Runtrails' Rocky Mountain Journal
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"Also in the 24 hour, on different days, the real-life couple Jim O'Neil and Sue Norwood
were a perfect match, running 242 laps (121K), he in 22:20:00, she in 22:43:18. 
That should be close enough for a Virtual Side-By-Side award."  
- Peter Fish, in a post to the internet ultra list 1-1-08

Isn't that sweet?? We certainly didn't intend to get identical mileage in this race, but it's kinda fun now that we did. I don't regret stopping when I did and I joke to Jim that it's my anniversary gift to him. This is our 7th wedding anniversary -- what a great way to celebrate!

Even though 75 miles was my goal, Jim reached it a day before I did -- and stopped short of his goal. That number became even more of a target for me. Could I get more miles than Jim? Would he be disheartened -- or mad -- if I did? (No, he's a grown-up.) Friends e-mailed their encouragement to me to "beat Jim," but in the end I didn't have the fortitude to keep going when my foot hurt so badly. If I could have walked normally I would have tried for 80 miles or more, but it just didn't work out that way.

I like the way it ended. We are both competitive enough within ourselves, however, that we intend to return to ATY (if we can get in again) and do even better next time. That's also assuming my knees hold up another year . . . as well as they did in this race I have renewed hope.


Although I remember the first two days of ATY with crystal clarity I have very little memory of the third day -- partly because of my fatigue at the time and partly because I'm writing this entry two weeks later (hey, we've been busy!). I didn't even take any photos on Day 3, although I watched friends off and on during the afternoon and wanted to experience the New Year's Eve party at midnight. I'll include a few more photos here from Day 1.

After I stopped running a little before 8 AM Jim and I took all our gear and supplies back to the camper so another runner could use our table. A new group of about two dozen 24-hour runners began their races at 9 AM, just as my 24-hour group and the first half of the 48-hour runners completed their races. All the 72-hour runners and the second wave of 48-hour runners continued on Day 3. There were still about 69-70 runners on the course.

Jim watched the start of the race and was amazed at the pace Paul DeWitt immediately set. Runners trying to break records had to finish their races at the end of the third day (9 AM on Tuesday morning). Since Paul hoped to run 165 miles to set a new American 24-hour record he began on Day 3. He started out with a bang and was efficiently crewed by his wife so he didn't waste any time. It reminded Jim of watching Leah Jurek crew for her elite running husband Scott. Slower runners with crews can learn a lot by watching their seamless hand-offs.

Our friend Anne Watts, left foreground, passes the aid station on Day 1

Once I stopped running Monday morning I was suddenly out of energy and all I wanted to do was get horizontal. I was already in bed when the new group of runners started at 9 AM. I'd consumed so much caffeine the past 24 hours that it was impossible to get into a deep sleep but it sure felt good to lie there in bed! I listened to the runners chat as they ran and walked past the camper, then put in ear plugs to at least try to get some sleep.

Tired as I was, I was envious of the folks who were out on the course! I thoroughly enjoyed my time out there.

I felt better when I got up around lunchtime and ate some real food. I wasn't very hungry. I wasn't very sore (except for the forefoot with the blister). I was just tired and had fur-brain.

During the afternoon I observed the runners several times, also marveling at how fast and smoothly Paul was running, hoping he'd set a new record. That wasn't to be, however. After 66 miles in 10:42 hours he stopped, literally hamstrung by a sore hamstring. He wisely saved himself from further injury and called it a day. This is the only time Jim and I will ever "beat" Paul DeWitt! (Of course, he was going twice as fast as we were.)

Other runners, especially those in the 72-hour race, were battling their own demons. Runners that were still walking and/or running with good form on Day 2 were visibly deteriorating by Day 3. Both John Geesler (shown below on Day 1) and Tony Mangan, the top two runners in that race, were scuffing the the ground with every step. When I was in the camper I could hear them coming on every lap. Others were leaning badly or taking longer and longer breaks. But most continued walking or shuffling until the very end, eking out as many miles as their minds and bodies would allow. Those are some very determined, disciplined individuals and they have our respect.

