(20 in 24) Philadelphia Fat Ass


What a long strange race this was.  

I had been stalking the weather report for weeks.  The temps were hovering in the mid 90’s with an index well over 100.  The final report said that the race would have a heat index of 110 and severe thunderstorms in the evening.  

People kept asking me if the race would be cancelled.   I would give that that look, usually reserved for my son, when he tries to comprehend something non-literal.   ‘Ultra races don’t get cancelled, runners just have to adapt’ was my reply.  See where this is going….

So, on the road I go to Philly.  About four hours into my ride, I get a series of messages from a friend that the race is changed from a 24-hour race starting on Saturday to a 12-hour race starting on Sunday.   I’m annoyed that I hear this message from a friend and not the race itself, as by this point packet pickup is already underway.

Okay—I’m mildly bugged, but I can adapt.  I make camping plans, change my race strategy, and drive on.

Next set of messages, from the same friend, (NOT THE RACE)—all races cancelled.  I seriously thought he was messing with me.

Now, I’m bugged.  They have known about the weather for over a week.  I’ve driven 7 hours.  I paid for a hotel room.  I’ve been heat training in 100+ weather.   I’m ready to run. 

My friend suggests an FA.  FA is short for ‘fat ass’, as in get off of your fat ass and run.  These are unsupported races that are usually done by a group of people, who don’t care about the bling, and just want to run.

A few hours after the cancellation, a FA was starting to form.  YES!  I’m in.

The problem was that many were not prepared to run a FA.  I for one did not have enough food, water, or electrolytes to get through the day, especially in the high temps, without aid station support.  Another problem is that there was nowhere to store the supplies I did have.  This was not looking good.

I still wanted to run.  I decided to brave some of Philadelphia’s trails on Saturday.  I did 20 miles in Valley Forge Park.  It was hot, but I was able to manage, especially using my car as an aid station, where I had access to ALL of my supplies. 

The next morning, I planned to get 55 miles in on the course, but I was going to be cautious of the 12 hour cut off the FA was looking at.  I got up at 2:30 am and hit the hotel gym---10 miles on the treadmill, 8 on the elliptical.  Okay, 38 done so far this weekend, not a bad start.

I made my way to the race site, got in a picture with the other disgruntled runners and pounded out another 12 miles, which brought me to 50.  But, I just wasn’t feeling it on that course, and I disliked not having access to my supplies on a consistent basis (two runners had room in their cars, and I was to look for which car had a race hat on it to know where my stuff was, but the cars might not be there if they had to run an errand-far from ideal)

My next move was to head back to the trails.  I found them quite peaceful, beautiful and serene.  They gave me the trail therapy I was seeking to help my mind settle some issues that have been weighing heavy.

However, they were also challenging.  Mt. Joy and Mt. Misery added some unique challenges to my FA.  The trail guide brochure made me laugh; it said, “Climb Mt. Misery five times (and die)”.   I lost count of how many times I climbed it, and that sucker did take a lot out of me, but I’m still kickin’. 

So, in the end, I ran 75 miles on a trail, a treadmill, and a racetrack.  I technically did not race, but I did adapt.



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