On I went, out of the wood, passing the man leading without knowing I was going to do so. Flip-flap, flip-flap, jog-trot, jog-trot, curnchslap-crunchslap, across the middle of a broad field again, rhythmically running in my greyhound effortless fashion, knowing I had won the race though it wasn't half over, won it if I wanted it, could go on for ten or fifteen or twenty miles if I had to and drop dead at the finish of it, which would be the same, in the end, as living an honest life like the governor wanted me to. -Alan Sillitoe, "Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner"

Monday, May 17, 2010

Because everyone else is talking about it...

On Thursday/Friday, Scott Jurek - who I think might be part man, part machine - broke the American record for most distance covered in a 24-hour period.  He ran 165.7 miles in 24 hours at a the International Association of Ultrarunners race in France.

Now.  Let's consider that.

Jurek ran the equivalent of the distance between Providence, RI, and New York, NY.  Moreover, he ran this distance around a 1.25km loop.  KILOMETER, not mile, loop.  He ran that loop more than 213 times.

If I'm doing the math correctly, Jurek's pace for this race averaged out at 8:41 minutes/mile.  My modest marathon PR is 4:43, meaning that if I continued non-stop at my marathon pace for another 19 hours and 17 minutes, I would have completed 133 miles.  I'm including two pictures of me at the finish of that marathon.  Don't believe the smile - I barely made it to the grassy section to sit down.  You see that arm raise?  It's my attempt at a wave.  Hell - my 5K PR pace is 9:11.  I crossed the finish line, stumbled over to a bench, and silently sat, thinking about hurt legs and pain and whether I tried hard enough if I didn't feel like vomiting.  (I set that PR this weekend, btw.  More on that tomorrow.)

Granted, it's not a fair comparison, because I didn't train to run an ultra and I'm not a cyborg really awesome, naturally gifted athlete.  Jurek's also gotten some press for his diet, which is vegan. Runner's World profiled him a few issues ago, calling him an "alpha among alphas" in the ultra community and focusing on his personal life (sorry, ladies, he's taken).

Consider two other points:  1) The first woman to finish the race ran an impressive 148 miles, and 2) Jurek did not win the race.  That honor goes to Shingo Inoue of Japan.  Jurek was only (only!) the first American finisher.

1 comment: