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Sunday, June 15, 2014

Are You a Race Fan?

The word "fan" comes from "fanatic", which, by definition is  a person filled with excessive and single-minded zeal, especially for an extreme religious or political cause.  Of course in this day and age "fan" really just means something/someone you are fond on, like a baseball team or a Indy Car Drive or an American Idol contestant.

Many ultra and trail runners are "fans" of the oldest 100 Mile, the Western States  100 Mile.  I am more of a fan of Hardrock and Massanutten 100 Runs.

I am a fan of two runs that I will never enter, and a third endurance event that I am pretty sure I won't ever participate in.

Comrades Marathon

Comrades Marathon, which is actually 56 miles or 89 kilometers is the world's oldest ultra marathon race.  In 1923 the first female entered and completed the race, Frances Hayward!  The event is stoked in  history, first ran in 1921.  The field is capped at around 18,000 runners.  Marathon Talk did a great two part interview with Bruce Fordyce, who has won Comrades 9 times, it almost made me go out and want to register.


Then I remember, Comrades is a road race! Insert sad music here. While I think the atmosphere is great and I love to read about the race, when I remember the tarmac..well the enthusiasm to participate wears off. 


The second event or challenge, is the Bob Graham Round that I have written about previously.

 The Bob Graham Round is to touch the peaks of 42 peaks  in the British Lake District, within 24 hours.   The ascent is approximately 28,500 feet and about 61-66 miles, either completed clockwise or anti-clockwise, the only rule is the start and finish is at Moot Hall, Keswick.   Scott Jurek and Ricky Gates just completed the BG Round this spring, with Jurek saying "Quite possibly one of the most difficult courses I have done in my life!"  

Talk Ultra just featured two chats on the latest episode. One is an interview with Nicky Spinks who holds the BG Ladies Record, and  Morgan Williams, who is the secretary of the Bob Graham Club.

Why won't I ever do this? Well, one, it's in Great Britain. That makes it hard for a Yank to train for.  Many people who attempt the BG spend lots of time on the fells reccing the course.  Scott Jurek barely finished his round, in 23 hours, 44 minutes! If an elite runner is hard pressed for the cut off, I don't believe I would have a very good chance.  But I love to read about it! 

The third type of endurance event that I am a fan of, but probably will never participate in?  Triathlons but more specifically, iron distance events.  The brand name that comes to mind is of course the Ironman, but there are other race companies out there sponsoring "iron distance" races, which is the 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, followed by 26.2 mile run, to be completed under 17 hours.  I used to read more triathlete blogs, as I think triathletes are even more OCD than ultra runners in their training.  I listen to The Competitors and IM Talk on a regular basis.

Why won't I participate in an Ironman?  One-I can barely swim.  It was once a summer goal of mind, to learn how to swim, but I fell on a trail run, and hurt my arm, so that idea went out the window.  
Two-I can barely bike.  I actually feel a bit nervous going downhill.  I'm also not enamored of the idea of the bike breaking down and me having to fix it!  So although I like to follow the Iron distances on TV, podcasts, and occasional reads of triathletes, I don't see myself getting involved in triathlon.

Are you a fan of something you do not participate in yourself?

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