Written by Richard Bolt, MUT Executive Council
This past weekend, the International Association of Ultrarunners (IAU) staged its Virtual Global Solidarity Run, an event pitting athletes from national federations against one another as they ran a 6-hour virtual challenge. According to the IAU, “Athletes need to have some motivation to train and compete during these difficult times but need to do so safely. The majority of our ultrarunning federations have been drastically affected by the Covid-19 crisis. Regretfully, we have needed to cancel most of our championships this year which has led to athletes losing their goals and short-term ambitions. In the spirit of universal camaraderie and uplifting of the morale, we held the ‘IAU 6 Hour Global Solidarity Run’ for our ultrarunning family to engender athletic interest and friendly global fun.”
Athletes were able to run indoors or outdoors and recorded their performances on mileage tracking platforms like Strava or Garmin and then sent to the IAU for compilation.
The US team led by Lin Gentling included Sabrina Little, Cole Crosby, Elizabeth Northern, Kallin Khan, Courtney Olsen, David Kilgore, Emily Schmitz, Jon Olsen, Trisha Steidl, Sam Skeels, Emily Torrence and Michael Wardian. Here are their comments on the challenge and results from the Virtual Global Solidarity Run.
USA WOMEN’S TEAM:
Sabrina Little, 34, Morehead, KY – “I chose to run hill repeats for 20 miles up and down my favorite local hill. I did a 7-mile warmup at 6:40 pace, then ran 23 miles on the hill, with 4 miles to finish for 34 miles with ~3475 feet of climbing. It was like a spa day, except you come home messier. All in all, it was the perfect challenge for where I’m at. I wish we were all racing together, but this was great. I am happy to be healthy and had such a fun day on the hill I still somehow adore.” Sabrina completed 34 miles in 4:34:04. View her run on Strava here and here.
Elizabeth Northern, 33, Fort Worth, TX – “I completed the 6 hours! That was insane, and I am giving mad props to all of you who have run farther/longer than this. Had a really low (like real low) spot right before 4 hours. Started off in the mid to upper 80’s, and then a thunderstorm blew through! Downpour, lightning, thunder, the whole bit. But, the last 2 hours of the run were in the high 70’s!” Elizabeth completed 48.23 miles in 6:00:00. View her run on Garmin Connect.
Courtney Olsen, 33, Bellingham, WA – “With the IAU 50 km World Championships cancelled this fall, I thought, why not end a season of mid-distance virtual road racing with a bang and represent the US for this IAU 6 Hour Virtual Global Solidarity Run. I ran the farthest I’ve ever run! I also raised funds for NAMI Whatcom (our local chapter) in honor of my aunt Jenny who passed a little over a year and a half ago from suicide. Her birthday would have been today.” Courtney completed 52.69 miles in 6:00:00. View her run on Strava.
Emily Schmitz, 39, Wauwatosa, WI – “I am going to make a donation to Black Lives Matter. I wasn’t originally going to do so, but after everything that happened in Kenosha which is like 40 minutes from where I was born, I felt like I wanted to do something, so I decided to make a donation along with this run.” Emily completed 43.92 miles in 5:56:11. View her run on Strava.
Trisha Steidl, 43, Seattle, WA – “The best past was so many of my friends coming out to support me, which was incredible. My body held up well! My hamstring was there and it let me know it, but it didn’t have too much of an impact on today’s run. It feels so good – mentally and physically – to feel like I am getting ahold of that issue. I raised $400 for Black Lives Matter $400 and $1000 for Real Rent Duwamish. Finally, I also ran in memory of Bill Roe and my mom and in honor of my lifelong family friend, Sue Hodges.” Trisha completed 44.28 miles in 6:00:00. View her run on Garmin Connect.
Emily Harrison Torrence, 34, Flagstaff, AZ – “I was honored to be a part of Team USA and to show my support of solidarity in these unusual times. It may not have been a conventional choice but we decided to do the run on the Mineral Belt Trail, a paved 11.6 mile loop with ~800ft/gain per loop, with an altitude ranging from 9,800 ft to 10,606 ft.” Emily completed 44.9 miles in 6:00:03. View her run on Strava.
USA MEN’S TEAM:
Cole Crosby, 31, Princeton, NJ – “I finished my run today and it was pretty tough conditions as the storm from Hurricane Laura turned my run into a literal 6 hour car wash. I also was eaten alive by some pretty devious bugs which by the marathon mark my body seized up from all the inflammation from the bites. Far from my best but I’m glad I gave my all and got through it for the team! I ran through the Pine Barrens of New Jersey which really is a gem of a place for running that many people do not even know even exists. It has miles of nice dirt roads and trails.” Cole completed 41.4 miles in 5:44:39. View his run on Strava.
Kallin Khan, 23, Lisle, IL – “I gave it a go this morning, but stopped after 90 minutes with stomach issues. I’m training at altitude for the first time here in Denver; been here about a week to try to acclimate before the run.”
David Kilgore, 28, New York, NY – David ran for 6 hours around the block in New York City. David completed 45 miles in 5:40:59. View his run on Strava.
Jon Olsen, 45, Modesto, CA – “This should be a great sufferfest as my first three weeks of teaching and wild fires have made my training non-existent. HOWEVER, what I lacked in preparation, I made up for in shear effort. What great results by everyone! It appears that everyone had their own personal challenges today but came through it stronger than ever. So proud to be a part of this team. I’m disappointed in my mileage today, but it’s hard to be focused on that when I had five separate friends come out and run with me this morning! My wife Denise, walked a half marathon…waking up with me this morning.” Jon completed 39.34 miles in 6:00:01. View his run on Garmin Connect.
Sam Skeels, 42, Adrian, MI – “Congratulations everyone! Truly didn’t expect to be able to run a step, yet ended up running for the duration just a couple miles in. I ran on our local high school track, and shared miles in the name of Global Solidarity with family, friends and members of our community. Such an honor and positive movement to be part of. I’m so proud of our team.” Sam completed 44.8 miles in 5:56:30. View his run on Strava.
Michael Wardian, 45, Arlington, VA – “Done, wow, that was way harder than it looks. I ran all the streets of Rehoboth Beach, Virginia.” Michael completed 35.35 miles in 6:39:14.
A special message from USA Team Leader Lin Gentling to the athletes: “Hey Team, you folks are amazing and your stories are the reason I love ultrarunning so much. You are the epitome of not only outstanding athletes, but even more importantly outstanding individuals. Each of you faced your own adversity, but persevered despite any punch thrown at you. I so enjoyed, appreciated, and continually gained respect for each of you as I read your stories about the weather, your injuries, your dreams, going further than ever, your passion, your support for one another and that within your own running communities, and the list is endless. You inspire me and I am convinced that despite what this year has thrown at us, you folks exhibit the strength, intestinal fortitude, and the incredible positive attitudes it takes to get through this year as well as anything life might throw at you.”
Globally, 33 Women’s Teams, 34 Men’s Teams and a total of 426 runners will took part in the first IAU 6 Hour Virtual Global Solidarity Run. A complete start list can be found on the IAU website.