The Return of the 6 Day

yk02

Across The Years is only ten days away, and with it the return of the six day event.  ATY has only hosted a six day one other year, back in 1999 to bring in the new millennium.  Similarly, this year’s six day is returning in grand form, with a world-class field and prize money to match.

The legendary Yiannis Kouros is the recent addition to this year’s field, returning to competition in the United States for the first time since Across The Years eight years ago.  Kouros needs no introduction, and will be attempting to break a number of world records.  In that vein, this year will offer prize money to push Yiannis and the competition to record-breaking performances:

First to 400 Miles: $250
First to 500 Miles: $500
First to 600 Miles: $1000
269.114 Miles in 48 Hours (World Road Record): $1000
1000 KM in 5d.20:13:39 (World Road Record): $1000
639 Miles in 6 Days (World Road Record): $2000

Not to be underestimated, Kouros has much to watch out for with strong multiday runners Joe Fejes and William Sichel on his heels.  Fejes ran 329 miles in 72 hours at last year’s event, and Sichel has a strong six day record with a personal best of 532.559 miles.  There are several more strong runners yet to be tested at six days waiting to see what they can do, including several in the women’s field.
Tune in to this year’s race for live coverage throughout the event through our Ultracast:

100_3064
Yiannis Kouros with the Coury family after the 2005 Across The Years – Part of the ATY Family!

Across The Years 6 Day Race 2013-14

April 12, 2013 (Phoenix, Arizona) – Aravaipa Running is pleased to announce the addition of a 6 day foot race to the world renowned Across The Years multi-day running event. The 6 day race will start on December 28, 2013 at 9:00 A.M. at Camelback Ranch – Glendale where participants will walk or run laps on a 1,689.5 meter (1.0498 mile) course through the spring training complex for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago White Sox. In this “fixed time” foot race, participants will aim to travel as far as possible in the allotted time, having until January 3, 2014 at 9:00 A.M. to complete as many loops of the course as possible. One on course aid station will provide snacks, meals, hot & cold drinks throughout the duration of the event and an on site medical team will assist with blisters and other minor health concerns.

6 day foot races were extremely popular in the late 1800′s during the era of “pedestrians” who would compete for large sums of prize money in front of masses of gambling spectators. Events were commonly held in Madison Square Garden in New York City and would draw tens of thousands of people. The modern day 6 day race was revived in the 1980′s and a handful are still held today.

Across The Years will celebrate its 30th running this year and our 3rd year at our new venue at Camelback Ranch. Consider joining us for any of our fixed time options of 24, 48, 72 hours or 6 days!

Registration is now available online or by mail.  If you aren’t planning on running with us this year, consider volunteering!

2012 Across The Years 72 Hour Race Report

by Joe Fejes

For the past couple of years I have immersed myself in running ultra events, mainly in the Southeast. In 2011 I completed 21 races of marathon distance or greater, including but not limited to the following events:

 

Rank (%)

Place

Time

Date

State

Ultra Event

 71.67 %

14

23:18:29

Nov 5, 2011

 AL

Pinhoti 100M

3

66.67

Oct 26, 2011

 TN

Laz’ Backyard Ultra 18HRS

 66.53 %

50

5:45:29

Oct 1, 2011

 TN

Rock/Creek StumpJump 50K 50KM

2

132.24

Sep 24, 2011

 NC

Hinson Lake 24HRS

 74.79 %

22

32:24:03

Sep 9, 2011

 MN

Superior Sawtooth 100M

 78.02 %

9

7:48:55

Aug 13, 2011

 SC

Laurel Valley 35M

2

47.2

Aug 7, 2011

 GA

Hot to Trot 8HRS

 86.04 %

3

4:11:50

Jul 16, 2011

 SC

Landsford Canal 50KM

1

52.03

Jun 25, 2011

 GA

Darkside 8 Hour 8HRS

 75.35 %

23

3:42:41

Jun 19, 2011

 TN

Chattanooga Mountains Stage Race 20M

 75.74 %

15

3:01:38

Jun 18, 2011

 TN

Chattanooga Mountains Stage Race 22M

 77.63 %

16

2:26:21

Jun 17, 2011

 TN

Chattanooga Mountains Stage Race 18M

 85.49 %

13

5:39:41

May 7, 2011

 TN

Strolling Jim™ 40M

4

73

Mar 12, 2011

 AL

Delano Park 12HRS

 89.30 %

4

3:27:58

Feb 26, 2011

 GA

XTERRA Thrill in the Hills Trail 26M

 88.41 %

4

4:30:06

Feb 19, 2011

 AL

Black Warrior 50KM

 70.77 %

29

5:15:06

Jan 22, 2011

 AL

Mountain Mist 50KM

 97.91 %

2

4:47:00

Jan 9, 2011

 GA

Atlanta Fat Ass 50K 50KM

 

