who loved challenges. Weighing more than average and a regular smoker, he changed his attitude and life and began running at the age of 22.

Speaking with the Greek Reporter, Giannakou says that he never saw running as a simple athletic competition, or a personal challenge where you try to achieve the fastest time.”It is an activity where you are on your own. You have the time to think and solve problems for yourself,” he says.

His ultra-long distance running adventure began in 2015, when he participated in several competitions in the region of Rhodopi in Greece’s Thrace. He ran distances of 82 kilometers (51 miles) and even 161 kilometers (100 miles) in separate races there.

In early 2018, he decided to run with his friend Chronis in the Arctic for the distance of 150 kilometers (93.2 miles). ”We finished together, we had the same time” he said proudly.

Asked about his decision to participate in Dubai’s Ultra-Marathon, Giannakou laughed.

”We saw the cold, now it was time to see how the desert is” he said, laughing over the extraordinary accomplishments he has had in less than one year.

(12/19/2018) ⚡AMP
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Moroccans won the world’s longest desert Al Marmoom ultra marathon in the men’s division

El Morabity finished the world’s longest desert Al Marmoom ultra marathon of 270 kilometers in under 32 hours (31:17:29), ahead of French runner Muriel Robert and Iranian runner Akbar Najdi Niryan.

In the women’s category, Moroccan Aziza Raji achieved finished second (40:03:20) behind American runner Magdalena Boulet (37:27:59), while Russian Oskana Riyapova finished third (42:17:43).

The sporting event brought together runners from 35 countries who specialize in endurance races.

The victory comes a week after Rachid El Morabity and his brother Mohammed scored Morocco a gold medal during the Oman Desert Marathon. The brothers won first and second places, respectively.

(12/18/2018) ⚡AMP
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Vlad Ixel traded his alcohol and cigarette addiction for an addiction to trail running

Vlad Ixel decided trail running was a healthier addiction than cigarettes and alcohol. 

Ixel, who came second in the North Face 50 behind Chinese phenomenon Yan Longfei on Saturday, decided to quit alcohol, cigarettes and meat two days before his 25th birthday. Later that week, he decided to run his first-ever marathon.

“When I was 24, the only running I would ever do was to the liquor store before it closed to make sure I had enough bottles,” said the 31-year-old Ukrainian, who has been based in Hong Kong for the past four years. “I couldn’t sleep without my six beers.”

”The high I got from crossing the finish line was far greater than anything I felt on a night out with drugs or alcohol, and with my addictive personality it just began to snowball. Since then, I’ve literally never stopped running,” Ixel said.

He’s not exaggerating. Ixel quickly became one of Hong Kong’s most active elite runners. He is sponsored by North Face and runs roughly 30-35 ultra-marathons a year.

In addition, Ixel has quickly developed a strong presence as an online running coach and motivator, having accrued over 20,000 Instagram followers.

Ixel moved to Hong Kong from Perth, Australia for his running career.

“When I was living in Perth there was maybe only two or three races a year. So when I started racing in Asia I met some friends who told me I should come down to Hong Kong for race season. I ran the 2013 Northface 100 and I thought ‘Wow this place is awesome, this is where I need to be.’

(12/17/2018) ⚡AMP
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He hopes to be the only man on earth to run a sub three hour marathon in six consecutive decades - Marathon Man Gary Allen introduction

Gary Allen is going to sharing his thoughts and knowledge here in MBR’s Running News Daily under the banner “Marathon Man Gary Allen.”

In his first column I sent him some questions so we all could get a flavor of what makes this incredibly creative and talented man tick.  I know I am looking forward to his writings here and I hope you are too!

So Gary, how did you discover running?

”I wanted to be a hockey player,” wrote Gary “but there weren’t enough kids on the small Maine Island I am from for a team. Then in 1972 I saw a skinny guy named Frank Shorter run into a stadium in Munich and I was like cool, you can win a gold medal just for running.”

How important is running to you?

“I have been involved with running for my entire life so assigning importance to who and what I am is like trying to describe how big the universe is to an ant. It is impossible for me to adequately portray how all encompassing running is to me as a part of my life,” says Gary. 

Does being an accomplished runner help you put on first class events?

