Scene from the awards ceremony for 1st day
24-hour runners who were unable to stay until New Year's Day:
RD Paul Bonnett (L) and Host Rodger Wrublik
congratulate Anne Watts for reaching 100 miles.
Matt Watts (white shirt) led at the end of
the first day with 117 miles.
Nattu Natraj (red jacket) got 101 miles.
Continued from the
last entry . . .
Jim was in good spirits when he returned to the track again on
Tuesday at 6
AM. (Technically, it was still Day 1 until 9 AM but it's easiest
for me to start at this point with the Day 2 entry.) He
completed about 65 miles before his second nap of the race and was eager to get going again now
that the sky was starting to lighten up -- it was like
that invigorating "second sunrise" effect on runners in a trail
It also helped that he had no problems keeping warm during the
night. Last year he was running on the first night, which was
colder than any of the other nights during the race last year
or this year. In 2007
his feet hurt so much that he couldn't move fast enough to stay
warm. He got hypothermic and lost a lot of time because he had
to go into the heated tent
several times to get warm. (He didn't want to wake me up in the
camper because I was running the second day.) This year his feet
were in better condition the first 24 hours, the night-time desert temperatures
weren't as frigid, and he was able to stay warm and comfortable.
The two naps in the camper also helped him regulate his body
72-hour runners George Nelson (L), John
Geesler, and Gavin Wrublik approach the timing
mat on the third morning. John, one of
only two runners to reach 300 miles in this race,
was reduced to walking most of the race
with a painful heel spur but stayed the course.
After Jim returned to the track
I got dressed, ate breakfast, took care of Cody (who loved getting attention
each time Jim came in during the night), and
walked over to the Wrublik's house to take care of the runners
checking in on Day 2. Only about fifteen runners came in that
morning because the fewest number were scheduled to start that
day and some had checked in previously. During lulls between
runners I organized the remaining duffel bags and
packets, inventoried the few race shirts and jackets that were
left, and put some of the finishers' glass mugs in new silver lamé drawstring bags to
commemorate the Silver Anniversary of the race.
At 9 AM I was still busy making notes about registration for
whoever would be doing that job the next morning and doggone it, I missed
the start of the Day 2 runners: sixteen in the second
wave of 48-hour race and five in the 24-hour race.
I went out to our aid table about 9:20 AM to see how Jim was doing. He'd been
walking/running pretty steadily the last three hours at a 16-17
minute/mile pace and was up to 75 miles. Although he wasn't able
to keep up with his best-case scenario split chart, he kept
plugging along with determination and good humor. Here's another
look at his chart for Day 1:
I asked him later why he listed only his "best-case scenario"
mileage goal on his split chart instead of also including his
"realistic" goal like he usually does. My thought was that being
unable to keep up with the "fantasy" goal (his term) would only
discourage him as the race wore on and he fell further behind. I discovered yet another
difference in our thought patterns and strategies: Jim
said the chart motivated him to keep trying, even when he knew
it wasn't realistic that he'd suddenly find a high gear that
would propel him to the more lofty goal. Maybe I just don't set
my sights high enough.
I walked/ran a few laps with Jim off and on during the day to
keep him company and to see how he was doing. It gave us time to
talk without him stopping too long at our aid table.
Crew members at ATY are permitted on the course as long as they
don't impede the progress of other runners (i.e., they should
stay on the outside of the track). It was fun to watch friends
members circling the track with their runners, usually when the
runners were in walk mode.
72-hour runners John Hobbs (L), William
Sechel, and ultra-walker Ulli Kamm on Day 2.
Ulli's wife Traudl is on the right; she walked
lots of laps with him.
Handling registration the morning of Day 2 was my last volunteer
job until after the race. There were enough volunteers to handle
the aid station during the day so I was able to spend more time
preparing for my race the next day, crewing for Jim, talking
with runners, taking photos, and getting psyched to run. The
latter was easy; in fact, I was chomping at the bit to
get out there and run with everybody! That's about the only
downside I found to running on the third day.
