Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Look Back at 2009

2009, my 4th year of running ultramarathons, has come and gone.  It was certainly the busiest year yet, and included over 2,500 miles of running, 10 ultramarathons (4 of 100 or more miles), 4 marathons, an epic pacing experience at the Keys 100, and of course, a tremendous learning experience at the Badwater 135-Mile Ultramarathon.  Here's a quick look at the year that was 2009, a year where "I could have missed the pain, but I'd have had to miss the dance."

Disney's Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge (January 10 and 11) - Each of the last 5 years have kicked off with a family trip to Walt Disney World and a go at the Disney 1/2 and full marathons.  As usual, I ran the 1/2 marathon with the wife and helped her set a 1/2 marathon PR by over 10 minutes, finishing in 2:01:36.  The following day I paced my friend Peter in the full marathon, barely missing a sub-4 hour finish (4:00:17).  (see "Race Report : Walt Disney World 1/2 Marathon" and "Race Report : Walt Disney World Marathon")

Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile (February 7) - Thanks to pacer Rick Gaston, I notched my first sub-24 hour 100-mile finish (23:24:39).  This became a battle during the night-time hours, and if not for a little "tough love" from Rick, who knows what would have happened.  A memory from this event that will always stand out is the encouragement that friends Jamie and Andy (both won the women's and men's races respectively) gave while on the race course.  It was also a virtually blister-free run thanks to Drymax Socks.  (see "Race Report : Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile")

Rocky Raccoon 100 Sub-24 Hour Buckle

Caumsett Park 50k (March 1) - 3 weeks after Rocky Raccoon, this was really a training run.  The first 17 miles were spent with my good friend Kristen (she was training for a future marathon and only putting in 20 miles) at a nice and steady pace.  After we split I pushed myself to a 5:17:31 finish.  (see "Short Race Update : Caumsett Park 50k"

Umstead 100 Mile (April 4) - 100-milers...2 for 2, and this one even better than the last.  21:39:37 was good for 32nd place out of 248 starters, and not a single blister to show for it thanks again to Drymax Socks.  Good friend Dave James led from start to finish to take the overall title in 15:05:10.  Tons of other friends put in spectacular efforts, including Doug Vaughan (21:05:48; 23rd place), Grant McKeown (22:06:23), Emmy Stocker (22:18:49), Wayne Bates (23:12:49), Joe Galioto (23:26:02), Lane Vogel (26:14:25), Tammie Massie (27:46:48), Bob Gentile (28:14:22), and Derek Hills (28:14:22 - first 100-miler).  One of my favorite video finishes, that of Bob and Derek, is below.  (see "Race Report : Umstead 100 Mile Endurance Run" for plenty of in-race videos and pictures)

Dave James Posing With His Champion's Buckle (and some lady at the airport)

Wayne, Bob, Grant, Emmy and Tammy (Pre-Race)

New Jersey Marathon (May 3) - On a miserable, rainy day, I paced Kristen to a 4:29:53 finish.

Pacing/Crewing at the Keys 100 (May 18) - This was one of those experiences that you simply never forget.  It can't be summarized in a few short sentences.  See "2009 Keys 100 Mile - The Journey of Brittni Radford" for all of the details surrounding a the group of 5 women running to raise money for AIDS Orphans Rising, including Sister Mary Beth Lloyd who was attempting to run 100 miles in her calf-length black habit.  Of the 5 in the group who started, only one, Brittni Radford, would finish, but all would succeed in the ultimate goal of raising awareness and money to support hte children of AIDS Orphans Rising.  

Pineland Farms 50 Mile (May 24) - This is, by far, my favorite 50 mile race, and not just because I've PR'd here twice.  The race is put on in a virtually flawless manner.  Tons of friends show up for this party, including all of my buddies at G.A.C. (they hosted a fantastic pre-pre-race hotel room party).  Despite suffering from flu-like symptoms, and throwing up for the better part of the last 4 miles, I managed a 9:05:06.  Lori finished 2nd place female (8:04:07), and Carrie (9:38:11), Chris (9:41:41), Wayne (9:37:31), Cheryl (9:54:03), Susan (9:57:02), Adam (10:03:58) and Susan C-P (10:01:18) had great races.  (see "Race Report : 2009 Pineland Farms 50 Mile Trail Race")

Carrie and Adam

Susan and Lori

Meadow Portion of the Course 

Badwater 135 Mile Ultramarathon (July 13) - Some things are just too difficult to put into words.  Everything you would want to know about this experience can be found at "Race Report : Badwater 135 Mile Ultramarathon".  I remain forever grateful to my crew and family, Wayne Bates, Jen Vogel, Lane Vogel, Brian Krogmann and Jeff Tropple.

