Ultramarathon Daily News |Thurnesday April 7nd?

Definitely take some time and read Sarah’s incredible account of her husband’s Covid-19 scare. Scary stuff, but glad it’s turned out OK.

RW: Wilson Kipsang busted for going to a nightclub in the middle of Kenya’s quarantine.

Anton Krupicka was on the Ten Junk Miles podcast yesterday. Check it out.

Two runners from RSA, concerned with the financial situation of RDs have launched a virtual race where all proceeds will go to keeping the races and RDs afloat during these times. More info on Facebook here and Instagram here. Love the idea!

As mentioned yesterday, I started the Backyard Quarantine Ultra on Saturday morning, bailed after 10 laps/hours, then sat by my computer and watched the progression until it ended last night.

I sat through the jumping pets, the cone drama, “living room guy” and “coffee shop Shep”, the collapse of many experienced multi-day runners, and we all shared the uncomfortable voyeuristic oogies of listening in on Laz and Sandra talk about the rules and his thoughts on the MUT community, with her, exasperated, declaring that she was just going to go make some dang cookies.

From about thirty hours on, it was down to two guys: Mike Wardian running on a neighborhood loop from his house in Virginia. Decent weather, cheering kids and friends, and Mike would camp it up for the camera when he returned each loop around 42 minutes into the hour. Meanwhile, Radek Brunner was running on a treadmill he’d purchased last week because his hometown of Prague, CZ was on full lockdown and he couldn’t leave his house. Radek rarely spoke, but changed his shirts each lap (much to the amusement of the chat room) and took frequent bathroom breaks around the 5 minute mark of each lap he started. He drank tea, ate soup, and seemed very calm and collected.

So in the end, what happened? All day, Radek would stop his treadmill around 43 minutes, step out of the camera view and either sleep or eat. He’d then pop back in with two or minutes remaining, change a shirt, fiddle with electronic, and step on the treadmill, ready for the start. This was essentially the exact same motion each time and as the whistle blew, he’s press start on his treadmill and ramp up to his prescribed pace.

So when hour 63 came up, Radek appeared again at about the two minute mark, changed his shirt, and mounted his treadmill. The clock counted down and Mike took off on the streets of Arlington while Radek stood on his treadmill looking at or fixing his watch or tablet. And stood there. Travis the RD was calling his name from a different Brady Bunch square in hopes Radek could hear him, but to no avail. Radek stood there longer, again, adjusting something on his tablet or watch while Laz, while not the RD but still…well…Laz, shook his head. After about a minute, Lax said he should be DQed for not starting on time and left the screen.

After a good two minutes, Radek, still not able to hear or see any of our comments, started the mill and took off on his normal pace. At this point, Laz had called the race and was apparently on a call with Travis and Ashley the RDs but there was a tremendous amount of confusion. Had Radek heard us? Was he just tired and dozing off? Or was the ever-present tech delay at fault for not alerting Radek that it was time to go? Why hadn’t he started???

Eventually, Travis reappeared on screen in tears, announcing that Radek had broken the rules by not starting, as was clearly laid out in the rule book for this specific race, but for many of the viewing audience who’d been watching for two plus days, this was a tough finish to digest. A DQ on something that could very well be a tech issue? Both guys were looking pretty good and we expected them to go after the 68 hour mark (that may or may not have meant anything.)

My “starting corral” was my entry way and each time the whistle blew, I opened my front door, stepped out, and ran off. But couldn’t I have stepped out and just stood there, not taking any forward progress? It’s a tough call all the way around and I’m hoping that in future iterations of this race, treadmills rules are either clarified or not allowed at all.

There was a fair amount of confusion with Radek still running (after what looked like a call from the RD) and Mike’s crew somewhat–and understandably–frustrated about what was going on. Could he keep going? Did he win? Was it over? Could he still go after what he believed was the record? (Answer to that is no. Runners may only run one additional lap after the 2nd place doesn’t start.)

Many of us wanted to go back and look at the tape to see if there were some evidence of a time/tech delay, but the feed cut out and our chance to revisit the moment was gone. “It can’t end like this!” “2020 sucks!” and “I watched this for 60 hours for THIS FINISH?!?” were all comments made in the aftermath.

Mike hadn’t slept in over two days but was gracious and good hearted, congratulating Radek, thanking the RDs, crew, and spectators, and handling it all in a way that’s fitting for an athlete of his caliber.

So like many things in 2020….it sucked. Sucked for the RDs to have to make a tough call like that without really knowing all the facts. Sucks for Radek to get DQed, sucks for Mike to not actually “beat” his competitor but to win on a technicality. Sucks for the fans who watched with rapt attention, only to have an epic wah wah moment for the conclusion. It sucked.

How would I have handled it or how would you have dealt with it? It doesn’t matter, does it? The RDs had to make a decision based on what they knew and fitting within the parameters of the rules and they made the call. I do think it was the right call for one main reason: The spirit of the rule mandates that everyone leave the corral at the same time and Radek failed to do so. If it was a technical issue, then that sucks, but it’s still a rule.

Despite all this the folks at Personal Peak nailed it. They put together a race in a few weeks time that incorporated a funky format, new technology, graphics, and all for free for a field of two thousand runners across the world. Bravo bravo bravo for them for pulling that off. Did it get a bit too big and would a tech person have been helpful? Of course, but I won’t let that overshadow or detract from the joy they brought the MUT community while we’re al locked down indoors.

So Travis and Ashley, thanks for putting on a rad event. Mike, congratulations on a new running milestone and accomplishment, and Radek, take it as a strange opportunity to learn a lesson and get back to Spartathlon training.

Sports Illustrated covered it too.

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