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So many ways to run a race

Moe Johnson Running with Moe

So many ways to run a race

Sunday, February 19, 2023

There was a report of a new record in running that I had not heard of this week. Thinking of all the different races, challenges, and contests that use the activity of running it seems almost anything goes when it comes to competing with some form of running.

It starts with the childhood games of “tag” and “pump-pump pull you away.” Then in school sports such as soccer, football, basketball enter into the activity list that include running. Track and field is specific for running along with the jumping and throwing events. Running events in track range from the 60 yard (meter) dash to a 10K distance run. The different challenges of track in between the varying distances include running over hurdles, jumping over bars with water on the other side (steeple chase), and running over fields and forests and streams (cross country). The large categories in track includes the sprints (up to 400 meters), middle distance (up to 1500 meters), and long distance (3,000, 5,000, and 10,000 meters and the mile and two mile events thrown in on occasion.

Outside of track events there are running contests with pro-runners to local runners competing at various distances. The distance will range from two miles to 100 miles. Popular distances include the half-marathon (13.1mile) and the marathon (26.2miles). From there the popular distances include the 50 mile or 50K, on up to 100 miles. The Western States 100 mile challenge has runners covering snow covered peaks, streams of water, and a desert in that 100 mile distance. I ran a 10 mile race in Flagstaff, Arizona, in the Coconino Forest. The course was on a trail in pine trees. If you lost sight of the runner in front of you it was a very easy way to get lost if there was a split in the trail. I happened to catch a quickglimpse of a runner on the trail to the left otherwise I might still be wandering in those trees.

One of the toughest races is one that determines which runner is fittest. The runners try to cross a desert and the one that runs the farthest is the champion. A strong person can carry more water but may not have the endurances. A fast runner can run fast but is limited in the amount of water they can carry because they are not strong. The runner that is part strong and part endurance (a decathlon type) will probably win because then can carry enough water and still run good. In Italy there is a race that starts in a small town and crosses a mountain about 10,000 feet up. The camera at the top showed a very small goat trail and a volunteer pointing the path to follow. The lack of air at 10,000 feet was quite evident in many of the runners as they were almost crawling to the top.

This week there was a challenge to run a marathon on seven continents in seven days. There was one runner that won all seven races. I tried to imagine the logistics of traveling to seven continents, run a marathon, and catch a plane to another continent. While the travel logistics can be a problem, the fact that the runner had to race a marathon distance every day for seven days is amazing. That is also a huge challenge.

The one race that I had not heard of before was the 48 hour distance challenge. Runners ran for 48 hours (two days) and the winner was the one that covered the longest distance. A woman broke the previous record when she ran 255.668 miles. I do not know the specifics of running for 48 hours but I imagine they had to stop to eat and maybe catch a few winks now and then. I would imagine the course was a loop of some distance that could be easily measured since the .668 miles is a very specific measurement. In my best running days it would take me a long three weeks to run 255 miles much less do it in two days. Even the famous Le Mans 24 hour race for high tech cars is a day shorter.

It seems running takes on many types of challenges. From 60 yards to 255 miles is quite a distance between them. When race officials add hurdles, water puddles, grassy trails, high mountains, and hot deserts to the contest running takes on a new meaning. When you think it started with some kids playing tag in the back yard or at school to all of the variety of challenges ahead of them it puts running on a whole new level.

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