Jim popped into the camper about 11 AM, just before reaching 80
miles. He'd been slowing down over the last five hours and
needed another nap to recharge his batteries. He also needed to
work on his little toe blister again. After cleaning his foot
and popping/re-taping the blister, he set his timer for one hour
and promptly went to sleep. (Lap #258 took him 1:32
I was busy filling Hammergel flasks and mixing up a couple
bottles of concentrated Perpetuem for my race when Jim came in
to take his nap. By that time I was ready to get some fresh air.
I stayed outside taking photos and talking to the runners so I
wouldn't disturb Jim.
Colorful, happy group of runners pass by
late morning on Day 2.
Deborah Sexton (far L) and Gillian
Robinson, both in the 48-hour race, are in the foreground.
The nap definitely re-charged Jim for several hours. During the
early afternoon he was running more of each lap and cranking
them out faster. Like most of the other runners he slowed down some to accommodate the mid-afternoon heat.
Very few of them were acclimated for temperatures in the
the upper 60s or lower 70s F. Even though Jim and I were in Phoenix
for several weeks the temperatures hadn't been that warm until
race day, so both Jim and I were somewhat affected by the
"I TINK I BROKE. YOU FIX?"
Around suppertime I wandered out to the track to see how Jim was
doing. The shortest route from our camper to our aid table was
in one door of the heated tent and out another. As I passed the
corner of the tent where Christopher O'Loughlin, Nurse
Extraordinaire, and Andy Lovy, Doctor Extraordinaire set up
their massage table, chairs, medical supplies, and personal
tents, I saw Dave
Combs getting his feet taped by Christopher. I had to stop and
Dave Combs (L) gets his feet professionally
Christopher O'Loughlin, RN. Both ran the
This was Dave's first year to run the race after serving as the
main timing person for several years. Like Chris and Andy, he
was entered in the 72-hour race so he could perform his
volunteer duties and still have time to get in some quality
mileage. By his own admission, Dave's feet weren't trained for
the distance he was running and he got blisters rather early in
the race. By dinnertime on Day 2 he was past due for one of
Christopher's professional foot taping jobs.
Quality medical care by Christopher, Dr. Andy, and the Kachina
Rescue Squad are
hallmarks of ATY. The EMTs are there primarily for emergencies.
Chris and Andy have more specific experience with the bodies and minds of
ultra runners; they are ultra runners and they've also
professionally handled many
of the same problems over and over at endurance events. Blisters
injuries (e.g., sore muscles, tendonitis, stress fractures) caused
by repetitive motions over one, two, or three days are some of
the most common problems they address.
They also see a fair amount of dehydration, inadequate
electrolytes, cramping, GI
distress, nausea, hypothermia, and the mental desire to quit. They are quick to diagnose and treat such
problems, enabling the runners to crank out more miles than they
could have without their intervention.
Dr. Andy Lovy at the finish at the end of
Day 3. Mike Melton (L) congratulates him.
Both Chris and Andy have plenty of stories to tell about runners
they've treated during races (keeping their identities
anonymous, of course). Their legend sometimes precedes them. Dr.
Andy laughs when telling about a female Italian runner who came
up to him in an ultra and plaintively asked in halting English,
"I broke. You fix?" I forget what her problem was,
but I'm sure Andy did what he could to fix it!
I decided that would be my opening line if I needed his services
when I was on the track Day 3.
Christopher O'Loughlin tapes Dave's feet as Chris' daughter
I watched and listened as Christopher expertly covered Dave's
toes and the bottoms of his feet with Medipore tape, then
carefully trimmed off the ends. He explained every step of the
procedure so Dave and I could remember what he'd done and why. Chris
ended with a promise that Dave wouldn't get any more blisters
during the rest of the race (another day and a half).
Dave's feet are all done; I got the same
tape job two hours later.
I made a major tactical mistake at ATY last year when I decided
not to get pre-race foot taping done by Christopher. After
watching him tape Dave's feet so quickly and thoroughly, I asked him if he could
do mine. He asked me to return at 8 PM when he planned to take
his next break. That was one of the best strategies I used this
year. I was able to get my Injinji socks (the brand with the
individual toes) over my taped toes, then added a thin pair of Smartwool socks over that on Christopher's recommendation.
