This event brought quite a few of my ultra runner friends down to Cleveland. David Ploskonka stayed at our place the night before the race and we met up with Jacqueline Choi at Edgewater the day of the race. My plan was to stay and help them through the race, do whatever they needed me to do to get them through 24 hours of running. When it was all said and done Jackie logged a total of 102.69 miles and David logged 49.54 miles. Other out of town friends that made the trek down were Jameelah Abdul-Rahim Mujaahid (81.97 miles), Anne (87.37 miles) and Robert McClain, Sabrina Moran (147.72 miles), Derek Murphy (66.66 miles), and Valmir Nunes (55.85 miles). Local ultra runner friends toed the line as well, to include Debra Horn (124.30 miles), Cyrus Taylor (44.14 miles), Brad Polman (132.41 miles) and more.
Straight from work on Friday I picked up David from the host hotel - Days Inn of Lakewood. He drove down with a couple of runners from his area, Serge and Christian. (Ultra runners are ultra drivers, too - driving 8 hours from Maryland the day before the race, as well as 8 hours back the same day the race ended!) I had "met" Serge before in passing when I ran North Coast but had never met Christian (met as in exchanged a few words around that monotonous .9 mile loop). Super nice guys and amazing runners. Anyway, David and I drove back to my house and chatted for a bit, David crashed for a nap and I cooked dinner. (Talk about worry, just cook for an elite ultra runner the day before their race!)
The morning of the race I woke up, hobbled out for a short run, cooked breakfast and then my son, David, and I were off. My husband headed out for a race of his own - the Diversity 5k downtown (p.r. at 18 minutes and change!!) and came to the race later. As soon as we stepped out of the car at Edgewater we noticed #1 How much colder it was compared to temps at my house (not unusual) and #2 The wind. The wind was horrible!
Case in point: Kite surfers and surfers were out in full force on Lake Erie
All anyone could hope for was the wind would die down at some point. (It took awhile) Pre race time was spent catching up with runner friends. The first one I saw was Sabrina, we chatted briefly and wished her luck. We then hooked up with Jacqueline and saw Derek and wished him well. Soon the runners lined up at the start and with a simple yell "READY - GO!" the runners were off on their adventure, running around a .9 mile loop for 24 hours. As for me I proceeded to set up "camp", which consisted of 3 folding chairs, a cooler, and lots of blankets for me, my son, and any runners who needed them, as well as a picnic table that held Jacqueline and David's items. (no tent this time around) I then plopped my lazy bum into my folding chair next to my friend Charlie, who was crewing for Derek.
Charlie and his brother-in-law Derek, who completed over 66 miles!
Watching the runners, everyone seemed in good spirits (especially at the beginning - HA!) I could tell right away that Serge would have a great race. During the day he was running strong and smiling every loop and was pretty impressive to see. Jacqueline was her typical self - so happy and smiling, so grateful to be just in the moment and having so much fun. I loved it! Throughout the race there were quite a few people who came up to me and said how inspiring she was, and that her smile was just lighting things up in the cold dark night. I think I can safely say there wasn't a time when she didn't flash a smile when she came by! Due to a crazy chain of events (work, sick, travel, etc) David stopped at 49 miles - which was a very smart thing since he has MMT coming up and was traveling to Israel for work immediately after the race. (And I do mean immediately - straight from the race I took him to the airport so he could catch his 12+ hour flight. OUCH!) Valmir stopped as well, and afterwards told us he'll be taking a bit of a break in June and July to rest up a bit. He knows what he needs and knows what he has to do. He's a spectacular runner who holds such times as 5 hours and 38 minutes for a 50 mile run, Badwater winner (and course record holder) at 22 hours and 51 minutes, Beast of Burden 100 miler (winter) at 14 hours and 56 minutes, and so much more - so yeah he knows what he's doing and knows what he needs to do! Sabrina looked strong and incredibly focused from the get go, Anne was looking strong as always and Derek was all smiles and came with a "git er done" attitude and a PR goal to shoot for.
Night came to Edgewater and brought a welcome change. Everyone was worried the wind would get worse at night, but like a switch the wind died down considerably and made many people happy. It was still cold, but no wind was such a relief to everyone - runners, crews, and volunteers alike. Earlier in the evening my son had been playing his guitar by our "camp" and while a bit shy moved a few steps closer to the edge of the path with his guitar as time went on.
