Today, Thursday, May 10, marks the start of elite ultra runner Diane Van Deren’s effort to run across North Carolina, a roughly 1,000-mile journey that will take her along the work-in-progress Mountains-to-Sea Trail from Clingman’s Dome on the Tennessee border to Jockey’s Ridge at the lip of the Atlantic. Her objective: to finish in 21 days, beating the current speed record of 24 days, 3 hours and 50 minutes set last year by Matt Kirk.
The entry in my workout log yesterday read, “Run for Diane, 7.4 miles @ Umstead, hot — and slow.”
Frankly, it was 7.4 miles I likely wouldn’t have run — in upper 80-degree heat — were it not for Diane Van Deren.
Diane Van Deren, ultra runner, elite The North Face athlete, and former women’s tennis pro will spend most of this month running across North Carolina. On Thursday, she’ll set off from atop Clingman’s Dome in hopes of running nearly 1,000 miles along the Mountains-to-Sea Trail in just 21 days in the MST Endurance Run. The current record — yes, it’s been done before — is 24 days (24 days, 3 hours and 50 minutes, to be exact, set last year by Matt Kirk.
I’m big on goals, big on cross-training as well. Occasionally, these dual objectives create conflict.
For instance, come autumn, the goal-oriented runner in me gets excited about the Second Empire Fall Grand Prix Series. The series consists of eight races, starting with this Sunday’s Magnificent Mile in downtown Raleigh and including five 5Ks, an 8K, and a 10-miler. I like the series in part because of the race variety, in part because the speed-challenged such as myself have a chance to shine in the series. I won’t place in my age group — stunning how many fast 55- to 59-year-olds there are on the circuit — in any one race, but if I run in every race I could place in the top 10, perhaps even top 5 in the series standings. Great incentive to train for the non-elite.
Sometimes all you need is a little extra incentive to get you out the door and into the wild.
Those are some of the incentives we’re offering as part of the Backpacking North Carolina Challenge 2011, which kicks off this evening at 7:30 at the Great Outdoor Provision Co. store in Raleigh’s Cameron Village.