Previously I've worn thin synthetic socks on top of the Injinjis
to further prevent blisters. Chris thinks wool socks make a more
effective combination, so I tried that this time.
Every year Chris and Andy work medical miracles during the race
in their dedicated effort to keep everyone on the track and in
as good a shape as possible, considering we're all pushing the
envelope physically and mentally. They provide foot taping and
pre-race "clinics" to educate interested runners. This year Andy
also gave out little containers of the foot cream he recommends
for lubrication to prevent blisters. (It's an old "recipe" I found
in a running magazine in the early 1990s that is a mix of Desitin, A & D Ointment,
Vaseline, Vit. E cream, and Aloe cream
-- messy, but effective.)
Dr. Andy consulting with Tracy Thomas at
her table on Day 1.
Sometimes the runners need a little pep
That's nothing compared to what they do during the event.
The two men usually sacrifice their own races as they duck into
the tent any time a runner either tells them they need help or
Christopher and Andy observe a runner in need of a massage, foot
care, pep talk (Dr. Andy is a psychiatrist), etc. and encourage
them to "come on in." Last year they kept me going two times
when I was cramping from lack of fluids and electrolytes
(particularly potassium) and once when I had a blister under a
callous on my forefoot. I took up a total of about 90 minutes of their time
and was very grateful for the relief and advice they offered. They helped dozens of other runners, too.
This year both Christopher and Dr. Andy had personal race goals
that were important for them to achieve. Chris really wanted to
get his 1,000-mile jacket, which required him to run and walk a minimum
of 121 miles and some change. Andy's goal was to reach at least
100 miles so he could earn one of the beautiful new buckles.
Christopher O'Loughlin (in blue) on Day 1.
Learning about this, one of my goals became to not
consume 90 minutes of their time again! It was heartening to see Dr. Andy
work on more runners during the last night so Christopher had a
better chance of reaching his mileage goal. They make a great team. Best
of all, they both reached their goals at ATY this year.
Meanwhile, Jim had been dealing with two blisters on his little
toe for over 24 hours. After watching Christopher tape Dave's
feet, I suggested he ask Chris to look at his foot and tape it
up in a different manner so Jim could continue running more
comfortably. Jim didn't want to bother Chris so he sought relief
from the EMTs in the Kachina Rescue tent.
Surprise! Jim took this photo of the Kachina Rescue EMTs on Day
when they were bored (a good thing!) and playing Trivial
EMT Andy (not Dr.
Andy) cleaned and drained the blisters again and taped his foot more
thoroughly while Jim did surgery on a third pair of older Asics
2130 road shoes to accommodate the swelling and bandages. He cut out
a piece of the shoe where it rubbed his toe and covered the hole
with a piece of wide,
stretchy Elasticon fabric tape to keep out grit from the track.
You can see the shoes below, without his orthotic inserts. That
modification and some ibuprofen worked to reduce the pain for several more hours.
The bottoms of both of Jim's feet were also increasingly sore
during the race, probably from bruising in the forefoot
(metatarsal heads). I have this problem in really long ultras
(oxymoron??), too. I attribute it to "skinny feet" with
inadequate fat pads on the bottom, but it's probably a
combination of our foot structure, biomechanics, and simple
overuse since we never train 24 hours for a 24-hour race or 100
miles for a 100-mile race -- let alone a 48-hour training run
for a 48-hour race! Endorphins, adrenaline, and synthetic
painkillers don't entirely kill the pain and we either have to
gut it out to the end or stop earlier than planned, as we both
did at ATY last year. Andy Lovy told us about a material that's
more protective than Spenco to use under our orthotics so we'll
look into that.
Near the end of the race Jim's feet were so sore that he tried wearing generic "Crocs"
(below) but they were too
inflexible to be comfortable on the track.
