Editor’s Choice: My Most Unforgettable Pacing

June 25, 2015
Cover19.4SMZeke Zucker
© 2015 42K(+) Press, Inc.

The conditions for the 2006 Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run were rather grim. After a particularly snowy winter there was still plenty of the white stuff around, making for challenging movement through the “mashed potatoes” for most of the first 30 miles. Added to this was the soaring temperature, which pushed up perilously close to the record of 80 degrees at the Squaw Valley start and 101 degrees at the 62-mile pacer-pickup point on Main Street in Foresthill.

Jim Campiformio from Connecticut, a good friend and fellow ultramarathoner I had known for many years, had asked me to be his pacer at Western States. Until I could legally begin to pace him at the 62-mile mark, I was assisting his sister Rosemary with crewing support at designated, authorized aid stations. After having met him at several locations throughout the day, we were waiting for Jim to appear at mile 55, Michigan Bluff, in the very warm evening hours. By now he was way behind his intended sub-24-hour pace and barely clinging on to a finish within the 30-hour cutoff. Rosemary and I knew that it wasn’t going well for him.

Each issue, we select an “Editor’s Choice”—an entire article we share with you online. Click here to read the entire article…

Editor’s Choice: Back to the Basics

April 21, 2015
Cover19.3SMCara McLaurin Esau
© 2015 42K(+) Press, Inc.

It’s funny how cell phones used to be big and bulky. Through the years, they got smaller, sleeker, and smaller still. The ones that were the coolest were so tiny that we could barely keep track of them. Then, all of a sudden, bigger was better. The phones got bigger and bigger—so much so that now my kids no longer laugh at the size of my original cell phone, which, yes, I still have. I guess the same could be said of fashion, too. For instance, bell bottoms were hip. Then, in the ’80s, we really couldn’t believe we wore those things. In fact, in that decade our jeans were so snug that we had to do bodily contortions just to put them on. Of course, the bell bottoms made a reappearance, and to date, I have no idea whether they are still “in.”

Just as phones and clothing styles seem to revisit earlier eras, many races have opted for finisher medals that hearken back to the past—and they have won the hearts of many runners in doing so! In 2014, some beautiful medals that were extremely popular among our panel were made from such materials as wood, clay, and glass. Also, the classic medallion styles with skylines and landmarks won favor, getting away from odd shapes, designs, and flashing lights. The finisher medals were, for the most part, truly medals; the gadgets and gimmicks gave way to old-fashioned, traditional pieces.

Each issue, we select an “Editor’s Choice”—an entire article we share with you online. Click here to read the entire article…

Editor’s Choice: The World’s Most Determined (and Dominant) Marathoner

February 25, 2015
Cover19.2SMChris Lotsbom
© 2015 42K(+) Press, Inc.

The most dominant force in marathoning right now isn’t a wiry Kenyan or Ethiopian. She hasn’t yet set a marathon world record, nor does she have a major shoe sponsor. As a matter of fact, her personal website lists two sponsors: Liberty Mutual Insurance and BP Oil. She not only specializes in the marathon but is also a world-class cross-country skier.

The most dominant force in the marathon is only 25 years old and hails from the town of Clarksville, Maryland (pop. 56,239), some 30 minutes west of Baltimore. She is younger than her American marathon counterparts, Shalane Flanagan and Kara Goucher, and has excelled in sprinting events like the 100 meters and 400 meters, too.

She spends her time at rehabilitation hospitals, is always smiling for selfies, and has met some of the biggest names in sports and pop culture. Glance at her Twitter account and you’ll see pictures with hurdler Lolo Jones, former football star and motivational speaker Eric LeGrand, and marathon world record holder Dennis Kimetto. On Instagram, she has selfies with Prince Harry, LeBron James, Michael Sam, and Richard Sherman. She has been nominated for an ESPY Award (Best Female Athlete With a Disability) and is a four-time Olympian.

Still trying to guess who this top marathon star is? Here are two more hints: she has won the World Marathon Majors grand slam for two straight years, and she goes by the nickname “Beast.”

The world’s best marathoner is Tatyana McFadden, the most consistent and successful push-rim wheelchair athlete in recent years.

Each issue, we select an “Editor’s Choice”—an entire article we share with you online. Click here to read the entire article…

Editor’s Choice: Under Two Hours – and Beyond

January 5, 2015
Cover19.1SMIs the sub-2:00 marathon possible?
P. J. Christman
© 2015 42K(+) Press, Inc.

The marathon: a magic distance and event, one that requires ambition, planning, determination, courage, persistence, stamina, and endurance, all traits the Greek messenger Pheidippides was required to possess for his clarion journey.

For it was Pheidippides’s feat of running from Marathon to exhaustion and death in Athens, in order to announce nothing more than victory, that inspired the subsequent formal Olympic event. At the end of the 19th century, a modern-day race was designed to commemorate the approximate 25-mile distance he was thought to have run.

We can thank King Edward VII of England for the event’s current 26.2-mile or 42.195-kilometer Olympic distance. For when His Majesty gave permission for the start of the 1908 Olympic Marathon to be upon the East Lawn of Windsor Castle, the race to finish with one lap inside London’s White City Stadium, the Olympic marathon distance was increased from 24.85 miles to its present distance.

These popular contests on foot are thought to be among the planet’s more testing endeavors. For those of all abilities up to the challenge, it takes somewhere between two and six hours to complete. Many fail to finish. Others end up hitting “the Wall” where glycogen has run out and the muscles can no longer sustain pedestrian movement of even the most awkward or staggering nature.

Of course there are other, arguably more difficult challenges such as climbing Mount Everest, swimming the English Channel, hiking across the Sahara Desert, biking the Tour de France, or completing Ironman triathlons. These endeavors create their own cachet through difficult requirements involving the overcoming of great mental and physical barriers.

Each issue, we select an “Editor’s Choice”—an entire article we share with you online. Click here to read the entire article…

Editor’s Choice: Running the 292-Mile Badwater Double

October 23, 2014
Cover18.6SMRunning the 292-Mile Badwater Double
Kenneth A. Posner
© 2014 42K(+) Press, Inc.

In 1977, Al Arnold became the first person to run the 146 miles from the Badwater Basin in Death Valley (which, at 282 feet below sea level, is the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere) to the summit of Mount Whitney (which, at 14,505 feet, is the highest point in the continental USA). In 1989, Tom Crawford and Rich Benyo conceived the idea of doubling this feat and became the first people to complete the 292-mile round trip, which is referred to as a “double” (Benyo 1991). In 2001, Marshall Ulrich set a record for the double of 96:07 as part of his celebrated “quad” crossing (Ulrich 2004). I set out on July 1, 2014, with the goal of completing the double and—if all went perfectly according to plan—of improving on the record. If successful, I would contribute in a small way to the tradition that Tom, Rich, and Marshall established of seeking out extreme challenge in the beautiful but unforgiving environment of Death Valley and the High Sierra—and then raising the bar.

After the experience was over, my crew and I identified several lessons learned that we thought might aid other Badwater runners in such areas as planning, crew leadership, pacing, nutrition, and footgear. We offer these ideas with the goal of inspiring others to take on the Badwater course and to further improve the times for single, double, and other crossings. But first, here’s what happened.

Each issue, we select an “Editor’s Choice”—an entire article we share with you online. Click here to read the entire article…

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