Add to Technorati Favorites "Going the Distance!": March 2008

Monday, March 31, 2008

The 2008 Barkley Marathons Results

Photo of Brian Robinson's finish courtesy of Marcia Rasmussen

The Barkley Marathons took place this weekend at Frozen Head State Park in Tennessee. Here is a description of the race from

The Barkley is considered one of the toughest 100 mile races in the world. It has 52,900 feet of climb (and 52,900 feet of descent), more than any other 100 mile race, more than the 33,000 ft. of climb at Hardrock, and more than the 45,000 ft. at Nolan's 14. Since the race began in 1986, only 6 runners (7 now) out of about 600 have finished within the 60 hour cutoff. The race consists of 5 20-mile loops with no aid except for water at two points. The cutoffs for the 100 mile race are 12 hours per loop. The 60 mile "fun run" has a cutoff of 40 hours, or 13:20 per loop. To prove you completed each loop, you must find 9 to 11 books (varies) at various points along the course and return a page from each book.

"Fly'in Brian" Robinson won this year's race in 55:47:00 setting a new unofficial course record. Here is what David Horton had to say about Brian in an email to the Ultralist earlier this evening:

"Brian is an amazing man and athlete. I am truly impressed by what he did at Barkley. He told me in an e-mail prior to Barkley that he had trained hard and was ready. When he says something, you can take it to the bank. Even more so, he is a credit to the human race. I am glad to call him a close friend. I am not sure I would have finished the PCT if he had not helped me.He deserves all the accolades that he receives. Don't forget that he hiked all three of the major long trails, 7400 miles, in 300 days, within one calendar year. I consider it an honor to be in one of the seven with Brian at the top."

Here are the unofficial results as compiled by Wendell Doman:

Loop 1
1 Brian Robinson 7:07:43
2 Byron Backer 8:03:15
3 Jim Nelson 8:22:20
4 Greg Eason 8:52:23
5 Carl Laniak 8:52:25
6 Andrew Thompson 8:56:35
7 Jason Poole 9:03:09
8 Todd Holmes 9:03:10
9 Dewayne Satterfield 9:15:15
10 Michael Graz 9:05:15
11 Heather Graz 9:05:16
12 Blake Wood 9:11:52
13 Andras Low 9:11:53
14 Joe Decker 9:17:24
15 Jon Barker 9:17:25
16 Wendell Doman 9:33:00
17 Hiram Rogers 10:33:24
18 John Tyszkiewicz 11:09:58
19 Eugene Trahern 11:09:59
20 Ed Furtaw 11:18:19
21 Bill Goodwine 11:18:22
22 Andrew Hackett 11:19:45
23 Leonard Martin 11:19:55
24 Sue Thompson 11:27:11
25 John DeWalt 12:04:33
26 David Hughes 12:17:06
27 Matt Mahoney 12:17:06
35 Starters

Loop 2
1 Brian Robinson 16:47:30
2 Jim Nelson 20:00:57
3 Byron Backer 21:53:37
4 Carl Laniak 22:14:44
5 Greg Eason 22:14:45
6 Andrew Thompson 22:14:55
7 Blake Wood 23:17:20
8 Jason Poole 23:19:46
9 Joe Decker 23:37:30
23 Starters

Loop 3
1 Brian Robinson 29:56:49
2 Jim Nelson 33:42:34
3 Byron Backer 36:28:29
4 Blake Wood 36:52:27
5 Greg Eason 38:15:57
6 Carl Laniak 38:15:58
7 Andrew Thompson 39:15:59
7 Starters

Loop 4
1 Brian Robinson 43:19:20
1 Starter

Loop 5
1 Brian Robinson 55:47:00 (unofficial result)
1 Starter

Congratulations Brian on an amazing accomplishment and also kudos to the 60 mile "fun run" finishers! To view all of Marcia Rasmussen's photos of the finish please click HERE.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour

Moraine Lake (Photo from the Banff/Lake Louise Tourism Bureau)

The Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour made its St. Louis stop last night and I went with my good friend and fellow SLUG, Deanna Stoppler. My favorite film was 20 Seconds of Joy; below is a description from the film festival's website and a preview from YouTube:

“I don’t want to die, I want to live. I’m pretty good at running away, and this is my escape!” This is how Karina Hollekim describes her dedication to BASE jumping. Documentary filmmaker Jens Hoffman first met the now 30-year-old Norwegian in 2002. He immediately started to film, accompanying her through many stages of her BASE-jumping career, until it comes to a sudden stop, changing all aspects of her life.

