This one is seriously ultra.
LA – NY
The Los Angeles to New York footrace? You can’t be serious! 3,220 miles, the world’s longest footrace, in just 70 days. Quite mad. But why the hell not!
In fact this is the 9th time it has been run. The first time was way back in 1928 and then the race was able to muster 199 runners! This time it has been resurrected by Frenchman Serge Girard and 16 heroic men and women signed up for the event although only 14 eventually crossed the start line. By Day 6, this number had been further reduced to 10, with two more continuing to run in an unofficial capacity.
Serge Girard describes the route perfectly: “California will unfold beneath your feet all the way to Las Vegas, the capital of Nevada. The immensity and luminosity of the Mohjave desert will overwhelm you and it’s with a taste for the inifite that you will discover the mountains of Arizona. You will cross the territory of the Navajo Indians, vast tablelands and multicolored mountains…
…The doors of New Mexico will open at the highest point of the race, 9131 feet. Then there will be a gentle descent to the plains of Oklahoma with a succession of ranches where cowboys ride among herds of cattle and oil wells. Missouri with its forests, many rivers and trails will bring you the cool air of the countryside…
You will cross the Mississippi River into Illinois with its roads lined by cultivated fields as far as the eye can see. At this point your patience and your nerves will be severely tried but you will stick to your objective. The plains of the Middle West will give your tired legs a rest before you attack the Blue Mountain of Pennsylvania and then civilization.
…When the skyscrapers of the « Big Apple » finally loom before you your dream will have become reality. You did it!”
Serge Girard is an experienced long distance runner having clocked up thousands of miles around the world crossing four continents including a 5,235 km (3,252 miles) run from Lima to Rio which took him 73 days.
The 2011 race began on 19th June. It will be run in 70 stages, go through 15 States, will average 40-45 miles per day, cover 3,220 total miles and will end on 27th August in the Big Apple. Only 244 athletes have ever crossed the entire United States and only 124 runners have finished a race across the continent.
“Treat it like a job,” says James Adams, an Englishman, one of the original starters and still going strong, although obviously it won’t be your average 9 to 5! “Fifteen states; 45 miles a day; just the one pair of legs. In just over ten weeks’ time, on August 27, I hope to run into New York, seeing the skyscrapers of Manhattan for the first time in my life,” he adds.
A nonchalant way of describing the equivalent of 2 marathons a day, dawn risings, “knock off late most days. And, as for lunch breaks, well, I’ll be running right through them!”
The route follows Route 66 – as much as possible. Unfortunately this legendary route merges into an interstate highway far too frequently so it has had to be re-routed onto quieter more pleasant back roads.
By the end of day 17 there are only 8 runners left in the race and they have passed the 1,000 mile mark. A truly herculean effort.
Italian Alexandro Bellini is one of the survivors. He has an illustrious record in ultra-endurance events. He has run 260 km through the Moroccan desert and 1,400 km across Alaska with a small sled. He accomplished a solo rowing journey of the Atlantic Ocean in 226 days and achieved nautical history with the longest solo crossing of the Pacific Ocean in a rowing boat – 18,000 km and 294 days spent alone in the ocean. “I am very excited to see the U.S. from such an original point of view,” he says. “I have visited the east and west coast, but have never seen its interior. After rowing across the Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean, I am excited to connect the two oceans by land.”