Although I can no longer break 3 hours in the marathon or run sub 18 in the 5k, I have been fairly competitive in my age group (46-50) in ultra events.  That is, unless John Dove, Phil Canning, Tim Vinson, Dewayne Satterfield, Dink Taylor, Garth Peterson, Dave Carver, Randy Whorton, Sheridan Ames, Jack McDermott, (among others) showed up.  All of these runners have superior leg speed.

Throughout the year I tried to make a list of my strengths and weaknesses as a runner:

Strengths:        (1)        Road running;

(2)               Flat courses;

(3)               Loop courses where navigation skills are not required;

(4)               Above average endurance. Generally the longer the race the better.

Weaknesses-    (1)        Atrocious navigational skills;

(2)               Suck at downhill trail running;

(3)               Super suck on technical rocky single track trail running;

(4)               Mountain climbs such as Laurel Valley or Superior Sawtooth;

(5)               Generally, the shorter the race, the worse I do.

I decided that I should focus on events that suited my strong points and avoid races where my weaknesses would be exposed.

With great interest I discovered the race known as the “timed event”. These are unique ultra races that typically occur for a period between 8-72 hours in duration on a flat fast surface consisting of a relatively short loop ranging from 400 meters to 1.5 miles.

To test out my hypothesis I decided to run several timed events in 2011:

-Two 8 hour events (Darkside & Hot to Trot),

-One 12 hour event (Delano) and

-Two 24 hour events (Hinson Lake & Black Mountain).

I found that my running style is well suited for these events primarily because it is almost impossible to get lost running around a one mile (or less) track and the running surface is flat.

I also confirmed that the longer the timed event, the better I did, comparatively speaking.  I won the Black Mountain 24 hour with 116 miles on a hot, humid day on a 3 mile trail loop with a few small hills.  At Hinson Lake I was able to do 132 miles on a hot humid day. Hinson Lake is a 1.5 mile trail loop with fewer hills than Black Mountain. At Hinson I lost by more than 30 miles to Mike Morton who ran almost 164 miles. Although I was somewhat embarrassed by getting trounced at Hinson Lake by Mike, I felt much better about myself when I learned that Mike’s mileage nearly broke the American Record for a 24 hour event.

I felt even better when I later learned that Jonathan Savage had run the same distance (132 miles) as I had at Hinson in 2010, and that he had recently run 145 miles at the Northcoast 24 hour National Championship run in Cleveland, Ohio.  Jonathan’s second place finish at Northcoast was an automatic qualification for the US National 24 hour team.

Vikena (Kena) Yutz is a fellow GUTS runner and friend whose expertise is running timed events and who also competed at the Northcoast 24 hour and Hinson Lake. After we finished Hinson Lake, Kena pulled me aside and told me I should consider running Northcoast in the future as it was typically a faster course than Hinson Lake. Kena also told me I should consider running a multiday event such as the Across the Years 48 or 72 hour run as my endurance was a strong point (or maybe she was gently referring to my declining leg speed!).

On Kena’s advice I decided to conduct a feasibility study on the Across the Years 72 hour race held in Glendale, Arizona from December 29 – January 1.  Initially I would not consider running ATY because I understood that the event was run on a 500 meter track which seemed too short to keep my interest engaged. I soon discovered, though, that the event had been moved from Nardini Manor to Camelback Ranch which had a 1.05 mile scenic mostly flat loop around the training grounds for the Los Angeles Dodgers. My interest was now piqued.

After consulting with my super understanding wife Michelle and my 8-year-old princess daughter Alyssa, we decided that my birthday and Christmas present would be entry into Across the Years 72 hour race.  The race is so named because the participants run from one year into the next—in this case, starting in 2011 and ending in 2012.  My entrance into the race was a very difficult decision, knowing I would miss the New Year holiday with my family.

I signed up for the race and booked my airline ticket to Phoenix. No turning back now—I was committed. I was also excited that in addition to Kena, a couple other Georgia running friends–Willy “Natureboy” Syndram and Jameelah Abdul Ramin Mujaahid–were also running Across the Years.

