I have a bunch of things to comment about, and the order to shoot through them is hard to decide upon. First, I’ll briefly discuss a couple of updates on Spinal Muscular Atrophy (“SMA”), and then I’ll summarize some interesting races that went down over the weekend.
At DAWS, we realize that there are a number of charities that are dialed in to fighting SMA – the number one genetic killer of kids under the age of two in the world. Each charity has its own niche – it’s own way of fitting in to the fight. Since DAWS was founded by a group of runners that united for a common goal, our niche within this fight is raising awareness and donations through fund raisers that are geared toward running to assist with research and help families. When other SMA charities announce something interesting, it’s in the best interests of the overall fight against this disease to share such news with anyone that reads this blog. So without further adieu, here we go:
I’ll start with DAWS, of course….we are currently running a virtual 5k simply called The Fourth Awakens. The medal for event will be extremely cool, and all net proceeds go to the fight against SMA. Its events such as this that allowed us to donate $5,000 to Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s SMA Clinic to assist with research and provide necessary items to SMA families. Just check out our home page for all of the details! (www.doawaywothsma.org)
Another SMA charity – Fight SMA – is holding it’s annual Research Conference from April 7th – 9th in Alexandria, VA. This is a great chance for researchers from all over the globe to gather in one place and discuss their findings and progress.
Cure SMA is scheduled to hold its Annual Conference from June 16th – 19th in Disneyland. Here, parents and SMA kids as well as researchers from all over the country can meet up and be a part of numerous sessions that focus on research progress and sharing of information.
If you know of any other SMA news that you’d like us to share, just let us know!
Well there is no question about what race I’m going to start off with, and that’s a race in Tennessee that has garnered some print over last week or two…The Barkley Marathons.
So I’m betting that you are now saying to yourself “What’s the Barkley Marathons?” Well, I’m glad you asked. For starters, any time Netflix creates a 90 minute documentary about a race and entitles it “The Barkley Marathons: The Race That Eats Its Young”, I head right to Google and let the research begin. Before this weekend, I had no idea what this race was. By the time I finished researching (and watching Netflix), I was completely drawn in. I am simply going to bullet point the information I gleamed…and let’s see if you become as fascinated as I am:
The Barkley Marathons were created by Gary Cantrell, and are held annually in Tennessee sometime in March or April. The dates of the race can change annually. The location of the start can change annually.
The application process is NOT provided on the race’s website. Potential competitors have to figure out how to apply. Seriously. So just applying for this race is a challenge.
Hundreds of people actually figure out how to apply each year – but only 40 are allowed into the starting field. From what my evening of research provided, potential competitors seem to be required to write an essay entitled “Why I Should be Allowed to Run the Barkley”. If you are accepted into this race, the athlete receives a Letter of Condolence (“…I regret to inform you that you’ve been accepted into the Barkley…”).
Athletes need to figure out when and where the race begins. When they arrive at the starting area, the entrance “fees” include $1.60, a license plate from your home state, and a donation of an article of clothing (some years it was socks, some years it was flannel shirts).
The race course itself consists of a “20” mile loop, and the course itself is NOT marked. (I put the 20 in quotes, because competitors will tell you that the course changes annually, but somehow the mileage never does). Runners have to figure out the course by referencing a map of the area and corresponding clues that the race director provides. No GPS of any kind are permitted. Runners need a compass to get this done.
There are no chip times for this race. The race sends runners through trails and challenges unlike that of any other ultra race in the country. Seriously. If you don’t believe me, spend 90 minutes of your life watching that Netflix documentary – you’ll see what I mean.
In order to ensure that the runners don’t “cut corners”, there are 11 books sealed in plastic bags and placed at different locations along the course. Each runner must rip the page out of each book that corresponds to his / her bib number. When they complete a loop of the course, they hand all 11 pages to the race director to confirm that all checkpoints were reached. Then he hands the runner a new bib number for the next loop.
The race is started when the race director lights a cigarette.
There are two races in play for these 40 runners: a 60 mile (3 loop) “fun run”, and a full 100 mile (5 loop) main event. Runners have 60 hours to complete the full 5 loops. Some years, there are no finishers. Since 1995, only 14 people have finished the full 5 loops. Two men have completed it twice. The fastest time on record is 52:03:08. Only 4 times in the race’s history has more than 1 athlete completed the entire race.
As runners drop out of the Barkley, taps is played on a bugle.
Total elevation for the 5 loop journey: 60,000 feet. Ouch.
Last weekend, Jared Campbell began the first athlete to finish the Barkley 3 times.
In other news, the New Jersey Ultra Festival took place over the weekend. Race distances ranged from a full marathon to 100km. The course is a combination of technical trails and some paved roads in a 6 mile loop. Check out these winning times!
Mens 100km: 16 hours 6 minutes
Womens 100km: 19 hours 58 minutes
Mens 50 miler: 9 hours 48 minutes
Womens 50 miler: 13 hours 15 minutes
Mens 50k: 5 hours 15 minutes
Womens 50k: 5 hours 58 minutes
Mens Marathon: 5 hours 46 minutes
Womens Marathon: 6 hours 54 minutes
In New York City, the NYRR Scotland 10k took place in Central Park on April 2nd. One loop of the entire park in cold, damp weather while bagpipes played throughout the course. Winning times were pretty fast (29:58 for the men and 34:36 for the women)!
Lastly, while 40 athletes beat themselves to a pulp in the Tennessee mountains, there was a fairly large marathon being held in Knoxville! Winning times: 2:25:01 for the men and 2:53:16 for the women.
There are some cool races going on this coming weekend, including:
The North Face Endurance Challenge in Washington DC
The Big D Marathon in Dallas TX
The St. Louis Marathon
Rock n Roll Marathon in Raleigh, NC
Are there any races coming up that you’d like us to blog about? Let us know! Until next week: may all your hills be downhills.