Spending a Day Indoors? Why Not Run 1000 Laps
by John Huckaby
It was a dreary Saturday morning as my wife, Betty, my marathon poodle, Suzette, and I headed to Friendly's for pancakes. The waitress stared in wide-eyed disbelief as I dumped a pint of liquid fructose on my hotcakes instead of using the syrup she shoved at me from across the counter. Little did she realize that I would run for 24 hours on that gloopy glob of griddle cakes saturated with viscous, sticky syrup. We gave some breakfast sausage to Suzette, and headed for Auburn's outdoor track.
But blizzard-like conditions made the outdoor track event impossible, and the organizers fell back on their alternate plan, to hold the race on a certified 150 meter indoor track. Nine runners toed the line, including race director Allan Wilson, and Al Hastings. These two seemed like gladiators, and were really hyped up for the race. They were both from Auburn, and had raced often in the past; Wilson beat Hastings last year by chalking up101 miles, and this year they both had their eyes on 125. On my right was Sue Kahler, also of Auburn, who had run three marathons on consecutive weekends, winning two of them and finishing fourth in the Skylon Marathon.
At the gun, Wilson, Hastings, Kahler and on of the runners from the 6-person relay team took off while the rest of the field settled into a slower pace. Still, it didn't take me long to realize that the pace was too fast. Suzette came in for a couple of laps but then quit. She returned later for a paw print autograph session with her fans. The short track was somewhat boring, but every two hours we changed directions to unwind. I locked in on a pace that would get me to 50 miles in about ten hours, and allow me time to take short walks every 15 minutes to keep my legs from cramping.
The public address system blared fourth good rock-and-roll, but after awhileI suggested they burn the tape of a song called "Another One Bites the Dust"; it was putting a psychological whammy on me. In the early morning hours, after about 21 hours of hoofing around the track, they played, appropriately, "It's Been a Hard Day's Night."
While the leaders kept trying to outdo each other, Sue was hanging in there, running as gracefully as a ballet dancer. If she kept it up, the guys would be in trouble. But after about 8 hours, her legs cramped and her stride became ragged. My wife gave her a rubdown with some powerful analgesic horse liniment, which also works well on the sinuses. That junk is so powerful that it would mollify a petrified hamstring. Sue recovered her stride, but later was troubled with general fatigue (who wasn't?). She ended up with over 116 miles, the fourth-longest distance ever run in 24 hours by a woman.
With about 30 minuted to go I had covered 98 miles. There was quite a crowd on hand as the race was a fund-raiser for the March of Dimes and had received a lot of publicity. It was a great moment to grandstand for those who had anything left. Someone yelled to me to pick it up or I'd fall short of a hundred, and this caused a violent reaction on my part. I started sprinting (forgetting that I had pledged a dollar for every mile I ran), and broke 100 with plenty of time to spare. As I closed in on the 100 mark, I decided to give all the spectators a thrill. I climbed out of my body, got up on my shoulders, and whipped myself like a jockey; I twisted my right hand clockwise to pump more gas into the big Harley motorcycle under me. Faster and faster! My Etonics were just a blur as I went head-to-head with Dave Hall, from the relay team. I startled him by outkicking him for 50 meters, but I couldn't hold it.
Everyone expected Hastings to hit the wall, but when he did, so had everyone else. Ex-marin Wilson was tough, but her had to settle for second today. I was pleased with my total; it had been a rough training schedule leading up to this race. A 50 miler the previous weekend, 50 miles in training, and this race made for a 200 mile week.
While driving back home on the Thruway, my wife said, "giving that money to the March of Dimes was just great, they'll put it to good use in the prevention and treatment of birth defects." Later, while staring straight ahead into the snow squalls, she said, "I know of one person that is suffering from a major birth defect - like missing a whole brain." I didn't hear a word she said...I was wondering if the 24 hour run was going to be enough of a depletion run for the Philadelphia Marathon the next weekend.
Marion Corrigan Memorial 24 Hour Super Run
Auburn, NY Nov. 21-22, 1981
Indoor 150 meter track
(with 50 km, 50 mi, 100 km and 100 mi splits)
US 60&over 24 hr record