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Indoors or Outdoors? by David Deubelbeiss | January 18, 2003 -- Rat Race: One Day on a Treadmill by David Deubelbeiss | February 2003 -- Lars Saetran -- The Running Professor | April 19, 2003 -- Going Through the Mill: A World 24 Record in Dublin, Ireland by Tony Mangan

Indoors or Outdoors? by David Deubelbeiss

I have looked at all the treadmill 24-hour attempts and compared these to outdoor bests. It indicates that the treadmill suffers from a 30 percent differential for the worse. Why? It seems there isn’t any “roll,” so energy gets absorbed into the treadmill. You don’t use your hamstrings or your Achilles much, which stores energy on landing that doesn’t “release.” On a treadmill it is more a glide than a forceful running gait.

That said, it is easier to eat on the treadmill, but also harder in the sense that it is more boring and less “ingrained.” Also, treadmill running is a “hotter” run, comparatively, because of decreased wind resistance. But this is also a plus; you gain because you don’t use energy to fight the “atmosphere,” pushing your body through it.

I have just recently put together my package to meet Guinness requirements for record accreditation. Most importantly is that the event take place in a public venue with many witnesses. In my case this will be supported with witness statements, signatures and my record run log book listing all info. It will also be accompanied by the many media articles and news clips to support my claim. Also, the treadmill was overhauled by Precor technicians before the run and I will send along their documentation that the treadmill was accurate and calibrated. - David Deubelbeiss

January 18, 2003 -- Rat Race: One Day on a Treadmill by David Deubelbeiss

January 18, 2003, 9:30 a.m. I am frantic. The cameras aren’t even up and operating and it is just two hours until the starting time. I’ve been organizing this whole affair myself, 24 hours on a treadmill. The organization has been the most tiring. Cameras, sponsors, charity pledge forms, arrangements with Monster Gym, the media, interviews, arrangements with The Guinness Book of World Records, and relay teams to accompany me. But finally the day has come. I am here, fully prepared. “Be ye prepared” is my motto. Later my motto will be, “Don’t think—just keep moving.”

It all started at the U.S. Masters cross country championships (where I placed tenth), sitting around afterwards, sharing a beer and someone mentioning a crazy person who had ran 24 hours on a treadmill. We laughed, shrugging it off as an oddity. But on the drive home, alone with only my thoughts,the thought kept swirling in my head: “I can do that.” So I did. “You can do a lot even if you don’t think you can’t,” is yet another of my mottos.

I have always been a runner. I love all types of running: one mile, endless miles, up stairs, trails, tracks, mountains, roads, five-km’s and 50-km’s. It’s all the same to me—a challenge. Last year though, I began getting in defining shape, increasing my mileage, doing speedwork, and cutting out the garbage miles. Gradually I began thinking of ultras and entered a few with success. Each one got easier; the recovery was faster and I focused on the next race. My focus became set on a fast 100-km in 2003. The idea of 24 hours on a treadmill would fit in nicely, keeping me motivated and keeping the miles coming.

In preparation I did at least 50 percent of my mileage on the treadmill (a LifeFitnessHR model). I did more than 150 miles in a week three weeks before my attempt and knew I was ready. My pulse after running at seven miles per hour was only 90 beats per minute. It was like I was sitting on the couch at home in front of the television! A quick 15 km in 54 minutes while just jogging the first two five-km loops was another indication that I was fit and ready for the attempt.

The big day finally arrived. Lots of media crowded around as I pushed the button, and we were off. By “we” I mean two other treadmills with relay runners. They were my motivators. In addition to the two treadmills alongside mine, I had tremendous support from the members of my running club, Longboat, arriving at all hours of the day and night. Even people visiting the gym at 4:00 a.m. to work out offered support. I couldn’t have had more “mind distraction,” and the hours just flew by.

Except for first few hours; they were horrible. I really mean that. I was eating and drinking like crazy and my stomach felt heavy and painful. It was an awful feeling. I adjusted my calorie intake and it cleared up. I had calculated I needed more calories than I actual did. I took in only 500 calories per hour over the course of the event: a bottle of Carbxccelerator (400 calories) my electrolyte drink (one liter) with water, bananas, Fig Newtons, chocolate chip cookies, and zone caps to balance out the intake. I took a couple of Ibuprofen every four hours and in the wee hours of the morning several caffeine pills. Aside from that all I needed was my trusty pair of Saucony Jazz. They are amazing shoes—I swear by them. I was cruising, running at 6.8 to 7.2 miles per hour, with three-minute walking breaks every half-hour. It felt easy and I chatted with everyone around.

