Saturday, April 30, 2005

Trail runners shun the ordinary (Rochester Chronicle)

Great article on trail runnng this week in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.

- SD

Trail runners shun the ordinary

(April 28, 2005) — The photograph would be enough to get most runners to turn the page and their back on the notion of entering the Jay Mountain Marathon.

Found on Page 24 in the latest issue of Trail Runner, a runner is shown in water up to his chin making a river crossing during the 28.2-mile "marathon."

"I was so inspired by Page 24 that I registered that day," says Mort Nace, a 38-year-old Brighton man who is an adventurous spirit with a capital "A."

"How could I pass on neck-deep water crossings, big climbs and sand dunes? Adding to the fun, I had already registered for the Jay Crossover — a 26-mile paddle — the day before. I think it's better to kayak the day before a long run than after."

Yes, the day after a hellacious run should be reserved for reveling in the pain of strained, twitching muscles.

Trail runners are not your run-of-the-mill beasts of burden. Nace, who co-directs the twisted Muddy Sneaker 20K trail run, says: "Most have no thoughts of winning anything and don't talk so much about running a certain time, but really look forward to competing against the course, the distance and the elements."

He says they relish stretching their limits, keeping it fun and playing in the wild.

Diane Jozefski is the perfect example.

Earlier this month, the 41-year-old Rochesterian completed the Umstead 100 Mile Endurance Run outside Raleigh, N.C. She says it was unlike anything she had done before.

"I felt a great sense of accomplishment in the fact that 238 people were at the start and 87 runners finished the 100 miles," says Jozefski, who was 86th in 29 hours, 16 minutes, 55 seconds.

That's right, she ran around the clock to finish her first century.

The course was a series of eight 12.5-mile loops. Jozefski says she stopped at the end of each lap to change socks, check for blisters and get a new water bottle.

"I did not really take any extended rest breaks," she says, "just did pit stops and got back out on the course."

To help her stay focused on the run, she dedicated each mile to a different friend or family member. Mile No. 1 was for her boss, who had joked with her that he could not even finish one mile, let alone 100. The last mile was for her dad, who was in the hospital at the time of the run. She says that was great incentive to finish the race.

There are more runners than you might think on this same trail to the ultra extreme. About two dozen Rochester-area trail runners participated in the Bull Run Run 50 Miler on April 9 in northern Virginia.

The 12.4-mile-long Muddy Sneaker, held April 16 at Hi Tor Wildlife Management Area in Italy, Yates County, reached the cutoff of 150 entrants in less than 24 hours back in January, according to Nace.

"Trail running has always been my favorite type of running," says Dave Bischoff, 43, of Fairport, who ran in his third Muddy Sneaker. "I prefer hills to flats. Don't ask why. I've always felt more comfortable going up than on a flat."

He says people enjoy a hilly trail course for the same reason mountaineers love peaks. "Because it is fulfilling to reach the summit, to view the grandeur, and to have overcome the challenge."

Running trails is also similar to skiing, Bischoff says.

"You're ripping past trees — probably creating an illusion of speed — jumping over logs, pounding up hills, getting trashed in the mud and streams. It's all the cool things about being a carefree kid again.

"In my opinion, it's the way we were created. There's a strong impulse to get out there on this awesome planet God has given us and to enjoy the gift He has entrusted us with while we are here. You can't help but marvel at His handiwork."

Bischoff, also a hardcore cyclist and skier, says he will continue to hit the trails until his time or his body are exhausted.

That's the same philosophy leading Nace to sign up for a July weekend of distance paddling and running in Jay, Vt., as well as the 50th running of the Pikes Peak Marathon up the 14,111-foot mountain in Colorado in August and the Dances With Dirt 100K Relay with two running mates Sept. 10 in aptly named Hell, Mich.

"Many miles to run, many fun adventures," Nace says. "I hope my legs hold up."

Gary Fallesen is our outdoors writer. Besides finding him trail running, you can reach him at or (585) 258-2454.

(Copyright Rochester Chronicle, All Rights Reserved)

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