One of the realizations that both Jim and I shared after running and walking for "only" 24 hours around that track was the fact that we'd never, ever sign up for a 48- or 72-hour race on a short loop. It was great for one day, but multiple days are completely beyond the ability of our minds to focus and our  bodies to move. It's entirely different to run/walk multiple days on a hilly or mountainous trail like the Appalachian and Colorado Trail journey runs I did or events like the three-day Western States and Leadville training runs we ran than it is on a course like ATY. Even though those long trails and events were difficult, we could sleep in a real bed every night. You can't do that in a multi-day fixed-time race and expect to get very many miles.

When I was walking with Glen Turner for a lap on Sunday night I asked him how ATY compared with the six-day Sri Chinmoy run he did earlier in the year. He said a three-day event is harder for him because he has to run more and sleep less. The six-day format was not as intense for him because he could rest more and still get in decent mileage (not double what he'd do in a three-day event, though). I found that interesting.

I had thought I might volunteer again in the aid station on Monday but I was too tired and needed to stay off my foot. Sandra said she had plenty of volunteers that day so I spent most of the afternoon in the camper. I managed to clean up all our bottles and gel flasks (no small feat) and reorganized our boxes of running gear and supplies.

Timer Dave Combs (left) visits the aid station on Day 1. Jean-Jacques d'Aquin, facing the camera, volunteers before running 100 miles in the second 48-hour race on Days 2 and 3.

I also got caught up on e-mail and ultra list posts. Dave Combs was feeding information to both the ATY web site and ultra list (he is co-owner of the list), drumming up chatter about the race. Now EVERYbody is gonna want to run it, Dave!! I hope the increased interest shown in ATY will encourage other runners to try a fixed-time event. They might be as surprised as we were how much fun it is.

Jim kept busy on Monday afternoon by encouraging runners and assisting Paul and Rodger with a variety of things. He also went out for more propane for the heaters in the large tent; we donated that batch to the race.


I couldn't keep my eyes open after supper. I laid down fully clothed around 7 PM with the exhortation to Jim that he wake me up at 11 PM so I could get out and enjoy the New Year's Eve festivities. I'd read and heard how special the night is, with lots of balloons, party favors, fireworks at midnight, and a walk around the loop by everyone who wanted to celebrate. I didn't want to miss it. It's the signature event of the weekend, the reason the race is called "Across the Years."

Well, I missed the whole shebang!

Jim came back about 11 to find me sound asleep and he just didn't have the heart to wake me up. He went back out to celebrate with our friends. When the first of three waves of fireworks went off, I woke up startled. I could hear them even with my ear plugs in. It took me a minute to realize what was going on, and then I was mad that Jim didn't wake me up. I opened the door of the camper and saw the third and last set of fireworks lighting the sky to the east. Very pretty. I didn't have time to get my camera out so I'll use Don Lundell's photo again from last year's party

Jim was walking around the track with everyone when he saw me at the door. He ran around the hedge to the camper and quickly apologized for not waking me up. He encouraged me to come on out and join in the group walk. I declined, knowing it'd be over by the time I got out there. We both got dressed for bed and slept soundly the remainder of the night. Party poopers.

We're obviously not 35 any more.


We both felt much less tired the next morning although by now DOMS was setting in.

DOMS is the acronym for "delayed onset muscle soreness," the did-you-get-the-number-on-that-truck? feeling. Moving around as much as we did on Tuesday helped relieve the soreness and we felt much better when we got up on Wednesday.

We ate a quick breakfast and got out to the timing area by about 8:30 AM to see the finish of the race. Some of the runners had already packed it in early like we did but the majority were still circling the track. It got very interesting as we stood near the finish banner, watching the clock tick toward 9 AM and wondering whether each runner would go back out for another loop. Incomplete loops don't count at ATY. If you're ten yards too short on the last lap, none of that lap counts toward the total mileage.

In the next photo a group of runners approaches the finish line with fewer than five minutes remaining in the race. Note the balloons and silver decorations that were put up for the New Year's Eve celebration:

L-R, below: Dave Combs, Paul Bonnett, Jimmie and Rodger Wrublik, and Andy Lovy watch runners approaching the finish line. A runner who just crossed the line is a blur (not intentional on my part, but I like the effect):

It's amazing how fast some of those runners did their last laps, trying to beat the clock! Tony Mangan was going near warp speed, or so another one of my blurry photos would suggest:

Maybe I should have said I tried to get that effect! Pretty cool.