During my breaks I walked at four miles per hour, a steady pace. Scott Eppleman, who had recently and valiantly done 116.05 miles in a 24-hour treadmill run, had advised me to “just keep going.” I took his advice to heart. I just kept going, and except for pee breaks the treadmill just kept going forward. I must have peed a lake (actually seven liters in total) which was a great sign that I was working well within my limits. A fan at my side (to avoid wind assistance) kept me cool. Looking at the relay runners, I knew I was having a great day. They looked like they were straining, sweating profusely. I had barely a drop on my skin. But it was still early.

I completed 100 km in 9:41 and felt like I could still have done a speed workout. But I stuck to my game plan, which was to get 200 km and the record, no matter what. I just needed to do the miles slowly and get the record in my pocket, not taking any chances by picking it up and going for broke. It worked. I reached 100 miles in 16 hours and 21 minutes. Then it was on to the record—but it seemed to take forever! That was the longest part of the whole race, those hours in the wee hours of morning.

The only glitches were oversights that could have been completely prevented. I lost about 20 to 30 minutes of time in resetting the machine every hour. For some reason the treadmill “marathon” setting wasn’t working, so each hour it would shut off automatically. We would record the mileage and as quickly as possible I’d punch the buttons and get the thing going again. That took up precious time. Also, at around 2:00 a.m. the treadmill I was on went blank and shut down. I had to get onto another treadmill (losing the four tenths of a mile that was on the display, thus not counting in my final total), and it felt like I was running in mud! It just felt completely different. But after a half-hour, the old treadmill came to life and I climbed back on the machine like it was an old friend. I guess I had become used to its feel and bounce after more than 14 hours. There was one last glitch—blisters. At 10 hours I felt something in my shoe that felt like a stone. I revved the treadmill down to zero and took off my shoe. It was a red, bloody mess! My socks were soaked. It seems the fan had kept me perspiration free, except for the bottom part of my legs. So my socks had become soaked and blisters ensued. It didn’t slow me down; I just ran on. But it was a problem after the run, keeping me off my feet for a few days.

Just before 8:00 a.m. I surpassed the old record. There were few people there, but they all whooped it up with me, swaying to the music that kept me going the whole way, Rave unto the Joy Fantastic by Prince. My steadfast handler Mike, who was there the whole way, was among those sharing my joy. My goal was in the bag, so I could relax.

During the remaining four hours I alternated running and walking. I could have pushed for more, since I still had a lot left in the tank, but I was happy with what I’d done. A big grin kept appearing on my face as the sun began to climb behind me. It was an amazing high, a runner’s high times 100, a glow and happiness at just being alive. I love that moment. I think all ultrarunners know what I mean: that moment when all things are in their place. You accept all and are at peace.

With an hour to go, the press started to trickle in and so too, more supporters. By the end, the place was packed and everyone was cheering me on. I saw that with a little bounce in my step I could make 130 miles, so I ratcheted the treadmill up to eight miles per hour and let it fly for the last 15 minutes. No problem. In fact, never during the 24 hours did I feel absolutely pooped. I think I could have done much more, but I wanted to be sure. Then came the final countdown—and elation. My lovely sisters gave me a kiss of congratulations. I thanked the sponsors and all of the special people who made it happen, did a few interviews and sipped my Budvar (a Czech beer—I lived and ran for five years in the Czech Republic). The day was mine.

It has been an amazing experience, and I look forward to my next goal. That is what it is all about—goals. Not just world records, but those satisfying challenges we reach for in all aspects of life. If you can dream it, you can do it, I like to say. This year I hope to run a quick 100-km and also try for an outdoor 24-hour record. It seems within my grasp. And your reach must exceed your grasp, or what’s a heaven for? Didn’t some old poet say that?

Since the record, I have received such support, literally hundreds of e-mails. I thank each and every person. I’m so honored my little life and breath could have an impact. A few people since have tried to break the record, but nobody has gotten near it yet. I am satisfied the mark will last the year. But nothing lasts forever—that is life’s biggest lesson. But I will enjoy my 15 minutes while they last.

