Monday, October 15, 2007

Delaware 100 Race Report

Is it a fools game or is it a positive way to express emotion? Why do I continue to run 100 milers? Where do I get the energy? Why do I search for my limits and push to exceed? I’m certainly not special or talented in anyway but instead I have some deep heartfelt emotions that most can not comprehend. Everything that I do, say, and think comes straight from my heart. It is because of this that I truly believe that there is no challenge that I can not overcome. I can be knocked down and stunned for long periods of time but I know that I will rise again. I’m not superhuman but instead I’m a real person who sees real things and has real feelings and has dealt with real problems. I grew up in an emotional environment in which I did not partake in most of the activities but instead avoided confrontation while suppressing my feelings. My energy is generated from the past; a past that included harsh words, unnecessary judgment, and incorrect assessments of my behavior. It was a past that included a young boy who tried to survive not only his own mind but also the taunts of others. My goals were different than most kids my age as my only hope was to defeat the demons that controlled my mind. There was much fear brewing from within but I fought each and every day and vowed to one day defeat whatever it was that was trying to destroy me. I had very little help but the help that I did have was incredible. The help that I received came from my 5 year old little brother who suffered as much as I trying to understand that which could not be understood. I think of him and how he cared about me and I become emotionally charged. I think about the times that I was teased and I become emotionally charged. I think of being improperly assessed and I become emotionally charged. I think about how I was judged instead of helped and I become emotionally charged. I think of other little kids even in this world today who unnecessarily suffer with the same problem and I become emotionally charged. I lost many battles as a child but as an adult I will never lose another battle against anyone or anything without a fight. I may not be a very talented runner but what I lack in talent I make up for with intensity. This is what drives me, this is how I become energized and this is what fuels the fire that burns within.
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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Delaware 100 Summary

It was a cool crisp morning on Saturday September 29th as 10 runners from 8 different states departed on a long 100 mile journey through a small portion of the state of Delaware. The chill in the air was a bit uncomfortable but not nearly as uncomfortable as the 25° temperature that the runners faced in the 2005 version of this same race. The lone organizer of the race, Carl Camp, had two years to improve upon the inaugural event which was held in December of 2005. Unable to obtain the appropriate permits from the State and County Park systems which would allow us to run through the night the run was cancelled in 2006. I was sad that the race was cancelled but the improvements that Carl made in 2007 were well worth the lost time.

The original course design used in 2005 included multiple loops on the trails of Middle Run Park in Newark, Delaware. In order to comply with State regulations Carl tweaked the course in 2007. The new design led runners 8 miles on busy roads from Carl’s home to the start of the trail in Middle Run. The runners then followed the original course design in which they were led up and down the soft, easy trails in Middle Run and Judge Morris for 10.5 miles. Carl concluded that it would be reasonable for a fit runner to have the ability to travel around this loop four times in the daylight hours. That combined with the 8 mile road section would allow us to have completed half of the race before sunset. His design worked perfectly as it provided the necessary mileage while also keeping us in compliance with the park rules.

After four loops on the trails the runners then had to make their way back to Carl’s house on the same roads that led them to the park in the early morning. Now on the roads the key to a safe, successful run would be the runner’s ability to maintain focus. Losing concentration on the trail could certainly be hazardous but losing concentration on the roads could mean death. The roads we traveled were bustling with activity as cars sped their way up and down the short steep hills. This activity remained constant through the afternoon into the late nighttime hours. Each person had to be prepared and alert at all times. Once the sun set it became necessary to don reflective gear and bright blinking lights so oncoming traffic would be aware of our presence.

The road loop led us 1.25 miles from Carl’s house to a very busy Limestone Road. We turned left out of the residential area and when given the opportunity crossed the four lane highway. There was plenty of time to do this as this particular section continued for approximately 2.5 miles. Once at the top of the hill and across the road we were directed to turn left on to a less busy Paper Mill Road. The journey from here would lead us up and down sharp climbs and descents up to ½ mile. I’m certain that there were those who were surprised by the short, steep hills and were forced to put more effort in than originally anticipated.

In contrast with existing 100 mile races I found this particular design to be quite interesting. Early in a run it is always very easy for me to maintain concentration because pain is not a factor. I find that I easily lose focus late in races and that the loneliness that comes with being out of civilization often complicates my problems. Carl’s course eliminated the loneliness factor that usually can be associated with late night running. Once on the road I felt at home as I was surrounded by people. I never once felt helpless because I was surrounded by help. Though aid was 10.5 miles apart there were many stores in which I could rely upon if needed. I enjoyed the variety of the trails and roads and thrived even in the most difficult situations.

The fact that 7 out of 8 runners completed the entire distance was impressive but even more impressive was the time posted by 69 year old Ralph Hirt. The only reward for this race would be the one each runner held in his or own heart but Ralph ran as though the first place prize were a million dollars. His wife, Renate, was concerned by the amount of effort he put forth on the trail but what I saw was a very intense, intelligent guy pushing himself to his limit. He knew exactly what he was doing and how to do it while at the same time caring for his own needs. His sub-24 hour finishing time was absolutely amazing!

The entire day was spectacular as the leaves on the trees were transitioning into the beautiful colors of the Fall and there was nary a cloud in the sky. As beautiful as the day was the nighttime sky filled with shining stars and an almost full moon allowed me to be relaxed and enjoy the ride.

I congratulate Carl for not only organizing the event but also completing the entire 100 mile course. Also I would like to thank his father Early and wife Mary for sacrificing their time to care for the runners at 10.5 mile intervals both at the park and at Carl’s home.

Dave Bursler


Carl's Pictures