This photo illustrates the anticipation of those of us who were watching:

All who went out on just one more lap came in before 9 AM -- except the affable Mike Melton from Florida, who ran 164 miles in the 72-hour race. We all gave a collective sigh when he appeared to miss the deadline by only a few seconds. We later learned from Dave Combs that Mike was given that lap because of a discrepancy between the two timing clocks. I'm glad! Mike really pushed that lap after being out there for 72 hours.

I got a lot of photos at the finish and awards brunch. Only a few are here. The best of the rest will go on our Picasa photo-sharing site ("More Photos" link) when I have enough free internet time to upload and label them.

There were lots of cheers and hugs for all the runners, who quickly dispersed to the showers or their tents and vehicles. It had been a long weekend and everyone was tired, runners, crews, and volunteers alike. You couldn't tell that from the smiles on Don Lundell's and Gillian Robinson's faces, however:

Check out those Eric Clifton tights! Don accumulated 103 miles in the 24-hour race and Gillian got 126 miles in her first attempt at a 48-hour event.

I caught Lynn Newton reading some of his ATY mail as wife Suzy looks on:

Some folks left but most stayed for the awards brunch at 10 AM. Jim and I helped set up the tables and chairs as we simultaneously encouraged runners to pack up their belongings so the awards ceremony could begin on time. I caught our friend Pete Stringer acting silly for the camera as he packed up his tent and gear for his plane ride home to the east coast:

It was good to see him laugh and feeling better after suffering from flu-like symptoms most of Day 2. Pete was disappointed with his 155 miles but he did great when you consider he lost nearly a day out of the three to illness.

Everyone cooperated with moving out of the tent except the very sleepy Martina Hausmann, who continued to catch some zzzzz's nearly until she was called up to the podium for her award! That's her snuggled in the brown sleeping bag below. Dave Combs, standing left, talks with Lynn Newton as they wait for brunch.



Jim and I were more rested than the runners who had just finished their races; we'd already had one or two days to recover. Everyone was full of stories, however, no matter how tired they were. This is one of the best parts of ultra races: talking with other runners after we're done. Love those war stories!

We shared a large table with Lynn and Suzy Newton, Pete Stringer and his wife Jane (below, in foreground), and Tom Pelsor and his friend. In the background are Robert Andrulis (reddish jacket) and Karsten Solheim (far right) and his wife:


Shortly after 10 AM we lined up for submarine sandwiches, chili, tortilla wraps, fruit, and other goodies:


Here Jamil Coury, Tana Wrublik, and Suzy Newton make final preparation before the hungry runners descend on the buffet:

When everyone was finished eating Paul began the awards ceremony, first thanking the sponsors, race committee members, and other volunteers. We were surprised that he mentioned Jim's and my contributions. We put in more hours than some of the volunteers, and would work the rest of this day, but we put in only a small fraction of time compared to the members of the race management team.

Thank you for the mention, Paul - and many, many thanks to you and your fine race committee. You really have raised the bar.

Then Paul announced the names and final mileages of each runner in the 72-, 48-, and 24-hour races as Rodger handed out the awards. Both men received lots of hugs and thanks from the tired-but-grateful runners as they went up to receive their finisher or overall awards.

Runners in all three races were awarded commemorative glass mugs engraved with the race logo and event. Although many of the 24-hour runners from Days 1 and 2 had already received their mugs and gone home, each of their names and final miles were announced at the ceremony. A higher percentage of 48- and 72-hour folks were present because most had just finished running.

Here are some interesting facts and figures about the race:

  • 111 runners participated in the three events and accumulated distances from 7 to 273 miles.
  • No new American or world records were set this year.
  • Eleven runners in the 24-hour race reached or exceeded 100 miles. They received special buckles for their effort. Jim and I placed 23rd and 24th out of 53 people who ran this event.
  • Daniel Larson, age 31, won the 24-hour event with 135 miles. Diana Rush, 47, was first female with 104 miles.

"Ray K" amuses Rodger as he collects his 200-mile race buckle in the 72-hour event.
Ray entertained everyone on the track the entire weekend!