People often ask how I could have done it. What about the boredom? While boredom is “like meeting like” as Paul Valery once insightfully quipped, I see the uniqueness in everything. Not every “like” is similar. I never felt bored, not even for a moment. I never felt more at home; I was just “there,” in that zone, watching everyone, and thinking and thinking. That was the ace up my sleeve. I am steadfast and philosophical and it helped immensely in keeping going, just doing it. Also, I have always been motivated by numbers and on the treadmill. Pavlov’s response is a necessary evil. I just kept reaching for the next number on the display.

In addition to my mental approach, I am an athlete who does other sports; I’m muscular and cross trained. I think that made a difference, especially my rowing training. I had conditioned all of my leg muscles. That becomes a factor after my main running muscles became fatigued. I also run all distances. We shouldn’t limit ourselves. Three weeks after my 24-hour run, I ran a 4:40 indoor mile on an old, worn out track. I’m just as proud of that accomplishment. My “speed” helped immensely over the long run. I swear by it; all ultrarunners should too.

In retrospect, this adventure was a little surrealism thrown into the winter. We all need to do something crazy, to reach. I did and my words of parting are that you too, should squander your life for a purpose. Live not in the what, but the how. It is the grace in how we attempt anything that shines. It is our human flame that says, “There went a man (or woman).”

February 2003 -- Lars Saetran -- The Running Professor

In Trondheim, Norway this past February, 50-year-old Lars Sætran staged his own 24-hour treadmill run for the world record. He succeeded in bettering the then recognized mark of England’s William Sichel, but his 193 km fell short of the total run by Toronto’s David Deubelbeiss. Knut Jegersen interviewed Lars to get his thoughts on his 24 hours on the treadmill. Last fall, Lars read about a 182 km treadmill run by William Sichel from the Orkneys. “I was intrigued (at going for the treadmill record), but attempting (it) wasn’t definite until January. Having run past 200 km twice outdoors (in 24 hours), I therefore decided to go for 200 km on the treadmill. During winter I often go cross country skiing, and run six times a week for a total of 150 km. Previous to the last race preparations, I hadn’t used a treadmill for two years. Fourteen days before the world-record attempt, I ran continuously on it for six hours. I then felt prepared.” Sætran often trains Sunday mornings while his wife is still asleep. “I ran 100 to 150 km weekly as usual in the preceding weeks, including a weekly run to a gas station 15 km from home and back.”

Not an easy ride
The main difference between outdoor running and using a treadmill, says Sætran, is the temperature and lack of air resistance. “I used a cooling fan to get rid of my perspiration. Outdoors, sweat vanishes naturally through wind currents,” explains the professor at the Aerodynamics Laboratories. “I wanted so much the first six hours to be an easy ride, but it never was. It was tougher than I anticipated. I had to work continuously. Like in my first ultramarathon, this race had its ups and downs, but I never felt great bliss or enormous despair.” Looking at it a week later, he feels he should have given more gas. “At one point during the night I felt nausea, and slowed down in fear of a complete stop. I really do feel I should have pushed myself harder. But then again, it was good to have some energy left, as people came by to greet me towards the end.”

The race
Lars ran for the first five hours non-stop before stopping for a food break. “I went off the treadmill and sat down with my feet held high. After that I ate every 20 km. Towards the end it was every 15 km.” His menu was dried pasta (just adding hot water), energy-drinks and Pepsi. “I believe I drank 15 liters, maybe more.” While running, he ate candy bars and bread with chocolate. “After eight hours the production of spit was so limited that swallowing was an accomplishment in itself. But I was o.k. I vomited only one time.” He urinated into a bottle as he ran, and went to the men’s room just once. “You can never predict that, of course,” he underlined.

“Now I will send documentation to Guinness and certificates for the treadmill. It was calibrated and a log was written with distances every 30 minutes; the whole run was videotaped. The gym was continuously open to the public. The treadmill was stopped when I had my short breaks.” The run was linked to a Norwegian anti-drug organization. A relay of volunteers ran alongside of him the whole time: for the first six hours schoolchildren, succeeded by Stjordals-Blink soccer club, while the night was filled with leisure runners. Said Lars, “The relay was great, although my focus was mostly on not thinking at all.”

