The Mature Runner: What World Record Fell This Month?
By David Summerfield
At the Eugene, Oregon World T&F Championships, Sydney McLaughlin (USA) ran a 50.68 in the women’s 400m hurdles – and was just 1:57 behind the winning 400m, without hurdles! And Noah Lyles just lowered the American 200 meter dash time to 19:31. Great…these quick short, little runs were well shy of going 26.2 miles.
Anything else? Well, the fact that I eeeked out one more marathon this year, yes – that’s a Summerfield 2022 Record. Ha! Must I bore you with the details, obviously! Since ending my “real running exploits a few years ago, I only jog downhills anymore. Now all I do is pick a course that gets measured accurately (I used to be a certified USA T&F course measurer, and I would “sanction” races, really). Then I build up to it, and pull it off. I used to do this using Frank Newman’s marathon course going to Livingston (yes, walking the whole way). Moving to Nye, Montana – I found a great course, measured it, and did it last year, with Stacy’s help who did the last 16 mile with me (if you ever need a new marathon course, just get to Absarokee, park near the intersection of the only blinking light going through town, and take off going toward Red Lodge.
After 2.8 miles, turn West onto the Nye Road, and go the 24 miles to the Cathedral Mountain Ranch gate…exactly 26.3 miles. You have the thrill of seeing the snowcapped Beartooth Mountains as a backdrop – just like seeing the Absarokas going over to Livingston).
Back to this year’s 2022 marathon. Instead of the traditional FNM on Memorial Day weekend (we were in France then), we kept waiting for decent weather – not hot, not on a weekend. Too many days in the 90’s, so I got impatient, and decided to start at 2:30am, on the coolest day (only 85°) for weeks.
The next challenge was to find the perfect cache sites for my smorgasbord every 5 miles or so. This year, I discovered that all those metal guardrails along highways always have little curved endings, with hollowed-out cupboards behind, perfect for storing food and drink, and a flat spot on top to sit on while dining along the roadway. Suddenly, “doing a marathon” turned into a stroll along the road in style. What’s in the cache? The obligatory 14oz, 30g Premier Protein drink à la Franklin Coles, a used Coke bottle with Gatorade refill, a banana, a GU packet, a Kirkland chewy granola bar, and a little crisp apple. The last 3 caches had a wonderfully honeyed (moist soaked-through) peanut butter/honey sandwich. I discovered that much food is great for a much longer distance! At the end of the walk, I found out I weighed a pound heavier at the end than at the beginning! That’s something new. (Perhaps I’m putting out too much food.) Oh, I also carry a Scott Jurek inspired waist belt which holds 3 pouches – one for the ibuprofen and HammerNutrition ecaps, the others for the nasty GU packets.
If you’ve gotten this far in the article, my apologies. Here are some of the highlights: at 2:30am July 19th, the moon was high in the SW over my shoulder, with Neptune right beside it. This picture doesn’t do justice to the sight. It was like a huge flashlight.
I could easily see the white lines telling me where the asphalt ended. The Pleiades rose further to the West around 3:30am. There was NO traffic. I was in my own personal paradise. I wore a headlamp, but only used it to find the various mileage markers so I could compute my pace. My 1st cache was across the street from the Fishtail General Store, next to a perfectly flat sitting rock. 6 minutes later, off I went into the night.
Around 5:30am, the 1st of 6 big white buses roared by – taking the daytime shift workers to the Stillwater Mine, located just 2 miles down from my finish line. That’s when the traffic started to grow. It wasn’t until past my 2nd cache (mile 11) that I entered the 1st direct sunlight. With a good headwind, I was kept quite cool as I got to the 1⁄2 way point, where Stacy and Morgan (daughter) joined me for the last 1⁄2 of the route! The 3rd cache was by the “Fishtail Creek End-of-the-metal-guardrail Smorgasbord station. I was too full to take much, realizing I wasn’t burning as many calories as I imagined. Up and over the pass, there’s a 5 mile long winding downhill with gorgeous views of the Beartooths. Yes, getting hot, but that headwind was a Godsend. Realizing we were going to go faster than the year before (8 hrs 47 min) we pressed on with blistering soles yelling away. We finished at our car parked next to the Cathedral Mountain Ranch gate in 8 hrs, 28 min. A wonderful walk on a beautiful day, and whew – the 2022 marathon is history – and I’m consciously wondering why I have to do this every single year. Yes, the streak is unbroken since my 1st marathon in 1980. (digression: the 1st marathon was the “Marathon de Martigny”, Switzerland – run entirely on narrow cobblestone, gravel paths through their vineyards…done in 2:59:36…yes, I was trying to get under 3 hours!) Back to streaks, they are made to be broken….just like world records? We’ll see. Frankly, making it a huge production is sorta fun, and with a willing family to put up with this kind of stuff, we’ll keep it going 🙂