  • Aaron Doman, age 12, ran an impressive 50 miles in the 24-hour event. He ran with his mother, Sarah Spelt, 49, who was in the 48-hour event. His father, Wendell Doman, 48, was going faster -- he ran 121 miles in 24 hours, placing third overall in that race.
  • There were 20 runners in the 48-hour event. No one reached 200 miles in that race this year.  Hans Bern Bauer, 39, won with 190 miles. Debbie Richmeier, 47, was fourth overall and first female with 167 miles.
  • Thirty-eight runners participated in the 72-hour event, the only one of its kind in the world. More than half were 50 and older. Three were in their 70s, with Aaron Goldman (shown below) the oldest at 75. He ran 175 miles and placed 15th overall.

Paul gives Aaron Goldman his 100-mile buckle. He's been one of my ultra running
heroes since I ran 30 miles with him at the Vermont 100-miler in 1998.

  • No one reached 300 miles in the 72-hour event. Those who exceeded 100 or 200 miles received a buckle.
  • Tony Mangan, 50, of Ireland won the 72-hour race with 273 miles (he's gone over 300 miles before).

Paul and Rodger listen as Tony Mangan speaks to the audience

  • John Geesler, 48, who's also done 300+ miles for 72 hours, valiantly held on for 250 miles and second place even though he knew by Day 2 that it wasn't going to be a good race for him.
  •  Martina Hausmann, 47, of Germany won with 235 miles. Her running style is not elegant but she is totally relentless and has a solid resume in multi-day events.

A happy Martina Hausmann carries her trophy back to her seat

  • The youngest participant in the race entered late and had to convince his father that he really wanted to run. Gavin Wrublik, Rodger's adorable 6-year-old son, ran and walked almost eight miles during the race. Unfortunately, this year Rodger was too busy to run his own race. He's an excellent ultra runner and it appears Gavin wants to emulate his dad!
  • At least two more runners reached 1,000 lifetime ATY miles during the event, joining several others with that distinction. They received beautiful jackets.
  • Overall male and female winners in each race received handsome sculptures:


You can access results for all three events at this link. Click on the tabs at the top for each race.


I've mentioned previously about the high-quality products that ATY entrants receive. Here are photos of most of the clothing items:

Colorful Dirty Girl gaiters from Xy Weiss (left) and Moeben Sleeves (arm warmers) from Shannon Farar-Griefer. That's Xy during the race on Day 1 in the photo on the right.

Xy (pronounced Chrissy) ran in the 24-hour race. Shannon is an ultra runner but did not participate in the race this year.

Men received this ultra-lightweight white long-sleeved technical running shirt from Northface. Women received a different style in a similar fabric. Both are very nice for running in either warm or cold weather.


Jim and I are modeling our new race jackets below. Both are from Northface. The men's black zip-front jacket is made of warm, thick ribbed fleece and has large pockets. The beautiful dark brown women's zip-front jacket is a soft, lightweight "hoody" with Princess seams and pockets.


We love our new running clothes!


After the awards ceremony runners and crews quickly dispersed but a considerable amount of work remained to return Nardini Manor to its pre-race condition. In only four days the Wrubliks would be holding an open house for prospective brides!

Despite not getting much sleep all weekend, several race committee members and other more-rested volunteers like us hung around during the afternoon to take down the medical, aid station, and timing tents and perform a variety of other tasks. Jim and I helped Rodger for several hours until suppertime. Our jobs included packing up and carrying some of the food items and supplies to the ATY storage room and the Wrublik's basement, folding up chairs and tables in the big tent and putting them elsewhere, sweeping the floor of the big tent, walking the course and grounds to pick up trash (not much of that), carrying garbage to the industrial-sized trash container, helping take down the timing tent and screens, etc.

I think we earned these attractive white short-sleeved volunteer t-shirts with the colorful race logo:

And all the walking, lifting, stretching, and bending made us feel better than we did in the morning. Good therapy.

We continued to be amazed by the prodigious amount of work Rodger is capable of doing, even more amazing considering how little sleep he'd gotten for the past week. We offered to help even more but he joked that he needed something to do the next day!

We returned to the camper for dinner and made plans to leave on Wednesday morning to continue our adventures in the Southwest for a few more (warm) weeks. We are extremely grateful to the Wrubliks for letting us camp out in their parking lot and we trust our hours of service, enthusiasm for the race, donation of propane, positive publicity, written and verbal feedback, and bottles of wine from Virginia's Chateau Morrisette adequately conveyed our thanks. <smile>

Next entry: final thoughts about our race performance, and where we go from here running-wise

All the best in 2008,

"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody, and Tater

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2007 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil