Davy Crockett’s Running Frontier

I like to Run Insanely Long & Crazy Distances                                                                                                             Pony Express Trail 100
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Browsing Posts in Running History

cheating

With recent public cases of ultrarunners being disqualified for cutting courses, there has been many shocked and angry discussions on social media about the topic. I’ve had deep feelings and thoughts on this topic, as I was directly impacted by one of these cases for nearly three years. I’m ready to share some of these thoughts. First, you must understand that cheating in our sport has been happening for decades. Many of us have just ignored it. Some race directors have very quietly disqualified runners caught cutting courses, letting them continue their practices at other races. A few courageous runners and race directors have refused to let these cheaters corrupt ultrarunning competition and have taken the hard road to confront the problem head on.

Cheating in the 1980s

cpCheating reared its ugly head in ultrarunning in the early 1980s. In 1980 an elite 100-mile runner was disqualified for cutting the Metropolitan 50 course in Central Park, in New York City. Allegations were raised by witnesses seeing him cut courses at other races. It was suspected that he had been cheating races for years by cutting courses, skipping loops at night but still getting them recorded, and by other means. This runner’s cheating ways were made public and three years later he took revenge on his primary accuser by assaulting him during another 50-mile race in Central Park. The enraged person came onto the course around mile 9, chased the runner, screaming verbal abuse, and tried to trip the runner multiple times. When that didn’t work he socked the runner hard in the collar bone. The runner went on to finish in 6:14.

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The fastest 100-mile ultrarunners during the 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s

yk

I am always drawn toward the stories of the early pioneers of ultrarunning. I think it is important to take time to appreciate the history and accomplishments of the runners who paved the way before us. The birth of the 100-mile trail race has been attributed to Gordy Ainsleigh, who in 1974 wanted to see if he could run a 100-mile horse race in California, the Western States Trail Ride, on foot, instead of riding a horse. He was successful, finishing in 23:42, proving that a person could run 100 miles in the mountains in less than a day.

But ultrarunning, including 100-mile races, did not start there….

This started out to be a blog post, but turned into a free online book.

Download the entire book (PDF) here: Swift Endurance Legends

7,000 downloads since May 3, 2017

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ken3I’m very sad to hear that Ken Young passed away on Saturday.  I wrote the following summary of his running accomplishments in my online book Swift Endurance Legends.

Ken Young, of Petrolia California, was an accomplished runner. But he impacted running in America far more by collecting running results and creating running statistics. He grew up in Pasadena, California and attended high school in Phoenix, Arizona. As a youth he loved running and math. He ran a 10:10 two-mile in high school. In college he quit the cross-country team after one year because of his heavy course load. But in the late 1960s after reading an article about the benefits of running on health, complete with numbers and statistics, it struck a chord with him and he started to run while attending Arizona State University. continue reading…

The journey to becoming an ultrarunner has many varied paths. I personally never dreamed to be a runner of any kind and in fact most of my life, pretty much despised running. But along these unexpected paths, running somehow evolved. This story is mostly for me, to look back and understand where I came from, but it also may be of interest to others as they too become an ultrarunner.  Perhaps this is my runner memoirs.  It is a attempt to bring together many of my experiences and lessons learned over the years. Recently updated (2/18)

Full book, download PDF here: My Path to Ultrarunning  to read off-line. 276 pages, 19 meg. 16,500+ downloads to date.  

To be continued…

Don Ritchie

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1Don Ritchie is from Scotland and some people argue that Don is the greatest ultrarunner in history on tracks and roads. In his early teens he took part in school sports as a sprinter and usually finished in the top three. When he was sixteen years old, he participated in his first “walking race” which was popular at that time. The race was for seven miles and had 45 walkers. Don finished “a tired fifth” and walked in his working clothes and shoes. He walked the race again the following year and was bothered that two girls beat him. He concluded that he probably needed to train.

Don ran cross-country in school and during the track season raced the 440 and 880 yard races. His coach advised him to concentrate on the 880. In 1963 at the age of 19, he started to run fifteen miles regularly with Alistair Wood, one of the great ultrarunners of the early 1970’s, who later won London to Brighton race in a record time. Don eventually started to keep up with him on training runs. continue reading…

rider

The early trail 100-mile races, including Western States 100, Old Dominion 100, and Vermont 100, all have their roots in horse endurance rides. The parallels from those rides to 100-mile ultras are many. Much of the experience and practices of those rides became part of trail 100 mile runs that were established in the 1970s and ‘80s.

In 1955 Wendell Robie, a successful businessman and outdoorsman from Auburn, California had a discussion with an associate about whether a horseback rider could cover 100 miles in a day. He got riled up about it and vowed to prove it could be done. He wanted to conduct the ride on a trail he had particular interest in, a historic trail used by miners in the 1800s between the California gold fields and the silver mines in Virginia City, Nevada. Wendell named the trail, “The Western States Trail.” It went through little old gold towns between Lake Tahoe and Auburn, Califronia, crossing over the crest of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Wendell made plans, established a committee, and worked to get support from the city of Auburn. A stated purpose of the ride was “to determine if Western horses are bred today as tough as those of the Pony Express era.”

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splits
In running, a negative race split is when the second half of a race is faster than the first half. Runners generally strive for negative splits in road races — marathon or shorter.  Most world records at these “shorter” distances have been achieved with negative splits.  Galen Rupp set the American record in the indoor 5K of 13:01:26.  His mile splits were 4:14, 4:12, and 4:04.  Some coaches feel that negative splits should be achieved not only by elite runners, but also by the recreation runner.

Achieving a negative split doesn’t mean that at the halfway point you need to speed up, but at some point in the second half of the race you do speed up.

A Runner’s World article stated, “Anyone can and should run negative splits.  Unfortunately, most runners don’t. Instead they start in a near sprint, hang on through the middle and resort to a survivor’s shuffle at the end.”

Should you try to achieve negative splits during a 100-miler?  I’ve seen many do that survivor’s shuffle at the end and in a few races I’ve done it too. Certainly it is possible to do a negative split 100, but I have never come very close to achieving it in all my 89 100-mile finishes.  I believe I could do it if I purposely held back significantly during the first 50, but I believe my overall time would end up much slower.

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Miles and Miles

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milesIn 2002, I started to keep track of the number of miles I ran, starting with my very first Mount Timpanogos hike in Utah. That kicked off my desire to stay fit and run on trails. At first when recording miles, I was somewhat of a trail snob, only keeping track of miles run on trails. Somehow I put in my mind the thought that unless the miles were on trails, they didn’t count. But I soon came to my senses and kept track of all my miles. For that first year I ran 691 miles. As I strived to lose weight, I also kept track of swimming miles and over the first three years swam 333 miles.

People have attempted to find the person who has run the most lifetime miles. Because proof with running logs are not very good, the best documented record probably is held by Dr. Herbert Fred of Houston, with more than 250,000 miles by the age of 85 in 2014. He kept many logbooks. His biggest year was in 1966 when he ran 7,661.5 miles. In 2011 he ran 2,886 miles at the age of 82. In April 2014, he surpassed 250,000 miles. That is further than running all the way to the moon (238,900 miles).

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