Some 72-hour runners
(Martina Hausmann, Rick Cheever, Christian Griffith, etc.) wore
Croc-type shoes successfully
for several hours on their third day but Jim didn't like
them. Nor could he wear his Keen sandals; they rubbed his
little toe too much. He finished the race wearing his doctored
Asics shoes and continued wearing them for several days after
the race while his toe healed.
INTO FOREIGN TERRITORY
The longest distance Jim has ever run in a single ultra event is
100 miles or maybe a tad longer. Since mountainous trail ultras are
impossible to measure exactly, some are more like 101 or 102
miles "just to be sure" no one is being shortchanged. He reached that milestone at ATY
at 8 PM on Day 2, just after I went inside the big tent to get
my feet taped by Christopher.
Cool! Now he knew he'd earned one of the beautiful 100-mile
He also knew he was in new territory both mentally and
physically. He'd already been out on the course for 35 hours,
including sleep and other breaks. Whatever distance he could
cover in the next 13 hours would be time and miles and wear and
tear that he'd never experienced before. That was part of the
allure of doing 48 hours in the first place. It was a new
challenge. By now, however, he was tired enough to be
questioning the sanity of it all.
Jim leaves our aid table late in the
afternoon on Day 2.
Less than a mile later, he decided to take another nap. It was
dark, it was getting cold again and, well, a hundred miles is a
lot of ground already covered. Jim wanted to rest and regroup
for his final attempt at his goal. Lap #324 ended at 8:20 PM. We
were both asleep soon after 8:30. I had ear plugs in
both my ears this time so I could sleep more soundly the night before my race. I didn't
hear Jim go back out on the track about 10 PM, ready to rack up
some more miles.
Even though he avoided some problems that have plagued him late
in some other ultras, the second night proved to be a real struggle for him.
This was definitely new territory for him.
On the plus side, it was cold but he
never got hypothermic. He had no problems with nausea,
dehydration, cramps, tendonitis, or lack of energy. He continued
eating and drinking. He was motivated mentally to accumulate as
many miles as possible.
Jim's main problem as the race wore on through the second night was
foot pain and an overwhelming need to sleep. Remember, he'd
never been "out there" for two nights before. Seeing how his
mind and body would handle the second night was one of the main
reasons he took on this challenge in the first place.
Jim adjusts his glasses to read the lap
screen after runners changed directions
at 5 PM on Day 2. Ninety-three miles!
He returned to the
camper three more times that night for naps ranging from about
40 minutes to two hours. I was soundly asleep and never heard
him come or go. We both had our alarms set to get up at 7 AM on
Thursday. That was the first time I talked to him since I went
to bed at 8:30 Wednesday night.
Jim felt better after his last nap; it was morning again
and the end of his race was near.
He was able to walk fairly
steadily for another five miles before stopping at 8:50
AM with a total distance of about 116.2 miles, the longest
he's ever run and walked in one race. He placed third of seven
runners in the first wave of the 48-hour race but had to wait
another day to see how he fared after the second wave finished.
(That's a disadvantage of running early in the race.)
He ended up 9th of 21 runners in the 48-hour race, an excellent
placement for his first two-day attempt.
It wasn't as many miles as Jim wanted but I'm as proud of him as
I'd be if he'd won the whole race! He told Rodger in all
sincerity that his new ATY buckle (above) means more to him than any of
his trail 100-mile buckles (even Western States and Leadville). I
think that says a lot about ATY and Jim. He had the guts
to try something new and difficult for him, gave it his best
shot, and should be proud of his accomplishment. Great job,
You'll notice there isn't a finish photo of Jim on this page.
That's because he stopped while I was in my pre-race briefing
and I wasn't out there to record it for posterity. When I came
out he was sitting in the chair at our aid table, waiting to
watch me start with the third wave of 24-hour runners. We hugged
and kissed, congratulated/encouraged each other, and soon went
our separate ways for the next 24 hours. I began my one-day
journey around and around (and around) the track and Jim headed for the camper to wash
off two days of grime and take a very long, well-deserved nap.
Next entry: ATY Day 3; Sue's turn to
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody, and
Tater (in spirit)
© 2008 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil