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Garett Graubins Wednesday, 28 December 2011 07:48 TWEET COMMENTS 0

Get Busy Living - Page 8

Photo by David Clifford

#8 Pace or Crew in an Ultra

Not everybody will, or can, run an ultramarathon (some people are simply too smart to even consider it). But it's easier than Moonpie to vicariously experience the magic of running 30, 50 or even 100 miles.

Simply put, things happen during ultras that are not common to the local five-mile hill climb. Waiting with other crews by a campfire, at the end of a box canyon, at 3 a.m., with a band of stars overhead, late in a 100-miler brings a sense of remoteness to new extremes. It also magnifies the drama of trail running a hundredfold. The unexpected happens and the dead often return to life.

Just ask Steve Pero. Pero, a long-time ultrarunner from Hancock, New Hampshire, crewed for his wife, Deb, at the 2003 Massanutten Mountain 100 in the mountains south of Front Royal, Virginia.

Late in the race, but still before sunrise on the second day, Pero waited at the Woodstock Aid Station (Mile 84). Deb was already late when her pacer came into the station, explaining that Deb was staggering on the trail. "We didn't think she was going to make it," says Pero, who went out in search of his wife.

Pero helped her to a chair while Deb pled to drop. "She told me over and over, `I can't go on,' and I got her soup, Coke, stuffed electrolyte caps down her." Deb and her pacer promptly fell asleep, as in completely comatose.

That is, until the next female runner passed through the aid station. At the sound of clapping and cheers, explains Pero, "Deb's eyes opened. She got up and said to her pacer that she was ready to go and the two of them stumbled away down the singletrack trail." Deb, once a zombie, held on for a third-place finish.


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