You definitely need to check it out when it comes to your area. Click HERE for the US Schedule (this page also has links for International and Canada dates) and HERE to learn more about the Banff Mountain Festivals.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Trail Running Video with Scott Jurek

Definitely worth 4 minutes of your time as Scott discusses and demonstrates body alignment, his uphill running technique and the importance of engaging your core while attacking hills.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Ryan Shay's Autopsy Results Released

Photo from

Last week, the New York City Medical Examiner's Office released Ryan Shay's autopsy results. Here is an excerpt from the online Runner's World Article by Amby Burfoot:

"The brief autopsy report said only that Shay, who died at the 5.5-mile mark of the U.S. Men's Olympic Marathon Trials in Central Park last November 3, had succumbed to an irregular heartbeat caused by an enlarged heart. There was also evidence of scar tissue in his heart, possibly from an old infection, but the autopsy could not positively implicate the scarring or say what had caused it. In an e-mail to Shay (Ryan's Father), Ellen Borakove of the New York City medical examiner's office wrote:

Ryan's cause of death is cardiac hypertrophy with patchy fibrosis of undetermined etiology. Natural causes."

To read the article in its entirety please click HERE.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Shaw Nature Reserve Video by David Stores

My good friend and fellow SLUG, David Stores, was kind enough to share one of his favorite running areas with us, the Shaw Nature Reserve, which is about 30 miles west of St. Louis just off Interstate 44. This adds a whole new dimension as it's one thing to write and talk about trails and adventures but quite another when you can document them on video. Also, as many of you know, we've had some major flooding here in the St. Louis area and David was able to capture a bit of the Meramec River on film during his run. David, next time you need to invite me along! If any of you have videos you'd like to share please send them to me and I'll get them up on the blog. If you haven't already, check out my 3 Days of Syllamo Race Report below. It's a bit long but so is running over 93 miles in a single weekend!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

2008 3 Days of Syllamo Race Report

Rob Apple, Susan Donnelly and Jerry Frost at Sunday's 20K finish line

I met my good friend Jerry Frost at the I-44 commuter lot at exactly 3:30 pm Thursday afternoon, packed all of my gear into his Ford Escape and we were on our way. Jerry and I always have some interesting, and rather deep, conversations about life and this ride was no different. A few hours into the trip we were cruising along chatting away when all of the sudden the CD started shorting out and the lights began flickering; before we knew it the engine was sputtering. We pulled over to the side of the road just south of Salem, Arkansas, about an hour from Mountain View and in the middle of nowhere. Although I know nothing about cars I diagnosed the problem as either the alternator, the battery or more than likely both; this same thing happened to me before many years ago with my '84 Chevy S-10. As we got out of the car we could hear the thunder and see the lightning in the distance; we actually both kind of chuckled as the rain drops started falling, what luck! In a matter of minutes a young man stopped to help us out and then one of his neighbors also came out to help us push the truck off the road. Once off the road we called AAA for a tow and about 45 minutes later we were riding shotgun with Kenny, the tow truck driver, on our way to Mountain View. As we road along Jerry chatted with Kenny and noticed a picture of a dog on his cell phone. "That your dog?" Jerry asked. "Yep, that there dog's the best coon huntin' dog around. I trained him from a pup and he placed 1st in a national competition. Man offered me $10,000 for him but I said no way; some things are more important than money." We got to Mountain View around 11:30 pm, dropped off the Ford at an auto shop, said our good-bye's to Kenny and checked into our hotel. "I've never seen you that quiet," Jerry said. "I was just taking it all in and wondering what part of a 'coon' people eat." "Carey, people don't eat coons, they just kill them for the sport of it." "Glad I kept that question to myself then," I replied and with that we got our gear ready for the next day's race and went to bed.