Now all I had to do was formulate my goal and strategy for the race. I figured the best way was to analyze the ATY race data for the past six years. I added to my spreadsheet a “daily goal” column with distances that would allow me to break the course record of 323 miles set by the great Yiannis Kouros.

Below is my spreadsheet based on the historical splits of prior ATY races as well as my 100 mile and 24 hour Hinson Lake totals. Figures in yellow are the numbers I hoped to do at ATY.

Kouros Geesler

Fejes (me)

Biondic

Sichel

Mangan Mangan
100 mile

15:21

16:35

17:15*

28:42

22:06

16:57

     18:50
24 hour

149

134

132*

83

107

132

118

48 hour

257

217

X

160

197

210

188

72 hour

323

300

X

248

269

273

279

Day 1 mileage

149

134

131

83

107

132

118

Day 2 mileage

108

83

98

77

90

78

70

Day 3 mileage

66

83

95

88

72

63

91

Total

323

300

324

248

269

273

279

Break Minutes
Day 1

20

10

30

129

173

42

98

Day 2

61

192

100

213

136

276

363

Day 3

282

124

115

118

336

455

115

Total

363

326

245

460

645

773

576

 

*My results from Hinson Lake 24 hour.

Based on a comparison of my Hinson Lake performance with the prior ATY performances, I was confident that I should be able to achieve between 280 and 324 miles provided I ran a smart race.

The numbers show the obvious—the more time spent on the course, the greater mileage that could be achieved.  Kouros and Geesler had rested considerably less than the other ATY winners.  I thought I might be able to offset their superior leg speed if I simply took shorter or fewer breaks.

Trust me when I say I quickly learned that this particular plan was wishful thinking, if not just plain stupid.

STRATEGY CHANGE: I revised my daily goal for the first day from 131 miles to 140.  After I signed up for the race, I learned there were at least two qualification slots still open for the six-member US 24 Hour national team. Serge Arbona, Phil McCarthy, and Jonathan Savage had qualified automatically with their performances at the Northcoast 24 hour race. Mike Morton surely qualifies based on his 164 miles at Hinson Lake. It appears that the next best performance for the open qualification was Harvey Lewis’s 140 miles at Northcoast, which would be the current minimum mileage floor. As the qualification period runs through June 2012, it is likely that a higher mileage number (i.e 150+) will be required to qualify for the team. There are many more talented runners (Jay Aldous, Michael Arnstein, Zach Gingerich, Michael Henze, Nick Coury, Dan Rose, et al) who are likely to exceed 150+ miles before the qualification period ends. Nevertheless, I decided to follow the sage advice of my ultrarunning idol William Keane who recently said, “When you’re going to the last waltz…Go Big and Make a Statement.” I would try for 140+ miles on the first day.  I also knew, however, that going “Big” the first day would almost certainly mean a slow and cruel death on Days 2 and 3.

 

Glendale Arizona-Camelback Ranch- December 29th –9 am

At the start of Across the Years, I was ready to run but nervous as hell. The ATY entry list read like a Who’s Who for ultrarunning legends:

John Geesler (Former US record holder for 48-hour run),

Don Winkley (American Record Holder 6-day race),

“Frozen Ed” Furtaw (Author of Tales from Out There/Barkley Marathons),

Anna Piskorska (1st American & 10th overall at the 2010 World 24-hour championship with 133 miles).

Pam Reed (Badwater winner & USATF 24-hour track record holder),

Ed Ettinghausen, (Guinness Book of Records: Most marathons completed in a year 135)

Martina Hausmann (Age class world record holder for 1000 miles – 15 days)

Ray Krolewicz, (Former American record holder 48-hour run: 216 miles)

Don Lister (Completed 574 mile Blue Ridge Parkway in 17.5 days at age 67)

Vikena Yutz (2010 72-hour Across the Years winner)

George Biondic (2010 Across The Years winner)

Davy Crockett (2010 48-hour Across the Years winner)

 

Day 1 “Going Big”

I ran hard from the start. I wore my disposable ultra lightweight Nike Mayfly (engineered to last 100k) racing flats for the first 50 miles because I wanted every advantage to have a big day.  I ran the first lap with Ray Krolewicz who asked me what my goal was. I told Ray 140+ and asked him what I needed to get there. He said that I really needed to be at 70 miles in 11 hours to have a realistic shot. This was a little faster than I had originally planned on. I remembered, though, that Rich Shick, another ultra idol of mine, had previously told me, “If Ray K. ever gives you advice on ultras, take it to the bank—it is good as gold.” I therefore picked up my pace gradually with hopes of meeting or exceeding Ray’s benchmark.

