Sunday, January 2, 2011

Across the Years, a bit of background

Here is the start line of the Across the Years on Dec 29th. This was the first day of the event. There were 3 races going off at this time: the 24 hour race of Dec 29th, the 48 hour race of Dec 30th and the 72 hour race (which had only one start).

There were about 50 runners who seemed to be lurking by the start line but very few runners seemed to be in a hurry to start (so there might have been other runners just loitering).

The day started out fairly nice. A bit chilly but we did not start in the rain which was good.

Here is a picture of the runner status. This screen indicated who had just crossed the start/finish line and their overall status.

The status included:
runner name
lap number
time/split of last lap
bib number

There was a color coding scheme with runners in the 48 hour listed in blue.

It was kind of neat to cross the mat run a few feet then see the screen listing who was coming up from behind.

This was my top standing on the leader board. You can see I was 5th place overall and 3rd female at this point.

I did not belong in this group as I am a mediocre runner at best but apparently I was a bit speedy early on. This was somewhat purposely done as I hate running in the rain. I figured I wanted to get as many miles before the rain came...then maybe I could hang up my sneakers and quit:-)

In face the runners on this board in 8, 9 and 10th place ended up finishing quite well and far ahead of me.

Of course I believe I may have won in the longest lap competition with one lap nearly 6.5 hours over the first night when the weather was really bad. I had gotten up about 2 a.m. but when my friend Jamie D indicated it was lightening out I decided to go back to bed and wait out the storm.

I am really glad I made this decision because a few minutes later there was a massive rain storm with significant wind. Even with two tents, an operational generator and a earplug in I could hear (and feel) the wind. I was glad I was not out in the worst of it!
Here are some of the WONDERFUL race volunteers.

This includes Nick Coury (in black/red jacket) and Sue Norwood (in blue jacket) as well as another volunteer I did not catch his name.

Nick in addition to volunteering at the aid station, helping clear the course of the HUGE puddles by creating little canals and doing other tasks also ran many laps during the race. He is SUPER sweet and so funny! (although he did suggest when he had the shovel creating trenches for water runnoff and I asked if it was to bury runners who complained too much that yes it was to dispatch runners...yikes!!:-)

Here I am on the first night trying to run through the rain awaiting mail. There were no notes so I was bummed:-(

In fact there were some issues in the first day because of electricity issues. The backstretch had no lights because of a short and it was obvious that printing out messages was quite challenging considering everything was damp.

Letters were greatly appreciated and so much fun to receive. I will admit this picture was taken about 10 p.m. AZ time which means most of my East Coast friends and family were probably asleep. But next year you all need to be less slackers!!!

You also will notice that we also recieved a pair of moeben sleeves in our mailbox and for a while I used the mailbox to store my keys as well as a headlamp which once the backstretch was illluminated with Christmas lights I no longer needed.

THE RACE: A description

The weather for across the years was predicted to be pretty bad. Rain followed by wind and finally a cold front would come through with freezing temperatures. And all of this within the first 24 hours.

Luckily I had altered my running goals back in Nov when I developed shin splints after JFK50 miler. I no longer was attempting to run 100 miles in the first 24 hours. In fact by the time I started my goal became to run 100 miles and I figured any additional miles would be icing on the cake.

The start was fairly low key. There might have been 50 people congregating at the start and most of us headed off with a slow jog or walk. We were going to be on the course for a long time so no sense in rushing! Because I was busy taking pictures and chatting I may have been one of the last runners across the start line. This was fine with me.

The course was a 500 meter (0.5 km) track at Nardini Manor. Every 2 hours the direction would change. The first direction we headed started off through a small forest with a cute gazebo. Many of the runners had tents set up in this section. As the rains came this area became quite wet with large puddles a few inches deep! The next segment took us by Nardini Manor a historic manor house. There was a large lawn that on day 2 during the wind storm some volunteers were kiting on. Here was our first turn to the left.

After passing the manor, we went by a stand of fruit tree's including oranges and grapefruits. After the fruit tree's there was a cute fountain area. We then would turn left again and would pass by the maze. I never went in but heard from several kids it was fun! This backstretch was the worst section after the rain as it became extremely muddy. But before the rain started, this is the section I saw a rabbit and met a dog (through the fence). The backstretch was the longest straight away and most exposed as there were only tree's on the manor side (left) while the right had beautiful views of the mountains above Phoenix. A left turn put us by several porta potties on the right and the cars in the parking area on the right. I tried to visit my car infrequently but I would guess I had at least 20 or 30 visits to my car. Sometimes laps in succession!

The final left turn on the course headed us back to the start line by the aid station. This was the most exciting part of the course because this was where the action was. After the aid station on the right was the big tent as well as the warming tents within the big tent. I spent alot of time in the warming tent, particularly on the first night.

Near the start finish there was the "mailbox". This was the highlight of my race. I received many messages from friends near and far. These really perked me up and meant alot to me. It was nice to be cheered on virtually. And some of my messages were quite funny! Many runners would talk about and share their messages. My biggest disappointment was that my cats did not send me a message. I know of several runners whose pets did not let their lack of opposable thumb stop them from sending warm wishes!

The volunteers throughout the race were super. They attended to runners every need. Basically you could go into the aid station request something and they would have it ready when you got back a few minutes later. Or of course you could loiter and hang out.

In the middle of the course there also was a real bathroom that was heated and set up really great. There were nice smelling soaps, gum, scope, floss, seating and HEAT!! I have no idea the set up for the men's room but I will admit I spent alot of time in the bathroom hanging out.

At the start finish there were two TV screens with update race information. Typically approaching the finish there was a listing of the current racer standings. And after you crossed the start/finish line you could see what lap you were on as well as the split. You also could see who was just ahead and frequently who was right behind you as the list included about 15 runners information. It was kind of cool to know who was about to pass you before they did. Along the course you could only tell who was passing you if they were talking (and you recognized their voice) or after they passed you, you could see their name on the bib (if it was exposed). During the storms and at night many of us did not have our bibs out as effectively...and it was hard to read in the dark.

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