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100-Mile Angeles Crest Endurance Run Goes to a Runner Who Went Extra Mile : This Rose Bowl Race Is Toughest One Yet

September 30, 1986|TRACY DODDS | Times Staff Writer

"Well, I'd say the race itself is not tremendously beneficial to the body," he said. "Anyone who finishes a race like that is going to need some recovery time.

"They'll be sore, and there will be some inflammation of the joints. That kind of a run is quite a stress on the muscular-skeletal system. There will be some tissue degeneration in the muscles.

"Along the way, they will have to guard against hypothermia (subnormal body temperature) and hypoglycemia (abnormally low blood sugar).

"But from what I understand, these runs are well covered from the medical standpoint.

"The runners who attempt something like this are very experienced athletes who know the risks, and the ones who finish will be very well-conditioned athletes who have prepared their bodies for this kind of stress."

Puffer acknowledges the mental challenge of the ultramarathon and the overall physical benefit of the months of conditioning. But he said the 100-mile ordeal itself isn't something that should be done too often.

"I'm not adamantly opposed to such a run," Puffer said. "Not at all. But you have to realize that we're talking about a very elite, very specialized group of athletes who have properly prepared themselves and who know how to take care of themselves along the way."

That includes eating at every aid station on the route to maintain the proper level of blood sugar, and it includes taking layers of clothing on and off as the terrain and the climate change so that there is not an excessive loss of body heat.

There were doctors and nurses from Orthopaedic Hospital at some of the aid stations, and runners were weighed-in to see that there was not excessive weight loss. They were checked to see if they were lucid and strong enough to continue.

Better to stop a runner against his will at an aid station than to send out the Sierra Madre search-and-rescue crews.

Provost agrees that the key to ultramarathons is not just conditioning, but taking care of yourself along the way.

He learned the value of chicken noodle soup after seeing how he could run out of gas by not eating during the Western States run. He suddenly had no energy and dropped from No. 6 to No. 25 in less than three hours. The next time out, five cans of chicken noodle soup kept him going.

Inexperienced runners rush through the checkpoints to try to pick up a few minutes. But this is a race more suited to the tortoise than the hare.

Before the race, Jussi Hamalainen of Finland was considered the biggest challenger to Provost. Provost said: "He was pushing me early. He was right with me. He's a very good runner. But this was his first 100 and he didn't pace himself and he didn't eat enough. That's just lack of experience. He'll learn."

Hamalainen finished third. In all, 36 runners completed the 100 miles, including two women, Sheila Hasham and Jeannie Wood.

Provost gave credit to his support group, which included his girlfriend, Terry, and his son, Brian. They met him at all the checkpoints that had accessible roads, and they carried loads of food.

"This was the first time I didn't burn out," Provost said. "I have been known to run out of fuel.

"I'm also known for getting lost. That's cost me in several runs. I've won a few trailblazer awards. This wasn't the first time."

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