Jerry woke up early and walked down to the auto shop to sort things out with the truck while I hung out at the hotel, took a shower and ate breakfast. Since we didn't have a car Paul Schoenlaub was kind enough to come pick us up; he swung by the hotel around 8:05 am and then we headed over to get Jerry. As we pulled up to the repair shop Jerry had a disappointed look on his face, "I've got to stay here with the truck so we can get it fixed; I'm going to have to miss the race," Jerry said. Bummed for Jerry but in a hurry for the 9:00 am start, we bid him good luck and headed down to Blanchard Springs campground. We got there around 8:45 am and I scrambled around to get everything ready, pinned my race number on, signed in and filled my water bottles. I said a few hello's and headed over towards the start to listen to the pre-race instructions from Steve. I looked around at the field and saw some great runners; this year's field was much deeper and I knew that I didn't have to worry about repeating last year's 4th place finish. Josh Nordell, Ty Draney, Tom Brennan, Matt Hart, these guys are in a whole different league! A few minutes after 9:00 am Steve announced "OK, Go!" and we were off.

I started out near the front of the pack too fast like I always do and ran with Ashley Nordell, last year's first place female, for the first few miles until I tripped and fell flat on my face. Ashley said, "Looks like you got your fall out of the way early!" "I'm sure there will be more," I responded as I stopped off by the creek to wash up and let her go on. For the next few miles I was passed by several people; Pat Perry said hello as he went by and Andy Emerson introduced himself since we've never actually met in person. Before I knew it Stuart Johnson was coming up on me and I said, "You know, we've got to stop meeting like this! Seems like every race I start out like a banshee and end up dying about 4 miles in." "The trick is to take it easy today, it's going to be a long weekend," Stuart said as we settled into a slow, steady pace; we would end up running practically the entire rest of the race together. There was a lot of debris on the trail from the recent snow storm so we were constantly hopping over, going around and straddling the trees and branches that blocked our way; this made the going quite slow and tore up our legs quite a bit. About half way into the race we were joined by Paul Turner, I didn't know Paul but Stuart did so we ran along together for a while as they caught up on stuff; by the end of Saturday I would know Paul quite well.

A little later I pulled away from Stuart and saw Pat Perry up ahead on the trail walking. "We must be at about the marathon distance because I'm hitting the wall," he said. "No, actually we're only at 20 miles; still a long way to go," I replied as I passed by him figuring I wouldn't see him again until the finish line. I ran by myself for a bit but before I knew it Stuart was back, with Pat in tow; somehow Pat had a new lease on life and was running again. For the last few miles we were running practically everything and as we came out on the road we all knew the finish was near. We picked up the pace and although we had decided to finish together I started running even faster, Stuart and Pat did too. I broke into an all out sprint for the last 100 yards or so crossing the line in 5:53:12. As we stood there, catching our breath, Stuart said, "We probably shouldn't have been sprinting that last part, it'll catch up to us tomorrow." "Yeah, I'm sure you're right, but I could smell the finish line and just wanted to be done!" I responded. Although I beat my time from last year by almost an hour the field was so strong that I ended up placing 17th. I was OK with that, now with no pressure I planned to take the rest of the weekend easy and just enjoy myself; little did I know I'd be racing against cutoffs the next day.

I headed back to set up my camp, soak my legs in the creek and shower before chowing down on the pasta dinner Chef Cal had cooked up. For some reason I felt really tired and worn down and assumed I had just let myself run too low on water, salt and food. I figured filling up my tank and a good night's rest was all I needed as I crawled into my tent around 9:00 pm, but sound sleeping just wasn't in the cards. Massive thunderstorms blew through the entire night; thunder, lightning and a torrential downpour which kept me in that world where you're not awake but not really asleep either. Around 3:00 am I thought, "If it's doing this at 5:00 am there's no way I'm leaving my tent," and then I dozed off again. As my watch alarm sounded I got up, looked outside and saw nothing but stars in the sky. "OK, no excuse now, I guess I'll have to run!"

