2009 ULTRA RUNNING ADVENTURES

 

   
 
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  RUN LIKE THE WIND ULTRA-DISTANCE RACES

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 6

 
"The Schrodi Memorial Training Fund and the Lee Mannix Center for Canine Behavior
are hosting the second annual 5K Run, 5K Walk/Run, and long distance runs
of 3, 6, 12, and 24 hours. Well-behaved dogs welcome at ALL EVENTS . . . "
 
- from the Schrodi Fund website
 
 

The original purpose of our trip to Austin was to run one of these fixed-time races as a training run before Run to the Future 24-hour race at the end of December.

The date and logistics suited our purposes well: a low-key, dog-friendly event with varied times/distances on a soft wood-chip trail through the woods, directed by well-known ultra runner and chef Sammy Voltaggio, who we know from the Hardrock 100 race in Colorado. His delicious aid station food is near-legendary among ultra runners who have tasted it!


Sammy (red shirt, third from left) and volunteers head for a truck loaded with firewood.

Unfortunately, neither of us was physically prepared this year to run or walk any of the ultra distances offered at Run Like the Wind.  Both of us are just getting back to running/walking for one or two hours after dealing with plantar faciitis (Jim) and pelvic surgery (me). Jim was entered into the 12-hour race but I never did register for any of the events.

Jim withdrew from the race several weeks ago. Sammy told him that the dog center would refund his entry fee but that hasn't happened so we'll consider it a donation to the training fund, which is the beneficiary of race proceeds.

Even though we weren't going to run the race we decided to visit Austin anyway. Yesterday afternoon we drove to the other side of town to watch the race for a couple of hours. In the photo above, Jim and Cody enter the heavily wooded race site at the Lee Mannix Center for Canine Behavior.

Above and below: aid station and timing area

 

We had no idea who was running; the Schrodi site doesn't list the entrants and an e-mail to Sammy only confirmed that there was room until the last minute to enter any of the races. It was a nice surprise to find several of our friends competing in the 12- and 24-hour races -- Marcy Beard,

Deborah Sexton,

and Kim Sergeant.

We also got to socialize with Kim's mom, who crews for her at most of her 100-milers, and Henry Hobbs (next photo), a local ultra runner who assists both Sammy V. and Joe Prusatis with the races they direct around Texas.


Henry and Jim ran together a while at the Jemez 50-miler in New Mexico lasts May.

We arrived after the three 5K races were over. Lots of dogs participated in those races, whose proceeds will help fund behavioral training for dogs whose owners can't afford it.

The Lee Mannix Center also has a well-equipped dog agility course right next to the trail loop used in the race. This is part of it:

Cody had some agility training in Billings when he was a pup. While we were at the Lee Mannix site yesterday we let him use several of the stations, to the amusement of the runners passing by (to the right of the yellow tape below) -- the A-frame, teeter-totter, balance beam, hoops, hurdles, etc.


You want me to jump THAT high?!

His favorite has always been the tunnel:


May I please run through there sixteen more times??

Dogs were also allowed on the course after the fixed-time events began at 11 AM but we didn't see any on the course then. There were only about 40 runners spread out over the curvy, 1K course. We were curious to see all of the course in case we decide to run this race in the future so we walked around it with Cody, being mindful to stay out of the way of the runners:

The wood-chip dirt trail is mostly shaded and has some roots, rocks, and ruts to negotiate, more like a single-track trail than the smoother trails that most fixed-time races use.

The mostly flat, well-marked race course winds through the woods on the Lee Mannix grounds and nearly loops back on itself at one spot:

Chip timing makes recording the runners' distances easy for race management. After we left the site in the mid-afternoon a board near the aid station displayed the runners' distances.

Runners don't reverse directions during the race; they run in a clockwise loop the entire time. That's probably not a problem on this course since it winds around so much and isn't just a circle or oval that would place the same stresses on runners' bodies each loop. Runners turn both right and left on the loop.

CREW-FRIENDLY COURSE

This is an easy course to crew oneself or to be crewed. Runners can set up their crewing stations anywhere along the loop. Most put their chairs and drop bags on the approach to the aid station:

 

Others were between the aid station and dog agility course:

Some runners also set up tents near the course so they could sleep there before and after the race. From what we could see of aid station area, it looked as well-stocked as any large ultra. And I bet the food was better than most! (Sammy is a chef, remember?)

RESULTS

The 24-hour race ended at 11 AM today. We didn't go back for the finish. The weather remained good until late last night, then turned wet and cold for the runners who were out there all night and this morning. Marcy was glad she ran the 12-hour race and was done by 11 PM Saturday! (We had dinner with Marcy and John this afternoon and heard more about the race from them.)


Runners leave the AS/timing area and head out on another 1K loop.

Still in just its second year, the race remains fairly small. I think it will gain in popularity as word spreads about it.

According to the results for the four fixed-time races, only three runners participated in the 3-hour race (most distance = 21.7 miles), thirteen in the 6-hour race (37.82 miles won), nine in the 12-hour race (73.16 miles for first male, 70.68 miles for Marcy Beard, who was first female and second overall), and fifteen in the 24-hour race (winner with almost 116 miles; Kim Sergeant got 81+ miles, Deborah Sexton 60+). Good job on that course!

We'd both consider running/walking this race in the future as a training run for another race (Jim) or just for fun (me). The price is reasonable, it's very low-key, there are a variety of times/distances from which to choose, crewing is easy, timing is accurate, aid is excellent for such a small race, it's dog-friendly, and it benefits a good cause. The dirt and wood-chip course is not totally smooth or "fast" but it beats pavement, which is hard on our aging joints. The loop configuration is interesting and varied.

Next entry: there's a lot to like at McKinney Falls State Park, including its trails

Happy trails,

Sue
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, and Cody the Ultra Lab

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2009 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil

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