Thursday, January 19, 2006

Across The Years Race Report - Jim Skaggs

Jim Skaggs, of Layton, Utah, USA, veteran ultrarunner and RD of the Antelope Island Buffalo Run coming up March 18, 2006, shares his race experience at last year's exciting Across The Years 24 Hour Run, his first attempt at a fixed time run.

First, it was my first attempt at a timed run rather than a distance run. I had this lofty goal of 100 in 24 hours. I figured that I had done a trail 100 in under that time, I should be able to run 100 miles worth of flat circles in that time. My training wasn't the greatest from Thanksgiving on, low miles that week, low miles the week after due to a cold, low miles the week after due to very cold weather (I hate running in cold weather), then it was taper time. So I ended up having an extended 4 week taper. Could I still do the 100 miles?

I drove to Tucson 2 days early to stay with my brother and his family, went for a short 4 miles the day before the race and generally took it easy. I arrived at Nardini Manor at 7am or so on the 30th, set up my stuff (not much, and chair and sleeping bag), and watched the runners that started on the 29th. There was a group of about 12 that started on the 30th at 9am, mostly 24 hour runners, but some 48 hour runners as well. The weather was perfect for running, mid 40's at the start, rising to about 70 during the day, a slight breeze and lots of sun. I actually got a bit of a tan during the day. I started out running easy 3 minute laps (9+ minute pace) with the goal of doing that for the 50k or so. I managed to do that and just kept right on going, hitting 50k in just over 5 hours, 50 miles in about 9:30, and 100k at the 11:45 mark. The day was going well, I had no physical issues to deal with, stomach was fine and I had a great time watching and tracking the progress of the other runners. Yiannis was something to watch, like a metronome with his laps. Andy Lovy, 70 years old and doing 72 hours was like the energizer bunny. Every time I turned around, there he was clicking off the miles. He mentioned to me something about us younger runners being an inspiration, and I told him that he was the inspiration and that I hoped to be doing this when I turned 70. Michelle, always with an encouraging or funny comment, was running interference for Yiannis.

Meanwhile, my day was still going great. I was still on track to complete at least 100 miles. The night came and it had to be the longest night I have ever run thru. I did hit one kind of bad patch at about 1am. I went intothe nice, heated tent, sat in my chair, set my watch for 10 minutes and slept for 45 minutes. Guess I needed this because I felt much better afterwards. Still, the miles clicked off. By this time, I was running 8 laps and walking 2, with the lap times coming in at about 3:45. Not too bad I thought. Occasionally I would feel the need to speed up a little and I could turn a few 3:20 laps.

At around 6:30am, I started looking at the eastern sky on every lap, looking for the smallest hint of daylight. Finally, the night was over and there was only 2 hours of time left. I was still on track to complete 100 miles and it was looking like I might get it in less than 23 hours. That boosted my spirits. The other thing that kept me going was that for the 24 hour runners on the 20th, I was second in terms of distance, Carolyn Smith was pulling away from me big time, but I knew that would happen. At around daylight, the runners starting on the 31st started showing up. That seemed to infuse some new life into those of us on the track. I know my lap times started coming down a little bit. I finally hit the 100 mile mark at 23:55, not my best 100 mile time, but given the last few weeks of training, I was very happy with it.
After that, every mile was just bonus miles and smiles.

Finally, the last lap was upon me. I crossed the timing mat for the last time with about 2 minutes left, and took a picture of the screen showing my mileage. Final tally, 103.77 miles. Good enough for 9th place. I was very happy the running was over and that I had made my goal and got that nifty 100 mile belt buckle.

How did I like the race? I loved it. Rodger and Paul and crew did a phenomenal job with everything, from the venue, timing, facilities, aid (nothing like an aid station every 500 meters), food (the fresh hot lasagna was a huge hit with me) , people, weather, etc. The e-mails were great. I had e-mailed a bunch of friends and family and they came thru. I received 22 e-mails all thru the day and night. I loved being able to see how I was doing on every lap.

Will I run this again? You bet, I'm planning on signing up as soon as I can for this year's race.

Jim Skaggs
Layton, Utah, USA

Get your entries in now for Jim's First Annual Antelope Island Buffalo Run 50K in Syracuse, Utah, USA, on Saturday, March 18, 2006 at 8am - the race is filling up fast. Jim Skaggs, 4988 W. 4250 S., West Haven, UT 84401 (801) 732-9242. Email:

--Constance Karras

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