“Absolutely! The races I direct are direct reflections of what and how I expect races to be run. I would never ask anyone to do something I haven’t done so I merely apply my expectations and my creativity to every race I help to organize.”

What one race you have run stands out as number one?

“Ahhhhh I can’t narrow it down to one race. However, Boston is always high on every list. I have one more to run to make a quarter century of unicorn chasing. The Burning Man ultra (photo) is a race I love beyond words. It helped change my thinking about how races run.

“A combination of an other worldly environment and no entry fee helped to expand my thinking. NYC (19 finishes) is where I was inspired to become a race director after watching Fred Lebow in action in 1980. It is reality true, if you can make it there you can make it anywhere! 

Tell us about your coaching?

“I have coached at the HS level and coached many individuals over the years but my current team is at Mount Desert Elementary School where I have been the XC coach for the past 12 years.

“My philosophy is pretty simple, make running fun and kids will want to run more and the more they run the better they get at running which is of course even more fun for them!

“One of of our key workouts is called, zombie tag. We run in the surrounding Maine woods and trails and I assign a few zombies and the rest of the team tries to run away and not get caught. 

“I also love to hide pizzas in the woods and have the kids run around and find them! Apparently my methods work cause in the past decade plus we have won almost every meet we’ve run!”

What are your personal goals as a runner?

“As a race director: I want to leave our sport better than I found it.

”As a coach: I want to inspire the next generations of runners to think about running for their entire lives. Rather they run or not matters little, but I want them to always remember and to love running knowing some will go on and be involved in our sport as competitors, coaches or even as race directors.

”As a competitor: I have accomplished pretty much every goal I’ve set for myself. Of late I struggle some with the naturally selfish nature of being a long distance runner.

“The single dimensional, ‘I’m training for,’ ‘Look at me’ has become less and less appealing to me over the years.

“As you know one of my proudest achievements is joining the five decades Sub 3 hour marathon club. At this point nobody on earth has run a sub 3 hr marathon in six consecutive decades so maybe it’ll give it a shot in 2020!

“Incidentally Joan Benoit Samuelson is the only other Mainer on the list and the only woman who has done this and I wouldn’t count out Joanie to run a sub 3 for her 6th decade.

Can you give us some background info?

“For Work: Lobsterman, Boat Builder, Carpenter, Yacht captain, Farmer, Auctioneer, Coach, Inspirational speaker.”

”Some Personal Records: Marathon 2:39:10, Half Marathon 1:13:20, 50 miles 6:21.

”My family settled on Great Cranberry Island in the 1670s.  I am 12th generation. It’s a small offshore Island off the coast of Maine. It’s probably the most unlikely place to become a runner as the main road is only two miles long. I built my own house by hand from trees growing on my land. I dug my well with a shovel figuring they used to do it that way so why couldn’t I?”

(12/16/2018) ⚡AMP
by Bob Anderson
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Richard Donovan is planning on finishing his 3,000 mile journey across America this weekend

Irish Ultra runner Richard Donovan is close to completing the equivalent of running nearly 130 marathons. The well-known record setter is currently undertaking the epic Trans North America Run, a 3,100 mile run across the US, travelling from San Francisco to New York, to raise funds for fellow runner Alvin Matthews, who became paralysed in 2014.

Alvin is a dam builder and suffered a 25ft fall in Lebanon last year. He had previously completed two races that Richard had organised, the Antarctic Ice Marathon and the North Pole Marathon, and was due to take part in the Volcano Marathon in South America when he had the accident. To help raise funds for Alvin, Richard began his adventure across the US on May 19th in San Francisco. 

Richard is no stranger to endurance running and currently holds the world record for completing seven different marathons on seven different continents in less than five days back in 2012. During his North American travels, Richard has managed to cover 50 miles in one day, all part of his training for a run he is set to undertake across Antarctica.

“I wanted to see and experience what I considered to be real America, with some of its epic scenery, and I wanted to do it in the heat of the summer. After the start at the Golden Gate Bridge I ran through the rolling hills of California, ‘wine country’, to Lake Tahoe,” he explains.

Although an experienced ultrarunner, Richard has faced considerable hardship during his trans-America run. Blisters were the biggest issue in the first few weeks. I was in a bad situation, getting up daily with a lot of pain. My skin had split in places and I had what I can only describe as very bad open wounds to a couple of toes,” he said.  Injuries were not the only peril that Richard faces, with Mother Nature proving a formidable foe.

