Cool Article about some Ultra runners in my neck of the woods

Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Joe Maxse
Plain Dealer Reporter

Gearing up to run 26.2 miles is usually not a spur-of-the-moment decision. But for Medina's Connie Gardner, it's a no-brainer.

When running more than the classic marathon distance is the norm rather than the exception, you could look at Sunday's CVS Marathon as just another stroll in the park. Which it is -- to Gardner.

As one of the nation's elite ultra runners, she is used to pounding out races of 100 kilometers or 100 miles, whichever is available first.

"The only reason I do it is because I'm good at it," said Gardner, who helps coach track and cross country at Walsh Jesuit High School. "If I was good at 5K, I'd run 5K." Gardner, 42, finished sixth last year at the CVS. She should have an easier time of it this time around. A year ago, she ran with a stress fracture in her right femur.

She finished second overall at the Toronto 100K on May 6 as she went the 62-mile distance in 8 hours and 17 minutes.

That time qualified her for the USA's six-runner contingent to the World Cup 100K this fall in Seoul, South Korea. She was named the nation's ultra runner of the year in 2003.

Not bad for someone who was more dedicated to rowing while at the University of Massachusetts.

"I would run to the boat house is about it," said Gardner, a single mother with two daughters (Abby, 14; Gwen, 11). "I just did it to stay in shape in the off-season."

She does that by working at the Medina Community Center, where she teaches swimming. While Gardner remembers her first marathon in Columbus in 1981, she can't put a number on her total.

The ultra-distance bug got her five years ago.

"I don't think I'm that much of a freak," said Gardner, who is 5-6 and 135 pounds. "I'm competitive because of my personality. As long as I eat and drink, take in the calories, my body uses them throughout the race. I stay steady."

Mark Godale, 35, of Aurora was the 1999 ultra runner of the year and has run with Gardner over the years.

He said going long is about brawn and brains.

"She doesn't look like a Kenyan," said Godale, who works a desk job in Cleveland. "We're muscular, not skinny. She is mentally and physically strong. Most people say they don't drive as far as we run.

"What's crazier? Running for eight to 10 hours or sitting in front of a computer for eight hours a day? Which is what I do?"

So, what is the real reason Gardner and Godale are running in the CVS?

They are planning to run 50-plus miles "rim-to-rim" in the Grand Canyon next weekend."

Actually they are running rim-to-rim-to-rim. Crazy stuff. A bunch of our club goes and runs the Grand Canyon every spring starting at the South Rim I think, running across to the north rim and then back to the south. All in a days work I guess :)

Don't think I will be doing that anytime soon...Maybe when I turn 30? (I should clarify, I do plan on running 50 miles this year in November but I am a firm believer that the Grand Canyon run is a whole different ball game with the heat and elevation changes)

Cleveland Marathon is this weekend hence the article. It should be fun. I will be out on the sidelines again cheering like a maniac in my pink Wild Bill Tee and backpack and taking pictures. Should be a blast!


Robb said...

You've got a 50 K on your schedule don't you E? You know, the more I read about these ultra girls/guys, the more I want to try it. The stuff dreams are made of! Looking forward to reading all about the Cleveland M. Have fun!

Cliff said...

I seriously think ppl running 100k or 100 mile is crazy. That ain't my thing :0. But man.that's a lot of running ;D

Cliff said...

oh have fun at the marathon this weekend :)

Cory said...

Do you always wear pink to your runs? You ought to secure running flamingo dot com or something.

rice said...

Thats some real distance.. Would love to try it but can't see myself making a liveing at it..



DaisyDuc said...

You rock...not only are you one helluva runner, you have got to be one of the best running cheerleaders ever! Have an awesome time!

angie's pink fuzzy said...


have fun this weekend!

TriSaraTops said...

Hey! I'll be the fool wearing the shirt that says "PACE TEAM LEADER" in the first half with balloons that say "4:45"!!! See ya then! :)

The Clyde said...

I can BIKE 50 miles....yeah not so impressive now, is it?

Ginger Breadman said...

wow - cool article - crazy people, although I aspire to be just like them someday. Have fun at the race this weekend!