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Running Against Time… How Far Can You Go?
By Susan Schenberg
Many runners affectionately refer to timed races as “Hamsterfests”, as runners mimic a rodent on a wheel going around and around a looped course. Some call them “Sufferfests”, which is the moment when boredom meets pain. I call them amazing adventures!
Quite different in format from a set race distance, such as a marathon or a 50K; a timed race typically consists of race options of 6/12/24/48 hours. The race winner is determined by whomever completes the most miles/loops within the allotted time. As you will pass your self-made mini aid station on every loop, there is no need for a crew or drop bags. For those who are self-sufficient, this format is a dream. With so many race choices, all level of runners, from newbie to seasoned racer can find a time option to test their limits.
As someone who has raced all four timed categories, my personal favorite and the one I’m most asked about is the 48 Hour timed race. I find the allure and simplicity of this format remains intriguing and definitely worth taking a deeper look.
48 hours is long time to run/walk/crawl. That being said, I am always grateful for the friends made and the people you meet along the way. You will get to know other runners quickly and sometimes intimately... meaning that of a trusted friend. As the racers change directions at set times, you will pass by each other often during the day and night. Speaking of the night, did I mention the second night hallucinations? Oh yes, they’re a part of the race that you didn’t pay for, but think of it as night two “bonus fun”. When you are in a sleep deprived state, each tree or bush seems to come alive. You know it’s not reality; but will swear that tree is moving towards you!
On a more serious note, I believe that the single biggest factor of performance success is a strong mental game. Click here for my in depth look into “mindset training“. As I know that there’s a finite end to the race, I will often create a mental picture of myself relaxing, feet up, enjoying a cup of coffee, thinking “at this time tomorrow, I’ll be doing just that, so let’s get it done!”.
There will be a point, however, when everyone is dealing with some sort of suffering and we all are in the same boat, helping and encouraging each other to keep moving forward. Because you’re tired and this hurts and that hurts, and it’s too cold, too hot, too (insert excuse here)... none of these excuses matter. You chose to do this race and paid hard earned money to be there. Your mindset is strong and your training was consistent. You practiced with your hydration/nutrition strategies. You know how to pre-tape and treat foot issues; and you have a bigger pair of shoes on hand, in case your feet swell. Click here for more information on race day prep, including foot care. You have double checked your packing list to ensure you have everything needed for success. NO EXCUSES NECESSARY.
I am often asked “why” I would choose to run for 48 hours? Quite simply, a 48 Hour Race is a unique beast due to the stresses of time, sleep deprivation and grit needed to keep going. It will push the limits of whomever you perceive yourself to be and bring out that inner strength which is often buried under comfort.
Susan Schenberg is a Multi 100+ Mile Finisher/Ultrarunner, an Athlete Ambassador at Headsweats, and a lover of the 48 Hour Timed Race.