SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

June 14, 2014

On The Run: When seeking running challenges, mileage may vary

On the Run
Jay Kumar

---- — Everyone loves a challenge—especially runners.

Of course, depending on the runner, the definition of ‘challenge’ varies.

Running challenges come in all shapes and sizes. For some, just getting out for a run once or twice a week is a big accomplishment. Others are training for their first 5K, 10K, half marathon or marathon.

The traditional road race is proving to be old hat for many, so an increasing number of runners are entering obstacle races, trail races and all the different varieties of events available to us.

And then for others, the challenge is something else entirely. It’s not about fun necessarily, but rather a need to test the limits of endurance and ability.

Take a guy like Junyong Pak of Beverly, for example. He went from being a sub-3-hour marathoner to becoming one of the pre-eminent adventure racers in the world. Pak won the World’s Toughest Mudder competition—a 24-hour obstacle race in New Jersey in which runners try to do as many laps as they can on an eight-mile course—in 2011 and 2012 and finished second last year. He’s been profiled in Runner’s World and has been known to train while dragging a tire behind him.

Where runners like you or I may find the Boston Marathon hills difficult to traverse, they’re nothing to the likes of Pak and others. On June 7, the Trail Animals Running Club held its TARC 100 (which consists of 100- and 50-mile races) in Weston on a day where temperatures reached the mid-80s. Given that heat and the degree of difficulty on a very technical trail course, most of the runners ended up dropping out of the race at some point. A friend of mine who ran made it to mile 77 before calling it a day. The same day, I ran 10 miles on mostly flat roads and felt pretty good about it, but that was all I was prepared to do.

The impressive thing about ultrarunners is their ability to push beyond pain and still perform at a high level. We’ve all got that in us to varying degrees, but it’s how far and how willing you are to go that makes the difference.

For a new runner, that last tenth of a mile in a 5K may feel like an insurmountable challenge, but he or she will push through, finish and feel great. An ultrarunner will do the same thing, but it’s obviously on a much different playing field.

Whatever your ability, there are challenges to be had. Not everyone can do what Junyong Pak or any of these many other amazing runners can do — and not everyone should. It’s not for everyone. I have no desire to do what ultrarunners do, but I certainly enjoy reading about their exploits.

A big part of running is realizing your limitations and figuring out how far you can go beyond them. I’ve stopped running marathons because of injury, but I’m still running regularly and (mostly) enjoying it.

My next big challenge will be the Around Cape Ann 25K in Gloucester on Labor Day, an extremely hilly race I did a decade ago and swore I would never do again. A few weeks after that, I’ll run in the Reach the Beach Relay in New Hampshire, a 24-hour, 200-mile event, and the day afterward, the Lone Gull 10K.

That’s about as crazy as my running gets. It’s not much for an ultrarunner, but it works for me.

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Starts and stops:

Celebrate Father’s Day with the annual Rockport Father’s Day Road Race, an event featuring a 5K and 10K taking place this Sunday at 9 a.m. at Rockport High School. Part of the North Shore YMCA Road Race Series, all of the race proceeds go to the Cape Ann YMCA. Visit www.northshoreymca.org/programs/healthy-living/road-races/ for more information.

Next Wednesday, the 21st annual Louise Rossetti Women’s 5K is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Lynch Park, Ober Street, Beverly. Visit www.louiserossettiwomens5k.com/ for more information on this event.

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On the Run is a biweekly column about the North Shore running scene. Send any questions, comments, or news to jay.kumar@gmail.com.

UPCOMING RACES

Monday

Lynn Parks and Recreation Summer Youth Track, Manning Field, 76 Locust St., Lynn, 6:15 p.m. Free meets for high school and under, middle school and under, and age 3 and under. Contact Joe Abelon at 781-593-6562 or jsa777@verizon.net.

Wednesday

Danvers 5K Fun Run, Sweet William’s Garden Center, 141 Pine St., Danvers, 7 p.m. Free, timed run. All welcome. These events are part of a weekly 52-race series. E-mail adam@danvers5k.com.

Lynn Woods Summer Cross-Country/Trail Running, Lynn Woods Reservation, 6 p.m. Races of varying distances held on Wednesdays during June, July, August and September; only the relay on Aug. 20 has an entry fee. Visit www.lwrun.org for more information.

Thursday

No Rest for the Wicked Weekly 5K-ish, Salem Common, Salem, 6:45 p.m. Free 3.2-mile run. Contact info@wickedrunningclub.com.

Sunday, June 22

New England Running Company 10-Mile Road Race, Cove Community Center, 19 East Corning St., Beverly, 7:30 a.m. The race is part of the New England Running Company 2014 Road Race Series. Visit www.nerunningco.com/racing-series/ for more information.

Monday, June 23

10K Wiener Run, Pleasant Avenue, South Hamilton, 6:30 p.m. A 10K race loop through Bradley Palmer State Park from Asbury Grove. Contact Roger Perham at 978-468-7934 or perham@comcast.net.

Wednesday, June 25

Danvers 5K Fun Run, Sweet William’s Garden Center, 141 Pine St., Danvers, 7 p.m. Free, timed run. All welcome. These events are part of a weekly 52-race series. E-mail adam@danvers5k.com.

Lynn Woods Summer Cross-Country/Trail Running, Lynn Woods Reservation, 6 p.m. Races of varying distances held on Wednesdays during June, July, August and September; only the relay on Aug. 20 has an entry fee. Visit www.lwrun.org for more information.

Thursday, June 26

No Rest for the Wicked Weekly 5K-ish, Salem Common, Salem, 6:45 p.m. Free 3.2-mile run. Contact info@wickedrunningclub.com.

St. Peter’s Fiesta Road Race 5K, Chamber of Commerce Building, Commercial Street, Gloucester, 6:30 p.m. Part of the North Shore YMCA Road Race Series. Visit www.northshoreymca.org/programs/healthy-living/road-races/ for more information.

Visit www.northshoreroadraceguide.com/race-calendar for more race listings.