Sunday, November 16, 2008

Ultra Centric 24 Hour - Update

Ed. Note: The full (and correct) results are finally posted here, please note that I completely missed Byron Lane as the US Champ in this original post. I apologize for the mistake...he must have slipped by me in the night!

Just back from Texas, and I wanted to clue everyone in on what happened over the weekend. I'll check back in with a full report once I catch up on some sleep.

I usually try to to be as positive as possible when talking about all aspects of ultras (because this truly is a wonderful sport), and making excuses for my lack of success is not something I believe in, but there was a tremendous injustice done to every one of us running at the Ultra Centric events this weekend.

With the race moving to a new location this year, the official website described the course as having "a slight uphill on the west side, and a slight down hill on the east side, for a net change of nine and one half feet."

Nine and one half feet.

That's about as flat as flat gets. I trained for this...we all trained for this. When given an exact figure like 9.5 feet, one can safely assume this was measured by an altimeter or similar GPS device.

What was the actual elevation gain for each lap, you ask? Try 150 feet. This course was on such a hill that you couldn't see the top half from the bottom. There was a series of three hills we all had to climb (each one steeper/longer than the last) on EVERY lap. For those of us trying to run over 100 laps, that meant climbing 15,000ft...when you compare that to the 950 feet which we should have had to climb if the website was true, you notice a little discrepancy.

Two seconds after we arrived at the course, I realized my 800+ miles of training loops around super flat Hains point over the past 2 months were now completely useless.

After getting over the shock of seeing this monster of a loop, I decided that I would still try to stick to my time goals to reach 135 miles. Sure, it would require much more effort, but this was my only chance to make the National Team, so I went for it.

Even on the much more difficult course, I was able to break my 50 mile PR and my 100 mile PR. I crossed 100 miles at 16:51, having run every step of the way (also a first for me). At that point it was just before 2 a.m., and it was getting brutally cold out. The overnight temps hit 29 degrees on the "high" end of the course, and any of us who ran through the night (and there weren't many who did!) will agree that the "low" end of the course was easily 5 degrees colder. All in all, a painfuly cold experience was about to visit my tired legs.

After treating myself to a half-mile walk once I crossed the 100 mile mark, my quads immediately froze up. They had been taking a beating on the steep downhill section of the course over the first 17 hours of running, and any attempts to start running, or even shuffling, were futile. I tried at least 50 times over the next 7 hours to start running again, but my frozen and trashed quads wouldn't have any of it. Toward the end, I fell 2 or 3 times when trying to get things moving faster than a walk, so I knew I'd have to suffer the indignity of not being able to hold off the challengers coming from behind.

Eventually and inevitably ultra legend (and all-around great guy) John Geesler overtook me for the National Championship with 50 minutes left in the race. It was inevitable as he was moving much faster than my painful and sad walk over the last 3 hours or so. It was tough to realize I couldn't at least put up a fight, but if you're going to lose to someone, losing to a guy like John definitely makes it easier to swallow.

In the end, I covered 120+ miles (I think John covered 124)...not close to my goal of 135, but I'm 100% confident I would have met that mark (and then some) if the course was as flat as advertised. I gave this run literally EVERYTHING that I had in terms of effort. It was extremely painful to have to walk the last 7 hours in sub-freezing temps, but I never gave up. Sure, I'm hugely disappointed to have fallen short of my goal, but knowing I was able to meet all my time goals up to 100 miles on this much more difficult terrain at least gives me some comfort that I did everything right in preparing to make the National Team...

As for what's next? I don't really have a plan. I'm obviously disappointed in how all of this turned out, so it could be quite a while before I lace up my running shoes again. To be so close to such a big goal, and then have it all taken away by something completely out of your control like this is beyond disheartening.

I'll post the full race report in a few days when I get a chance to digest everything. For all the rough parts, there were twice as many positives. My crew was nothing short of AMAZING the entire time (yes that includes overnight too - how they didn't freeze to death, I'll never know). I'll give more details in the report. ..and, of course, there were some amazing and inspirational runners out there who all worked with each other to make the best of a nasty situation. Even in the worst of race circumstances, ultra runners are always there to support each other - Reflecting on that fact alone is enough to help me start forgetting my personal disappointments from the weekend and start thinking positively again.


Drymax Sports said...


Sorry to hear the course wasn't as advertised. It still sounds as though you put forth an amazing effort and overcame alot of adversity. Congratulations on what is still a wonderful result.

Best Regards,

Stanley said...

I think breaking your PRs on both the 50 and the 100 is MORE THAN enough to pop open the champagne and celebrate buddy.

Now... Please take a break!

Jamie Donaldson said...

Hi Dan!

I heard from Debbie Horn (who had to drop at 85) that it was absolutely horrible! I am so sorry to hear that. So much for my heat training advice too. Celebrate those PR's at least :)!

