Erie Canal Towpath in winter. Photo: S. Boone
The Inaugural The Inaugural Beast of Burden Winter 100 Miler and 24-Hour Ultramarathon brought three dozen endurance runners from all over the country. Race director Sam Pasceri, his wife Ginny, and a small battalion of local volunteers spent months preparing for the event, which Pasceri has good reason to characterize as "a huge success."
Responses have been overwhelmingly positive, even from athletes who were unable to finish or felt that they had not run their best races. Pasceri received one e-mail entitled, “The best organized, most miserable race I’ve been to.” The writer promised to return, citing unfinished business on the course.
Now the boxes of extra T-shirts, first-aid equipment, non-perishable foodstuffs, and all the other paraphernalia of a successful ultra distance race are packed away—for the next event, this coming August.
The attraction of the February Beast of Burden was that it provided uniquely miserable conditions; the draw of the August race will be that it takes place on what is probably the flattest 100-mile course in the United States.
The date, which will be officially announced on the race website on April 1st, has been tentatively scheduled for August 21-22. Pasceri expects triple the amount of runners who came out last weekend. Even among ultra runners, who like to do things the hard way, a summer race is apparently more enticing than a winter one.
For the August race, Pasceri is in talks with sponsors and hopes to be able to offer cash prizes for the winners of both the 100-mile and 24-hour. He also hopes to offer a bonus cash prize for athletes who can set the sport’s non-track world's best times in either event.
The winter and summer events will maintain separate records; they may share a route, but because of Lockport's winter conditions, the courses are certainly distinct from each other. Richard Cook and Vincent Donner established the winter course records last weekend: 100 miles for the 24-hour (Donner) and 18:08:17 for the 100-miler (Cook).
With impressive winter times and distances like those, achieved on an icy, slippery, extremely unpleasant canal towpath, we can expect dramatically lower times come summer.
100 miles, world men: 11:46:37 (Yiannis Kouros, Greece)
100 miles, American men: 12:12:19 (Rae Clark)
100 miles, world & American women: 13:47:41 (Ann Trason, United States)
24 hours, world men: 290,221 meters/180.334 miles (Yiannis Kouros, Greece)
24 hours, American men: 261,454 meters/162.459 miles (Mark Godale)
24 hours, world women: 243,657 meters/151.401 miles (Sigrid Lomsky, Germany)
24 hours, American women: 233,816 meters/145.286 miles (Sue Ellen Trapp)