Not too long after he got brave enough to get about 5 feet from the path and break out a song my husband and son left for the night leaving Charlie and I in silence and darkness. Boooo! We huddled under our many blankets (I was being quite the candy ass - 3 coats and 4 blankets.) How could I have run a 100 mile race in the middle of winter and be cold in 50 degree weather was completely beyond me! I tried to catch up on some reading but due to a nasty cold all week and very little sleep my eyes started to get heavy and I couldn't read anymore without drifting off to sleep. Despite the fact that my hubby had brought a thermos full of coffee earlier it was pretty hard to keep my eyes open through the night. (again, candy ass - I wasn't running! Shouldn't be tired!!) Charlie was making coffee runs as well, but I had already overdone it on the caffeine and just told him to get me decaf. (Decaf coffee because caffeine seems to really aggravate my adrenal system, so too much of a good thing is so so bad!) The coffee was a big help in keeping me somewhat warm, and was so grateful for Charlie's coffee runs and was always so bummed when I saw the bottom of each cup. The hours went by and I continued to find myself falling asleep, taking small cat naps under my "blankies" and at times coughing uncontrollably from my cold. Each time my body jolted me awake I sat there and stared at the path, waiting to see the incredible things everyone was doing. At one point I saw Serge (who was still running strong) stop - throw up, and start running again. THAT is pure heart and guts right there! Sabrina was incredibly steady and strong, and didn't even look tired! It was really fantastic to watch. Every lap just brought the word "WOW" to my mouth, and that doesn't even describe what she accomplished this past weekend. To me it appeared that both Serge and Sabrina sped up later in the race versus slowing down. Incredible! As I said before Jackie was all smiles every step of the way and passed us on many laps shouting "WOO HOO!". So great!
Daylight broke and all was still the same. Except one thing. At this race there's always something that everyone can laugh at (or be fascinated by, you make that call). The last North Coast 24 there were Kite Flying Nuns. This time around it was a very different scenario - a group of young people (20 somethings) came down after a late night of partying I presume and proceeded to de-robe and jump in the lake. We couldn't make it out that well, but have reason to believe two of the adventurous swimmers were completely butt naked. It was somewhat amusing to see from afar, and we definitely heard their hoots and hollers when they jumped in the 40-some degree water.
Nudey pic courtesy of Charlie Bolek! (tee hee)
Aside from the rowdy swimmers, Serge and Sabrina were still as steady and as strong as ever. Jackie was still smiling, and Derek was pushing on. At about 8 a.m. I started packing up my car and helped the race's Physical Therapist take down his tent. After all that I sat on the edge of the path and watched the final laps of the race unfold and it was spectacular as always! I love seeing the look on runners faces knowing that #1 They're FINALLY nearing the end and #2 The look of incredible accomplishment and pride. This is well deserved. Every one of the athletes out there put their best effort forward, accomplished amazing things and pushed it. They fought mental battles. They fought physical battles. They overcame all barriers within themselves to complete an extraordinary task. They made the Impossible Possible.
Soon after the race everyone headed to the pavilion for the awards ceremony. Jackie got her feet worked on, and yes was STILL smiling as if she were relaxing and getting a manicure! I love her!! Serge was tired, cold and shivering from just running 153 miles (2nd place overall!!) and I ran and got him some blankets from the car. We waited for the awards to begin and Jackie, David, and Valmir and I hung out, chatting and enjoying each others company one more time before we parted ways once again. While Valmir speaks very little English (He's from Brazil where the national language is Portuguese) it was still possible to have a good conversation (this is something I also encountered when I visited Mexico).
Valmir and Jackie, post race
A good laugh - finding amusement in the fact that Jacqueline's bandaged toes match Valmir's pants and shoes perfectly :)
Before we left I said goodbye to Sabrina and congratulated her on her stellar victory and then David and I helped Serge and Christian pack up all of their belongings (no crew and packing up your own things after logging mega miles would just plain suck, not to mention the drive ahead of them). Soon David and I were off to the airport. We said our goodbyes and he was off on another endurance adventure, over 12 hours of flying.
SABRINA MORAN BREAKS THE AMERICAN 24 HOUR WOMAN'S RECORD!
I didn't find this out until this morning, but Sabrina broke the American woman's record at the race by logging an unbelievable 147.90 miles!!! I was wondering at the event if anyone had broken any records, but didn't find out until I woke up and saw this article:
While I didn't know it at the time, it doesn't come as that much of a surprise because I had never seen anyone run like that before. Not even close! She was completely focused every single step of the way! Again I have to say it was truly an amazing thing to watch. Her last lap I guess-timated was a 9 minute mile. She came through the aid station with (going by my watch) around 9 minutes left. A woman who was helping runners all night (Tania) started shouting "I WANT ONE MORE LAP OUT OF YOU! DO YOU HEAR? ONE MORE!" I stood and waited, watching for her - and soon saw her round the bend to make her way back to the finish line once more! FANTASTIC!!! Who says ultras aren't exciting to watch!!! All of this couldn't have happened to a nicer more deserving person. Her sponsors should be extremely proud of her - not just because of her running but because of her positive attitude and sincerity in general. Case in point: When congratulating her at the awards ceremony she wished me a speedy recovery from my injury. That AFTER running 147.9 miles and being up all day and night to do it - I wouldn't have even been able to think!! She's one incredible lady all the way around and very deserving of everything this weekend. She worked hard, pushed it, and it paid off in a big way.
Congrats to Sabrina and everyone else who endured 24 hours of running and walking this weekend. You all are absolutely inspiring and should be soaking up your hard work and efforts. It's not easy to do this stuff. At times, training is miserable. But you pushed through and accomplished what many people don't. For that, be proud. We certainly are proud of you!
North Coast 24 Hour Unofficial Results
Sabrina has a great blog - follow her at