Dana Pasquale, Darryl Banks, BD Sechler and Linda Banks laugh off pre-race jitters
Runners take on endurance race
100 miles, 24 hours, a thousand blisters — the Umstead Endurance Race
(Written for The News & Observer/North Raleigh News by Teri Saylor)
In a span of just under 23 hours, BD Sechler devoured 16 hotdogs, consumed 14 liters of water, lost at least one toenail, and ran 100 miles in Umstead Park.
Sechler, 46, of Cary, and Darryl Banks, 42, of Wake Forest, are known for their adventurous athletic pursuits, but the day they signed up to run the Umstead 100 Endurance Race, friends and family started whispering the word “crazy” in association with their names. The Umstead 100 consists of one 12.5-mile loop through Umstead Park, which runners attempt to circle eight times in a single 24-hour period, beginning at 6 a.m. April 4.
Why would two regular guys think they could run 100 miles?
“Stupidity,” Sechler said, laughing. “No, really it’s a challenge. We’ve never done it before.”
Banks wanted to see how far he could push his limits.
Neither has a history of distance running.
They met in 2004 when they joined the Galloway Marathon Training Program with their wives as a challenge and to get in shape. Marathons span 26.2 miles.
“I played football and soccer, and we used to make fun of people who ran,” Sechler said. “I always thought ‘if you’re not chasing a ball, why run?’”
Banks, who lived in California in the early ‘90s, had run a half-marathon before, but mostly ran short-distance races.
“I used to wonder why anyone would want to run a marathon,” Banks admitted.
The two friends pushed each other and soon a simple marathon wasn’t challenging enough.
They ran the intimidating Pike’s Peak Marathon. Then the Frosty 50, a 50K, or 31-mile run, and the 40-mile Uwharrie Mountain Run.
For their first 100-miler, they chose the 15-year old Umstead race because it’s local and has the reputation of being a great beginners Ultra-Marathon.
“This race is best known for beginners,” said Race Director Blake Norwood. “We always have a high number of first-timers.”
In training sessions, neither Sechler nor Banks ran farther than 50 miles. They simulated perceived race conditions by running the Umstead trails at night.
Leading up to the race, they were too nervous to sleep, and Banks didn’t sleep at all the night before the race.
“I didn’t sleep well for two weeks,” Banks said. “The bats in my stomach seem to be more active at night and kept me up.”
Race Day April 4
5:30 a.m. Sechler and Banks nervously go through their gear bags, sorting extra shoes, socks, clothes, rain gear, head lamps, first aid supplies, body glide, nutritional gels and snacks. After months of training, they are ready. The temperature outside is 48 degrees.
6:00 a.m. They’re off!
11:00 a.m. 25 miles They’re still together five hours and two loops into the race with 75 miles to go. They are right on time and strong. After changing footwear and grabbing snacks, they start their third loop.
6:30 p.m. 57 miles Sechler shows up at an aid station midway through his fifth loop. He has never run this far before and is excited. Banks arrives at the aid station 10 minutes later.
“I feel good, and yes, I think I can go the distance,” Banks said.
4:30 a.m. 87.5 miles Sechler is on the home stretch. He’s more than an hour ahead of schedule.
Banks is lagging, but still in the race. He arrives at the base camp, suffering from gnarly blisters, which require first aid.
“My muscles and joints feel tight and sore, but otherwise, I’m fine,” Banks says.
Banks’ wife, Linda, also a runner, joins him on his last loop, which they predict will take four hours to complete.
4:47 a.m. 100 miles Sechler crosses the finish line more than an hour ahead of schedule, finishing 100 miles in 22:47.
“My feet hurt and my legs feel wobbly, like a new born colt,” he said. “But I feel great.”
Sechler spends the next four hours napping on and off in front of a blazing fireplace to keep his body temperature up.
Banks crosses the finish line just after 8:15 a.m. 26 hours, 15 minutes after he started.
“You spend months training and planning and thinking about it, and now it’s over,” Sechler said.
Except it’s not really over.
Sechler and Banks plan to run a half marathon at the end of this month, and will gear up to run the Hatfield & McCoy Full Marathon in South Williamson, KY June 13.
And while they’re not ready to talk about it yet, more endurance races are likely in their future too.
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