Ultrarunning challenges body and mind

Feb. 8, 2011 at 1:01 a.m.
Updated Feb. 7, 2011 at 8:08 p.m.


How does running a trail race that's fifty miles long sound? How about running one-hundred miles? Sound a bit crazy? Well two local trail runners were determined to take on these respective ultra running challenges. The 18th annual Rocky Raccoon 100 miler and 50 miler trail races took place in Huntsville under near perfect running conditions with a start line temperature that hovered around the 25 degree mark and reached into the mid-fifties throughout the course of the day. Many of the best runners in the ultra runner race world were there along side a large field of amateur trail racers.


Local trail runner Troy Lischka showed up to run the 50-mile race after a strong showing at last month's 25K in Bandera. Lischka has been racing on the trails for the past three years and has continued to move up in the trail racing ranks. He had a very busy trail racing season in 2010 which culminated with a 50-mile trail race back in October.

He was a bit burned out and actually cut back to a more unstructured training schedule with a bit less intensity. That relaxed approach seemed to work, as he came away with a personal best time in the 50-miler, cutting ninety minutes off his previous time for that distance. His goal was to try and get under the nine hour mark, "I took gels every 30 minutes and was feeling really good. My first loop went great; I came through the 16.67 miles in 2:38. On the second loop, I still felt good, but by the third loop I couldn't take in any more gels."

He kept pushing though and his perseverance paid off, "At the last aid station I had 4 ½ miles to go and only 40 minutes left in order to break the nine hour mark. I started hammering". He crossed the line with three minutes to spare, a time of 8:57, "It took pure mental focus and desire."

He broke into the top 10 percent at this race, placing 22nd male and 25th overall. Troy's next challenge comes in May when he and a group of ultrarunners, as well as his wife Kerry, plan to run and hike rim to rim to rim of the Grand Canyon, covering a distance of forty-six miles and encountering elevation changes of 6,000-8,000 feet.


John Luna has been trail racing for the past three years, but this time the challenge was a big one- 100 miles. Luna had done some good training late last year after coming back from knee surgery, "I ran three, 50K (31 miles) and then ran the 100K (62 miles) in Bandera last month.

However, I had only been running 15-20 miles in the four weeks leading up to this race". The thought of running and hiking 100 miles seems like an extraordinary challenge, one that only the truly mentally tough would take on. The day started out great for Luna, with him covering the first 50 miles in 12:15, 20 minutes faster than he usually does, "The weather was perfect and I felt great."

The 100-mile race consisted of five, 20-mile loops, with a time limit of thirty hours for the entire race and time limits for each loop.

"On the first loop, I ran 15 of the 20 miles. On the second loop I ran 12 of the 20 miles, but by loops three and four I was starting to break down and was only running about 8 miles each loop and walking the rest," he said.

By mile seventy he was struggling mentally and realizing he was not going to make the time cutoff for the fourth loop, "I had to be out on the 5th loop by 24 hours and I knew I couldn't make it". He ended up pulling out after the 76-mile mark, running and walking for twenty-three hours straight! I asked him how he possibly kept going, "I just put one foot in front of the other and really didn't start struggling until about mile seventy."

Despite the "DNF," an amazing accomplishment to cover 76 miles! Luna plans to hit the trails again next month, running the Nueces 50-miler and he plans to attempt another 100-miler sometime in the next few years.

Missy Janzow owns Fit4U, a personalized training and nutrition service. You can reach her by e-mail at janzowml@yahoo.com or online at www.fit4uvictoria.com.



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