Steve had to re-route the 50 mile course due to debris on the trail and the new course was said to be very challenging. It was an out and back on the Sylamore Trail for the first 18.5 and then continuing on the Ozark Highland Trail for another 6.5 miles to the turnaround; per the rumors it had 8,000 feet of elevation gain and loss EACH WAY! With our headlamps and flashlights on we headed out towards the Sylamore steps a little after 6:00 am; thankfully none of us knew at that moment just how long the day would be. I settled in with Stuart Johnson and Paul Turner from the beginning as we made our way slowly along the Sylamore Trail dodging debris in the pre-dawn darkness. We arrived at the Barkshed aid station around 8:30 am, 2 1/2 hours and less than 10 miles into the race; what was taking us so long? This would be the question of the day. We trudged on down the Sylamore Trail stopping at the aid stations along the way to refuel with coke and pringles. We reached the 18.5 mile aid station around 10:40 am and were warned by Liz and Steve's sister that the next 6.5 miles were tough; apparently a lot of very steep and long hills and a bit more technical. We were moving at a snails pace already and none of us were too stoked to hear that!

This next section was definitely challenging, there were some very beautiful sections that included cascading waterfalls, interesting rock formations and a few caves; in fact Paul and Stuart both joked about stopping to take a nap in one of the caves and for me to pick them up on my way back. Up to this point none of us were in the best of moods and it didn't get any better; usually when you hit a low point you can count on the people around you to pull you out of it but all three of us just continued to feed each other's negativity as we complained about how long it was taking, how hard the course was and how much longer we were going to be out there. We were definitely in a funk! We reached the 25 mile turnaround a little after 12:30 pm, 6 1/2 hours into the race. The "code" word listed on the paper at the turn was "Syllamo" (to prove you had actually gone all the way out) but I joked that the first thing I was going to say to Steve upon crossing the finish line was "You're a sadistic ass!" We now started our way back knowing that we only had 7 1/2 hours to make it to Blanchard Springs before the 14 hour cutoff; we were all a bit concerned!

We discussed our strategy for making it back within the allotted time. First and foremost we needed to turn our attitudes around and start being more positive, we had to push ourselves by running more and walking less and we needed to stay properly fueled and hydrated; these three things were key to a successful finish. We saw a lot of our friends still making their way towards the turn; they were also a bit concerned about the cutoffs and commented about how long this course was taking. A short time after picking up the pace I could feel that familiar wave wash over me and I started sweating profusely; I was not feeling well at all, I didn't just hit the wall I was actually in it. As we reached the 27.5 mile aid station I dumped my water bottle over my head to snap out of it and was zig-zagging a bit as I approached the table. Billy Simpson and Greg Eason could tell I was bonking hard and asked if I was OK. "Yes, I just need soda and food," I replied as I began slamming 3 cokes and ate almost a half a can of pringles. Those really hit the spot which meant my salt was low too and I knew that I would be feeling better within minutes. We left that aid station around 1:15 pm knowing that the next few miles were the toughest on the course.

About a mile later Paul said, "It's been great running with you guys today, you go on. I need to walk a bit and can't keep up this pace." "OK, man, but keep going, don't stop, you can finish this thing!" Stuart and I said and with that we continued running on. "Do you think he'll make it?" I asked Stuart. "Yes, if he just keeps moving. Paul's one tough dude!" Every now and then we would see Paul just a short distance behind us continuing to hammer on and he caught up to us again at the next aid station where Liz and Steve's sister were working. "You guys were right, that section was tough! Steve's one sick dude to come up with a course like that!" I said. "Yes, it's brutal. I'm not like him, he enjoys causing you guys pain. He figures the harder the better," his sister replied. More pringles and coke and we were out.

Around mile 39 I was feeling really good and began pulling away from Paul and Stuart. None of us said anything, I just started running more and a bit faster and the next thing I knew I had left them. As I came down the hill to the Barkshed Aid station at 4:30 pm the volunteers were cheering me on and said "Only 9 more miles to go!" "Yes, I know. I've run the Sylamore 50K a few times and definitely know the way back from here!" I quickly grabbed some coke and pringles and was on my way. I ran practically the entire time for the rest of the race and was feeling really strong. As I approached the Sylamore steps there was a little girl and her Dad out on the trail, "You're almost there," she said and I smiled back, "I know, it's all downhill from here!" Running down the steps I came out into the field and saw Pat Perry about 200 yards from the finish line with his hands up celebrating his finish. "How great would it be if I could pass him at this finish line?" I thought and at that moment I broke out into a full on sprint. The spectators all saw me coming and began cheering but I couldn't make up the distance finishing just 19 seconds behind him in 12:17:59 for 11th place. As he turned around he said, "Where did you come from? You must have been flying for the last 25 miles!" "Yeah, I was feeling good and ended up running a negative split. Something like 6:30 for the first 25 miles and 5:45 for the last; it was my slowest 50 miler but probably the best race I've ever run," I replied. "Great job!" Steve Kirk said as he came over to shake my hand. "Next year, I'm running the 5 mile St. Patrick's Day fun run in St. Louis. That course was ridiculous," I half-jokingly said. "What do you mean? You'll be back next year, you know it," Steve replied. After grabbing a fleece I returned to the finish line to welcome the rest of the runners in and found out that some very experienced people were actually pulled due to the cutoffs. As we stood around talking many of us agreed that it was one of the toughest courses we had ever run. After soaking my legs in the river, taking a shower and mowing down on some red beans and rice I headed to bed; I was absolutely beat but the end was near!

