100 full miles of HURT

Mar 102011
Authors: Bonnie Cleveland

Editor’s note: It was incorrectly stated in this article Ashley Waddell is the Associate Director of Development at the College of Engineering, when she is instead an assistant director. In addition, it was incorrectly stated that the elevation for the loop is 55 feet, when instead it is 5500 feet. In addition, Waddell did not receive treatment for arthritis at Middlebury College, but instead at the University of Vermont. The Collegian regrets its errors.

It’s just one foot in front of the other.

That’s the process that carried College of Engineering Assistant Director Ashley Waddell through all 100 miles of the Hawaii Ultra Running Team (HURT) 100 Mile Endurance Run.

“Ultra running is about cooperation amongst runners and finishing, making it unique,” Waddell, 34, said.
Waddell was the sixth female to finish, with a time of 35 hours 18 minutes in a race where simply finishing qualifies as an immense

The HURT results recorded 111 starters, 32 finishers, 43 100K finishers and 36 runners who did not finish at all.

Waddell described herself as not being a “fast” runner, concluding that distance is more suited to her physical abilities.

Waddell admits that she is a woman who hates 400 repeats around a track but who can “get lost in a 20 mile run.”
Running is a punishment for many athletes, but not for Ashley Waddell. Running is her outlet.

“Running helps me stay sane, be happy and is a great stress relief. When I run everything’s better,” Waddell said.
But the HURT course lived up to its name.

It consisted of five loops around a 20-mile course with a 5,500-foot elevation fluctuation.

And it’s no road race.

The trail is littered with large tree roots, rocks and sections that require ropes to shimmy across rock faces.

Waddell’s reaction was, “this is the course?”

But by the fourth loop Waddell realized she was on track to finish.

“I was so happy it didn’t matter how sore I was. It was a real thrill to be able to do it,” Waddell said.

Being a part of the 29 percent to finish the HURT ultramarathon is not bad for Waddell, whose original goal was just to have a good time and make the most of the experience.

But Waddell said she was lucky to even have been chosen to compete.

Given that the HURT racecourse is limited in the number of runners it can support, those desiring to participate have five days to enter a weighted lottery. Participants earn “kakui nuts” based on running previous 100 milers, running HURT before and trail maintenance, among other categories.

On top of the challenge of just getting in, a race of that magnitude cannot be accomplished without extensive training.
Waddell trained with running buddy Sarah McIntosh at Horsetooth Reservoir in Lory State Park. They discovered a loop similar in elevation and distance to the course in Hawaii.

Their Friday long runs required taking vacation days to complete 20 to 60 mile long runs.

Running long distances on occasionally steep trails require switching between power walking and running.

“This combination of switching gears wears you down differently,” Waddell said.
Running is not Ashley Waddell’s only accomplishment.

In 1998 Waddell was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, an autoimmune disease that attacks the body’s organs and tissues as invaders.

“It’s really awful,” Waddell said. “It’s hard to deal with an illness when you’re in so much pain.

There was a time when she could not even dress herself.

After undergoing experimental treatment at the University of Vermont, Waddell’s condition has significantly improved.

Waddell has been in remission since 2000, taking full advantage of her mobility.

In the future Waddell hopes to run the Grand Canyon rim to rim. And on her birthday last Friday, she ran a mile for every year of her life … all 34 of them.

“Running makes me so happy and keeps me healthy,” Waddell said. “I so enjoy being on the trail.”
Staff writer Bonnie Cleveland can be reached at news@collegian.com._

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