Tuesday, April 18, 2006

McNaughton Race (from our local paper)

Running on empty ... 'Ultramarathon' pushes athletes to the limit

Monday, April 17, 2006

Ken Meyer wrenched off his running shoes with a loud "ahhgg!",
peeling away his damp socks to reveal shriveled, blister-covered feet.
Meyer, 58, ran 30 miles Saturday over a bumpy trail, through creeks
and up and down countless punishing hills.
That was the easy race.
More than 200 runners competed this weekend in The McNaughton Park
Trail Runs, 30-, 50- and 100-mile races run concurrently on the same
course, a 10-mile loop through John T. McNaughton Park in Pekin.
The races began at 6 a.m. Saturday and continued all day, through the
night, and into Sunday afternoon, with runners stopping for drinks,
snacks and the occasional nap before heading back onto the trail.
Andy Weinberg, a coach and gym teacher at Pekin Community High
School, started the races six years ago with only 11 runners. The
McNaughton Park run has since become Illinois' largest
"ultramarathon," the name for any race longer than 26.2 miles, the
length of a traditional marathon. It's the only 100-mile race in the
Runners traveled to Pekin from all over the Midwest-and from places
as far away as Colorado, California, Alaska, Germany and Belgium.
But despite its international flavor, the event had the feel of a
family picnic, with volunteers camping out in tents and Larry
LaBanca, a Pekin pipefitter, dishing out baked beans, burgers and
grilled cheese sandwiches to weary runners.
Many of them were unlikely candidates for extreme sports. Most were
older than 40 and several were older than 60, and there were plenty
of bulging bellies and stooped shoulders among the crowd.
"It's not your usual bunch of long-legged Kenyans," Weinberg said.
But it's not surprising that unconventional athletes gravitate to
ultramarathons, he added, since long distances require more grit and
patience than speed.
Jean-Jaques d'Aquin, 66, a 100-mile runner from Belgium, appeared in
the grassy stretch behind the finish line, a white towel draped over
his head.
"Go Jean-Jaques!" Weinberg shouted.
"Sunblock!" Aquin barked in reply, and struggled to open his water
pouch. Minutes later, he was back on the trail.
The temperature neared 85 Saturday, making the hilly, rocky course
even more challenging. Phil Rosenstein, 35, of Milwaukee was too
dehydrated Saturday afternoon to even sweat.
As the sun went down, the temperature dropped. But just after 11
p.m., lightning began to flash. Overnight, rain came down in fat,
cold drops that hit the runners with such force some of them mistook
it for hail.
Just before 6 a.m. Sunday, Rosenstein had run 80 miles. Alone on the
trail, his vision began to blur and his breathing became irregular.
When he reached camp almost an hour later, he began convulsing.
Paramedics arrived and hooked him up to a cardiogram and two IVs to
restore his body's balance of electrolytes.
Shortly after 9 a.m., he was adjusting his mud-smeared track shorts,
preparing to go back out on the trail. He'd chugged "a whole jar of
Pedialyte," he said, and felt ready to at least walk the rest of the
He began his penultimate lap. "I'm very stubborn," he said, his eyes
trained on the steep, muddy slope under his feet. "People say to me,
why do you run all these races?" He laughed. "Because I can."
He had walked several hundred yards across a wheat field when he
shouted, to no one in particular, "Let's try a little running!"
"Ah!" he shouted, as he picked up speed, "ahh!" And he disappeared
into the trees.
Jerry Davison
West Peoria, IL
McNaughton Webmaster

No comments: