Reminisces from Sahishnu...
Our longest event on the schedule had record numbers of runners and women in 1983, as a field of 56 answered the call on the morning of September 24, 1983. Francis Lewis HS track was the site, nestled into a nice neighborhood in Springfield Gardens, Queens, NY. Two seasoned ultra runners from California had come east to test the competition- Ron Kovacs, 44, from Mountain View, and Jasper Kirkby, 35. Simon LaPorte, 32, from Quebec City, Canada stayed with the two left coasters as a pack chased the Rhode Island 100-mile speedster George Gardiner, 41, from Hope Valley. Local star Cahit Yeter stayed close to this group. This was his fifth appearance in our day long event. Gardiner hit 50km in 4:12:03, forcing the lead men in an uncomfortable quick pace. One interesting chaser was local Brooklyn product Luis Rios, 35, full beard flapping like a mountain man in the afternoon breezes. Luis was only a mile behind Gardiner, and looking smooth in his first 24-hour adventure.
Sue Medaglia was in the race, so the women’s field of a dozen runners was a real presence. Sue was a bit slower in the early hours of the race than in previous attempts, but this was her fourth appearance at our 24-Hour, and she has dominated the movement on the distaff side, both locally, and in the national lists. Midwesterners Kathy Schubert, 41, from Chicago, and Robin Hanscom, 32, from Minneapolis ran together for quite some time, but were still five miles or more behind Sue Medaglia at the 50 km split, and almost two hours behind at 50 miles.
George Gardiner hit 50 miles in 7:17:50, almost shredding the big field. Nine men stayed close under eight hours, but only Simon LaPorte and Luis Rios kept within two laps of George. Cahit Yeter seemed to have problems and slowed down to conserve energy. The Californians kept steady pace 20 minutes behind the first chasers. Simon gave a surge to catch Gardiner, who held on until 10:00pm before taking a long break. He came out of his shelter after a few hours, looking wasted. Simon, who was only six seconds behind Gardiner at 100 km could not hold off the charging Rios, however. Luis hit 100 miles in 16:11:40. The only challenger to him was Ron Kovacs at 16:22:12. Tom Zavortnick, 44, from Virginia briefly passed ahead of Simon, but moved only sparingly after the 100-mile split.
As the sun came up the separations for the top ten were distinct enough to predict final placing. With the whistle and horn sounding, another quality 24-hour was in the books. Luis Rios pulled it off in his first 24-Hour, making 141 miles 375 yards, the third best total in our five-race adventure over four years. Ron Kovacs peaked at 132 miles 213 yards, very close to his best of 133 miles from a year ago in California. His friend Jasper Kirkby made 128 miles 523 yards to get on the podium. Michael Vail from NYC and Bruce Boyd from Connecticut virtually tied for sixth with 125 miles 67 yards. Sue Medaglia finished ninth overall, first woman with 119 miles 450 yards, 10 miles ahead of Kathy Schubert-109 miles 1684 yards, and smiling Robin Hanscom- 109 miles 356 yards.
Many personal bests were attained, and a record 26 people crossed the 100-mile barrier, including six women. Runners came from 10 states and three countries, so the growth of the event was good. The camaraderie was excellent, our food choices were appealing, and the enthusiasm was still there.
After a good awards ceremony we talked about possibly of taking the race to a road course that could accommodate more runners and ease the counting and other services needed for a track race. It was becoming more difficult to acquire a track for two days usage. Sri Chinmoy then told us to put almost all of our events on a one-mile loop near the end of the year, with some exceptions.
We had several loops used for courses for our short races like the 5-mile, 7-mile and 13 miler in Flushing Meadows Park. It was a matter of time before we found the right course. Things were changing at a fast rate. Just 6 weeks after the 24-hour we locked into a one-mile loop at FMP for the upcoming Sri Chinmoy 70 Mile race. The course worked fine, and the Park representatives were willing to work with us as more of our longer races were added to the yearly list. We then set our sights on the 24-hour for the next year, hoping for even more progression.