 The temperature quickly climbed from the 40’s to the 70’s. It felt like a 100. I am not sure why but dry heat seems to affect me much worse than heat with humidity which I am accustomed to in Georgia.  I had suffered severe dehydration a few months prior at Superior Sawtooth 100 miler in Minnesota under similar dry heat conditions.

Unfortunately, just like Superior Sawtooth, I started having stomach issues early on in the race as a result of the warm day and my fast pace.  From 10 am until 6 pm I couldn’t eat any food or gels or even drink the high caloric Ensure drinks I had brought. I could only drink water.  I dry-heaved several times and worried that continuing to push the pace would lead to misery and, more importantly, low miles. I asked Perry Sebastien, who was Kena’s crew chief and a good friend of mine to put my Pepto in the cooler, hoping that a couple shots would solve my stomach issue. It didn’t. Perry was kind enough to pick up some Alka Seltzer which seemed to be more effective than the Pepto.  I also sipped Coca Cola and ginger ale but still felt nauseated.  I came through 11 hours with around 68 miles. Ray K. said the 68 miles should translate into approximately 134 miles for 24 hours. At the time I was discouraged that I would likely fall well short of my first day 140+ goal but tried to stay positive since I was still on pace to beat my 132 Hinson Lake mileage total.

As the temperature dropped and nightfall came, my stomach began to settle.  I was now able to eat a little fruit and a bean quesadilla. I was also able to run at a reasonable pace consistently without any major issues. Both my breathing and legs felt good. I reached 100 miles in 17:12, a 3-minute PR from my Hinson Lake time. I finished the first 24 hours with 132.30 miles which was .04 of a mile further than my Hinson Lake PR.

 

Day 2 “Sink or Swim

I decided to take an hour nap in hopes of rejuvenating my legs and body. Unfortunately, it didn’t.  Once again the heat felt intense on my body. I was now trying to walk/shuffle to get my miles. The miles were not adding up. I didn’t even want to be outside. Bummed, I quickly scaled back my three-day goal to 250 miles. As the day dragged on, the dreaded DNF acronym started popping up in my head. Simply put, I felt like shit.

Then around 5 pm, as the sun began to set and the temperature cooled, I felt like a new man. My breathing improved and my legs felt great.  I decided that I would attack the mileage in 7-10 mile increments hoping the miles would eventually add up. I ran the next seven miles strong but then felt sapped of energy. I asked Perry if I could take an hour nap.  After some serious haggling Perry agreed to a half hour. Truthfully I was a little pissed because a half hour is NOT a power nap.  I barely had lain down before Perry was waking me up and telling me to hit it.  By now Tom Jackson and Davy Crockett were quickly and steadily closing the gap. I knew that they were running the 48 hour race but I was still trying to protect my big day-one lead.

I had several issues to contend with.

EATING: My stomach had settled enough on Day 2 to allow me to eat everything in sight.  I scarfed down several pork burritos, bean and cheese quesadillas and three slices of spicy sausage-and-pepperoni pizza. Eating solid real meat felt fantastic, although I was now running like a choo choo train, farting nonstop for the remaining two days of the race.  My food choices also caused some serious acid reflux. I didn’t let my gastric discomfort interfere. I felt energetic. Relentless forward motion ensued.

NAPPING: I had bought a cheap sleeping bag at Walmart before the race.  I didn’t reserve a tent, so I just laid the sleeping bag on the grass outside Kena’s tent. The sleeping bag felt nice and cozy during the day, but once the temperature cooled and the dew set in, it was a cold, wet hell. I eventually placed the sleeping bag on an extra cot, but soon found that the cot wasn’t roomy enough. My legs were exhausted and would cramp unless I changed positions from time to time. Additionally, the cot being off the grass actually caused cold air to blast from underneath—almost like how a bridge ices before the highway. What a cheap dumbass, I thought to myself. Why didn’t I spend the $75 to rent a damn tent?

