The UltraCentric Experience by Robert Tavernini RD
The UltraCentric in its 22nd year was again fortunate for the distinction to serve as The National 24 Hour Championships, was well represented by 38 states, and 8 countries.
The Experience is a beehive of five ultra-distance events occurring concurrently, complimented by Texas friendly volunteers, twelve hours of live music, and several hot food buffets.
However, one look at the potential prize money being offered by The UltraCentric in The National 24 Hour Championships leaves little doubt to the events primary focus, “to contribute to the fielding of our Nation’s finest Men, and Women in the 24 hour run”.
The Ultra Centric offers $12,500.00 in Prize Money in The National Championship, with a non-duplicating offer of $5,000.00 for a new Men’s or Women’s American Record. All prize money recipients must be eligible to participate, and compete on The AUA National 24 Hour Team.
This year’s unseasonable warming front became evident at the start of the 48 hour event on Friday morning, with highs exceeding 70 degrees. David Goggins appeared to be in his element as he ran uncontested, compiling 136 Miles in his first 24 hours! Not since John Geesler’s American Record in The UltraCentric’s 48 Hour of 2002, had such a lofty first 24 hour distance been established. Unfortunately, Goggins sustained a debilitating muscle tear shortly thereafter. David’s second 24 Hours was couraglessly completed by a rotation of icing, treatments, and massages. In spite of a seemingly debilitating injury, Goggins was able to sustain his lead to victory with over 203 miles. Darren Worts took over second in the predawn hours Sunday from last years 48 Hour Champion, Butch Allmon. All three men, including forth place finisher Jeff Hagen exceeded Allmon’s ‘06 Championship performance of 182 miles.
Texas’s own ultra running standout Rochelle Frazeur added to her ever growing ultra resume with the Women’s 48 Hour victory of 148.57 miles. Frazeur’s Women’s victory would have won the event outright in years past.
Friday’s warming trend continued through the start of The UltraCentric’s National 24 Hour Championships on Saturday, with an eventual high of 82 degrees. The humidity on Saturday reached 88 percent. Both the Men’s and Women’s fields were a virtual “Who’s Who” of American Ultra Running. A significant portion seemingly ready to take home their share of the record prize money.
Southern California’s Akos Konya reigned the day with a personal record performance of 146.33 miles. Bob Sweeney, one of the top American 100K runners of the past decade would win The US National Title in his first attempt in the 24 Hour with 139.64 miles.
The ageless 59 year old legend Roy Pirrung is American Men’s Runner-up with 138.51 miles. Pirrung was the inaugural Men’s Champion in 1988, and has remained in the top five most every year since.
Connie Gardner strives for every foot as The UltraCentric 24 Hour finish horn sounds
The celebrated toast of The UltraCentric Experience, and of The National 24 Hour Championships is hands down, Connie Gardner. Gardner paid no attention to the unseasonably oppressive heat, and humidity. Regardless of the temperature, Connie seemed focused on Sue Ellen Trapp’s 14 year old All Time Best American Record.
Connie Gardner $4000.00 UltraCentric 24 Hour Champions Check presentation
A $5,000.00 Payday would be her reward if she were successful.
The Women’s American Record of 145.28 miles had been seen by most as untouchable by America’s current crop of Women distance runners.
The last hour of all events, participants are restricted to an independently certified quarter mile loop of the course, around the start/finish line. The final hour, with over 140 miles on her legs, Connie’s pace escalated from just shy of eleven minutes a mile, to sub ten minutes a mile. Many of these quarter mile loops were just seconds over a nine minute per mile pace!
The enthusiastic competitors on the loop left the inside of the course free for Connie. Spectators, participants’ crews, and competitors were cheering loudly in support of Connie’s efforts.
Gardner was several yards into a new loop before the air horn sounded, signaling the completion of the championship.
Once tabulating the large loops, and the last hour loops, plus additional distance measured by a wheel, the heartbreaking reality emerged: Connie had fallen short of Sue Ellen Trapp’s 14-year-old U.S. Record by 40 meters.
Connie Gardner’s run, pending ratification, is the All Time #2 Women’s 24 Hour Performance with 145.26 miles.
Gardner’s UltraCentric’s 24 Hour Championship Title, and, by exceeding the performance standard of the prize money structure has been awarded $4,000.00 by The UltraCentric. Had Gardner broken the record, an additional $1,000.00, or total prize of $5,000.00 would have been awarded. (www.ultracentric.net/prizemoney.html)
Another sixty participants jumped into the ultra-running pool by competition in the 6 Hour, and 12 Hour. The shorter events run concurrently with the 24, and 48 hour events, and fueled by live music, great fun, and food. Several of last years participants have graduated to the 24, and 48 Hour this year.
Both the 6 Hour, and the 12 Hour, seemed to be a battle of the sexes for the championships. Men’s 12 Hour Champion Richard Cullen with 63.5 miles narrowly outdistanced Women’s Champion Victoria Goguen with 62.0 miles.
The 6 Hour battle was closer, separated merely by a quarter mile with Marc Elliott completing 38.75 miles, and women’s winner Carol Carpenter completing 38.5 miles.
With the list of truly stellar accomplishments over the weekend, one of the most noteworthy contributions is pointed out by The UltraCentric Volunteer Coordinator Jay Norman. Jay Norman is exclusively responsible for staffing the nearly 200 four hour volunteer shifts over the UltraCentric’s Experience weekend. Jay Norman is also an Officer in the UltraCentric’s primary beneficiary, The Dallas Town North Optimist Foundation. Through Norman’s fund raising efforts in collaboration with The UltraCentric, thirty-seven hundred dollars was raised for The Optimist Foundation. Norman said “for an Ultra Running event to fulfill a community need is truly rewarding”
The UltraCentric Experience of 2008 will again host The National 24 Hour Championship. The Experience as always will occur the third weekend of November.
Save the date, November 14th, 15th, and 16th, 2008.
The UltraCentric Experience in the continued effort to make a measurable contribution to fielding our Nations finest Men, and Women in the 24 Hour has increased the American 24 Hour Record Incentive from $5,000.00 to $7,000.00 for 2008. The UltraCentric National Championship Prize Money will increase accordingly.
Please join us in any of the several mediums of participation The UltraCentric Experience offers. Come meet many of the tirelessly serving Texas friendly volunteers from The North Texas Trail Runners, and Grapevine Runners and Walkers. We look forward to The UltraCentric Experience of 2008!