"There is a large plot of land in West Tulsa, where every Tuesday night, a whole bunch of people meet up, line up in groups, and go run around through the hills and trees aimlessly. Weird. It must be fun?"
This news bulletin quickly garnered 10 comments and 31 likes. I had to visit the site to investigate, and found that the reports were valid. No less than 35 subjects were mingling around when a tanned, blond-headed very fit-looking man with cargo shorts and a psychedelic bandanna made some announcements. Then, the two distinctly different groups departed in opposite directions. The spokesman for the assembly trotted off right into the trees on a dirt trail, and around 15 people followed as if they were under a strange compelling control. Curiosity drove me to follow, and after climbing a huge hill over ridiculously rugged rocks and ivy lined trails, they reached the top where they drank from their canteens and talked about--well--nothing--or at least nothing that gave any indication of what their intentions were. They were laughing and it seemed that the whole purpose of their jog was just to JOG??I managed to follow behind and after their second stop, I crouched behind some bushed (which may have been poison ivy) and took this picture. Does anyone recognize any of these people? Clearly, they have an agenda.
From the looks on the faces of these people, I am convinced they are not doing this against their will.
I did manage to talk with the last person in the video. I asked her why she was traversing through this wilderness area. Was it for a cause?
"For me, it's a completely new way to push my body, enjoy nature and hang out with other crazy people. Crazy likes crazy."
This oddity is addressed in this video clip sent to me by Matt Carver. Strange times indeed.
I ran alongside this runner and asked if she had any advice for someone wanting to participate in this odd activity. She offered the following:
"Watch out for snakes, don't look up-even for a second, try not to lose sight of the feet in front of you, getting dirty and sweaty is fun!!!!!!!!! And oh yeah, TZ is a rockstar!!"
Further investigation verified that this group meets every Tuesday evening at 6:30 to run various distances through this dense wilderness area. They also do the same on Sunday mornings at 7:30. A mention was made of TATUR--an acronym of something. More research will be done to get more facts about this unique group.
Ultra Trail Run - 50, 100, 150, 200, and 500 MILE TRAIL. The 50 milers will do the first 40 miles on the East side of Route 100 and then they will do their last ten miles on the west side. The 50 mile course is very scenic but also very demanding. The longer races will all do a rugged 10 mile loop in the Green Mountains of Vermont. Runners will repeat the loops 10, 15, 20, or 50 times. Each loop has 2400 vertical therefore the 30 miler will feature 7,200, 100 miler will feature 24,000, 150 miler will feature 36,000, 200 miler will feature 48,000 feet and 500 miler will feature 120,000 feet of elevation change.
500 mile race starts Thursday, May 3rd at 6:00 p.m. and has a 240 hour cutoff. Athletes have until Sunday, May 13th. Course Closes Sunday at 6 p.m.
This is no race that I have done. No.
An ultra-running friend, Mark Hellenthal, toed the line on May 3rd at the Peak Ultras--not to do a 50K, a 50 mile, or even a hundred mile. Mark, along with four others, was attempting to run 500 miles. Running 100 miles is beyond most people's comprehension, although the distance is doable with the right training and grit. There are now nearly 100 hundred mile races in the US, and just a few at distances beyond that. The RD of the Peak Ultras was once behind the McNaughton Park race, which besides a 100 miler, featured a 150 mile distance. Before that, Badwater--135 miles--was possibly the only longer race. Since McNaughton, there have been a few other races that have gone beyond 100 miles: Rouge Orleans--126.2 miles, Arrowhead 135--135 miles, Lost 118--118 miles, and a couple of new ones: Pigtails--150 and 200 miles, and Viaduct--200 miles. The finishing rate in distances beyond 100 miles drops sharply. Fatigue unimaginable awaits the weary runner who keeps trotting beyond 100 miles.
I met Mark Hellenthal at the pre-race meeting at Rouge/Orleans in 2011. Mark saw my Pumpkin Holler promo shirt, and made a beeline for me to announce that HE was the first one to sign up for my race. I was very happy to meet him, although at that time, I did not know him from Adam. I caught up with Mark somewhere during the first night on the Mississippi Levee somewhere Baton Rouge and New Orleans. I mistakenly asked him if he were in the relay race, and he told me heck no--he was in the 126 miler. He went on to beat my time handily. We met again at the Midnight Madness 50 miler here in Tulsa. Then, we spent time together at Pumpkin. Mark was steadily racking up 100 mile finishes, finishing 10, I think, in 2011. Mark just never quits. When things get rough, he digs in and locks onto a pace and rides it to the finish. I had no doubt he's finish this 500 miler. The question in my mind was just how ugly it would get.
