Chanman's Blog


Other Races to Run

Anders Ryerson at the 2010 San Francisco Fight For Air Climb

Are you trying to figure out your next running goal? Today, I throw out some possible options to consider.

The Beer Mile

This is a classic race run all over the world. It’s basically running four laps with drinking a beer before each lap. Although probably most popular on college tracks the day after the season ends, the event is popular enough to have a lengthy set of rules and records.

The Egg Nog Mile

If beer isn’t your thing, some high school runners in the Sacramento area began a traditional egg nog mile in December 2007. The pictures (warning, they are somewhat graphic) and results from Egg Nog II show that the event is fun, competitive, and challenging.

The Donut Mile

If eating is more your thing, some of the guys right here in San Francisco, have an event for you – the Donut Mile. Footage from the 2009 winter running of this event at Kezar Stadium includes World 100K silver medalist and San Francisco native Chikara Omine in action.

Perhaps these guys were in training for the Krispy Kreme Challenge. This race takes place in Raleigh, North Carolina. Participants run two miles, then consume one dozen Krispy Kreme donuts, and then run another two miles.

Backward Running

If you don’t like drinking or eating while running, here’s one that will not tax your gastro-intestinal tract – backward running (a.k.a. retro running, and I’m not talking about wearing 1970’s Dolfin shorts while running). Reverse running events seems to be most popular in Europe. The third Backward Running World Championships were in Austria in 2010. If you look closely at the backward running results and records, the name Thomas Dold of Germany dominates in every distance from 800 meters to 2000 meters.

Stairway Run-Ups

Dold is also known for his dominance at the Empire State Building Run-Up, sponsored by the New York Road Runners. In February of 2011 he won the event for the sixth year in a row, climbing the 86 flights and 1,576 stairs in ten minutes, ten seconds. The men’s record is 9:33. The 2011 women’s winner was Alice McNamara of Australia with a time of 13:03, well off the 11:23 women’s record.

Stairway races are becoming quite popular with the New York Times reporting that there are more than 160 staircase races in five continents and in thirty-four states. Pamakid Runner, Anders Ryerson, competed at the San Francisco Fight For Air Climb at 555 California Street in 2010. Ryerson, who came in fourteenth out of over 1,000 participants in 8:53, was just over a minute behind the winner. “The stairwell is dry and warm, so climbers need to drink plenty of water before hand or stop at the aid stations in various stairwells on the way up. The view from the top of 555 California would take your breath away except that the climbing has already done that,” says Ryerson. “Once at the top you get massages, food, drinks, 360 views of the city, and luckily an elevator ride back down.”

Most of the indoor stairway run-ups take place in high-rise office buildings or hotels. Some of the more  famous stairclimbs are the Hustle Up the Hancock (Chicacgo’s John Hancock Building) and the Taipei 101 (a race up 2,046 steps in the second tallest building in the world). Outdoors there is the Niesen Treppenlauf, in Switzerland, which consists of 11,674 steps adjacent to a funicular with spectacular Alpine views.

Baby Buggy Relay

Perhaps team relays are more your style? Grab fifty of your best buddies, get a baby stroller and start running repeat 200 meters….for 24 hours. If you can average 27-28 seconds per 200 meters maybe you can challenge the Guinness World Record that was set in 1979. There were some pretty studly runners on this team and they covered 343.5 miles in 24 hours, which works out to 14.3 miles per hour or 4:11 per mile.

Mass Relays

Mass relays, often involving 100 runners are a fun way to make it into the Guinness Book of World Records. The women’s 100X1 mile relay, that’s 100 different women, each running one mile, saw a rash of record setting performances in the 1990’s. In 1977 San Francisco Dolphin South End Running Club set the record for the women’s 100X1 mile relay, with a time of 10:47 (6:28 per person). That record stood for seventeen years until 1994 when the Syracuse Chargers broke the long-standing record, running 10:33:38 (6:20 per person). That started a flurry of women’s 100X1 mile relay attempts that saw the record change hands five times before the decade ended.

In 1995, the DSE answered back, asking me to organize a team to regain the record, which we did with a 10:15:29 (6:09 per person). In 1996, the Syracuse Chargers reclaimed the record with a 10:14:16 (6:08 per person) but it was shortlived as one month later the Houston Area Road Runners Association improved the record to 9:49:08 (5:53 per person). In 1997, this time under the team name AC’s Athletics Club, I organized a team to that re-set the world record. This time we ran 9:38:39 (5:47 per person). That record stood for until 1999 when the Canadian Women’s Milers Club ran 9:23:39 (5:38 per person) to set what still stands as the world record.

And if none of this is your cup of tea, then the Across the Bay 12K is less than a month away.


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