I slept about 11 hours and woke up around 8:00 am Sunday morning; as I headed up to the race pavillion you could feel the excitement in the air. We were all exhausted but this was the last day, a 20K victory lap if you will! I chatted a bit with Pat Perry as we ribbed each other about who was going to win the stage race; only 16 seconds separated us so it all came down to this race. "I don't know if I feel like racing today, we'll just see how I feel," I told Pat but secretly I really did want to beat him. He had run two great races but I knew that I was faster, I figured he had been running out of his mind and that there was no way he could keep it up. As we headed over to the start line Ashley Nordell came up to me and said, "You're Carey, right?" "Yeah, we've never really got to talk much since you're always way out in front," I replied. "You met my friend, Cheryl, at a race down in Oklahoma. We have a thing where when we meet people from different states we always email each other," she responded. "It was at Turkey & Taturs, yes, I remember her. She was really cool, we chatted quite a bit out by our cars after the race." "Small world," she said and with that we turned attention to Steve for the last day's instructions. The plan was to stay with Stuart the entire race as he was really going to put the hammer down because he definitely wanted to beat Pat and a little after 9:00 am we were off. We started towards the front; Stuart, Pat, Ashley and I cruising along and I knew within a few minutes that there was no way I could keep up this pace for long. We started going up hill and I did my best to hang on to Ashley and Stuart but I just couldn't, Pat was on my heels and I could hear him breathing heavy but I was too. About 2 miles in we came to a tree, I went off the trail to go around but Pat went under it and passed me. "Oh, I've got you," he joked but I thought to myself, "Yes, you do!" He was only 20 feet ahead of me but I was tired, my legs were heavy and I just didn't feel like racing anymore so I let him go.

It usually takes me 7-8 miles to warm up but in a 20K you don't have that long. I was passed a lot during the first half of this race and kept telling myself that I just needed to push on. I was only carrying one water bottle and drained it about 6 miles into the race; thirsty and hungry I arrived at the unmanned aid station, filled my water bottle and headed out for the last 5 1/2 miles. I was feeling a bit better and mentally convinced myself that it would be easier to run than to walk. Veronica Battaglia was on my tail for the entire last 4 miles and with about 1 1/2 miles left was less than 100 yards behind me. Heading into the last downhill section I thought there is no way I can let her pass me so I started flying at an 8:00 minute pace; downhill, technical running is my strength so I easily pulled away. Heading out on the road I saw Paul Schoenlaub and Stuart at the showers, "Great job, Carey. Looking strong, you're almost done!" they shouted to me. "Man, Veronica's on my tail. I'm beat, she's been pushing me this entire race. I can't let her pass me!" and as I crossed the bridge I looked behind me and there was no sign of her. I was relieved but still needed to push on this last bit to the finish. I got into the field and started my usual finish line sprint to the cheers of the spectators. Crossing the line in 2:38:55, Steve congratulated me on finishing all three days and gave me my hand-carved Ozark Hoot whistle finisher's award. Pat was there and I congratulated him. "You did awesome this weekend and we're a better man than me; great job!" He ended up beating me by less than 10 minutes for the entire stage race.

I headed over to grab my camera and snapped a few pictures of my friends and runners coming into the finish before breaking my camp down and showering. By about 2:00 pm Jerry and I were ready to start the journey back home and I was excited to have another 3 Days of Syllamo Stage Race under my belt. For the complete results of the 2008 3 Days of Syllamo Stage Race click HERE.

