New 6 Day Work Exchange Program

The Across The Years footrace is excited to announce the creation of a new work exchange program for the 2017-18 race. This exciting program will bring in up to six volunteer athletes to both work and participate in the 6 day race this year.

We are seeking enthusiastic participants who are looking to not only give back to the running community but also to participate themselves. It is a perfect opportunity for someone who wants to attend the 6 day but may not be able to afford the entry fee. Selected applicants to the program will receive entry into the 6 day foot race, meals, a tent onsite and ability to earn a buckle for completion of 100 miles or more on the race course.

Participants in the program will be expected to work an 8 hour shift each of the six days of the event. Duties may include cooking, serving food at the aid station, swapping out trash bags and tidying up restrooms. The rest of the time you are free to accumulate miles, sleep, hang out or whatever you would like to do.

We have up to six positions available for the program this year and selections will be made based upon the submission of an application.

To find out full details you can visit our webpage and submit an application.

Thank you for the interest!

-The Across The Years Team

Mike Melton & MCM Timing Join the ATY Team

Past Across The Years participant and race timer Mike Melton of MCM Timing based out of Florida is joining the Across The Years team this year. Mike will handle all timing services for the event.

Mike will have two timing systems on board this year and will be providing real time live online results throughout the event as well as displays with on site lap results as you pass through the timing area.

Mike has experience timing many ultra marathon events including the KEYS 100, Peanut Island 24 Hour, Umstead 100, Backyard Ultra, Icarus Florida Ultrafest and Ancient Oaks.

Help us in welcoming Mike to the team! You can find out more about MCM timing on their website at:

ATY 2017/2018 Registration Opening + Changes!

Registration for the 2017/2018 Across the Years will be opening this Friday, May 26th on Ultra Signup.

Last year we sent out a survey to all participants asking for 3 things they liked about the event and 3 suggestions for improvements. We take these very seriously and want to ensure that Across the Years continues to be a leader in multi-day events for quality and runner experience.

There are many things that we cannot change. The weather was the #1 most remarked upon item for improvement and while we also do not want to spend 6-days in the rain, etc this is not something over which we have much control. However, for anyone not participating in the 6-day and with a flexible travel schedule we want to issue the reminder that Across the Years allows participants to change the date of their race right up until the start. So if rain or bad weather is in the forecast you can move up or back the date of your race.

While weather is the most clear impasse we came to with the survey results, there were a few others in the “cannot” file. However, we are going to focus on what we ARE changing. We will be moving the warming tent with cots to the back dirt parking lot directly off the course so there is an option for a heated tent with a place to sleep for runners who wish to rent a cot in that tent. This way runners do not have to walk more than a few steps to find a warm place to sleep. The warming tent with tables and chairs (not for sleeping) will go back to being located right next to the medical tent and also will only be a step off the course. There will be charging stations in both warming tent options. The warming tent with cots will NOT have lighting as it is meant for sleep – we will setup a small table with handheld flashlights right inside the tent for navigation after dark.

Specified quiet hours will be in place. Music will be turned down at 8pm and will not be turned back up until 8am the following morning. Exception: We will absolutely still party and celebrate the New Year at midnight December 31 – January 1. Music will also be played during the day at the main aid station as well as the back gate (no longer dependent on a volunteer having music for the back gate).

The back gate tent will have water, soda and Gatorade (and any other electrolyte drink we have for the event) stocked at all times to ease congestion from the main aid station. There will not be any food back there, but getting a drink refill of your choice should become easier.

To note: there is now an option for a discounted reusable cup with registration. The UltrAspire reusable cup will help the event cut down on waste, and is easily folded in to a pocket and is good for both hot and cold liquids! This is not required, and the race WILL have cups available but we want to provide an option for those who want to join our fight to minimize waste.

We are going to work on the lighting on the course and better communication of our menu options (including an on-demand food menu: noting that on-demand food is dependent on volunteers not being busy getting out a main meal at the time as that will always take priority).

The other major change is our award ceremony(s). We will recognize performances from all days of the race for awards. Historically, Across the Years was a 24-48-72 hour race that ended on January 1st. When we added the 6-day we did not change the award ceremony date for the shorter races and did not officially recognize results from races that finished after 1st for awards. We are changing that this year and any race run on any day of the event is eligible for awards. This decreases confusion, allows runners more choices, and gives runners the recognition they deserve at a larger award ceremony on January 3rd. The ceremony will be held January 3rd at 11am (two hours after the completion of the race) inside the main ballpark stadium. Many runners have achieved huge feats, records, and personal bests – we want to truly take the time to recognize those results and partake in a post 6-day party with all of our Across the Years Family! We understand that some participants may fly in for the 24 hour race December 31-January 1 (example) and leave before the 3rd – we recognize this as a potential “issue” and we will incur the cost shipping an award if unable to attend the ceremony.

Bib and chip pickup hours will be extended with the no-pickup hours just being from 10pm-7am (the overnight hours).

We will have the water truck back also (not as needed this past year with the rain) but it addresses the dust management concerns from previous years.

If you made a suggestion but doesn’t see us listing a “fix” it isn’t because we didn’t listen to your concerns. Many “keep” items also found themselves on the “improve” list and we did our best to prioritize and make decisions based on the greater good and within our agreement with Camelback Ranch.

The Return of the 6 Day


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:

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 (%)





Ultra Event

 71.67 %



Nov 5, 2011


Pinhoti 100M



Oct 26, 2011


Laz’ Backyard Ultra 18HRS

 66.53 %



Oct 1, 2011


Rock/Creek StumpJump 50K 50KM



Sep 24, 2011


Hinson Lake 24HRS

 74.79 %



Sep 9, 2011


Superior Sawtooth 100M

 78.02 %



Aug 13, 2011


Laurel Valley 35M



Aug 7, 2011


Hot to Trot 8HRS

 86.04 %



Jul 16, 2011


Landsford Canal 50KM



Jun 25, 2011


Darkside 8 Hour 8HRS

 75.35 %



Jun 19, 2011


Chattanooga Mountains Stage Race 20M

 75.74 %



Jun 18, 2011


Chattanooga Mountains Stage Race 22M

 77.63 %



Jun 17, 2011


Chattanooga Mountains Stage Race 18M

 85.49 %



May 7, 2011


Strolling Jim™ 40M



Mar 12, 2011


Delano Park 12HRS

 89.30 %



Feb 26, 2011


XTERRA Thrill in the Hills Trail 26M

 88.41 %



Feb 19, 2011


Black Warrior 50KM

 70.77 %



Jan 22, 2011


Mountain Mist 50KM

 97.91 %



Jan 9, 2011


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)



Mangan Mangan
100 mile







24 hour








48 hour








72 hour








Day 1 mileage








Day 2 mileage








Day 3 mileage
















Break Minutes
Day 1








Day 2








Day 3

















*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.