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Their Sport is on the Verge of Extinction. These Runners Wont Give it Up. – The New York Times

HAINESPORT, N.J. — The livestreaming was down, the tracker wasn’t up, the star guest was a no-show and eight hours into the 48-hour race, there was no leaderboard. A steely pride burned behind Trishul Cherns’s reddened eyes as he began to write down times on a whiteboard.

“We were a website,” he said, looking out on what he had created. “Now, we are an organization, and this is a championship.”

From a parking lot in Hainesport, N.J., 20 miles east of Philadelphia, the event looked less like a race and more like a traveling carnival. Tents of all shapes and colors were huddled next to each other while odd characters moved around the one-mile loop as if on a conveyor belt.

There was the strongman power walking in a makeshift headdress. There was the tattooed man, covered with devils, whales and horses, beneath a Walt Whitman beard. A nurse, on call, power walked and sang, her multicolored umbrella hat sticking up like a cocktail garnish. Another participant walked, reading a book in one hand and sucking on a freezer pop in the other.

Multiday foot races are the fringe of an already fringe sport, and devotees such as Cherns often feel like the floppy disks of ultrarunning: outdated and rarely seen, but keepers of the origins of the sport.

Six-day races and multiday challenges date as far back as the 18th century, and were reborn in the 1980s as an inclusive medium for self-challenge by leaders like Sri Chinmoy. When Fred Lebow and the New York Road Runners started a six-day race in 1983, it seemed multiday racing might explode into the mainstream. But the event was canceled two years later and has not returned.

A sport in which times were tracked in miles per hour not minutes per mile failed to resonate with the masses. The distances they ran made more sense in relation to truck drivers and migratory birds. So last September, many multiday events were decertified by their own governing body, the International Association of Ultrarunners. It was the final straw for Cherns. He had seen enough and created his own group: the Global Organization of Multiday Ultramarathoners. The key, he thought, was creating the allure of being crowned a “World Champion.”

And so the 48-hour World Championship was born. The race, which started on Sept. 3, drew a meager 47 runners, seven of whom were in their 70s, three who were in their 80s and many who signed up not to claim victory but to move up “the list.”

The brainchild of Nick Marshall, the longevity list is in an encyclopedic Excel sheet and ranks ultrarunners’ careers by the time span from their first 50- or 100-mile race to their most recent. Some runners have 40-year careers and others, like Willi Furst of Switzerland and Werner Hohl of Germany, have more than 53 years of races documented.

With a generous 48-hour cutoff on a flat, paved course, the new championship attracted many who thought it gave them a chance to get another race on their records.

At 82, Ed Rousseau flew in from Minnesota and set up camp on a wooden bench. He …….

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/17/sports/multiday-ultramarathons.html

HAINESPORT, N.J. — The livestreaming was down, the tracker wasn’t up, the star guest was a no-show and eight hours into the 48-hour race, there was no leaderboard. A steely pride burned behind Trishul Cherns’s reddened eyes as he began to write down times on a whiteboard.

“We were a website,” he said, looking out on what he had created. “Now, we are an organization, and this is a championship.”

From a parking lot in Hainesport, N.J., 20 miles east of Philadelphia, the event looked less like a race and more like a traveling carnival. Tents of all shapes and colors were huddled next…….

HAINESPORT, N.J. — The livestreaming was down, the tracker wasn’t up, the star guest was a no-show and eight hours into the 48-hour race, there was no leaderboard. A steely pride burned behind Trishul Cherns’s reddened eyes as he began to write down times on a whiteboard.

“We were a website,” he said, looking out on what he had created. “Now, we are an organization, and this is a championship.”

From a parking lot in Hainesport, N.J., 20 miles east of Philadelphia, the event looked less like a race and more like a traveling carnival. Tents of all shapes and colors were huddled next…….

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