As many of you know I've been having a rough time mentally during my races lately. I've been wallowing in my low points and unable to get myself out of them; I haven't been enjoying the journey and just want to get to the finish. This weekend was no different as I was down quite a bit but continued to push on because that's what I do. I love the feeling of finishing and the sense of accomplishment I had on Sunday when we were driving home BUT this is only a small part of ultra-running. I am doing some real soul searching and trying to turn around my mental attitude to be more positive during the actual experience, this is much easier said than done! In order for me to keep going out there and running these races I've got to have a better outlook otherwise I will burn out and just be checking them off the list; or worse yet I will just quit running races all together. There's so many things I love about the sport; the friends I've made, the new lease on a healthy life I have, the confidence I've gained through these accomplishments, knowing that I'm inspiring others to get out there and push themselves and the list goes on. The trick for me is to remember all of this when I'm tired, hungry, thirsty, cold and hurting 20 miles into a race knowing that I have many hours left to endure. As David Horton says, "Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional." I've been suffering too much lately and it's time to put that to an end.

Hope all of you are well and Happy Running,

Monday, March 17, 2008

3 Days of Syllamo Race Report Coming Soon

Challenging, that's the word that best describes this weekend. From the road trip down to Arkansas to the hellacious 50 Mile course Steve created for us on Saturday; this weekend was full of obstacles physically, mentally and emotionally. The official results are not yet posted but I know that I finished just a bit under 21 hours for the entire stage race, about 45 minutes slower than last year. Saturday's course made last year look like a walk in the park! I'm writing a full report and hope to have it up in the next few days.

Unfortunately I was only able to take a few pictures down there; that's the problem when you're a "one man show" it's tough to both run and snap pics for the blog. To check out the few that I have click HERE.

Hope all of you are well and Happy Running,

Sunday, March 9, 2008

3 Days Of Syllamo Stage Race Next Weekend

Header from the 3 Days website

3 Days of Syllamo, a three day trail running stage race covering over 150 kilometers in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas, begins this Friday with the 50K event. Here is a description of the event from their website:

Day One 50k: This run will take place on the Sylamore and Syllamo trails. Full aid stations will be provided at approximately 4-8 miles apart.

Day Two 50 mile: “This is where the fun starts.” This run will be held on the Sylamore, Syllamo and Ozark Highland trail that winds, climbs and descends through the beautiful Sylamore Ranger District including several creek crossings, past scenic vistas and bluffs and through dense forest. Full aid stations will be located approximately 4-9 miles apart.

Day Three 20k: This run will take place on the Syllamo mountain bike trails. Aid will be provided at the halfway point.

To view the 2008 Participant List click HERE and to read my race report from the 2007 3 Days of Syllamo Stage Race click HERE.

Steve and Liz Kirk do an amazing job as race directors; this may be my favorite event of the year! After each race Chef Cal whips up a great meal and this year Steve has promised folk music from local musicians and massages from the Massage Works School of Therapy as part of the post race festivities, NICE!

Today will be my last run before the race; an easy, 8-10 miler. Since I began tapering my left leg hasn't been bothering me as much and everything feels like it is healing up quite nicely. To be honest, I was just running too much for too long. My plan for the rest of the year is to cut back my running to around 50 miles per week, return to Yoga classes 3 times per week and introduce at least one class into my weekly routine. I took one called 24 S.E.T. last week which is "a cardio/strength combination class that alternates strength exercises to sculpt every major muscle group with easy to follow step moves;" it was great!

Hope all of you are well and Happy Running!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

101 Year Old Man To Run London Marathon

Picture of Buster Martin from BBC News

This story, from BBC News, was posted on the Ultralist yesterday and I thought it was awesome!

Man, 101, to run London Marathon
A 101-year-old man has his sights on the London Marathon in a bid to become the world's oldest competitive runner. Working plumber Buster Martin ran Sunday's Roding Valley half marathon in Essex in five hours 13 minutes, and is now focusing on London's 26-mile event.

On finishing the run, the first words of the ex-member of rock band The Zimmers were: "Where's my beer?" Mr Martin, who has 17 children, started work at Pimlico Plumbers in London three years ago because he was bored. He drank a tankard of ale before signing autographs and chatting to fans near the finish line of the Essex race.