What was worse: the physical or psychological challenge? Lars replied, “The psychological, no doubt about it. You have to torment yourself, but I pushed my body harder during my 223 km run outdoors in 2000. Towards the end of the race, my speed decreased. In the end it was all about finishing. After breaking Sichel’s record after 22.5 hours, I admit I was tempted to stop there, but to me this was a personal success in my eighth 24-hour run.”

California style
Sætran was introduced to ultrarunning during his stay in California in 1995 and 1996. “I was guest professor at Stanford University, and started training with a guy who finished second in Western States that year. I am not a professional runner. When I finished 12th in Wien-Budapest (350 km), the first six were full-time runners. I doubt my fitness is extreme, although I do train six times a week.”

What happened straight after the race? “My wife took me home. I lay down on the couch, ate and slept.

But at about nine in the evening we went to a party at a friend’s house. The following day we went for a walk. For the first time I could not keep up with her,” he laughs. Four days later he attended a spinning class at the gym. “I have suffered many (blisters), and four toenails have fallen off. Apart from that, nothing!”

Sætran still believes he will not be 100 percent recovered until April. “I won’t be doing something like this again for a long time,” he said, smiling.

April 19, 2003 -- Going Through the Mill: A World 24 Record in Dublin, Ireland by Tony Mangan

When I lived in Colorado about a year and a half ago, I sometimes took long training runs on a treadmill in a local gym. It was winter—and winters in Colorado can get very cold! The roads were icy dark and snow abounded. Why wouldn't I spend those nights on a treadmill in a warm gym in front of a television? It never occurred to me to go for any kind of world record; I only got the idea to have a go at the treadmill record when my friend Scott Eppleman claimed it with a run of 186.75 km (116.04 miles) last November in Texas. The previous best was 169 km (105 miles). Scott then held off two close challenges from William Sichel (UK) and Lars Saetran (Norway). All three were very supportive in my attempt and in true ultrarunning spirit offered me advice on everything from diet to cooling fans and socks. They sent me good luck messages before the attempt and their congratulations after it. Then in January Canadian David Deubelbeiss raised the bar to 210.55 km (130.82 miles). Now I would have to run at a speed of one km per hour faster!

Scott had mentioned to me his mind target was just 169 km even though he is capable of running well in excess of 200.He advised me to go for David’s distance, as it could be ratified by Guinness Book of World Records the next day. I would have to run close to my national (outdoor) record of 213.6 km (132.72 miles). It was clear to me that I had to be highly motivated and couldn't afford even one bad hour.

The day arrived. I had put a lot of gear in place the night before with gym manager Enda Heronne. My main organizers were Eamon Dolan and physiologist Michael Farrell. These two were to be my main handlers and would also keep the log book. I had been ordered to forget about the logistics and just think about running. I owe a lot to Michael in particular; during the last year helped me with a very bad foot injury through deep, painful massages every Thursday night after our club run. We have become great friends and I even confided in him many things in my personal life, so he's almost become my mentor and sometimes my parish priest, as I often admitted to a sin or two!

I had a timing clock above my treadmill and had instructed them to log every km, as well as the interim distance between kms into the distance log book. The whole of the attempt was video recorded and the treadmill was overhauled and certified for accuracy in advance. Likewise, an unused standby treadmill was available in case of mechanical failure. We also used another camcorder to record about six hours of highlights and vital moments, such as changing the tapes for the 24-hour camera, with particular reference to me running under the timing clock. We also recorded the two times I reset the treadmill at 99.9 and 199.9 km.

I walked the short distance to the gym at 10.30 a.m. It was in the oldest part of Dublin, an area called "The Liberties." I had attended in two of the schools I passed by on the way and lived in two houses within two minutes of the attempt. I even passed by the house where my mother was born and where I took my first steps. Now I was hoping to take 200,000 steps to set a world record here in my own backyard.

I walked up the steps to the Iveagh Fitness amid well-wishers, mostly the staff and gym patrons. My hairs were truly standing up on end. I made my way upstairs holding onto the handrail. Wouldn't do to fall down the stairs now! The area around my Cybex 685 treadmill was cordoned off. All my motivational signs were in place. I changed into my Metro St. Brigid's running gear and proudly wore my Ireland tracksuit. I put my feet up on a table, closed my eyes and tried to meditate a short while as people worked out on other equipment and my committee put the final bits and pieces together. There was only 30 minutes to go until the noon start. The press, photographers, friends, club mates and spectators started to arrive. They signed the witness book and those whose evidence was required signed the evidence forms. I did a couple of interviews and took off my tracksuit. This was it—I was ready and there was no going back now!