IPOD: Almost as important as the eating and sleeping, my iPods presented serious issues during the race. For some reason the shuffles would not charge, forcing me to rely on my two Ipod Nanos. My primary Nano contained my favorite country or rock songs including Miranda Lambert, Eric Church, Jason Aldean, Nirvana, Reba, Tim McGraw, Cary Underwood, Kenny Chesney, etc.  I also had acquired a backup Nano a few weeks ago from a dude on Craigslist for super-cheap, the low price due to the cracked screen and the broken on/off button.  My newly purchased iPod came with over 700 songs, mainly hardcore gangsta rap or hip hop artists including: Beanie Sigel, Cassiday, Cyhi the Prynce, Dead Prez, DJ Drama, DJ Quik, DMX, Drag-On, Drake, Fabulous, French Montana, Gang Starr, Ghostface, Gonzalez, Jae Miliz, Joe Budden, Lil Wayne, Pusha-T, Ras Kass, Rick Ross, Sade, Sheek, Teedra Moses and Young Jeezy. I left the songs on, thinking that a change in my music genre might prove beneficial. Although I did enjoy the faster beat of the rap and hip hop music, I quickly grew tired of repetitive lyrics involving bitches, suckas and bad muthafuckas. As a result, most of the 72 hours involved listening to the same 70 country rock songs.  This lack of variety alone greatly jeopardized my race.

Throughout the night on Day 2, I kept focusing on running 7 miles and then taking a 30-minute nap. Perry agreed with my strategy. Even if I didn’t sleep, the rest cooled my body core and refreshed my legs. I felt like a frickin’ wind-up doll with Perry doing the winding. At least I was now making progress on accumulating miles. My feet, however, were really sore and I knew I had at least a couple of nasty blisters. I stopped by the medical tent and removed off my toeless Hoka Bondi B’s.

Holy Chipotle, my toes were mangled with blisters! I spent over an hour in the medical tent having my feet treated. My angelic caregivers removed two syringes of blood and fluid from my biggest blister.  Dammit, I thought to myself, I didn’t plan on this hour of off-time! After my blisters were drained and my feet taped up, however, I felt golden. I continued to run hard throughout the night . At the end of Day 2, I had racked up 208 miles. The bulk of my 76 miles on Day 2 had happened in the evening and nighttime hours, from 5 pm until 9 am. Clearly, from 9 am until 5pm, I had been useless.

Day 3 “Shifting Gears”

 I was upbeat at the start of Day 3, knowing that I could get close to 290 miles if things went my way. Although short of my 300-mile goal, it would be a very good first outing at the 72-hour distance. I was comfortable with my strategy of running 7 miles nonstop and then taking a 30 minute break. Perry had even asked whether we were back on for the 300 miles.

When I resumed my running, I noticed I was being lapped by a young lady who was clicking off miles at a rapid rate. She had long legs, well defined quad and calf muscles, a slender frame and the absolute perfect running form.  I learned her name was Anna Piskorska and that she was attempting to make the Women’s 24 Hour US Team for a second time. At Across the Years she was shooting for 133+ miles in the 24 hour race. Anna previously had finished as the top American in the 2010 World Championship with 133 miles.  I tried on several occasions to run with her, but she was simply too fast.  Every time she lapped me I would yell, “Go, Anna go!”

I also spent much of Day 3 running with Ed Ettinghausen who was in second place behind me in the 72 hour race. Ed is a super nice guy, always slapping hands with other runners and shouting encouragement. Ed is also a character. Literally. He dresses in his trademark court jester outfit and hat in all his ultra races including Badwater. Ed is a Guinness Book of World Record holder for having run the most marathons in a year with 135.

My race performance on Day 3 was very similar to Day 2. I was essentially worthless during the day and came alive at night. One interesting aspect of the multiday race was learning how to run again after taking a rest break. I found that I would literally moan and groan while trying to get my foot speed to a slow crawl for about 15 minutes before I could shift into a higher “shuffle  gear.” Then I would spend about 15 minutes in shuffle gear before I could shift into “running  gear.” It was almost like driving a car. I was, however, quite concerned that, at some point, transmission failure would occur.

Early in the evening, Perry mentioned that I still had a chance at 300 miles but it would hurt like hell. I told him that I was at peace with myself if I came up short. The heat of the last three days along with some rookie mistakes had made my 300-mile goal a bit too aggressive.  I told Perry that I could live with 280 miles.

Just before daylight on Day 3, I was infused with adrenaline at knowing that I would hit 280 if I could get in a couple of decent hours of running.  Keeping my revised goal of 280 firmly in mind, I clicked off 5 or 6 miles at an eight-to-ten-minute pace which brought me to 275 miles.