'A revelation'
Charlie Mullins, managing director of Pimlico Plumbers, said he was "amazed" when Mr Martin appeared at work on Monday morning after his exertions. He said: "I was amazed and delighted, he turned up on time and set to work polishing the vans. He's a revelation."

Mr Martin's trainer is marathon enthusiast Harmander Singh, who helped Fauja Singh, 96, break the London marathon record for the over-90s.

Buster, who lives in London, made headlines last year when he signed up as an agony uncle for men's magazine FHM, offering guidance to a younger generation. He also found fame when The Zimmers, who had a combined age of more than 3,000 years, scored a hit single last year with a cover of The Who's My Generation.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Weight Gain and Hyponatremia: Thoughts By Dr. Lisa Bliss

2007 Badwater Finish Line Photo from Lisa's Blog Entry: "Goodwater"

Keeping your electolytes and fluids balanced is one of the trickiest and most important parts of ultra-running. This week on the Ultra-List, Dr. Lisa Bliss discussed the causes of weight gain, hyponatremia and how to keep our bodies in balance during ultramarathons. Dr. Bliss was the 2007 Badwater Female Winner and is the medical director for some of the world's toughest ultras. The following is taken directly from her Ultra-List response; it's a bit long but has tons of great information, especially with rising temperatures just around the corner:

Consuming a very large amount of salt is one (dangerous) way of maintaining a normal sodium level despite weight gain, but it is not a necessary condition. Here are a couple common scenarios seen at ultras:

1) Runner has a daily diet normally low in sodium but takes extra salt - in whatever form - during an ultra. She gains weight, like Ray K says, because salt causes the body to retain water. Sometimes, it doesn't take much. Many can testify that sometimes there is noticeable fluid retention, say in the ankles, just from eating a bowl of popcorn in front of the TV or, in my case, a slice of this fine Lou Malnati's deep dish spinach Chicago style pizza I just received on dry ice from a friend... but I digress....

Salt helps the body retain water. That's why we give 0.9 normal saline IV's to runners who are dehydrated. Salt and water hydrate better than water alone.

No matter what the normal daily dietary intake of salt, if a runner takes "too much" salt, water will be retained in the tissues as the body attempts to maintain a normal amount in the blood vessels, which is ultimately what matters most (the sodium in the blood vessels) because that is the sodium electrolyte that the brain "sees" and reacts to as it passes through the body.

There have been runners who have taken too much water AND too much salt (wrongly thinking this is a good way to avoid hyponatremia) and they are overweight and bloated and have swollen legs and/or hands, and their sodium levels in the blood are normal or even HIGH. Now, THAT'S a lot of sodium! Too much. Guaranteed, these runners are not feeling well and, at the very least, are not going to be running their best race in that condition.

Interestingly, the article that Karl referenced mentioned Noakes' article, which notes that there were endurance athletes in the study who gained weight but were not hyponatremic. Hmm.... He then theorized that they must have sodium stores and that sodium was somehow mobilized from these stores into the bloodstream. What he didn't do was account for sodium intake during the run. It is a glaringly obvious omission in my opinion. You can absolutely gain weight (fluid) and have a normal sodium level if you take in sodium. And you can be fine without any problems. But it's a slippery slope. You may also get yourself into lots of trouble. Adding salt to "offset" weight gain is NOT a good thing to do.

So, yes, too much salt can cause fluid retention and weight gain without hyponatremia. Thing is, though, a runner in this situation now has TWO problems to deal with: too much of two things - water and sodium. Adding more salt to an already fluid overloaded body is not the solution for preventing hyponatremia. A fluid overloaded body requires.... less fluid! Don't try to solve a problem by creating another.

2) BUT... there is another scenario where there may be weight gain even without taking in too much salt or too much fluid. We see it in the longer ultras, the 100-mile and 100+ mile races, especially the hotter races and multiday races. It's the problem of edema. Most of us have encountered it at some point with longer ultras. That's why we sometimes bring a larger shoe size in case our feet swell up. Feet can swell from too much fluid, too much salt and fluid, or they can swell despite optimal fluid and electrolyte balance. It's a consequence of the "pounding" of the muscles and the "pooling" of fluid in the feet from us forcing them to carry us for100+ miles down the roads or trails.