An announcement was made over the public address system. I pressed the start button after checking with my handlers that everything was in place. To loud cheers I was on my way. My biggest fears over the last couple of weeks were that I would get injured, hurt or that someone else would put the record beyond my capabilities. None of that happened. I was on my way and it was now up to me. I settled into a steady low arm lift and stride from the start, going through the first hour with less than nine km and feeling great. I was enjoying every moment. National television (TV3) arrived and I did an interview on the run.

After four hours I started to have stomach cramps. I was taking in too many calories. I cut the Sustained Energy mix from two scoops to one and a half and was fine after that. I was replacing too many calories than I could manage. I had told the company rep I would be burning up 750 calories per hour and that the body can only replace 280 in comfort. He told me that we have in excess of 100,000 stored in our bodies, so, I felt I knew what was happening.

I was positioned directly under a window. William Sichel had suggested facing out a window, but I couldn't spend 24 hours looking at a wall! I had a cooling fan at each foot and one in front of me. Overheating was a concern as treadmill running can get hot with no wind to cool the body down.

After six hours I considered changing shoes, as the big toe area of my right foot was feeling a bit tight, but I just ran through it. I reached the halfway mark with 107.2 km completed. My final goal of 216 km had given me a half-hour cushion in case I slowed down during the night. I was only about five minutes behind schedule, but was not concerned as I was feeling so good. All that brutal training, up to 12 hours on a treadmill, was paying off.

Halfway was also my birthday! I had started at age 45 and wanted to finish with a world record a year older. My family and friends brought out a birthday cake; I blew out the candles on one of my walking breaks. I had attached a black bin liner to the opposing wall at the end of the gym and was focusing on that a lot. Blank out the mind and it would get easier. When I stuck this up and told my crew what it was in aid of they really thought I had flipped out!

I had only listened to the radio for one hour and in the small hours of the morning watched about three hours of Father Ted comedy videos. I don't think it's possible to be tired while watching Father Ted. A few people came in through the night. The town was deserted, as it was Easter weekend.

Michael and Eamon were really keeping a close eye on me, filling up my bottles and adjusting the fans. I had cut off the bottom of my club singlet for extra ventilation and only put on a tracksuit top at around 2:00 a.m. Adidas Ireland had kindly donated a set of their wonderful “Response” range of gear and the tracksuit top was very light and ideal for this kind of run.

Dawn came with a new 100-mile treadmill world record of 17 hours, 59 minutes, and 10 seconds. I was still running strong and was honing in on Scott’s ratified record. "I'll never do another 24-hour again," yawned Eamon as he handed me another bottle. "Yeah! Me too,” I said. We all had a good laugh. At 21 hours and 50 minutes one arm went up as I felt mixed feelings taking the ratified record from my friend Scott. Also, I still had unfinished business. I wanted David's record and was still hungry to get it.

The gym started to fill up. People were coming in to work out: family, friends, neighbors, and media. My club mates from Metro St. Brigid’s did their Sunday morning runs on other treadmills, but I wouldn't let anyone run on a treadmill beside me as I didn't want a pacemaker.

The clock moved into the last hour and a half of the run. I gave up my walking breaks, running steadily instead. It was really mind over matter. The atmosphere was building. I felt like I was at a football match. The crowd was lifting me. Could I lift the pace? "No, keep doing the same," said Eugene. This was no time to pull a hamstring or a groin. With an hour to go Eamonn Coghlan, the "chairman of the boards" who is our club president, gave me a call from a Spanish beach where he was on holiday. "I'll have a San Miguel for you Tony," he said. "No I want Guinness!" I replied.

Then at 23 hours, 29 minutes, and six seconds, the pending record was mine! The crowd was screaming frantically. I was almost crying at that stage. After another television interview I wanted distance and increased the pace gradually.