WVmtnrunr said...


Don't hang your head man. Still an impressive run and tremendous effort. There's always another race and if your goal is to make the national team, DON'T GIVE UP!

-- Adam

JW said...

I can totally imagine the frustration... I feel for you and all the other runniers. Argh. But, I agree with the rest above - breaking your PR's is fantastic!!

Amelia said...

Not to mention that you got a PR for distance covered in 24 hours, no? Everyone I tell about your ordeal/achievements this weekend is totally impressed. Congratulations!

Anonymous said...

First of all, unbelievable mileage for the first 17 hours, especially with 15,000 feet of gain.

Do you think if you had adjusted your original time goals just slightly, you might have still made close to 135 miles. Because as it was, sticking to your pre-game, flat-altitude plan made you toast with 7 hours ago.

This is not a criticism, but yes I am trying to make a point in order to generate discussion. Part of life--and especially ultras--is making adjustments, and by not making any at all, you paid the price. If you had covered the first 100 miles in 18 hours, you might have saved your legs for more running, and could have possibly run/walked 35 miles in 6 hours. As it was, you took all the amazing training and put it full throttle until the engine stopped. Valiant, but sometimes discretion is advised.

It is easy to armchair this, and everything is simple in retrospect, but I believe you are actually capable of 150+ given your talent and I think playing it "relatively" safe (if 100 miles in 18 hours can be considered safe), you might have not bonked completely.

I don't want this to be a huge downer comment, and if you would like, I'll reveal my identity by email and we can argue it, but I'd rather just put it out there anonymously and also say congratulations for giving it your absolute best and for writing so quickly and eloquently about the experience.

Dan Rose said...

Thanks to everyone for the congrats, I'm sure I'll find a way to channel my negative feelings about this race into motivation toward a new goal in the future. After all, ultra running is all about the promises and surprises of the miles in front of you.

Sure, I just made that phrase up, but it sounds pretty good, right?!

As for the comments in the post above, I will be the first to admit I'm still figuring out what works for me in terms of ultra-running. With only two 100 mile races, a 192 mile charity run (with plenty of breaks), and now this 24 hour race under my belt, it's safe to say I'm still a newbie to this sport.

My comfortable running pace is right around 7:30/mile. Trying to run slower than that never feels right for me. I can usually settle into an 8 minute pace, but anything slower than that seems like more work for some reason.

For my long races, I just start out comfortably holding a 7:45 to 8 minute pace for 40 to 50 miles, depending on the terrain. Obviously I'm slower on more technical mountain terrain.

After the 50 mile point I generally start to slow down - not by a conscious decision, as I still feel I'm running comfortably, but obviously my legs are tiring a bit. Once fatigue sets in, I don't try and push the pace too much (until the last few miles anyway), and am content with a mix of 9s, 10s, and 11s the rest of the way to 100. That's how it's gone in my not-so-extensive experience anyway.

Since this 24 Hour run was the first "race" I've run beyond 100 miles, I didn't know what to expect beyond that distance. I assumed my legs would be pretty wiped out, so I started on the pace I did in the first 100 to leave myself the attainable goal of a 12 min/mile average over the last 35 miles. Definitely possible on a flat track, but with the hills (and sub-zero temps) of the UC course, my quads couldn't handle it.

I'm still so new to this sport that I'm constantly learning about what works best for me. Obviously pacing for runs beyond 100 miles is something I know nothing about, but I'm always more than willing to listen and learn from more experienced runners.

Thank you for your input!

Chisholm Deupree said...

I saw you run a fantastic race. We all expected a less hilly course. Like you I ended far from my goal, but I'm amazed today at the things I've learned and taken away from this event.

Despite the disappointment, I'm honored to have run with so many fine Sportsmen, including you.

Kurt said...


Hey I just found your blog. Great job at the 24 hour and sorry for the hills. I feel your pain as I had a similer feeling after the 2006 race there. I thought it would be all flat as well only to find many hills in my mind. I know there made the loop shorter to cut out a few hills the next year and sounds like a new park all togeather this year. What gives ? Any how you did great all things given. Good luck in the future !!

Anonymous said...

Hi Dan,

Just saw your blog as I was surfing. You have an amazing story; great job at the 192. It is very inspirational.

You are linked to Jamie's blog and she said that everyone had better watch out for you. She was right. You ran an amazing race and I think you will have a wonderful future in ultras/adventure runs. You have a lot to be proud of.

I'm sorry that the first 2/3 took so much out of you--just about everyone was very upset and thrown for a loop about the course being so cambered and bumpy and hilly. If it hadn't been for a "perfect storm" of events, you would have been the first American.

I'm sorry we didn't get to talk after the race. I didn't know what you looked like, only what you were wearing from the back. I wanted to tell you that I thought you showed a lot of guts to walk for as long as you did. I'm sorry that it didn't have a better ending for you.