Mark updated his facebook wall occasionally, and had friends in the know who also posted updates over the past few days. Marked knocked out 200 miles like it was a nice easy 100, and then bit off huge chunks of distance sandwiched between naps. With a 10 day time limit, it seemed like he would finish with plenty of time to spare.Patricia Richert posted these signs a few times on his facebook wall, which I enjoyed. I was so excited to see this one, which signalled marks victory lap.
And shortly later from Mark's FB page, a friend and fellow competitor Joel Gat posted this update: Peak 500 miler Update! Mark becomes the second person to ever finish the McNaughton 500, around 9 days 16 hours into the race. Incredible job, Mark!
Willy Syndram finished first in the 500 mile division. Of the five starters, Willy and Mark were the only finishers, but the lone female, Michelle Roy was over 350 miles and was shooting for 400 in the last post I could find. (Update--Michelle finished with 380 miles.)
Mark poses with RD Andy Weinberg. No visible signs of wear. I asked Mark how his feet were, and he only had two small blisters. (picture courtesy of Josh Dennis.)
Hard earned hardware. This is a belt buckle for the ages. (Picture courtesy of Greg Brozovich.)
Mark's friend Casey OConnor posted this jewel of a congrats. I love it!!!
I had Jury duty this past week--a very new and enlightening experience for me. I feel the need to say a few words about it--although it will be brief.
For those who think all posts on this blog should be running related----I did manage to get in runs on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday nights this past week., and a short run Friday morning.
For those who like pictures, scroll down to see some of the old buildings and of course I had to jack around with the lighting and shading. Sorry. I just like doing that. Of course, there can be no cameras in the courtroom, and sneaking pics here and there in the jury pool room, or around the courthouse seemed like maybe not a good idea.
Monday, I sat in the basement with 240 other jurors while 5 or 6 juries were called. Some of the ones called were not selected, and came back to the pool. It was a long boring day, and I read Born to Run--which is an amazing enjoyable read. I then bought another pair of minimalist shoes.
Tuesday, by 9:00 am, I had been selected one of 45 to be a jury on a criminal case. Fun!!! We were sent of to the courtroom for mass interviews, and screenings. The state and defense attorneys asked several questions--some very trivial, some specifically related to our attitudes to cops, law enforcement, and gangs. Many questions were brought up introducing the ideas of a story being told differently from different people. Why would the storied be different? Could they be different and they not be lies? Why would people lie? Why would people join a gang? Is it wrong to be in a gang? Later, we were told our case was a murder--a gang related murder. By the end of the day, 12 jurors and 2 alternated were selected, and I was the 4th name called to be on the panel. Before we left, we were told who was being tried, what the charges were, and what time to report the next day.
Wednesday, we listened to testimonies from 16 witnesses. About half were friends or family of the victim. The remaining were investigating officers, and forensic and medical examiners. Thursday, we were told the day would be long, and we heard testimonies from the detectives who interrogated the accused, and from a couple of experts on gang activity. Fortunately, we got out just before 5:00 pm.
Friday, we were to report at 10:00 am--an hour and a half later than normal. The accused was put on the stand, and the defense and prosecuting attorneys took their turns with him. The closing arguments were heated, and frankly, the prosecutors did a much better job with their case. We were to decide if the accused was guilty of 1st or 2nd degree murder, and if he was guilty of firing a weapon into a dwelling. My mind was made up on both accounts.
After a little over 3 hours of deliberation, and lengthy discussions, we found him guilty of first degree murder, and guilty of firing a weapon into a building. The accused was given LIFE, and a 20 year sentence on the weapons charge. We could have given him life without parole, but a little over half had still a tiny bit of compassion for him.
I have been fairly vague here--purposely mentioning no names, and none of the gangs involved. I have learned more about gang activity than I ever imagined existed. I am saddened that we sent a young man to prison for the majority of his life--but we did the right thing.
Some old friends--Mike and Diana Snyder, came up from Florida for a visit this past week. They were some of the founding members of TATUR, and we've ran many trail miles together over the years.Remembering great times of years past, Mike and I hit the trailz early Saturday morning, knocking down all the spider webs along the Ho-Chi trail, and reaching the scenic vista by sunup. We came back on the Millennium trail, and I was upset to see someone had knocked the Oklahoma Rock over. We did our best to set it upright. Why would someone do this? Bad things will happen to the peeps who did this--a shroud carved by an Indian Holy Man should not be tampered with!
Tuesday night, Mike joined the Tuesday Night Crawlers (aka TOTs) for a few miles--this time on the Snake Trail. Mike is stylin--sporting a Pumpkin Holler shirt. (hint hint)Mike cut his run short--around 3.5 miles while the rest of us finished out with around 4.5. Mike raced back to his motel to get Diana, and we met at Arizonas for some mexican. Joined by Bobby and Susan, Candice (not pictured), Dana, Kathy and Brian, we solved most of life's problems, and worked a poor waiter to death. Good friends, good times!