October 30, 2005
FIRST-EVER ULTRAMARATHON INTERNATIONAL DUAL MEET ON AMERICAN SOIL
The San Diego One-Day Race, site of this year's American 24-Hour Run National Chamionship on November 12-13, 2005, will make history this year by additionally hosting the first-ever ultramarathon international dual meet on American soil. The all-day/all-night event, the longest national championship race in American distance running, will be highlighted by a history-making, head-to-head match betweeen American & Japanese national teams.
The 2004 World 24-Hour Run Men's and Women's Champions and all-time Asian 24-hour recordholders, Ryoichi Sekiya and Sumie Inagaki, will lead their Japanese teammates on this landmark trip to the USA's west coast, where they will circle the certified one-mile road loop at San Diego's oceanside Hospitality Point nonstop for 24 consecutive hours, along with 80 Americans vying simultaneously for their own national title.
The American Men's and Women's team members are:
Rudy Afanador, 47, Melville, NY
Peter Bakwin, 43, Boulder, CO
Joe Gaebler, 28, Reserve, NM
John Geesler, 46, St. Johnsville, NY
Steve Peterson, 43, Lafayette, CO
Roy Pirrung, 57, Sheboygan, WI
Stephanie Ehret, 42, Boulder, CO
Rebecca Johnson, 36, Boulder, CO
Brenda Klein, 37, Reserve, NM
Pam Reed, 44, Tucson, AZ
Janet Runyan, 46, Boulder, CO
Sue Ellen Trapp, 59, Ft. Myers, FL
The Japanese Men's and Women's teams include:
Ryoichi Sekiya, 38, Sagamihara, Kanagawa, JAPAN
Ryoichi Sato, 43, Kawasaki, Kanagawa, JAPAN
Tomohiko Yaegashi, 59, Kasugai, Aichi, JAPAN
Sumie Inagaki, 39, Kasugai, Aichi, JAPAN
Masae Kamura, 47, Suginami, Tokyo, JAPAN
Junko Leerink, 46, Greenwich, CT
Sekiya and Inagaki are the overwhelming individual favorites in the race. Sekiya (personal best 167.3 miles) ranks 12th among men on the all-time world 24-hour list, Inagaki (personal best 147.5 miles) 5th among women. Sekiya has finished 2nd, 1st, and 4th in the three World 24-Hour run championships held to date, Inagaki has finished 1st and 3rd in the two which she has run. The Japanese have proven to be a formidable team presence at the World 24-Hour as well. In the three years of the world title event's existence, both their men's and women's national teams have never failed to medal (top 3 finishes), and their men's team won gold at the 2005 event in July.
But the American men are fielding their strongest team ever in international competition. The established team leader (with a personal best of over 157 miles) is three-time national champ John Geesler. Geesler has also been the top American finisher in the World 24-hour event every year it has been held. But virtually any of the American men could be top American on any given day. Five of the six men's team members have at least one national 24-hour title to their credit. Relative youngster Joe Gaebler has the strongest credential, having run over 162 miles to take the 2003 national title exactly two years ago. Gaebler went into a temporary early retirement right after that, but recently made a strong comeback by taking a close second (to Peterson) in the national 100 mile championship in September.
The likely leaders of the American women's squad are Stephanie Ehret, Rebecca Johnson, and Pam Reed. Reed and Johnson are former national 24-hour champions, and Reed and Ehret have each been the top American woman at the World 24-hour, Ehret having notched the highest ever individual place by an American, 3rd in the 2004 world title event. In that race she became only the third American women ever to run over 140 miles. But Johnson has been on an upswing for the past full year, and recently won the national 100-mile title in an event record.
The field's sentimental favorite is recently retired dentist Sue Ellen Trapp of Fort Myers, Florida, who will be competing on the American women's team just six months shy of her 60th birthday. She outdoes Roy Pirrung by two years as the most senior athlete ever named to an open national team. Trapp has been racing ultramarathons at the world-class level since 1978. During her nonpareil athletic career she has set four absolute women's world records in a 17-year span at events ranging from 50 miles to 48 hours. She still holds the absolute American women's 24-hour record of 145.2 miles. Trapp had been inactive for the past three years due to a series of injuries, but is now healthy and on her way back to top form.
Trapp is joined as a national team member by fellow 59-year old Japanese Tomohiko Yaegashi, the pair serving as testament to delayed effect of aging on athletic performance in long-range ultra competition. In fact, counting all of the national team members from both countries, and removing the anomalous youngster Gaebler from the equation (the exception which proves the rule?), the average age of these world-class athletes is over 45 years old.
Further information on the event, including live progress reports during the race and results immediately afterwards, can be found on the websites of the American Ultrarunning Association and the host event:
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