I ended up enjoying my final couple of hours walking with other runners until the leaderboard showed that golden 280 miles and my first-place finish.

ATY 2011: The Agony and Ecstacy of the Feet

In the wide world of sports, defeat can be sudden (ski fall) or a gradual breakdown (runner’s overuse injury). Either way, the dream just fades into history.

There we were, Erlinda(crew) and I (runner) in the medic tent for the 3rd time. “My advice is to call it a day”, suggested Chris O’loughlin RN. But it’s only a blister, I thought. He had broken, cleaned and taped it earlier. Still it had expanded and burst spilling fluid into the dusty shoe. The tissue deeper down was crushed like a mallet had pounded it, in preparation for baking. “The skin will continue to rip down the side”, he said (28 hours into the race and 48 to go). “There is a real chance of getting Valley Fever based on your medical history”. Years ago, I contracted cellulites (potentially life threatening) which originated from the same toe. It took a week of high doses of intravenous anti-biotic to stop it from spreading to the heart. I’ve run a full 100 mile trail race wearing a splint over a broken hand bone. But, this was different.

Here in Phoenix, we had followed a well detailed plan in our quest for a Canadian age record (265 miles). The forecast was a windless, sunny 45-73 degree three days. Ideal. The new course: flat, mostly fine gravel one mile loop. Perfect. A few runners and volunteers congratulated me on last year’s race. Grateful and focused, I marched on to the beat of my MP3. I hit exactly every 6 hour mileage goal. Erlinda managed the tent, food, clothes, time and strategy. I’m high maintenance, you see. Chisholm Deupree pointed out her value with “hang on to her”. The hours sped by.

“Your wife will probably want you to continue” Chris guessed. Erlinda jumped in, “No, I want him to stop!”

The Coury family works hard to make ATY the highly rated race, it has always been. I felt I let them down. More importantly, I apologized to Erlinda. We embraced as always. A few time we even shared tears. This time, only one tear trickled from my eye. Charlotte Vasarhelyi gave me a consoling hug. When she had hit a low spot I encouraged her to push through. Her husband, Chris Phillips and Erlinda helped each other crew. John Geesler wished me good luck with a knowing smile, when I said I was quitting for good. Ed Ettinghausen (who battled with me for !st place last year) had stopped this time, fearing a stress fracture. He had cheered me on. Now, we joked. I told him I was going back just to best his 111 miles. We laughed and shook hands.

I rushed to the hotel to follow Chris’s Valley Fever prevention procedure. This included sitting in a tub of cold water and 30 lbs, of ice. My heart pounded as parts of my body disappeared, parts that no man wants to disappear (Seinfeld Shrinkage).

Meanwhile, back at the ranch Joe Fejes galloped to an uncontested 1st place (280). After an 8 hour break, Ed bravely overcame his leg injury to come in 2nd (233).

On the women’s side, the outcome was uncertain. After day 1, Carrie Sauter was leading by 24 miles over eventual winner and 3rd overall Charlotte. Charlotte had lost a couple hours vomiting, but poise and patience brought her back into contention. She finished strongly (226). Martina Hausmann was next with a very steady performance (214). Carrie was 3rd with 212. All three women worked together to post these impressive numbers.

Pre-Race Setup and Camping

We are happy to announce that Camelback Ranch is allowing runners to set up their personal space in the grassy runner area from 4-6 PM on December 28th before the race starts.  Runners will also be allowed to camp the night before the race, also in the grassy runner area.  Please note that this is the only area we will be allowed to use.  Cars and RVs cannot stay on the 28th in the dirt lot on the south side of the property.  Also, the course will not be open to walk through and we will not have access to the permanent facilities including the restrooms, showers, and a water source.  We will have portable restrooms onsite.

For those interested in renting a tent for the race, we will have tents available for all runners.  We are still in the planning stage and will have further details including a reservation process closer to the race.  We will set up the tent for you before the event and break it down after the event, and you will be able to use the tent for the entire event even if you are not running all days.  We anticipate having two different models available: a personal 7×7 tent with room to sleep two or one with gear for approximately $25, and a large 10×12 family-style tent that will comfortably sleep two with gear, allow the use of cots, and allow standing up inside the tent for approximately $75.  Final details will be given to entrants at the beginning of December.