“I could hear the howls of coyotes around me during the evening,” he recalls. There were also shadows that appeared to be racing nearby, but I could never see an animal. It was only when I decided to look up that I noticed it was buzzards circling overhead. Of course I encountered many snakes along the route, and had a close encounter with one in particular.”

Richard has been averaging 35 miles per running day. The total distance of the run is 3,200 miles. It’s the equivalent of the flight distance across the Atlantic from New York to Dublin. Richard intends to finish the run this Saturday in Battery Park, New York.

(12/12/2018) ⚡AMP
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America’s Camille Herron sets a new world 24-Hour track record

Camille Herron set the women’s world 24-hour track record today December 9 at the Desert Solstice Invitational Track Meet in Phoenix, Arizona.  She ran 162.8 miles in 24 hours and broke the previous record of 161.55.

Camille also set a new American women’s 100 mile track record (13:25) and American women’s 200k track record. She also won the race outright. Hard work and believing in herself paidoff.

Camille is exhausted but is already talking about running 170 miles in her next 24-hour race! She ran sub 9 minute pace for five consecutive 50ks.  And she was still smiling every lap.  

The Desert Solstice is a pure endurance challenge.  Only 30 of the top American endurance runners are invited, and in order to qualify, runners must have run at least 124 miles (198.4K) in 24 hours, or 100 miles in under 17:30.

The race is a qualifier for the 24-hour national team. According to the iRun4Ultra site, 11 world records and 60 US national records had been set here before this weekend.  

Camille won a $2000 and a $1000 bonus for setting the records and hopefully a lot more from her sponsors. But she does not do this for the money. 

(12/09/2018) ⚡AMP
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Courtney Dauwalter is one tough Ultra runner and wins many that she enters

Courtney Dauwalter specializes in ultras.  But her success in winning them has opened a debate about how men’s innate strength advantages apply to endurance sports.

At 1:40 in the morning, running through the woods near Lake Tahoe, Courtney Dauwalter began hallucinating. She saw live puppets playing on a swing set on the side of the trail. Trees and rocks turned into faces.

She was on her second night without sleep, 165 miles into a 205-mile race through the mountains, pushing her body to levels considered physically impossible not long ago, and seeing very strange things in the night. Dauwalter had been on her feet for almost 40 hours and was leading the field of 215 runners as she set her sights on a course record for September’s Tahoe 200, one in a series ultramarathons.  

Their hero is Dauwalter, a 33-year-old with a reputation for outrunning men and shattering course records. She has won 11 ultramarathons and finished second in seven other endurance races.

This weekend, she will try to break the women’s world record for the most miles run in 24 hour track run, at the Desert Solstice competition in Phoenix. She will have to run more than 161.55 miles to do so. She already holds the American women’s record, 159.32 miles.

This fall, she ran 279.2 miles in what’s known as Big’s Backyard Ultra, a grueling race of attrition during which runners have to complete a 4.16667-mile loop each hour. If they want to put their feet up, eat, go to the bathroom or close their eyes for a few minutes, they have to earn the time by running faster.

The last person standing wins. After tracking Dauwalter for two days in Tahoe, Kyle Curtin passed her at Mile 182. Forty-nine hours 54 minutes after starting the Tahoe 200, Dauwalter crossed the finish line in second, twenty-seven minutes behind Curtin.

The two set a new course record by almost 10 hours. “Courtney was definitely the person to beat,” Curtin said. 

(12/07/2018) ⚡AMP
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Vibram Hong Kong 100 was elevated to Series in the Ultra-Trail® World Tour

