i am new to ultra running. in fact, this is only my 2nd ultra. but it has always been in my mind to run more than a marathon distance. and it has also been in my dreams to celebrate the new year outside the traditional way. when i saw this event from a calendar website, i got interested. the only question i had was location – florida. coming from nj, this would be an expensive trip. after n days of thought, i decided to follow my heart and signed up, not even thinking about the logistics on how and when to get there. roadtrip was later decided as the most affordable option.
fast forward to dec 31, on the ferry to peanut island, i was totally excited. the race was already in progress when we arrived at the island. runners doing the 12hr/24hr were already on their 2nd hour of the race. it was a small event event compared to the high-visible marathons, with a cap of 100 runners total. from the event website, i think the total number of runners was 69 this year. the race was very well organized and supported, with volunteers coming from the organizer’s friends and families, plus the friends and families of the participants. there’s a kid with bull horn cheering and asking the runners what they need; another kid preparing burgers and hotdogs; others on the course cheering.
being a newbie, i registered for the 6hr race, from 6pm-12am. there was another 6hr heat from 10am-4pm, the 24hr is from 10am – 10am (01/01); 12 hr from either 12pm-12am, or 10pm-10am (01/01) .
plenty of time before my scheduled time, i pitched my tent, hang out at the event headquarters (which also serves as the food prep section). the environment was really, really warm. you’d actually have that feeling that this was more than just a race. it was a social event, giving you the opportunity to do what came there for, and at the same time meet people, from Bob (the organizer), his wife, down to every volunteer he has.
fast forward again to the actual run, at 6pm… our batch had the fresh legs so we were passing some of the runners doing the 12/24hr event (imagine they have been on the course for 6/8 hrs). the course was the perimeter of the island, measuring 1.25mi lap, with beautiful views in every corner. the first few laps were like regular long runs. after about 2hrs, i started to feel the toll of the unforgiving concrete. pace became erratic. after 3hrs, more walk breaks were needed, and after 4hrs, it literally became walk/run. after 5hrs, i was counting the laps i could do in the remaining minutes, keeping a mantra in head – 1 lap at a time. when i passed the timing mat for the last lap i set to do, there was about 5min left before midnight. either i stop there, or continue until the time is over. i decided to continue, basically just walking until the sound of the horn. then i stopped, stood still, expressed gratitude, and enjoyed the peace of celebrating the new year.
after resting, i headed back to the headquarters (shorter compared to going around another lap which seemed impossible to do at that time). i tried to get some sleep but i guess the adrenalin was still flowing. i took a shower (another plus – hot shower available in the island), forced myself to eat, and finally was able to grab a couple of hour of sleep. when i woke up, the runners were still at it. man, i still couldn’t imagine how they manage to do that. another thing to put in the bucket list…
overall, the event was one of the most satisfying events i have ever done. the event was top-notch from beginning to end, with a touch of southeastern warmth and hospitality. and it fulfilled one of my nagging dreams to do something different to celebrate the new year. it’s not just different, it’s special…
what did you do when the clock hit midnight to end the old year and greet the new one?
– i stopped, literally. and was happy to celebrate the new year just standing still.
hope to do it again in the coming year/s.
ps. because of that decision to walk after my last lap, i got this