The San Diego 24 Hour Track Run
by Steve Matsuda
Here, in excruciating detail, is my report from the San Diego One-Day. The race was held at Cuyamaca College in El Cajon, near San Diego. It was put on by some ultrarunners in the local area from SURF (San Diego UltraRunning Friends). The track is in a very pretty setting. Foothills surround three sides of the oval and the forth has a nice view of a valley and some mountains beyond. The concept is simple. Run around a 400-meter track as many times as you can in 24 hours. You can stop as much as you want but the clock keeps ticking. Sensors were placed in lanes 1 and 2 of the track to count laps electronically through the use of the ChampionChip timing system, now common in most large marathons. Runners changed direction on the track every 4 hours so half the time we were running the "wrong" way. There were 29 runners in the race. Many were very experienced ultrarunners from SURF. Everyone in the race had run at least one marathon. Pacing wasn't allowed but you could have a crew to get water, food, etc. for you after every lap. Greg and I were extremely fortunate to have a great group of friends come down to crew for us. Diana was there the whole time, resting only for 2 hours at night. Paco and his wife also stopped by during the evening. Larry, Nancy, Sandy and Jerry came down in the evening and helped crew all night long. I can't tell you how much their support meant to us.
I had pretty modest goals for this event. Since I was totally untrained for this, my goal was to run 100K (62 miles) since I'd never gone that far before. The race started at 10:00 AM on Saturday. Our plan was to run 20 minutes and walk 10 minutes from the very beginning. I probably didn't eat enough early but kept an eye on the leaders and ended up eating and drinking regularly. In fact, I took a drink every 2-3 laps since Diana was there as crew all day. Greg and I started together with the 20/10 plan but his walking pace was much faster than mine so we only lasted an hour or two together. The 20/10 worked great! I was able to keep it up, and feel good, for about 16 hours. I was actually at 53 miles at the 12-hour mark and had momentary thoughts of actually breaking 100 miles. I did struggle a lot in the middle of the night (it got down to 29 degrees!) and was having awful problems with chafing in unmentionable places. That made it really hard to run so I just kept walking from about 2:00 AM to 6:00 AM. I never took any breaks except for changing my shoes once.
Greg was having awful problems with blisters. He might have dropped at 50 miles but our fantastic crew got his feet taped up so he could continue. Though I had some stomach problems and the chafing, I felt remarkably good for almost the whole time. Just tried to stay comfortable for as long as I could. At the 21-hour mark, I was just under 80 miles. The crew was encouraging me to pick up the pace to hit 90. I started to power walk for an hour and got to 83 miles with 2 hours to go. I figured I'd have to start running again in order to break 90 so I went back to the 20/10 and was somehow able to run again. Actually, I think I was one of the few that was still running at that point. I pushed hour 22 hard so I'd be as close as possible to 90 for the last hour and got to 87.3 at 23:00. I just counted my laps for the last hour and cruised in once I hit 90. Finished at 91.33 (367 laps) and Greg did 83.32 (335 laps).
All in all, quite an experience. The overall winner did about 132 miles and the top female completed 122 miles. She was actually going for the 200K national record but came up a few miles short. Thanks again to everyone who came down to crew and who sent good thoughts. Thanks also to Greg who shared his experience and advice that got me though the tough times. I know if I was having the same problems he was with blisters, I wouldn't have made it half as far.Back to story index page