Friday, August 21, 2009

My Favorite Running Experiences

I started to get into this running thing somewhere back in 2004.  Actually, 2004 was filled with a bunch of short distance New York Road Runner's Club events (starting with my first ever race, a 5k in February that took me 28:01 of misery to complete).  It wasn't until 2005 that I started to consider ultra marathons, with my first being the Knickerbocker 60K on November 26, 2005.  In the last 5 years I have participated in and completed (with the exception of missing the 39 mile cut-off at the North Face Endurance Challenge at Bear Mountain in 2008) 24 ultra marathons and 18 marathons.  It breaks out like this :

Marathons - 18
100+ Miles - 6
50 Miles - 7
60Ks - 1
50Ks - 10

I have also had the pleasure of crewing and pacing at several ultras and marathons which, for me, can often be a greater experience than actually running the event.  Yet, I never took the time to think about which of the marathons and ultras I liked the best - whether it be due to the course, my performance, my runner's performance, the atmosphere, or just for plain sentimental reasons.  So, I figured I'd do a top 10 of my most memorable experiences at races.

Number 10, the 2005 Long Island Marathon.  Although the course is just plain awful and annoying, it was the first time I broke 4 hours.

Number 9, the 2006 Vermont 50 Mile, my first 50-miler.

Number 8, the 2006 New York City Marathon.  I ran this one a week after running a marathon in New Jersey as part of Dean Karnazes's Endurance 50.  What was great about it was that I ran the entire event with friends Peter and Ira, the two guys that I started running with in 2004.

Number 7, Pacing Wayne Bates at the 2008 Vermont 100.  Oh man, I never thought this guy would finish the race, especially when he passed out for over an hour somewhere around 80 miles into the thing.  Check out the pacing report.

Number 6, pacing Jackie Flourine at the 2008 Badwater 135 Mile Ultra.  Just an amazing experience to see her battle her way across the desert.

Number 5, the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend (all 5 of them).  Yes, we go back year after year, and will be back for #6 in January.  It is our annual family vacation, and a great way to kick of the new year.

Number 4, a tie between the 2009 Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile and the 2009 Umstead 100 Mile.  Rocky Raccon was a battle, and my first sub-24 hour finish in a 100-miler.  My friend Rick Gaston saved me and dug me out of the dirt to push me to finish.  I will never forget our time on that course together.  Umstead is a great course, with great volunteers.  It is most solid 100-miler to date, and a personal best time of 21:39:37.  There were also plenty of friends at this race that I got to see finish.

Number 3, the Pineland Farms 50 Mile Trail Challenge, both in 2008 and 2009.  Another fantastic course, with great volunteers.  It is also an opportunity to spend a ton of time with friends, including a bunch from G.A.C., a tremendous group of people.

Number 2, the Pacing Brittni Radford at the 2009 Keys 100.  I can't really explain this one - you'll have to read my pacing report and see the Video Retrospect.  A gut-wrenching performance by an amazing girl.  

Number 1, the 2009 Badwater 135 Mile Ultra.  Finishing this event and learning just what it means to be a part of the Badwater family - How can I not have this as my most memorable experience !

These are just my 10 favorite experiences at marathons and ultra events.  They aren't necessarily my favorite races/courses.  I suppose I'll save that for another post.


  1. Awesome post! I hope to run an ultra, soon.

  2. That's a lot of amazing races! Congrats on all of them!

  3. I love that you ran with Dean. I saw him interviewed in 2006 and that is what got me off my butt after not running or doing much of anything for a couple years. I have since Run NYC twice with a 3:28 PR and 1 Ultra at Bear Mt. DC here I come.