Across The Years 2011-2012

Across The Years Family,

It is with great pleasure that we announce the opening of registration for the 28th running of the Across The Years 72, 48, and 24 Hour Footrace!  With this year’s event comes a new location, Camelback Ranch – Glendale, a brand new, state-of-the-art baseball spring training facility utilized by the Chicago White Sox and the Los Angeles Dodgers.  The course is a flat, 1.05 mile loop on primarily crushed gravel.  The course travels past lush greenery, desert landscaping, and even a running waterfall.  We invite you to take a brief photo tour of the path.  We look forward to sharing New Years with all of you, enjoying old friends and a new home!

With the increasing popularity Across The Years in recent years, the most difficult aspect of the event is undoubtedly the lottery.  The race was enjoyable and special at Nardini Manor for those drawn to participate, but the limited size of the track and facilities meant many were turned away.  For this reason, we are most excited to announce that the large size of Camelback Ranch will allow us to forego the lottery process and return to an open registration!  Starting today, anybody may register for their choice of the 24, 48, or 72 hour.

The website is updated with all of the new information, including race information, course information, and links to register online or by mail.

As past runners have noticed, the website is also sporting a new look.  After years of work as our webmaster and statistics guru, Lynn Newton is taking a well-deserved retirement from the ATY race committee.  We would like to extend a great deal of gratitude to Lynn for all of his contributions to the character of our race.  Much of Lynn’s work is hand-crafted, including the runner bios, race day tracking, and vast database of statistics.  Maintaining these features is not a trivial task without Lynn’s experience, so please bear with us as we migrate these features to the new website.  In the mean time, the old website will still be accessible for viewing past race information.

Sincerely,

Jamil and Nick Coury

Race Directors

ATY 2010: A New Year Surprise

A race report by 72 Hour winner George Biondic.

After 30 years of running, we (I) retired in May. Unknown to me, my wife Erlinda applied on my behalf for the ATY race. Later she explained ” You can walk and we can relax and enjoy the experience one last time.” ATY seemed the ideal choice with its history, great location, organization and volunteers. We were doing the 3 day event starting December 29. Still, I had doubts. I was tired of all the injuries and pain. We were feeling our age and my memory was fading prematurely. Most of all I wanted  to spend more time with her, instead of countless hours training.

But, I relented. My training consisted solely of walking. Martina Hausmann had great results with walking. Our goal was 200 miles and middle of the pack. I was looking forward to meeting many runners, including Paul Grimm, a terrific guy who beat me last year at the Run To The Future 24 Hour in Arizona.

We arrived at Nardini Manor outside of Phoenix, very well prepared and relaxed. While setting up our tent, we had the pleasure of meeting Jeff Hagen and his wife Joyce. I expressed my admiration for his insightful awareness of running strategies, which I used over the last 7 years.

Andy Lovy, who has over a 1000 miles on this course showed us around.

RD Nick Coury started the race. The great 300 miler John Geesler led the field with his typical fearlessness. He has perhaps the most recognizable face, because of his rock star appearance.

Mistakenly, I expected dry 45-70 degree weather. The first day was unusually cold and rainy but  I had no good rain gear. Eventually, ponchos were distributed to those who needed them.

The course became muddy, so everyone moved along caustiously. Volunteers valiently cleared the water. On the positive side it is a short course thereby giving everyone a sense of connectivity. We were a band of warriors that was not about to quit.

George Circles the Track

That night when rain hit its hardest, I slept in a nice warm tent. It was a struggle to get out into the cold. To overcome this I ran about 4 minutes every hour. Erlinda warned me that running was not part of our plan. But the great food prepared by by the friendly volunteers was energising.

Thirty-six hours into the race I said ” Half way there.” Someone laughted and I saw the absurdity of my statemement. The second night the temperature dropped to 28.  After a half hour sleep, I increased running to 8 minutes each hour.

By the 3rd day everyone was struggling, but when the skies cleared it warmed up and everyones’ spirits picked up. But a different kind of drama was around the corner.

In the early hours of the race, I was 25th, where we expected to end. Eight hours in, I was 30 miles from the lead. This is when I started climbing up, unintentionally. When John was hit by a mysterious condition, he switched to walking and a door opened for the rest of us. Two days in, I was 3rd and 12 miles from the lead. That evening, I decided to go for it. First place was held by two interesting runners. Ed Ettinghausen is a charismatic 48 year old American who everyone, including myself enjoyed talking with. Andreas Falk is a 33 year old Swede with striking looks and god like physique that women would easily swoon over. On the other side is myself, a little 135 lb. disturber who is past his prime at age of 58.

