Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Race Recap: “Running with the Devil Marathon”, June 26th 2010

Editor's note:  DARTer Todd Hartung recently returned from Las Vegas where he scratched off Nevada in his bucket list of marathons-by-state.  Here is his recount:

This past Saturday I ran and completed the “Running with the Devil” marathon in Boulder City, Nevada. This would be my 19th marathon over the past three years and was not only my slowest race by far but also the most difficult to complete but possibly the most meaningful.  As I work towards running a marathon in all 50 states I was happy to learn that a marathon was taking place the same week my wife was traveling to Las Vegas for a conference in which I was accompanying her.  I found the race description below online regarding the marathon that would knock out the state of Nevada for me.

·         Most race organizers go to great lengths to ensure their races are held in ideal running conditions; 40 degrees, light breeze, overcast. Many aim to make their courses flat and fast, or even downhill to facilitate runners to smash their PR. Not this one! Held in summer in the middle of the day thru the dry Mojave Desert, athletes will be challenged to contend with extreme heat and unrelenting rolling hills as they traverse this spectacularly scenic course.

The temperatures at the “Running with the Devil” marathon were unlike any conditions that I have ever run in. The race temperatures started around 105 and went up to 110. Running this race was described in a write up as running in a giant hairdryer.  Add some of the largest hills you can imagine and this would make for one difficult run. I have heard from so many people that love to say “...but it's a dry heat”.  To which I respond, registration for 2011 is open and you should run it. 

As if the heat and the hills were not enough, my stomach was not cooperating with me either. Not sure if it was a result of the high temps and hills but I got sick early and often throughout the race. At the mile number 18 aid station I threw up several times and the aid station worker was very concerned and wanted to call an EMT. I told him I was fine and wanted to continue. Between 18 and 20 miles I was very dizzy and think that the loss of fluids had really hurt me. At mile 20 aid station I was not sure I could go on any further. Another runner sitting in a chair at the aid station next to me had decided that she was done and was catching a ride back to the start. I shared my thoughts out loud that maybe that was what I should do as well. They responded that the car only had two seats and that they could only transport one runner at a time. After three small cups of Coke to settle my stomach and I filling my hat with ice I decided to try and make it to the next aid station at mile 23. I managed to make it to 23 with a ugly run/walk strategy and continued on to the finish from there. I crossed in 5 hours and 56 minutes.

I am happy that the aid station sag wagon had only two seats. Not only because it may have caused me to drop out if the car had back seats but also because that would have meant that I would have had to return to run Nevada again. After the race I thanked the woman who runs Calico Racing as she organizes some great races around the country. I wanted to tell her that I enjoyed the race and that she would see me again. I could not, however, bring myself to say this as I knew it was not the truth. I thanked her and stumbled on to my car with no intentions of ever coming back!

The race course itself was truly beautiful and took place near Lake Mead which is the largest manmade lake in the US. The town of Boulder City is only one of two towns in Nevada that does not allow gambling.  I found a nice write up on the town of Boulder City that I felt was worth sharing. 

Boulder City was initially created to house the workers who built Hoover Dam, and as such, was a significant and integral part of the successful completion of the Boulder Canyon Project. Constructed in 1931 in the midst of the Great Depression, Boulder City was conceived by the Federal Government as an ideal town, a "model" city to which the American people could look for hope of a better future. Today, Boulder City continues to provide the extraordinary service, unyielding commitment and inviting, family-oriented atmosphere that its founders, fondly referred to today as the 31ers, envisioned over 70 years ago.

Like any runner with a runner's mentality, there is a part of me that knows that I could have completed this race in a much faster time. This curiosity will not result in my return to Boulder City any time soon. 

Way to go, Todd!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Running w/ the Devil Marathon

A shout-out to running buddy and fellow DARTer Todd Hartung, who braved the heat and hills more of the heat at yesterday's Running With The Devil marathon near Lake Mead, NV.  Todd reports that it was the hardest marathon he's ever completed.

