According to the event website, the primary purpose of this run is to promote cardiovascular fitness in a safe, relaxed and friendly environment. Many individuals will run/walk a distance beyond that they have previously achieved or set a personal goal that is meaningful to them. It is a personal thing and not a competition with other participants. There are no trophies or prize money to be handed out but there is an option to purchase a commemorative plaque that is personalized with your name and accomplishment (miles).
This event was started 28 years ago by some of the founding fathers of the Erie Runners Club to test the endurance of some of the local runners. It still stands today as a personal test of ones endurance, whether it be running or walking or any combination thereof because of the tireless efforts of Rick Ferko and his long time volunteers. Rick’s battle with cancer ended shortly after the 2006 Endurance Run and his family and friends wished to have a lasting memorial that would exemplify his life. Since social work and helping others was such an integral part of Rick’s life, the Rick Ferko Spirit of Social Work Scholarship was established to give an annual monetary award to a social work student who exemplifies Rick’s dedication and enthusiasm. On the run application there is a section to contribute to the scholarship, since it is funded solely on individual contributions.
I've been very excited in the weeks leading up to this run. Not only because it's a new local event for me to try out, but also because it lets me re-visit the town of my alma mater, Penn State Behrend, and hang out with an old college friend who agreed to let me crash at his house the night before and after the run. On Friday I drove to his place in Erie after work. By the time I arrived it was going on 7:00 so we headed over to the Olive Garden for some pasta and then came back to his place with enough time for me to organize my stuff for the morning.
Before I knew it my alarm was going off at 5:30 am and I was on the road around 6:00. Luckily my friend only lives about 10 minutes from the start/finish line which is located at the Rotary Pavilion (about 3 miles into Presque Isle on the lake side). I arrived at the pavilion around 6:15 with enough time to pickup my chip & t-shirt and chat with Kurt Osadchuk for a few minutes. After final preparations at my car I walked over to the start line and talked to Bob and Suzanne Pokorny before listening to some last minute race instructions. Everyone was anxious to get moving since the starting temperature was around 45 degrees. I started off wearing shorts and a long sleeved tech shirt over top of a sleeveless tech tee, then switched to just my sleeveless tee, before puting on a short sleeved tech shirt over top of my sleeveless one when the wind started to pick up. At 6:30 everyone was off and running. It stayed dark until about 7:30 so I ran with Tom Jennings and Kurt O. who both had handheld lights.
(downtown Erie can be seen on the other side of the water)
I also have to mention a couple other runners who amazed me by their efforts. 69 yr. old Richard Sitter, who completed a total of 51 miles (only 6 spots behind me), and 84 yr. old Fran Albaugh, who finished 37 miles. During my last 10-15 miles I was able to have a nice conversation with Richard who had a lot of good advice. He said that during his younger days he would do 70+ miles at this event and it was evident by the way he can still run today.
Surprisingly some of my best miles came between mile 45 and 50. I'm not sure what happened but at times I was running at an 8:30 pace or faster even though my final average pace for these miles does not entirely show this. Maybe I can accredit this to the pacifier that my friend Jim gave me before the run. You can read the story behind the pacifier by reading my previous post. Anyways, I wore it on my right index finger for the entire 2nd half of the run to keep me from whining like a baby. It ended up turning into quite a conversation piece at the start/finish area each time I passed through. One lady said, "Did you lose your blanky?" That made me laugh pretty hard. So, the lesson here is to make sure that you keep that mind over matter attitude during endurance events. If you don't mind then it doesn't matter!
Once I reached mile 50 I decided to focus on just getting the next 5 miles done and then I'd have the final 5 mile countdown to my goal. Sometime before this the volunteers switched the race clock to show a countdown rather than how much time had passed. At first I didn't really like this but then realized it was necessary to help everyone figure out how many miles you could fit in with the time remaining. With 5 miles to go I only needed to keep like a 13 or 14 minute/mile pace to finish with 60 miles, but at this point I was walking each mile completely. Thankfully I'm a pretty good power walker and had Suzanne P. and this other guy with me to share in the suffering. The running I did during mile 59 gave me an 11:22 mile and left me with plenty of leeway at the end, but not enough time for what I thought I needed in order to finish another mile before time ran out. After 12 hours of going around in loops, I was very happy to finish my 60 mile goal in 11:49:06. You can view my splits by clicking here or check out the complete results by clicking here.
Finally, I'd like to give a HUGE thanks to Mike, Dave, the timing guy, and all the other volunteers who gave up 12 hours of their day to help make this run a success! It's events like these that make our sport so much fun! I'm already looking forward to next year's event.
Me holding up the N.E. Ohio Trail Club pacifier at the finish