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home > community > viewpoint > a conversation with 100 km usa team members jim garcia and kevin mcgovern

A Conversation With 100 Km USA Team Members Jim Garcia and Kevin McGovern
Ultrarunners are a rare breed, very fast ultrarunners, even a rarer species. Two of the fastest ultramen in the country live right here in New England, Jim Garcia from Westford, MA and Kevin McGovern from West Boylston, MA. Both of these guys are capable of running 50 miles at 6:30 per mile pace, and 100 km at seven minute pace. That's equivalent to running a marathon in less than three hours and maintaining the pace for another 36 miles.

  
A Conversation With 100 Km USA Team Members Jim Garcia and Kevin McGovern

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By Don Allison
Posted Friday, 5 September, 1997

Ultrarunners are a rare breed, very fast ultrarunners, even a rarer species. Two of the fastest ultramen in the country live right here in New England, Jim Garcia from Westford, MA and Kevin McGovern from West Boylston, MA. Both of these guys are capable of running 50 miles at 6:30 per mile pace, and 100 km at seven minute pace. That's equivalent to running a marathon in less than three hours and maintaining the pace for another 36 miles.

Both Jim and Kevin will be running in the World Challenge 100 Km Championships in Winschonten, The Netherlands on Saturday, September 13. We caught up with Kevin and Jim recently (while they were not running!) to get the inside story on training for and running in such a long and prestigious road race.

A Conversation With Jim Garcia

CR: How did you get into ultrarunning?

JG: I knew a good ultrarunner back in 1983 when I lived in Connecticut. He was always talking about the Comrades and London to Brighton races. In 1984 I ran a fantastic marathon (2:29 at Marine Corps) and figured I would never do that again, so I decided to try a 50 miler

CR: When was your first ultra?

JG: The Valley Stream 50 miler in New York, December 1984. I ran a 6:10. My second ultra was 8 years later at the 1992 Nifty Fifty, in which I ran a 6:00 in rainy conditions, throwing up a lot.

CR: How has your training gone for the World 100 Km?

JG: Pretty poorly. I had injury problems due to fiascoes at the Old Dominion and Western States 100 milers in May and June. July was spent trying to fix up knee, ankle and back problems. I ramped up well in August and have had a strong last two weeks. Still it is too little and too late. My back is the biggest concern at this stage. My decisive win at the Cape Ann 25 km bodes well.

CR: What was your longest training run?

JG: 37 miles. two weeks ago. I felt great.

CR: What are your goals for the race?

JG: 7:10 Looking back on my fitness and speed from two years (when I ran 6:57) ago I figure I am 10 sec/mile slower now. That figures out to 10 minutes over the distance.

CR: Do you have a race strategy?

JG: Run 40 min per 10 km through 40 km, slowing to 45 min per 10 km at the end. The 50 km (31 mile) splits in my best ever race were 3:22 and 3:35. I have a tendency to go out too fast. Typically around 30 miles my pace drops suddenly from mid 6's to low 7's. I'm not sure if it is because I insist on holding 6:30 pace until I crack or if there is a mental letdown at halfway.

CR: What do you eat and drink during this race?

JG: Metabolol, some formulation (carbo, branched chain amino acid, fat) some one gave me, GU. A spoonful of beans occasionally. I actually am eating less solid food than I did years ago. I'm not running any faster, but I throw up a lot less. The barfing I did before was due to too little salt and too much citric acids.

CR: Do you consider a flat, loop course advantageous?

JG: Well, you can't beat it for speed. The flatness does wear on your legs because there are no hills on which to change your stride or coast down.

CR: What is it like running in such a competitive ultra?

JG: It is more like a marathon road race. There are hundreds of runners, dozens who are ahead of me at the start. I can run in a pack of several people. It's not a like a typical small ultra where I am by myself after a quarter of a mile. The 10 km loop allows you lap slower runners. There is also a 10 x 10 km relay.

CR: How much more difficult is a 100 km than a 50 mile road race? What are the critical miles in a 100 Km?

JG: About 12 miles more difficult. Really it feels like a lot more since those extra miles are all on pavement. The critical miles in both the races are 30-35 miles. I first thought that the 35 mile wall I experienced in my first four 50 milers would magically be delayed 12 miles. Nope, it was just as bad. I just had longer to run feeling like crap. It is daunting task to feel bad and still have 25 miles to go, especially if there is a team championship on the line.