Basking in the Sun – A Relief!

The viability of this challenge was based on a few things. Firstly, I observed that both guys were having  problems, while I felt fresh. Secondly, I have always been a strong finisher. Thirdly, a significant thing happened two hours earlier. After waking up in the communal tent and trying to rush out, a voice from the next cot  asked if we had any Ibuprofen. ”No, sorry.” Erlinda answered. “You got to help him.”  I said. So she got some pills from the medic along with water. Later, he confided that Ed and Andreas had formed a pact to finish together. I concluded that if I overcame one guy the other would go down as well.

Shortly after the New Year celebration, I joined Ed and Andreas to let them know that I was going for 1st place. They looked shocked and confused. “You got to get past us to do that” Ed said. To avoid a painful struggle, I suggested we share 1st place 3 ways. “Why should we? We have a good lead” Ed replied. I explained my reasoning and suggested they think about it. But warned that the offer was good for the next little while. Privately, I thought that if John came back to life we were all burnt toast.

While I got a drink, they checked the leader board. They had 216 miles and I was 5 behind. Immediately they switched to jogging. Still I caught up to them. Andreas’s coach threw a bottle, which he grabbed on the run. Wow, is this guy ever cool, I thought. Then like 3 race horses at the gates, we broke loose. Their answer was silent but powerful. By my standards,  the pace was insane and yet wtith foolish bravado I said “This is fun.” From the sideline, a surpirsed Erlinda yelled to me “What is going on?” With gusto I replied “A race for first place.” This was equally her race and I wanted her to come along for the ride. Just when I thought the pace could not get  faster, it did. People were checking out the leader board and staring at us. Cameras were flashing. One tired runner perked up and said, ”I am enjoying this and I have the best seat in the house.”

Endorphins were rushing through every vein in my body. I felt young and powerful. But for how long? I knew that I was willing and able to endure a lot of pain, because I had dedicated this race to Erlinda and she was everything to me.

In hindsight they did the right thing. In competition, unless an injury is evident, you should do your best. Andy simplified it to ” I like this. It is what running is all about.” In his mental state John showed amazing tenacity. Martina also put in a gutsy performance, given her injury.

I have two regrets. One, that I did not give Martina a comforting hug, even though we are strangers. The second, that I did not acknowledge sufficiently the support from fellow runners, spectators, family and friends.

As we raced for about 5 miles, I looked for any signs of weakness. Ed’s shoulders slumped slightly and I thought he would be first to snap. But suddenly it was Andreas who stopped and shouted “Oh, my quad! You go with him.” But true to his promise, Ed stayed back with his friend. In the meantime, I pressed on adding more miles, in case they made a comeback.

Hitting 400k, Only a Minute to Spare!

At 6 a.m. convinced that I had a sufficient lead, I stopped. Erlinda rushed over and advised me to keep moving. I turned around and she disappeared like a ghost. For in fact, minutes had passed since she said those words. I walked aimlessly in the dark alone not knowing where I was or what I was doing. Fortunately, the sun rose and my head cleared.

I pushed on energetically with a new goal: 400k (248 miles) which I reached with only seconds to spare. I ended 10 miles ahead of  Ed and Andreas.

My three day mile splits were 83-77-88 with 47 in the last 12 hours and on a total of two hours sleep.

Photo Credit Ray Krolewicz

At the awards, all cheered loudly for Martina who was in tears as she proudly received her 2000 mile jacket. Andreas and Ed hugged as their names were announced. Andreas was happy to have set a Swedish record. Ed had completed 920 miles on a pair of of shoes in the hopes of getting sponsership from the manufacturer. When I accepted our plaque, I felt an outpouring of goodwill through the cheers and smiles. I mentioned to the Coury brothers that it was quite a coincidence that exactly a year ago, they gave me a lift right after the RTTF race, when my taxi did not show up.

I went over to Andreas to shake hands and offer an olive branch. In the heat of the race, it is easy to misunderstand someone.

That night, in the quiet of our hotel room Erlinda and I lay, so exhausted we could barely move a muscle. We talked about the most unexpected turn of events. Our first win came on our last race. As our minds drifted into oblivion, she said “Promise me you will consider doing this race next year.” I just smiled.