Many of you iRunFar readers have, over the course of your relationship with our sport, run far enough, fast enough, or exerted yourself in a combination of these two manners enough to become mightily exhausted. This is why I love that the name “iRunFar” has an “I” in it. Because most of the running we do is self-inflicted, er, self-defined. Genes, central governors, biomechanical nuances, and a degree of stubbornness found in few other demographics: we are the instigators of our own achievements as well the fatigue/pain/soreness/<insert other uncomfortable byproduct> of said endeavors.
There is infinite beauty in this fact, but I’m not even two paragraphs in and I’ve already digressed. What I mean to say is that, though you may have been tired from running your version of far and/or fast, I know a couple folks who are more tired than you. Go ahead, tell me about your 100-mile race, the one that took two days to complete because the conditions were beyond-category. Or the race you did in the Arctic. You can even tell me about your 400-kilometer journey across the Australian Outback. I’ll listen to each of your stories — they are wicked brilliant and inspiring — and then I’ll introduce you to two people who are still more fatigued than you.
Meet Liz Bauer and Scott Brockmeier. In 2012, Liz ran 36 100-mile races and Scott ran 27 of them. In doing so, Liz set a new world record for the number of 100-mile races run in a calendar year (The previous record was 25, set in 2010 by Monica Scholz.).
This is the part of the story where I repeat what they did — more 100-milers in one year than the majority of us ultrarunners will do in our lifetimes. It’s okay, I’m having a hard time wrapping my noggin around this fact, too. That’s a lot of running to comprehend, let alone do.
Liz is 53, Scott’s 50, and the couple, who met at the Hardrock 100 in 2006, lives together in northern Georgia, about 50 miles south of Chattanooga, Tennessee. Liz, Scott, and I got on the horn together in early January so that I could hear about what went down during, with apologies to the birders out there, their very big year.
The couple’s plan was birthed in the summer of 2011. Scott remembers, “We’d both been running hundreds for a while, and I’d been watching some of our peers do more [than just one race at a time], people stringing seven trail hundreds together in seven weeks and Monica Scholz’s record year. I became curious about how many hundreds I could do in a year, how we would stack up.”
He continues, “I asked Liz what she thought about us trying to break Monica’s record.” Scott says Liz thought about his question for less than a second before jumping all in. And soon the couple settled on a goal of running 30 100-milers in 52 weeks. “We also agreed not to compete with each other,” explains Scott. “The year would be hard enough on its own. We’d run together.”
“You can’t imagine the logistics,” says Liz with a heaving sigh, as if the memory of it all is tiresome, too. She’s right, I can’t. Plane rides, hotels rooms, rental cars, bus rides, restaurant meals, race-entry fees, shoes, and bacon (Both Liz and Scott love eating bacon on the run.). The couple didn’t track their expenses, but say they unloaded between four and five thousand dollars each on race-entry fees and guestimate they each spent roughly $600 per race on other expenses.
I do the fast math — that’s over twenty-five grand for Liz alone — as she continues, “To make it happen, Scott and I hunkered down and worked unbelievable hours in the fall of 2011. 60 hours a week, 80 hours a week. We lived frugally and saved as much money as possible.” They are both critical-care nurses at the same hospital, so they added on shifts whenever they could get them. “In the end, the logistics came together,” says Scott, “but not without the help of credit cards and savings accounts.”
I’m feeling sympathy fatigue and we haven’t yet talked about the running part of their project. But I still want to know, what does that feel like?
We’re so tired,” says Liz. “We’re a little broken, too. It’s going to take a while to put ourselves back together. But mostly, we’re just tired.” Scott suffered early, an Achilles tendinitis flare-up in April that he healed by taking four weeks off running. He missed a few races on the couple’s schedule, but both he and Liz thought he’d play catch-up on their goal with replacement races later on. “It was a brief setback, but it allowed me to get my body back on track.”
Then Scott says that, during late spring and the first half of summer, he felt a couple months of overall “run-down-ness” and fatigue. “I had to DNF Hardrock, which was the year’s most emotionally challenging situation. But I was so tired by mile 60.” In July and August, Scott revised his 30 in 52 goal. “I was no longer motivated to push that hard for the rest of the year. I was still motivated by trying to beat Monica’s record.” And so Scott aimed for beyond her mark, racking up 27 100-milers by year-end.
“I’m not surprised that Liz pulled off our goal and more,” explains her partner and probably biggest cheerleader. “DNF-ing is not in her vocabulary.” Over the course of the year, Liz developed neuromas between her toes and tendinitis atop her left foot. “I remember when the tendinitis happened, at the Lean Horse Hundred. I was pushing hard, trying to break 24 hours. There was this extended downhill and I could feel it become inflamed…” Scott finishes for her, “Liz’s tendinitis was probably way worse than what laid me up for a month. Her tolerance for pain is so high.”