CR: How competitive is ultrarunning at the top level in the USA?

JG: When the smoke clears, it is the same old guys in front, race after race. There are not too many low or sub 2:20 guys entering ultras, maybe since there isn't any money to be had for moving up in distance. There is a steep learning curve when it comes to ultras and not many people fast young guys are able to jump right in and be competitive. We have several guys who have done well for their 2:25 to 2:30 marathon PR's, but we really need some sub 2:18 guys. Heck, we don't barely even have any 2:18 Americans any more.

CR: Is there good camaraderie between the members of the American team?

JG: Superficially, at least. Anyone of them would give out advice if asked. Since I have been the lone New Englander (and I'm not even a real one) I have been a relative loner. There is an unstated rule that everyone must finish, which I don't really agree with.

The northern Californians, with their Western States race and Buffalo Chip Running Club, have historically had the best runners. They are big time trail runners. The state is so big that the Northern and Southern Californians are in two different camps. There is a small Wisconsin/Minnesota group, more road oriented, that has some fast runners and most of the USA Team organization. The south-easternern and mid-Atlantic types, love the rocky trails and hang together. They are very laid back. Anything around NYC is old time road and track ultras, not trail runners. New England ultra-runners love trails and tend to run the non-ultra trail circuit too.

CR: With the news that the 100 km will be a part of the Commonwealth Games in 2002, do you feel a 100 km should be an Olympic event?

JG: I didn't know that. Well, I'll be 44 years old by then and it won't matter any more. I feel the 100 km should be an Olympic event, and could be parlayed into a real interesting one at that. You would have to go head to head with the marathoners, since there has been a lot of money invested in making the marathon the premier road distance. Hopefully, but very unlikely, they would keep the "freak" angle to a minimum. .

A Conversation With Kevin McGovern

Kevin McGovern has been running for the better part of two decades. an accomplished marathoner, he has broken 2:30 several times, with a best of 2:27. The 39 year old West Boylston resident runs for the Central Mass Striders. He is also among the top ulttrarunners in the country. In 1996 his winning time of 5:27:19 at the Nifty Fifty was the fastest 50 mile time in the USA for 1996.

CR: How did you get into ultrarunning?

KM:I always thought I would be good at it. I could always maintain a steady pace for a long time. I thought ultras were something you did when you got old. Now I wish I had gotten into it at a younger age. I think that everyone who runs should try one. They can be a lot of fun.

CR: When was your first ultra?

KM: The Nifty Fifty (in Rhode Island) in 1994. I ran 5:45 for 50 miles and finished second (to Jim Garcia). I started out too fast and ended up crashing and burning at the end.

CR: How has your training gone for the World 100 Km?

KM: It's been O.K., but not as good as it could have been. I've had a few injuries that have kept me from doing the kind of training I really wanted to do. I'm not 100 percent, but I feel ready for the race.

CR: What was your longest training run?

KM: I've gone 34 miles, along with a couple of other 30 milers, usually at a seven minute pace.

CR: What are your goals for the race?

KM: I'm going to be patent. I'd like to think I can run 7:15, (7 minute per mile pace) maybe a little faster if things go right.

CR: Do you have a race strategy?

KM: I'm going to start very easy, not an aggressive pace at all. I'm going to have to be very patient, I know that. I'm hoping got get to 40 miles before anything really happens. Not just 30, but 40. I've got to be feeling good at 40 miles. If I do that, it may work to my advantage, because I'll be passing people at the end.

CR: What do you eat and drink during this race?

KM: I stick with Metabalol and CytoMax, sports drinks. I also take GU and eat beans, which have protein and amino acids.

CR: Do you consider a flat, loop course advantageous?

KM: Definitely. I've been training on flat roads, and with my injuries, it's the best kind of course.

CR: What will it be like running in such a competitive ultra?

KM:It will be tough mentally, but I'll just have to get into the right mind-set. It will kind of like the Boston Marathon in that respect.

CR: How much more difficult is a 100 km than a 50 mile road race? What are the critical miles in a 100 Km?

KM:It's a lot tougher than 50 miles. I don't really know how to run a 100 km yet, although I do feel I know how to run a 50 mile. I can get to 50 km pretty easily, but in a 100 km, it is miles 40 to 50 that are really tough. After I get through 50, I feel like I'll finish.