Race report to follow once Todd gets home.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Race Recap: Bethel Hill Moonlight Boogie 50-Miler

"Tonight, tonight the highway's bright
Out of our way mister you best keep
'Cause summer's here and the time is right
For goin' racin' in the street"
-Bruce Springsteen, "Racing in the Street" from the album "Darkness on the Edge of Town"

You know how it is when you see someone wearing a shirt advertising a race that you've only heard about, some sort of semi-mystical event that's spoken of in hushed tones in running groups, one that sounds impossibly difficult to run because of the distance, terrain, temperature, mean-assed country dogs or some unholy combination thereof.  You look at the person and wonder how in God's name they not only finished the race but had the courage to enter in the first place.

That's how I would view those who wear a Bethel Hill Moonlight Boogie shirt.  Bad enough that it's 50 miles, but on top of that add looong asphalt hills, mid-June Southern temperatures, and, oh yeah - the race starts at six o'clock in the evening which guarantees a good chunk of the night spent running in the dark.  Anyone wearing said shirt got my respect as well as a little wariness as they couldn't possibly be "all there" in the head.  Crazy!

So it was with a little trepidation that I signed up for the 50-miler (there's a marathon option as well).  I'm no stranger to running in the hills and heat and I'd recently done a 100k (which is 12 miles longer).  What I hadn't done is run at night, and that concerned me.  I've been thinking about either a 100-mile or a 24-hour race for the fall and needed some night practice.  Seeing as the Boogie was less than a two-hour's drive from home I decided it would be a good primer for something longer.  Little did I expect the challenges that lay ahead that night.

I arrived at the starting area a little early and relaxed in the car.  Once packet pickup began I traipsed across the small parking of Bethel Hill Baptist Church lot to pick up my number.  When I got back to my car I was sweating profusely.  The thermometer affixed to the only tree around showed ninety degrees in the shade.  No wind and no cloud cover.

After an informative session by Eric Fogelman and his son Brad about their recent experience at the Comrades Marathon in South Africa we stood around while race director and ultrarunner Doug Dawkins gave us the rundown.  Other than the usual "run facing traffic" and "take it slowly to begin with" I heard him mention something about rattlesnakes not being endangered in the area and to stay out of the tall grass adjoining the road.  Shortly thereafter we all lined up at the starting line, marathoners facing one way (to get their .2 miles in before doing 26 miles) and 50-milers facing the other.

First lap, first ten miles
The course was laid out like a lollipop, with a big circle for the first six miles and a narrow out-and-back for the last four.  Repeated five times would be the race.  Soon after the start I met and ran alongside Robert Cortes, who's been in the military for nearly twenty years.  It was good to have him along to talk to, as it took my mind off the humidity.

Second lap, second ten miles
Miles eleven thru sixteen were when I started seeing people in various stages of vomiting.  Must have been the heat.  At mile sixteen Robert and I grabbed our headlamps as it was getting dark and we were about to run the creepiest portion of the race.  The last four miles of each loop, the "stick" of the lollipop, consisted of a long downhill which passed by a swampy area.  As darkness settled sounds of the swamp creatures came alive and the noise of frogs, owls, and other unknown creatures filled the air.  Robert and I parted ways just before mile twenty and I stopped to change socks and shoes.

Third and fourth laps, thirty and forty miles
Laps three and four were largely indistinguishable.  Running in complete darkness, thinking about pace, thinking about hydration, thinking about rattlesnakes (never saw any snakes, but others reported seeing a copperhead on the road).  I was amazed by the number of fellow runners out there without a headlamp or flashlight.  Did they forget to bring them, or did they like stumbling around in the dark?

One more item of note at about my 38th mile.  Charlotte-based Jonathan Savage powered up the last hill (having lapped me earlier) and finished in first place overall in a blistering time of just over seven hours.  He was running uphill faster than I was running downhill!

Last lap to the finish line
With ten miles to go I knew I could walk and complete it in between ten and eleven hours.  My original goal was to finish as near to ten as possible so I didn't feel too bad about my pace, though a sub-ten would have been ideal.  With four miles left I figured that if I ran as fast as was comfortable on the downhill I could power-walk the uphill.  During the last mile I was looking ahead for the finish area and cursed silently when what I thought were the lights of Bethel Baptist turned out to be the lights of other runners going in the opposite direction.  At last the finish line came into view and I shouted out my number and that I was done, nine hours fourty-nine minutes and fifteen seconds after the start.

Unlike most other races ultra finishes are anticlimactic.  There are usually a few hearty souls giving encouragement and support but it's no Wellesley College shouting.  Post-race is a good time for hanging out with other runners and basking in the afterglow of a difficult race.

