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03/07, Sun, 31.1M, USATF 50K Championship  
Alexis Davidson M54
A Tale of Two National 50K Championships: Part 2

I thought it would be fun to do 2 National 50K Championships in one year. The second one was the running championship on Mar 7, 2010. It had a median finish time of 5:02 and a dead last time of 7:54. Michael Wardian and Yolanda Flamino were the winners at 2:55:50 and 3:34:26. 18 of 127 entrants DNF’d (14%) compared to 7 of 25 (28%) in the walking race who DNF’d or DQ’d. Again, women showed that they finish what they start, as 32 of 35 finished, while 4 of 4 finished the walking race. Besides me, there was one other racewalker who started and finished the race.

The windshield temperature ranged from 32 to 56F from the start at 8:30 to 3pm. There was a strong wind which averaged 11 mph, which kept most people in two layers on top throughout the race.

The course was a 5K loop. It consisted of a .1 mile stretch from the start/end to the beginning of a 2.4 mile round loop around the park. This was followed by a .5 mile narrow out and back on a road with an uneven surface, then a .1 mile stretch from the circle to the start/end. The entire loop was nonstop rolling hills with three medium hills per loop. You barely noticed them until loop 8 and then they slowly turned into mountains by loop 10. The park had plenty of shade, and we had plenty of company from 25K runners, bicyclists and other casual users of the park. There was a red-tailed hawk sighting on loop 8. Water/Gatorade stations were located at the start/end and halfway through, and there was plenty of various types of food at the end of the loop. There were mile signs at the one, two and three mile distance, and they were accurate and reliable.

The race started and we got underway. The first loop was fun as we saw the beautiful park for the first time. The out and back was scary during the first 3 loops as faster runners lapped us on the narrow uneven surface. After an hour, the 25K runners started, and the park was at its densest for two hours. By this time, however, we were so spread out that it felt comfortable, and it was easy to be lapped.

Since there was no judging, this race was psychologically easy for me, and I really had no trouble until the 9th loop. By that time, the hills began getting bigger, longer and higher. Interpolating between the first and second mile of the 9th loop, I passed the marathon in 4:43:28. Again, this was one of my faster times. The remainder of the race was fun, though I was tired by this time. I came in around 5:42, picked up my medal, met my friends, ate some soup and cookies and went home.

Which race was my favorite? Surviving a judged 50K is the acme of the career of any casual racewalker. I will be prouder of that finish than of any other single finish on my resume. However, the Caumsett race beat the Surprise race in all aspects of customer service. The Greater Long Island Running Club allowed runners to bypass the USATF registration with its idiotic requirements, it had a better website with more information, better food, a race and distance specific race shirt (as opposed to no race specific shirt) and all finishers received a race and distance specific finishers medal (as opposed to a generic racewalk medal to award winners only). Emailed questions were immediately answered (as opposed to ignored) The race director provided a free shuttle from the nearest train station for the benefit of NYC residents who do not own cars, and there was no requirement to show up the night before to pick up your number. I would do this race whenever this weekend is free.

The Surprise race had the disadvantage of judging. No one who has not already survived a judged 30K should even attempt it. 16 percent of starters were DQ’d, and some of the DNFs might have been a result of two infractions combined with oncoming exhaustion and a self-assessed low probability of finishing legally. There just are not many people out there who are willing to travel thousands of miles, spend hundreds of dollars when the possibility of being allowed to finish the race is 84%. There are so many other things that can go wrong with the weather or the runner that would cause a DNF to tolerate this.