CR: How competitive is ultrarunning at the top level in the USA?

KM: Not all that competitive. Take a guy like me. I can run a 2:25 marathon on my best day. Not now, but when I was at my best. In Russia, they have 2:12 and 2:14 marathoners doing ultras. Until we get those kind of guys running ultras, we will not be that competitive on a world stage. Although there aren't even that many 2:12 to 2:14 marathoners in the entire USA anymore!

CR: Is there good camaraderie between the members of the American team?

KM: Oh yea. It's great. I went to the World 100 Km last year as an alternate, although I was injured. I made a lot of good friends and had a great time. It's something you really want to be a part of.

CR: With the news that the 100 km will be a part of the Commonwealth Games in 2002, do you feel a 100 km should be an Olympic event?

KM: I'd love to see it, but I doubt it will ever happen. It's more important to have beach volleyball and mountain biking I guess. I would like to see it be apart of the World Track and Field Championships however. Even if it is not an official part of the championships, they could run it at the same time, in the same city.

CR: How does it feel to be a part of a USA team?

KM: It's something I've always dreamed about, since I started running. I always hoped I'd have a chance to run in a USA uniform. When I got the uniform in the mail last week, it really pumped me up. I was ready to go right then.

USA Men's 100 Km National Team

Kevin Setnes, 43, Eagle, WI

James Garcia, 38, Westford, MA

Scott St. John, 33, St. George, UT

Tom Johnson, 37, Loomis, CA

Kevin McGovern, 38, W. Boylston, MA

Mark Godale, 27, Aurora, OH

USA Women's National 100 Km Team

Kris Clark-Setnes, 36, Eagle, WI

Jennifer Johnston, 33, Alta Dena, CA

Janice Anderson, 29, Stone Mountain, GA

Chrissy Duyrea-Ferguson, 36, Freemont, CA

Ellen McCurtin, 29, New York City, NY

Lorraine Gersitz, 42, Fullerton, CA

IAU World Champions 1987-1996

1987 (Torhout, Belgium)

Domingo Catalan ESP 6:19:35

Agnes Eberle SUI 8:01:33

1988 (Santander, Spain)

Domingo Catalan ESP 6:34:41

Ann Trason USA 7:30:49

1989 (Paris, France)

Bruno Scelsi FRA 6:47:06

Katharina Janicke GER 8:07:41

1990 (Duluth MN, United States)

Roland Vuillemenot FRA 6:34:02

Eleanor Adams GBR 7:55:08

1991 (Faenze, Italy)

Valmir Nunes BRA 6:35:36

Eleanor Adams-Robinson GBR 7:52:15

1992 (Palamos, Spain)

Konstantin Santalov RUS 6:23:35

Nurzia Bagmanova RUS 7:44:37

1993 (Torhout, Belgium)

Konstantin Santalov RUS 6:26:26

Carolyn Hunter-Rowe GBR 7:27:19

1994 (Lake Saroma, Japan)

Alexy Volgin RUS 6:22:43

Valentina Shatyaeva RUS 7:34:58

1995 (Winschoten, The Netherlands)

Valmir Nunes BRA 6:18:09

Ann Trason USA 7:00:47 (world women's 100K record)

1996 (Moscow, Russia)

Konstantin Santalov RUS 6:32:41

Valentina Shatyaeva RUS 7:33:10

Course Records at Winschoten, The Netherlands 100 Km

Men: 6:16:41, Jean-Paul Praet, 1992

Women: 7:00:47, Ann Trason, 1995

USA Runners in the Top Ten 1987-1996

Men

1987 5. Charlie Trayer, 6:48:20

1988 6. Tom Zimmerman, 7:03:02

1994 9. Tom Johnson, 6:41:30

1995 3. Tom Johnson, 6:30:11

Women

1987 5. Sandra Kiddy, 8:46:11

1988 1. Ann Trason, 7:30:49

1990 2. Ann Trason, 8:06:15 6. Randi Bromka, 8:40:07 9. Susan Olsen, 8:56:01

1994 7. Chrissy Duryea, 7:56:57

1995 1. Ann Trason, 7:00:47 (world women's 100K record) 6. Donna Perkins, 7:43:10 8. Christine Duryea, 7:44:23

1996 9. Kris Clark-Setnes, 8:14:30 .


 

 

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