This is the Olde 96er Ultra
In the space between life and death, we're met with what we've been. We meet that person only when we're faced with being human no longer. And, it makes us feel alive.
After 180 miles, Ben Brucker was down by 7 miles. When I caught up to him, he was despondent and slow, and told me he didn't have it in him to go faster. This walk-- this was it. It wasn't getting any better than this. I paused, eyeing him in a moment that was as knowingly sad as it was curious with hope.
"You're only 7 miles back," I told him. He didn't look up.
"...from 1st place."
"What?" he asked, in about as much shocked disbelief as I'd ever seen on a human. Earlier he'd been nearly 20 miles behind Tim Crow, and had spent the entire afternoon avoiding the 90 degree heat in a hotel room. He'd made an early go at it, but the hours and miles had rendered him defeated and depleted, and now, in the middle of the night, he had no more desire to run.
"Tim had some problems and he's done," I told him, "and the leaders are walking. You're 3.5 miles behind Tim Adkins." Ben ate a cereal bar standing beside my car, staring at the road ahead, no more or less quiet than usual; he's a quiet entity.
Tim was in full battle regalia, miles ahead. But, he was also exhausted, collapsed in the back of his crew SUV, trying to make nickels and dimes of what was left-- until I told him he was being chased. "How close IS that dude?"
Out swung the trekking poles. Tim was on his feet.
And, so they went.
And, so went the miles.
Ben called me less than 2 miles from the finish. He'd been running. Tim had been running. They'd passed John Nakel, and now were within a half mile of each other, but Ben hadn't seen Tim. I felt sorry for Ben, having given him hope, knowing that at this point he had no chance at catching Tim.
"If you run as fast as you can, you can catch him", I said. I knew it wasn't likely going to happen.
You can imagine my shock seeing them sprint down the descent into Walnut Beach, through the lot, across the boardwalk-- neck to neck after 203 miles. Into the water they splashed, and then swung their arms around each other.
Tim Adkins won the chase and the race for 2nd place...
...by 1 second.
And the winner? It was a woman: Rebecca Gartrell. Don't tell me you can't. Don't tell me it cant be done.
Never give up.
Should I Do It?
That depends. Are you prepared to be alone on the road, potentially in cold, freezing rain, heat, fog, or thunderstorms? Can you handle following a course that isn't marked with flags, streamers, or pie plates? The Olde 96er ultra is a point to point road run from the Ohio River in Wellsville to Walnut Beach park in Ashtabula. The 200 mile event is an out-and-back road journey from the lake. The finish rate from events combined in 2018 and 2019 is around 58% so it's a challenge even for experienced ultra runners. There are no formal aid stations; roving aid will be available, especially overnight, but runners are expected to be largely self-supported.
Local time: 2:43 PM
Those wanting to run the 100 mile event will need to have completed at least one 100k run in the past 24 months, or TWO 50 mile events. The 100 mile begins in Wellsville at the Ohio River on Saturday, April 18th at 0700. The official cutoff is 36 hours.
Anyone who wants to run the 200 mile event will need to have completed at least TWO 100 mile events within the past 24 months, or a road journey of similar distance. The 200 mile event begins Thursday, April 16th at 0700. The cutoff for the 200 is 96 hours.
Finishers of the 100 mile event will receive a 100 mile buckle and a custom award. Finishers of the 200 mile event will receive a 200 mile buckle and custom award.
New in 2020 will be a unique 500 mile buckle to any runner who has completed the inaugural 100, the 200 mile event in 2019, and the 200 mile event in 2020.