For an example, look at the legs of the runners in a multiday event or an event like Badwater. There can be significant pooled fluid in the legs. If the fluid is in the legs and there are indentations on the skin from your socks or your shoes are tight, etc., then the fluid is in the tissues, NOT in the blood vessels. So, now you can have an increase in weight on the scale but not necessarily an increase in fluid in the blood vessels, which is where the sodium is. So, an electrolyte test can be perfectly normal in this situation despite the increased or level weight, and I would argue that you could even be somewhat *dehydrated* intravascularly (where it matters!) if you are carrying extra fluid body's tissues but do NOT have optimal fluid and electrolyte replacement.

So, here's a question for Lulu. If a runner on day 3 of a multiday run is up 2 pounds and is not feeling well, should we assume he is hyponatremic? Well, we should consider it for sure, but is it necessarily the case? Do you tell him to stop drinking because he's up 2 pounds? Do you hold him at the aid station until his weight comes down? Should we refuse him fluids if he says he is thirsty? Well, if the fluid is in the tissues, it does not dilute the sodium in the blood. Weight gain and leg swelling does not preclude the possibility of hyponatremia, but the weight gain should be evaluated in context, and contexts can become quite complex at some of these ultras.

Fluid from significant swelling (and even fluid hanging out in the gut) are more a concern AFTER the race when those fluids gets mobilized back into the blood stream and finally to the kidney where they can be eliminated from the body. It's when the fluids go back into the blood stream that we have to be careful, especially if we are also rehydrating post-race. That's the most common time for hyponatremia to happen and that's why.

I bring up these scenarios to show that it's not always so black and white, that weight gain, while a red flag for sure, does not *always* mean imminent danger, nor does it mean that someone should necessarily stop drinking. Hyponatremia must remain in the differential; it has very real possible consequences, but it's not quite the science some of us think it is or wish it were, at least in ultrarunning.

In the end, there is NO advice on this topic that can replace personal experience and training. Training and more training. That is the ultimate answer to all the questions. Learn, read, listen, but above all, pay attention to your body and find out what works for you and make adjustments. My experience comes from reading, listening, watching, treating, and above all, making mistakes and learning from them. In the past, I've gained up to 10% of my weight and lost up to 8%.

Scales are excellent to train with and, in my opinion, essential (and easy) at races like Badwater. It was fun for me to make a game of trying to guess my weight when I trained in Death Valley before the race last year. Ask Nancy Shura, who believes in the scale too. I ran about 20 miles to Stovepipe Wells and wanted to catch up with Danny W who was making his way up to Townes Pass. But I was feeling "dry" and fatigued, not so uncommon feelings in the desert. I wasn't peeing. I got on Nancy's scale and was 6 pounds down. Instead of trying to chase down Danny (which I never would have been able to do anyway), I sat at the pool, ate a hoagie from the store, a big bag of chips and drank over 2 liters of fluid. I was still down a couple pounds but I peed. But I felt better and Nancy drove me to meet up with Danny who was RUNNING up to the pass! I was fine then only because I stopped and took care of the problem before it got too bad.

On the flip side, during the race itself, I strolled into Stovepipe Wells with a slight headache and light-headedness, and I was peeing freely and clear, enough that I suspected I might be hyponatremic. I got on the scale and was down 3% of my weight. I was in clothes that were drenched in water, so I was likely down another 1-2% of my true weight. My tested sodium was mildly low by 1-2 mEq/L. I was surprised at both the scale and my sodium level. I was only mildly hyponatremic (and that occurred over many hours asopposed to very quickly) so the sodium level was NOT the likely cause of my symptoms. My body was, however, getting rid of excess fluid, i.e. peeing, so it was attempting to bring the sodium concentration back up. BUT I was underweight! So, what do you do in this situation? First, dissect the problems out. I was mildly hyponatremic, so that needed to be fixed, and I was moderately dehydrated, and that needed to be fixed too. So, I went back out on the road and increased my fluids AND my Succeed! tabs, and the problems got resolved. I adjusted my intake of both and continued to monitor my weight on the scale because, as we know, conditions (effort, appetite, thirst, temperature) are always changing and we need to roll with whatever's in front of us.

Guidelines and information can be helpful, sure, but they also can hurt you if you are not flexible. We just need to learn, try, adjust, and train.

Lisa Bliss
Spokane, WA