Last month The Spectrum Newspaper wrote a story about my 100 miler. I felt a little sheepish when writer Garrett Faylor called to do the interview. I didn't tell him my little secret that there are much more talented athletes around. He summarized the whole experience so well and really seemed to catch the vibe of the ultramarathon. Here is his story:
Reese Exceeds Realm Of Ordinary
Ultra is typified as to go above and beyond what is ordinary. For many people, running a 26.2 marathon might fall into the extraordinary category. Cory Reese, a 33-year-old man, from Hurricane, got into running the same way many folks have - by watching others do it.
After reading a newspaper article and seeing photos of the St. George Marathon, Reese decided a marathon was something he wanted to try. Three years and a dozen marathons later, Reese finished a 100-mile ultramarathon in November, and has leapfrogged the zone of ordinary into the realm of the extraordinary.
An ultramarathon is considered to be anything above the standard 26.2 miles, and are usually 50 to 100 milers. "26.2 is an arbitrary number. People think that the body will explode at 26.2," Reese said. "A big part of ultra is realizing that we're capable of more than we know."
Reese spent a significant number of weeks training, amassing upwards of 75 miles. Unlike marathon training where runners will normally peak within a few miles of their 26.2 target, Reese said that his longest run totaled 35 miles, leaving him 65 to go and a lot to think about.
"It's a hard hobby to explain," said Reese. "You're pushing yourself mentally, physically, pounding your body. One hundred miles is really pure stupidity." Reese was not the only one lured by the challenge.
The Javelina Jundred 100-mile Endurance Run in Fountain Hills, Arizona attracted almost 400 people to sign up. Nearly 300 made it to the starting line, and only about half of those runners reached the finish line. For Reese, and presumably many others, it wasn't pushing himself that was most difficult, but holding back when he thought he could go faster. "In a marathon, you're running fast the whole time. In an ultra, you never run fast, you have to conserve," he said.
As the race wore down Reese's mind played tricks on him. He hallucinated the sight of an upcoming aid station. And while he was happy to wind through the red sand desert unscathed by tarantulas, coyotes and rattlesnakes, one of his most treasured sights was finding a real, unimagined aid station. "You can't run that far without eating or replacing calories," Reese said.
Another big difference between marathons and ultras: bean burritos, Mountain Dew and Oreos replaced Gatorade and protein bars. "The aid stations were like a Costco," Reese said, still rejoyceful. "I loved the pumpkin pie."
Reese said another benefit of the race was that the looping path allowed for runners to interact. Novices were able to cross paths with elite runners and everybody helped cheer on one another. "With the marathon, you have so much support. With ultras, sometimes it's you and just you for hours," Reese said.
Unlike the St. George Marathon, with school bands and families lining the streets chanting and cheering, Reese's hundred-miler ended quietly, with a few high fives and a belt buckle that reads: 100-Mile Finisher.