In May we ran our first 48 hour race 3 Days at the Fair in New Jersey, US. Johnny finished third and I made second place. It was the most amazing experience, so different from anything we’ve done before, and mostly because of all the great people who crossed our paths. There was Bastiaan who ran Quadzilla – four marathons in three days – who first ran marathon number one and then drove all the way to the train station to pick us up. And then three days later he gave us a ride back to New York saying: “I want to give you guys a good experience”. There was the older couple who stayed at our motel, who moved all the stuff in their car to make place for our bags, and drove us to the fair grounds on race day. Jim, age 75 later finished 131 miles in 48 hours.
And there was Mariah, who had run the 50 k on the first day and was now crewing for Serge Arbona (who later finished second in the 48 hour). 15 minutes before the start, she approached us and offered to crew for us too. We gladly accepted her help, and for 48 hours she made all the descisions for us, took notes of when we had our salt and which type, brought us back from nausea and all kinds of near-death experiences, helped me change my clothes when the heavy rain had stopped, and was our link to the real world. Needless to say, neither one of us had run as far as we did without her help.
And of course we met lots of wonderful runners out on the course. The track was a 1 mile loop on pavement and gravel, and over the “running distance” of 48 hours, you’ve got plenty of time to get to know each other and even make really good friends. The area was full of world class athletes, like Marylou Corino, who broke her own Canadian record on 72 hours by running 271 miles, Joe Fejes, who won the 48 hour race with 230 miles, Phil McCarty, who holds the American record on 48 hours and many, many more.
Of course it’s inspiring just being in the same race as these athletes, but what truly sticks to your mind, is how you all somehow become equal to the challenge. Regardless of the amounts of miles you completed, you were all in it together. Like watching the sun rise on the last morning, high fiving when there were fresh pancakes, and congratulating each other on new PRs or for finishing the 100-miles distance.
Some runners keep inspiring you long after the race is finished. Like Gerald Tabois. At 3 Days at the Fair, he ran 143 miles, 7 miles longer than I did. Like with many of the other runners, we chatted through our highs and lows.
Three days ago, Gerald became a Badwater 135 Finisher. We followed him via his wife Donna’s pictures and reports on Facebook, and during 44:40:40 hours, he fought the heat and hardships of Death Valley. Talk about inspiring!
So… if he can do it, I can… Extreme heat may no be my thing, but I’m better with heat than Johnny. Plus he has no desire whatsoever to take on that kind of challenge. So if we’re ever gonna get a Badwater buckle in our family, I guess I'll have to be the one to bring it home…