I was feeling great and enjoying every minute. I increased the speed up to 12 kilometers per hour. By now I was working really hard. It was all mind over matter. Into the last 15 minutes and the display showed my speed at 13 k.p.h. The weight sessions in the Iveagh gym were really paying off now. With about 11 minutes to go I clocked 214 kms. I still had time to get the target, but the pace would have to go up. Now I was at 13.8. There was a huge din as every km was counted down. I couldn't hear the three songs that I had picked especially for the end with the CD player at full blast. I savored the moment. The spectators were lifting me. I was nearly there. Those songs, " Keep on running", "Born to Run" and Lindisfarne’s "Run for Home" took me to the finish at 14.5 k.p.h! The timing clock struck 24:00 and it was all over. I was screaming to Michael to record the final distance in the log and sure enough it was 216.37 km, or 134.45 miles. My family mobbed me as my friends swarmed over. I eased down slowly and stepped off the treadmill for the first time in 24 hours.

I fell into a chair and pulled off my shoes. There were no blisters or toenails hanging off, maladies peculiar to long distance treadmill running. I just had some redness where my shoes were a bit too tight. More media interviews. A speech. The champagne was uncorked and I could finally relax and enjoy the moment. I couldn't believe it—I was the new world record holder!

I was driven home ate a meal and fell into bed for a three-hour nap. Later I went to “The Brazen Head," Ireland’s oldest pub circa 1198 A.D. The band “The Brazen Hussies” gave me a great welcome and kindly donated their collection to the official charity, Our Lady's Children’s Hospital, Crumlin, Dublin. We hope to raise between 5,000 and 10,000 Euro. The celebrations continued into the early hours and that night I felt I had set another kind of “Guinness” record!

My recovery was remarkable. I did my first run four days later with my club, just an hour. I was a bit sluggish and got dropped from the group at about halfway, but wasn't too bothered. We had a great celebration night after training in the clubs local "The Mullingar House" where I was presented with a specially engraved crystal cut award. The drinks were flowing, yet more champagne. Then on Sunday I went out running with the club and ran very strong for about 80 minutes.

I did some photo shoots, radio and newspaper interviews. However, the conversation kept coming back to my next goal. I have always wanted to have a go at the Mizzen Head to Mallin Head record, which stands at about four and a half days for the almost 600 km (365 miles). This run is on the road between Ireland’s two most distant points, similar to Britain’s Lands End to John O'Goats. On May 5 I jogged the Belfast Marathon as a training run (in 3:29) and as I already had two easy weeks this was my first specific training run for that attempt

Some stats

Food and drink: About 15 liters of Sustained Energy, about four liters of water, 10 portions of Hammer Gel, and 80 electrolyte E-Caps. No solid food whatsoever.

Hours one to 23: Least distance covered: 8.80 km. Best: 9.10 km.

Final hour: 10.47 km.

First 12 hours: 107.20 km; second 12 hours: 109.17 km.

Age: Start 45, finish 46!

Training For My World Record Attempt

I joined Iveagh Fitness Club on Feb 1, beginning my training in earnest. I put my gear in a locker with a combination lock, which I set at 216. This would be my target. I did a six-hour run that day and felt good. Each week after that I added an hour to this weekend long run. I managed this comfortably for about a month, still doing my regular training during the week. I was winning the mind battle as I no longer considered an eight-hour run as mind boggling. I was also gaining confidence as I trained at the pace at which I wanted to make the attempt. It took me almost a whole week to recover from a 10-hour run and the scheduled 11-hour run was up on top of me! That was the only week I deviated from the schedule. I cut the run to seven hours and the following week. Paddy's weekend I took the day off work and did the 12-hour on the Friday. The gym was very good to me, upgrading my membership and giving me unlimited use of their floatation tank. This “space capsule” unit has great healing and recovery properties. It breaks up cramps and lactic acid. You just lie in the salty water and relax as you float back to the top. Relaxing music is piped in. In the tank, I cleared my mind, meditated and relaxed.

Nine days before my April 19 attempt I got a bad cold and after my physiologist threatened to force me to withdraw if I didn't recover, I decided to take a couple of weeks off work until after the attempt. This meant I was well rested and slept soundly every night and even had the luxury of several lie ins. My cold cleared up. Thanks to all who supported and gave their advice and help. I will always be grateful. Records are meant to be broken. I'm so happy to have broken it, even if it only lasts a short while.