Liz’s 30 in 52 project evolved, too. “When Scott decided to finish off the year a little more conservatively, he told me to go for it, to see what I could do. So I did. I ran my 30th 100-mile race at the Javelina Jundred on October 27 and just kept going.” Liz blew the old record out of the water, finishing her 36th 100-miler on December 29 at the Houston Hundred.
There is more to Scott and Liz’s story than a stout record, the injuries that are probably necessary evils to this sort of running, and a year of traveling expenses. They each have a sexy collection of belt buckles — I promise that you want what they’ve earned — and a slew of good — and sometimes goofy — memories.
Their most rewarding races? Scott says, “For me, maybe Lean Horse where I felt smooth and strong for all 100 miles. That rarely happens.” And Liz has to go with the HURT 100. “I dawdled in the night, thinking I had plenty of time to make the cutoff. In the end, I had to push hard, and I was proud of how fast I could run when I needed to.” Liz made the cutoff by a too-close-for-comfort nine minutes.
The most challenging? Liz’s answer comes immediately, “The Zion 100. I hit the mile 53 aid station at dark on the first day, then the mile 63 aid station at 9:30 am the next morning. All night I was lost.” Scott continues, “She finished and then barfed. This is the only time I’ve seen her vomit.” Scott’s hardest race was his DNF at Hardrock. “It’s my favorite race. I never want to DNF there again.”
Their biggest logistical snafu? The couple laughs and answers in tandem, “The Keys 100.” Scott and Liz drove to the starting line of this point-to-point race thinking they could hitch a ride back from the finish line afterward. But everyone else had hotel rooms booked at the finish and they were relegated to taking public transport back to their rental car. Remembers Scott, “There we were, sitting on a bus. No sleep, carrying our drop bags. It was hot and we’d run 100 miles, so we must have been really smelly. It took us all day Sunday [after Saturday’s race] to get back to the starting line. Then we still had to make our flight home on Sunday night.” Needless to say — because Scott and Liz can do pretty much everything, I think — the couple got home by the skin of their teeth (and still un-showered).
Liz has another good logistics story. “I was the last person to get off the Hardrock 100 waitlist and into the race, the morning the race started.” This is yet something else I can’t imagine, Liz not knowing if she would run one of the world’s hardest 100-mile races until 15 minutes before it. She ran and, of course, finished. And then she tackled the Vermont 100 less than a week later.
Both Liz and Scott say that, at this moment, they’ve got recovery on the brain. “I’ve been getting back into yoga now that we’re done. Some of the poses are so painful in my joints and tendons,” explains Liz. “I have a lot of recovery to do.”
The couple is also making 2013 race plans. Liz wants to tackle her first 72-hour race and Scott will be on the starting lines of both The Barkley Marathons and the Hardrock 100. He adds, as a seeming afterthought and in a way only a man who ran 27 100-milers last year could, “The Coury brothers are starting a six-day race at Across The Years. I wonder, how would I do at that?”
Scott and Liz, if 2012 is any indication, the two of you can do anything.
Liz Bauer’s 36 100 Mile Runs in 2012
|2||1/21||Long Haul 100||FL||24:00|
|3||2/4||Rocky Raccoon 100||TX||28:56:20|
|4||2/18||Iron Horse 100||FL||22:55:00|
|6||3/3||Double Top 100||GA||33:11|
|10||4/14||Wild Sebastian 100||FL||25:02:10|
|11||4/21||Labor of Love 100||NV||22:54:09|
|12||4/27||Salt Flats 100||UT||24:44:01|
|14||5/19||Keys Ultras 100||FL||27:31:08|
|15||5/26||Nanny Goat 100||CA||21:01:29|
|16||6/2||Old Dominion 100||VA||27:23:23|
|18||6/23||Great New York Running Exposition 100||NY||24:44:12|
|21||7/28||Burning River 100||OH||27:42:35|
|22||8/18||Leadville Trail 100||CO||29:31:14|
|23||8/25||Lean Horse 100||SD||24:06:16|
|25||9/15||Mark Twain 100||MO||30:59:10|
|26||9/22||The Georgia Jewel 100||GA||32:49:25|
|27||10/6||Arkansas Traveler 100||AR||26:23:09|
|29||10/19||Pony Express Trail Run 100||UT||24:23:46|
|31||11/3||Coyote Springs Trail Runs 100||NV||28:16:15|
|32||11/10||Wild Sebastian 100||FL||26:29:54|
|33||11/24||Shazam 24 hour||GA||23:02|
|34||12/1||Ancient Oaks 100||FL||27:03:04|