Hope to meet you "officially" and run with you again one day. I will check in with your blog again in the spring to see what neat things you'll be trying in 2009.


Ray said...

16:51 is a pretty good PR, obviously a good effort and the result of good training. You do not state your 50 mile mark/PR, but based on your "inability" to start slower than 7:30's I'll assume you went out around there, averaged a bit slower, and ran around 7 hours for the 50 miles. That means you ran almost 10 hours (close to 12 min pace) for the second 50, which means the bells were already ringing.

At 100 miles you were still over 140 mile pace. The hills, though unexpected (and I keep hearing different-widely different- estimations of the size) were a factor, but not as much as early pace. The 2006 course with two pretty serious hills in the last quarter mile on the out and back section, which meant 4 hills in 1/2 mile were pretty rough, yet some outstanding performances were turned in, so hills by themself do not doom an effort. The camber mentioned by some may have been as great a factor. (The cold might have actually been the biggest detrimental factor.)

For your first attempt at 24 hours 120+ is darn good. Experience and continued training will push you further up in numbers. What you did is stuck it out, which several other runners did not do. For that you should be commended. Hopefully the AUA will place the top 3 on the team in spite of the less than stellar totals since everyone did seem to suffer some for one reason or another.

Above all use this as a learning step as you prepare for future runs.

Dan Rose said...


You're exactly right - I crossed the 50 mile mark at exactly 7 hours. While it is a PR, I will admit my 50 miles splits in my 100 mile races all serve as my PRs since I never run 50 mile races themselves. I did run a 45 mile race in training for Ultracentric, and that was a I figure I would be somewhere in the 6:40 range for a true 50 PR if I just focused on that distance.

But all that is beside the point. You're correct in saying the cold was the biggest problem overnight for sure. Having pushed myself as hard as I did for the first 100, I definitely needed mother nature to take care of me a bit overnight to keep moving....but it wasn't meant to be this time. Since I'm still learning about running distances this long, I sincerely appreciate your advice and input. Best of luck to you in the future!

Tim Lawson said...

Hey Dan,

You were a monster out there! and your singing kept eveyone going I'm sure.

Heal up, and I look forward to seeing whats next for you!

Tim Lawson

Adrian said...

I got this link from Akos Konya...

Use a webpage translator... It is interesting.

Let me know what you think.

Anonymous said...

Poor google translation:
24 hours running unsecured reward check
Zoltán Nagy -
2008. November 27, Thursday 12:12 | Last updated: 2008. December 2
Attila Vozár from the United States 24 hours futóbajnokságát November 16. The results of the futótól Békéscsaba 7 miles away, the best mileage and the foreign fee has not been granted, the victory was not due to check behind the cover.


Attila Vozár Békéscsaba hosszútávfutó won on November 16 in the United States, the official 24-hour championship McKinney, Texas.

The 1800-meter run in almost all the English orbit hatperces kilometers run, despite the fact that it was difficult terrain, a circle 900 meters and 900 meters lejtőből was emelkedőből.

The Second Life of Békéscsaba ultrasportoló participated in 24-hour competition, despite the heavy track was close to 262 km in Hungary and peak, but the night temperature is around freezing much of it taken from. Vozár who Sándor Tóth mesteredzővel made 15 years ago, assisted by four working on a hilltop in itself is always updated.

Buda-Cash Békéscsabai Athletics Club maratonistája finally completed 243 miles, so the results are given, the director of this competition is an authentic signature, and then later changed its opinion, and only at 236.88-adopted.

Explanatory memorandum to be something wrong in the chip körszámláló the runners have to go all around the signal through the stripe. The chip may also indicate the measures being taken, irrespective of distance, but Vozár allegedly crossed the line four times. The 34-year Vozár the performance over 240 km have been included in the gold grade of maratonisták, who traveled to the International Association for the bigger races.

Vozár best foreigner in the race and the amount of kilometers after the bonus (which is roughly the same amount of fődíjjal) has not been given the win due to cash checks paid to him. The next day, running on a local bank and tried to exchange a check, but told me that there is no collateral, the security guard who was accompanied by the bank.

The official website of 3000 dollars (600 thousand HUF) in the prize. Vozár not say the exact amount, but many thousands of dollars of damage, immediately feljelentette THE EVENT. In accordance with local custom, the court fast-track procedure, the same day the crime was found, investigators of the victim's side, who has until Dec. 1 deadline for the payment of the Americans.

The bishop, according to information from the director - regardless of the payment - 10 thousand dollar fine, to imprisonment for a worse case. Vozár the index, said the competition had heard the rumors rendezőkről, for example, last year the U.S. women's champion is elbántak.

Another article on this topic:

Anonymous said...

And this is how the mountain bikers were treated.