I arrived in McKinney, Texas about an hour and a half before the start of the 2008 Ultracentric. It was cold with strong winds. I caught a shuttle from the local junior high school to Erwin Park, where I would spend the next 12 hours running an approxmate 1.15 loop countless times.
The first thing I noticed was the sizeable hill leading to start/finish line. For a course advertised as being fairly flat, this seemed a bit out of place. I would later discover that the every loop included a 70 foot climb, resulting in 3,748 feet gained over the course of the day.
As I waited to pick up my race packet, I began chatting with, Darrell and Missy, a couple from Arizone. Like me Darrell would be running the 12-hour race; Missy was going for 24 hours. (Darrell would go on to win the 12-hour event with 59.109 miles.)
After snagging our chips, the three of us set up our base camps near each other not too far from the runner aid station.
Around 9 a.m., we lined up near the start, awaiting the countdown to begin our endless ramble. As I looked around, I was suprised at how few runners there appeared to be. Last year's run seemed much better attended. Perhaps the down economy and the new location had discouraged folks to come out.
There were, however, a couple elite runners I recongized from Ultrarunning magazine, namely, Scott Jurek and Nikki Kimball. Both were attempting to break the 24-hour records of 162.46 and 145.287 miles, respectively.
As far as race reports go, Ultracentric doesn't offer much in the way of a thrilling narrative. I mean, it's 1.15 miles. That's it. Over... and over... and over again....
At 11 a.m., I put in the headphones and listened to the Texas Longhorns throttle the Kansas Jayhawks 35-7. The game was a nice three and a half hour distraction.
Sometime after the football game ended, I learned that Jurek and Kimball had both dropped from the race, citing the aforementioned 70-foot climb and the course camber as reasons. Both apparently felt that the records were unattainable on this year's course and did not want to risk injury.
Jurek's base camp wasn't too far from mine, and he hung out for a couple hours after dropping. I chatted with him several times as I passed by, and I was quite impressed with how personable and encouraging he was. Everytime I stopped to snag something out of my drop bag, he asked if I needed any help. And everytime I departed for another loop, he enthusiatically told me to "go get 'er done!"
This is one of the things I love about ultrarunning events. You get to interact with the top athletes, and they generally always have kind words to say to the rest of us ordinary running junkies.
Donaldo (my dad) arrived a little before 3 p.m. to walk for 6 hours. Since last year's Bandera, Donaldo has joined me for numerous endurance events and has participated in the Waco 1-0 and this year's Ultracentric.
As the sun went down, I was greeted by Dave and Tracy Fannin and their kids. They had come out to encourage me toward the end of the race. Seeing them out there was a huge morale boost. Dave was the consummate trainer, asking if I needed anything, wanting updates on how I was feeling.
Around 7 p.m., I hooked up with fellow Marathon Maniac, Steve Grady, who was running the 6-hour race. Over the next couple hours, we gutted out the miles.
Just before 9 p.m., we finished out final loop. I was tired, but not completely spent. The next day, my legs were a little sore, but not too bad. By Tuesday, I felt completely fine. That's a good sign. Training seems to be working.
Final stats -- 54.473 miles. 4th place overall.
One down, three to go. The Quad continues....