Vibram® Hong Kong 100 is delighted to announce its elevation to “Series” level in the Ultra Trail® World Tour (UTWT). This confirms Vibram® Hong Kong 100’s place among the eight most prestigious trail races in the world and as the only Series event in Asia. This further increases the race’s allure to athletes competing for top rankings in the UTWT, the world’s premier trail racing series. The 9th edition of the Vibram® Hong Kong 100 will be held on 19 and 20 January 2019. The race was first held in 2011 and has quickly become one of the most popular events in the global trail running calendar, attracting over 7,000 applicants from 60 countries for just 1,800 places. Hong Kong hosted the UTWT 2017 awards ceremony in January this year, the first time the celebration has ever been held outside Europe. Janet Ng, the Vibram® Hong Kong 100 Race Director, said the race’s elevation was “a tribute to the Hong Kong trail running community, which provides incredible support for the race, along with roughly 1,000 volunteers, the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, St. John Ambulance, the Emergency Services, the sponsors and the Hong Kong Tourism Board. It’s great to see all this hard work and enthusiasm acknowledged, and we are looking forward to welcoming everyone to the festivities here in Hong Kong in January”. (12/06/2018) ⚡AMP
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Britain’s UTMB CCC winner Tom Evans will make his Western States 100 debut next June

Tom Evans is among a top line-up of confirmed elite runners for next year’s Western States 100. The world trail bronze medallist is one of 10 runners invited by organisers of the Ultra Trail World Tour, which includes the Western States 100.  Also due to take part in the world’s oldest 100-mile trail event on June 29, 2019, is Italy’s Francesca Canepa, who won the main UTMB race this year, and Spain’s Jordi Gamito Baus, who was second on this year’s UTWT standings. Britain’s Beth Pascall, who was fourth in this year’s UTMB, is another who will be heading Stateside. Evans wrote on Twitter: “So excited to announce that I will be racing Western States 100 next year! It will be my first 100 mile race. I can’t wait for the highs and lows of training to get to the start line. It’s going to be one big journey." The race from Squaw Valley to Urban along the Western States Trail was established in 1977 and has since become one of the world’s toughest and most prestigious trail running contests. (11/29/2018) ⚡AMP
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Millinocket Maine needed a boost, sure. But not a handout. So Gary Allen started an entry free marathon to help the town

Long-distance runners have a reputation for being as wacky as they are driven. Gary Allen is proof positive of both.

As coach of the Mount Desert Island Middle School cross-country team, he trains his squad mostly by playing zombie invasion games behind the school. He has a screaming-loud stocking hat for every occasion. 

He’s ebullient and sometimes long-winded but knows how to affect reticence with an authenticity that would make any fellow Mainer proud. He treats everyone like his new best friend and begins each conversation with, “Hi. I’m Gary Allen.”

Allen has run a hundred marathons and won his age group in more than a few. In fact, he is one of a few worldwide who have run a sub-three-hour marathon in five different decades. 

He’s the founder of the Mount Desert Island Marathon and the Great Run, a six-hour ultramarathon where competitors simply run back and forth on Great Cranberry Island as many times as they can.  But none of that means much to the 4,500 people who call Millinocket, Maine USA home.

When they talk about a marathon, they’re talking about the one Allen first organized last year — the one that put the town on the long-distance map after Runner’s World picked up the story. The one that has more than 1,000 people clamoring to fly across the country for the opportunity to run here on December 10.

Like most of Allen’s schemes, this one started on a whim. Around Thanksgiving last year, he read yet another newspaper article characterizing Millinocket’s economic woes. 

“It’s not like I set out to find a little town to help. It’s more like a little town found me.” There’ve been a lot of those articles since the Great Northern paper mill closed here in 2008. In the years since, Millinocket has become a symbol for the failure of America’s manufacturing monotowns.

That doesn’t sit well with locals here. And it rubbed Allen the wrong way last fall too. Millinocket needed a boost, sure. But not a handout.

So Gary Allen decided to do what Gary Allen does best: he organized an impromptu marathon. This race was open to all and charged no entry fee. Instead, Allen suggested that participants take the money they would have spent on registration and spend it in Millinocket.

He didn’t advertise any of this except to post it to his Facebook page. Nonetheless, about 50 of his friends agreed to show up for what may well have been America’s first flash-mob marathon. Allen mapped the course on Google Earth.

It’s a gorgeous one: a lazy loop with lots of views of Katahdin and several miles on the iconic Golden Road, a 96-mile stretch of gravel connecting Millinocket and the Canadian border, before it drops back down into town for a finish at Veterans Memorial Park.

Allen warned participants that they’d need to be totally self-sufficient during the race. He printed out slips of paper detailing how to stay on the course. After they were done running, he figured they could have lunch or do some holiday shopping, then fuel up their cars and head home.

