Two weeks ago I ran the Chicago 50K and had the pleasure of coming into the finish with the men's winner. What a rush to be flying toward the end with him... and then turning off to the left to the turn-around cone while he crossed the finish line.
He was completing his third and final 10+ mile loop while I was just coming to the end of my second to refuel and do one more.
But again, it was fun, for a few seconds, to be running with the race leader.
Yesterday, I did it again. This time it was on the shores of Lake Wingra (within earshot of the roaring lions in the Vilas Park Zoo) in Madison, Wis. For the fourth year the city was the host to the National 100K Championship. As I came running past the zoo and toward the end of a loop the crowd was cheering loudly. "For me, Mary Gorski?" I thought. And then I looked back and realized that once again I was going to run a few steps with another winner.
This time it was Andrew Henshaw of Steilacoom, Wash., flying in for a course record of 6:47:34. He was finishing his 10th and final 10K loop in the 100K race while I was finishing my fifth loop for the 50K.
Sure, that seems pretty impressive for Andrew, but he did have an hour-and-a-half head start over the 50K runners. :)
Andrew was followed by David Riddle in 6:59:11 and Todd Braje in 7:04:42. Impressive. Just darn impressive. I think that Michael Wardian held the previous course record with a 6:56.
BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE! The women blew some course records themselves. Devon Crosby-Helms of San Francisco won with a CR of 7:46:33, followed in second place by Pam Smith in 7:53:17. Both were under the previous record of "about" 8 hours.
The talented runners were aided in their efforts by Mother Nature. Usually she dishes out some wicked weather on race day. The inaugural run in 2007 had freezing winds, rain and sleet. That was so much fun that Mother Nature repeated herself in 2008. Last year her sunny disposition went into over-drive and baked a number of runners, boiling away hopes at personal bests for most.
This year, on Friday night it looked like Saturday might be another warm and sunny race. Great for spectators and volunteers; lousy for runners. But Mother Nature is a fickle woman and she remained gloomy and overcast until mid-afternoon. Those mentioned above never saw sunshine until well after their finishes. Temps stayed in the upper 40s and low 50s. Clouds blocked the view of the sun. Excellent running weather.
And for us underachievers (a few of us talked about getting tee shirts with "Mediocrity in Motion" printed on them) there was a 50K race. Not a national championship, but still a competitive race. Drawing more of a Midwestern crowd, it was lead by Jim O'Brien of Chicago in 3:27:07 and Carolyn Smith of suburban Milwaukee in 3:52:07. Carolyn was not only the women's winner but the second runner overall in the 50K. Special kudos to my fellow Lapham Peak runner Julie Treder, who managed to pull herself away from her usual grueling trails to post a 4:09:57.
Speaking of the Lapam Peak Trail Runners, another special shout-out to Brad Birkholz who did the 100K in 9:30:50. If I am remembering correctly, that is a huge PR for him on the course. Cutting off the ponytail last year must have made him more aerodynamic.
The full results for the 100K, 50K and 50K relay can be found at Bill Thom's RunRace website at
Since I'm tossing out kudos, a special note of thanks to Bill, who posted live coverage of the race, making the results available as they were happening. You don't think I would have been able to remember all those times myself, do you?
As for my day, it was lovely. Although I've done the 100K in previous editions, the slow return to distance running following the rehab of a few injuries made the 50K a better choice for me this year.
I like the MadCity course and was disappointed that the 100K wasn't in the cards for me this year. But it was still fantastic to have a front seat to some of the best distance running in the country. It's like having the opportunity to drive my Nissan in the same race as Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt, Jr., in the Daytona 500 if I were a NASCAR fan. When Andrew Henshaw flew by me I thought, "he must be on a relay, he is running so FAST!" What a treat to run alongside such talent -- even if only briefly. The same for Devon Crosby-Helms and those long legs stretching like a gazelle across the course
To those who think that running 100K or 50K on a paved course, in 10K loop segments, is an awful torture devised by sadistic RDs, think again. It's not only do-able, even for those who consider themselves a part of the "Mediocrity in Motion" team, but gosh darn good. If you can do a 50-mile race on trails, you can do a 100K on roads. It's not an event just for the pros.
So once again, Caroline Spencer, I wake up this morning with that oh-so-wonderful day after a long event "hang-over." Tired, but not broken legs; happy to have a day of guilt-free pigging out.