After a few minutes spent cooling off I wandered over to the community center and enjoyed a real meal cooked by the good folks of Bethel Church.  Who knew that eating a hot dog and hamburger at 4:30 a.m. could be so enjoyable?  I had considered staying a while longer and perhaps getting some shut-eye before driving home, but I was too amped up (the four Red Bulls consumed during the race may have contributed to that feeling) and I headed home, arriving just after sunrise.

My friend and running mentor Rickey Reeves of Millers Creek, NC always said that long distance running "ain't rocket science, but if it was easy everyone would do it".  Those who tackle the Bethel Hill Moonlight Boogie races are regular people who take on the challenge of hills, heat, and humidity in order to prove something to themselves, not to be part of some super-secret running cabal.  However, it's sure nice to have earned the Bethel Hill Moonlight Boogie's t-shirt emblazoned with the words "dedicated long distance endurance athlete" on the back.

Chad R.
Davidson Area Running Team

P.S. Results of the marathon and 50-miler can be found here.  Thanks go out to all the volunteers who spent all night offering aid and good cheer.

Monday, June 14, 2010

No Boundaries 5K Training Session Offered by Fleet Feet Huntersville

Just received a note from the Kristin at Fleet Feet in Huntersville in which she mentions a new training session that they will be offering this fall.  While it's primarily for those beginning (or re-beginning), runners of all abilities are welcome.  The ten-week sessions will cost $75 and will include two coached sessions per week, weekly group runs, informational clinics, and some special incentives.

So if you are considering getting into shape for running a 5k by the fall, then get in touch with Robin Kruse at or go to

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Upcoming Races in Familiar Places

Seen recently on Davidson College's cross country trail.  My kind of pace!

As we slowly descend into the morass of the summer doldrums we find that the there are fewer local races.  However, there are someworth adding to your list.

  • China Grove 5K Main Street Challenge:  A local fave that's considered to be one of the fastest around, it's a straight out-and-back in downtown China Grove.  Starts at 9pm on Friday, June 11th, and the first 500 entrants will receive a Dri-Fit technical t-shirt.
  • Bethel Hill Moonlight Boogie and Boogie Marathon:  Races like these 50- and 26.2-mile options lend credence to the mystique of running in the Mangum Track Club's territory.  You might think that a marathon and ultra that take place, according to the website, in the middle of nowhere would be sparsely attended, but it's sold out this year.
  • Latta Triathlon:  Taking place on Saturday and Sunday,  this event has only 34 open spots left as of this morning (June 9).  
Recall the parable of the tortoise and the hare as you run this summer.  Take it nice and easy.

Chad R.
Davidson Area Running Team

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Upcoming Race Profile: King Tiger 5k

Put a tiger in your tank!

This Saturday, June 5th the King Tiger 5k will be held in the University area northeast of downtown Charlotte.  Run For Your Life is partnering with King Tiger Tae Kwon Do of Charlotte to offer you one of the largest races in the area.  In addition to the 5k there will be a one-mile and kids' fun run.

After the race drop by the Run For Your Life - University store for some spring deals including 15% off current model shoes and clothing and up to 50% off last season's clothing and shoes.

Race Recap: 2010 Buffalo Marathon

Two of our DART runners Todd Hartung and Bobby Aswell both decided to spend part of their Memorial Day weekend running in the 2010 Buffalo Marathon. For Bobby this would be his 150th marathon and number 18 for Todd. A Saturday morning flight to Buffalo for a 7am Sunday race with a return flight Sunday made for a short visit.

The race is described as a flat couse with cool temperatures. The couse was flat but the temperatures reached the 80's and slowed most runners. Bobby crossed the line in 3:07 and placed 2nd in his age group and received a nice trophy. Todd crossed in 3:39 and would have to enjoy looking at Bobby's trophy.

The race was well organized and well run. It included a small but nice expo, very nice race shirt and great finishers' medal. They also had a good pasta dinner the night before as well as a post race party with food and music. The course was scenic and gave a nice tour of various parts of Buffalo.

The Buffalo marathon with normal average temperatures would be a great race and one for a PR or Boston qualifier.

Way to go, Todd and Bobby!