Millinocket might not even realize they’d been there. But word got out around in close-knit Millinocket. By the time Allen rolled into town, local businesses had emblazoned signs welcoming the runners. Locals set up a water station around the 5-mile mark and stood for hours guiding runners on the course and directing traffic. A cheering section assembled at the finish.

In other words, the marathon flash mob got flash-mobbed by the town they were supposed to be helping. And in that moment was born an unlikely love affair between one of Maine’s most charismatic runners and a town looking to get back on its feet.

After last year’s race, townspeople asked Allen if he’d organize another one. He agreed. And he said he thought he could make it bigger, better.

Earlier this year, he returned to Millinocket with a surveyor who could certify the course as an official Boston Marathon qualifier — the only one in the country without an entry fee.

As it turned out, Allen’s hastily drawn loop on Google Earth was less than 50 yards off the exact required distance. While Allen and the surveyor were in town, a total stranger offered the two men a house to stay in for as long as they needed.

That, says Allen, is the spirit of Millinocket — and Mainers in general, for that matter. For decades, the town was known as the “Magic City,” a nod to how it seemed to have sprung up overnight in what had previously been untrammeled wilderness.

Millinocket, founded in 1901, is but a blip. And like the Greek goddess Athena, it seemed to emerge fully formed from the mill itself — first as dozens of tar-paper shacks and rooming houses; soon after, as an Anytown, USA, with a bustling main drag and orderly blocks of houses. (Photo by Michael Wilson)

(11/28/2018) ⚡AMP
by Kathryn Miles
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Jeffrey Price is not letting brain cancer slow him down as he gets ready to run 40 miles

Jeffrey Price is setting a big goal for himself. “This year I had brain cancer — had — but now I do not.” And he’s not letting that diagnosis slow him down. He’s running 40 miles in the Black Diamond ultramarathon. “I have to wear this machine. I’m carrying it on my back,” Price said. That device is called Optune. It sends electric pulses through Price’s brain to stop cancer cells from growing. The race director says this ultramarathon is different from others. “It’s smaller than most ultramarathons,” acting race director Jill Williams said. “It’s close-knit. Most people that are running it are in this group called Run it Fast.” Outside of Alamo was the halfway point for the race where runners could fuel up with drinks and snacks before heading out for the next 20 miles. The race went through Gadsden, Alamo and Bells before ending back in Jackson. Price says most of all this is a challenge for himself. “It’s been a blessing, and we’re trying to prove to all the users that you don’t have to stop doing everything that they want to do.” (11/25/2018) ⚡AMP
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European 10,000m champion Lonah Chemtai Salpeter will be in the spotlight at the 35th edition of the Asics Firenze Marathon on Sunday

The 29-year-old has this year set Israeli records at various distances from the 1500m to the half marathon and she will be looking to add another to her collection this weekend. Before winning the continental 10,000m title in Berlin, she set a European-leading national record of 31:33.03 to win the European Cup in London in May. At the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships Valencia 2018 earlier in the year she set a national record of 1:08:58 and reduced that mark to 1:07:55 in Lisbon last month. Salpeter is yet to fully master the marathon, though. She has completed three marathons to date – her one failure to finish came at the 2016 Olympic Games – and her finishing times have all been between 2:40:16 and 2:40:22, a surprisingly consistent series of times for someone who appears capable of going much quicker for 26.2 miles. This weekend Salpeter is aiming at improving the course record of 2:28:15 set in 2002 by Helena Javornik. She could even challenge the European-leading time of 2:25:25 set by European champion Volha Mazuronak. Salpeter will take on Kenya’s Caroline Jepchirchir Chepkwony, who set her marathon PB of 2:27:37 in Lubljana in 2013, Ethiopia’s Ayele Gebaynesh, who has a career best of 2:26:54, and Kenya’s 2:27:07 performer Sarah Jebet. Croatia’s ultramarathon specialist Nikolina Sustic will run her fourth Italian race this autumn after Venice, Turin and Verona. The world 100km champion set a marathon PB of 2:42:44 at the European Championships in Berlin, improved to 2:42:10 in Turin at the start of November and last week clocked 2:42:26 in Verona. (11/23/2018) ⚡AMP
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