It was great to see many of you at the pre-race meeting today - get some rest, and I'll see you on the trail!
Ultramarathon represents ultimate endurance test
Event features 50K, 50M and 100M races along The Tahoe Rim Trail
July 20, 2007
Think running a marathon sounds like hard work? Try running four.
Competitors in the annual Tahoe Rim Trail Endurance Runs, which start Saturday, do just that. The ultramarathon event features three separate races at 50 kilometers, 50 miles and 100 miles along the Tahoe Rim Trail.
photo courtesy of Carrie Richards and The North Lake Tahoe Bonanza)
The trails start and end at Stonehenge in the Spooner Lake State Park and climb thousands of feet to top out at 9,000 feet near Snow Valley Peak, 2,000 feet above the starting point.
This hasn't deterred the runners, though. Now in its seventh year and only the second year for the 100-mile race, the event's Web site shows that it has filled to capacity, with more than 400 runners participating.
The Tahoe Rim Trail Run is this year's national championship in the 100-mile trail event for both major track and field officiating bodies, the USATF and the RRCA. Runners participating in the event come from 31 states and 6 countries and are vying for a shot at beating the 20 hour, 18 minute trail record.
If the idea of running an ultramarathon sounds crazy, well, even some competitors have their doubts.
"Even a year ago I would have said it's not a good idea to run 100 miles. It's insane," said trail runner and Incline Village resident Scott Dunlap, who will be attempting his first 100-mile race this Saturday. "It just kind of ropes you in."
According to Dunlap, the trail ultramarathon started in 1974 when Gordy Ainsleigh, a competitor in the Western States Trail Ride, a 100-mile, 24-hour equestrian event, had his horse go lame shortly before the race. Instead of finding another horse, Ainsleigh strapped the saddlebags to his own back and ran to the finish line on foot within the 24-hour limit. While it remained a fringe sport for many years, the ultramarathon has recently gained recognition as a result of popular books on the topic and increased interest in running and fitness.
"So many people are doing marathons these days, some want to move beyond," Dunlap said. "An ultramarathon sounds really hard to do, but if you think a marathon sounds achievable, an ultramarathon is not that much more of a stretch."
Training for an event like the 100-mile run begins months before, running longer distances at a slower pace to build up endurance. Closer to the race, runners like Dunlap will cut down their mileage, concentrating more on acclimatizing to altitude and staying healthy. During and after the race, hydration and calorie intake are the keys to success and safety, as so many hours of running significantly boosts the runner's metabolism.
While Dunlap hopes for a fast time, he said competition is only a minor part of the event itself. Hikers are welcome participants, provided they can reach the finish line within the 35-hour time limit.
At the Tahoe Rim Trail Run, a significant proportion of runners will be first-timers, with runners ranging from ages 21 to 75. Ultimately, the competition is less against fellow runners than against the terrain and oneself. The saying among ultrarunners is, "You run the first 50 miles with your legs, you run the second 50 miles with your mind."
The Tahoe Rim Trail 50K/50M/100M Endurance Runs will take place on July 21, starting at Stonehenge in the Spooner Lake State Park. The 50k and 50m begin at 6 a.m.; the 100m begins at 5 a.m. Visit the event's Web site, www.tahoemtnmilers.org/trt50/ for more details.