Turkey Swamp 50k (August 19) - A nice "fun run" 50k with Wayne, I used this as an opportunity to catch up with old friends and meet some new ones.  The overall time (5:48:20) was pretty dismal, and I recall wondering at times why I even decided to drive out to do this.  Then again, seeing another Dave James victory was worth it.  

Grand Teton Races (50 Mile and Trail Marathon; September 5 and 6) - I really love going out to the Tetons in September.  In 2007 and 2008 I ran the 100-mile here.  This year I decided to do the "Grand Teton Double" - 2 days, 76.2 miles of challenging trails, 15,000+ feet of elevation gain, and no blisters (again, thank you Drymax Socks).  Dusty Hardman and I became the first two runners to complete the "Grand Teton Double", and it was great to have the entire family there to witness it.  12:00:27 for the 50-mile, 7:12:55 for the Trail Marathon.  Making it even sweeter was Ginette's running of her first marathon (she beat me by a good 8 minutes).  I spent the entire trail marathon with Dusty, having an absolute blast of a time (and picking up loads of trash on the race course).  Ginette and I narrowly (not really) lost the couple's award to some ultrarunner named Jamie Donaldson and her husband David.  We'll get you next year (NOT).  (see "Race Report : Grand Teton Races (50 Mile and Trail Marathon")  

Keys 100 Champ Jen Vogel, Ready to Tackle the 100 Mile

Me, Heather, Sister Mary Beth and Lane (pre-50 mile)

David and Jamie (who stole the couples title from us)

View From Road Portion of Mill Creek Section
and One Example of the Great Views

Me and Dusty Accepting The First Grand Teton Double Award 

Vermont 50 Mile (September 27) -  Dirt trails + tons of rain + mountain bike race = MUD.  Mud, mud and more mud.  I slip-slided my way to an 11:47:29 finish, at times finding it nearly impossible to walk without slipping all over the place.  I got to spend a bunch of time with G.A.C. buddies, Chris, Susan and Paula.  I suppose I should mention that Drymax Socks are now mud-tested - no blisters again.  (see "Vermont MUDder Frackin' 50 Mile")  

Chicago Marathon (October 11) - Why not throw in a marathon two weeks after a 50-miler?  Having no plan for this one, I shocked myself with a 3:44:36 finish.  

Javelina 100 Mile (October 31) - Happy Halloween!!  Another 100-miler, and another one with the good fortune of having Rick Gaston as a pacer.  This guy is absolutely selfless.  He helps everyone, and he sure helps me when it comes to motivation during a 100-mile race.  I took my time for the first 60 miles (first 50 were about 11 hours) running all of it with Lynne, watched (and video-taped) Dave James winning the race (sick course record of 14:20:54 - and he owes me 20 minutes off my overall time), ate some pizza, then motored my way through the last 40 miles with Rick to finish in 23:41:11, nearly 3 hours faster than my time here in 2008 (26:41:35).  (see "Race Report : Javelina Jundred (100 Mile Trail Race")  

 My Bib - A Tribute to Bob Gentile Who Missed The Race Due To Injury

 Amazin Pacer Rick Gaston (He Designed the Shirt)

 One Big Costume Party (Jen, Sarah and Lane)

Dave James Heading For A Course Record

Knickerbocker 60k (November 21) -  I decided to add one more event to the 2009 calendar, opting to finish the year where my ultrarunning career started.  Knickerbocker 60k was my first ultra in November of 2005.  Clear skies and lots of friends made it a perfect day to run a 6:14:56 60k with Lynne and Eric.  (see "Race Report - Knickerbocker 60k - Javelina Reunion")

Lynne (one of my favorite people to run with)

Emmy and Frank

Me and Frank

Several people have remarked that 2009 was somewhat of an "epic" or "breakthrough" running/racing year for me, and maybe it was.  For me, it was really a tremendous learning experience on so many levels.  I learned a lot about myself, my family, and the true value of the friends that I have made through ultrarunning.  I learned a lot about what all of this running is really about.  It is not always reaching the destination that matters the most, but it is how we get there, the journey, that challenges us, tests our inner sanctum, and makes us who we are. 

Here's to a happy and health 2010, and success (however you may define it) to all.


  1. Great, enjoyable post! Have a great new year of running!

  2. Just a stellar year from every angle. You have a lot to be proud of, Tony...Congratulations! Here's to an even better 2010! Happy New Year!!

  3. Tony, amazing running achievements this year. I am happy to be your friend and look forward to new adventures this year. Peace

  4. Any year that includes a finish of Badwater has to be counted as a huge success. Congrats! Good luck in Brazil and in the rest of your 2010 adventures.

  5. you had a great year, lots to be proud of. best wishes for a successful 2010. :)