The Day Our Husbands Ran an Ultra

by Sue

My husband has always been runner, although at times sporadically, as long as I’ve known him. Running enjoyment to him consists of hitting the hills in the woods behind our house, with the dogs, on trails only known to himself. He likes a slow pace and does not like to run for hours on end. He ran two of the same halfs I ran last year, but he knew going in it was really not his preferred running scenario. Which is why I was a bit surprised when he told me he was signing up for a 50K trail run with Ryan. The trail run part I could see; the 50K part?….not so much. The first thing he said was “But we have nine hours to do it.” Nine hours?!?!

His idea of torture is the way I like to run: fast, flat, and long.

My idea of torture: precisely what he signed up for.

I give him huge credit. He trained really hard for this. And I only got mad at him once for monopolizing my treadmill time. Conveniently, the course loop was in the state park that can be reached by cutting through the woods behind our house. So there really were no surprises for him and Ryan.

I will start by saying this was NOTHING like a regular road race. Very limited support in the way of water/fueling stations (I think Kelly has some photos of the ridiculous sparseness of it all), no crowds, etc. So Kelly, the girls, and I basically moved back and forth multiple times between the two locations where you were allowed to hand off drinks/food/change of clothes, etc.

Did I mention it was 80-some degrees and humid?

The girls worked hard on their signs:

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Here they are at mile 20 and about 4:40 in.

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Better them than us. But still looking strong.

I have no idea how they did it, especially considering the weather conditions. Not to mention the steepness of the terrain. I think if Kelly and I said it once, we said it a hundred times yesterday….there is NO WAY we would ever do something like this.

And finally….7 hours and 45-ish minutes later….the finish:

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We are so proud of them!

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So congrats to Paul and Ryan. Well done and definitely hard-earned.

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Why are we smiling? Because we got to be the cheerleaders this time around. With maybe just a little bit of medal envy.

by Kelly

Late last year a friend sent me an email with information on the Buckeye Buster 50k. I forwarded it on to the five people I thought would be crazy enough to do it…including Ryan. I actually thought about it until I WALKED 1 ten mile loop during the winter.

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This is me and the beasts halfway up one of the smaller hills.

If the terrain wasn’t enough to discourage me, the fact that every time Ryan came home from a training run he was pulling ticks off of him and had scratches and bruises on his body, solidified my decision to not sign up for the 50k.

Ryan is a 6 time marathoner, but has never run trails, so what Sue’s husband lacked in distance experience, Ryan lacked in trail running experience. To be honest I was worried about how they would do.

As Sue mentioned above, there are very few similarities between a road race and a trail run except for a lot of people wanting to challenge themselves.

The fueling stations are basically full of junk food. Potato Chips, Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches, Candy were some of the foods for the runners to fuel with; there was not a GU in sight.

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Most the runners we saw hung out for awhile at the fueling stations, not the grab and run like in road races. Our husbands even took the time to change their muddy, wet socks on each loop and made a shoe change on the last lap.

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It was small, only about 100 runners, and that meant a lot less people cheering you on. One rule is you can not give aid to a runner outside of 100 feet of an aid station. Therefore We set up camp right before the second fueling station.

20130605-205223.jpg There were about 10 people (6 of who we knew) who were the race cheering section at this point in the race. We told each sweaty, scraped up runner how good and strong they looked. When I am racing I need strangers lining the street telling me to finish strong, obviously trail runners don’t need this because there is very little crowd support.

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This is the last stretch before the finish, not a spectator in site.

We had no trouble spotting them coming to the finish, and as with any race I watch I did get teary as i watchef them finish. They both inspire me!! They earned every bit of this medal.

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