Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Across the Years 72 Hour Third Day Report

Day Three – Ahhhh, only 24 hours left. The end is in sight but still a ways off and I have many miles to try and cover.
The third day was much like the second except that part way through the day I noticed that I didn’t seem to be quite as tired or sore. The quads and calves weren’t quite as sore, the chafing actually seemed to have gone away, no more blisters were forming, and my digestive system was working semi normally. I tried running and was actually able to break into a little bit of a shuffle. But not for long. I’ve always heard that the second day is the worst and the third isn’t as bad. I found this to be true.
There was a certain air of celebration since this was New Year’s Eve and the final day of the race. The last group of 24-hour runners had started, the last group of 48-hour runners was finishing up as were all of us 72-hour runers.
The day wore on pretty uneventfully. John Geesler was slowly making his way around the track even with his hurt foot, but seemed to actually pick up the pace a little bit. He did spend quite a bit of time walking laps with 7-year old Gavin Wrublick. Yep, there was a 7-year old boy running in the 72-hour race. He ended up running just over 50 miles in three days. How many of us could have done that at that age? Not only was there a 7-year old running, but a 5-year old ran just over 20 miles, and 11-year old Aaron Doman ran 100 miles over three days. “Hey Aaron, what did you do over Christmas?”, “Oh, I did a little running in Phoenix with my parents.” A 16-year girl, Cat Cuda, set several age group records over the three day event.
I kept turning laps, eating, drinking, etc. I didn’t take a nap during the day but did take a break at around 5pm. I just couldn’t stay on my feet any longer. I tried to take a nap but was too wound up to sleep. As I was just laying in my sleeping bag, my friend Dave came in and sa down to chat a little. He had finished his race that morning and was back to take in the events of New Year’s Eve. He suggested we go do a few laps and since I wasn’t sleeping out we went. He ended up going about 10 laps or about 3 miles with me. This was after doing his own race and covering over 104 miles. He later told me that those few laps about did him in.
As the evening progressed, preparations were being made for the New Year’s Eve celebration. Party favors were put out, hats passed out, and I got lei’d by a women I had never met (the lei was a cheap plastic one). At about 5 minutes to midnight, most everyone gathers on the front lawn to ring in the New Year. Champagne in paper cups is passed out and after midnight everyone walks a lap together. As we were walking the lap, fireworks were set off in the fields surrounding the manor. All in all a great way to spend New Year’s Eve. If I had stayed at home I would have just gone to bed early.
Now I only had nine hours to go. How many more miles could I cover. As I checked the standings, I was trying to calculate whether I could catch the person in front of me and would the person behind me catch up. Some people had met their personal goals and were taking the rest of the night off. I knew I had to keep going if for no other reason than I’m a competitive person and hafve to do as well as I can. But the motivation was fading somewhat.
I kept going around the track until around 4am when I decided to take my last break. I set my alarm for 5:30am and for the first time the alarm actually woke me up. Up to this point I had always woken up before my alarm went off. So, at 5:30am I went back out on the track for the final time. By 8am, I was really tempted to call it quits. I knew I wouldn’t catch the person in front of me and I knew the person behind me wouldn’t catch up, but somehow I couldn’t stop, I had to keep going to the very end. AS the clock wound down to the last few minutes, I tried to pick up my pace. I turned my last lap in just over 4 minutes and decided not to try a last one with only 3 minutes on the clock.
FINALLY! My race was over. After 72 long hours, I was done. Usually when I finish a 24-hour race, I’m kind of at a loss as to what to do next. The same happened here. For the past 72 hours, this track, the people running around it, the volunteers, etc. had all been my life. With that much focus and insularity, to be suddenly be finished kind of leaves a void. Kind of a weird feeling. But I had things to do. I had to pick up all my stuff, load it into my car and get ready for the awards ceremony and lunch. It was fun to finally be able to talk with other runners without the pressure to keep going. We could all relax and enjoy our accomplishments. And there were some amazing accompliments. In the world of multiday running, my finish was decidely middle of the road. I did finish in 18th place out of 50 runners, but there was one person who was 71 years old that finished way ahead of me as did another person who’s 69. The kids I mentioned earlier were amazing. For them to be able to do something like this speaks volumes about what the future holds for them whatever they do.

Below is a graph of the elevation profile for the third day. You can see that the difference is now around 250 feet per lap.
Aftermath – Would I do this race again? I’m usually asked that after I try something new. Most of the time I say never again, then in a few weeks after the pain fades, I remember the good time I had and sign up again. This time I pretty much decided the same day that I would do the 72 hour event again. I’m convinced that I can do better now that I have a little experience. So, look for me to be down in Phoenix again for 2009 New Year’s Eve having a good time with my fellow crazy running friends.


  1. Jim,

    Well done, both in the race and the report. Writing the report over three days was a neat touch. Glad you had a good time. best of luck in 2009.


  2. Nice work Jim. See ya in Moab next month.


  3. Congratulations. See you next year.