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Michael Benge November 18, 2011 TWEET COMMENTS 0

Ready or Not - Page 10

Following the Leaders

Name: Bradley Williams

Age: 29

Hometown: Dubuque, Iowa

UROC Time: 15:23, 50th place

Who he is: Williams works for a specialty running shop, the Shoe Shack, and instructs exercise classes at the local YMCA. When he's not working, he's likely trail running. Williams has competed seven ultras, including The North Face 50K and Dances With Dirt 50K, both in Wisconsin.

Why UROC? UROC was just what I was looking for -- a 100K in the mountains, in the fall. But what really hooked me was the race's objective. It's like being a football fan and going to the Super Bowl. Only I'm not in the stands but on the field. With names like Geoff Roes, Michael Wardian and Dave Mackey toeing the line, I knew I wanted to be there.

How was your race? I had never run a 100K, and was a bit disappointed with my time. I got cold in the second half of the race and had to wrap up in blankets and eat three cups of soup. That cost me 30 minutes. I'd love to come back next year and run faster. But at the end of the day, only 79 people finished and I was one of them. I learned more about myself and loved every minute of it.

How did you like the course? I don't think there's ever been an event that requires such a large skill set. I loved the mix of pavement, jeep roads, singletrack and boulder fields.

What did you think of the championship concept? Some folks don't like the hoopla and want to keep the sport to themselves. It's like when your favorite indie band goes mainstream. But ultrarunning is growing and we need to have a race where the best of the best can show what they've got while we average Joes get to be a part of it. UROC nailed that while maintaining a small feel.

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Back of the Pack

Name: Matt Nelson

Age: 46

Hometown: West Palm Beach, Florida

UROC Time: 17:48, 79th place

Who he is: A father of four, Nelson was a U.S. Marine Corps officer for 13 years and now works for a major pharmaceutical company. He founded a non-profit in 2005, the Endurance Trust (www.endurancetrust.org), which provides endurance athletes with sponsorships to help offset race fees and raise money for various causes. He has run more than a dozen ultras, including the Canadian Death Race and UROC's predecessor, the Great Eastern Endurance Run, along with many self-supported, multi-day ultras.

What self-supported events have you completed? I raised money for Haiti Earthquake victims by running "80 for Haiti" in January 2010 and then ran 250 miles in five days across the Florida Everglades and Keys to raise money for Pediatric Brain Tumor Research. I have also run stage races in the Gobi Desert (China), Sahara Desert (Egypt), Atacama Desert (Chile), Namib Desert (Namibia) and The Kimberly (Australia).

Why UROC? My Florida running buddies and I decided that the opportunity to run on the same course with big names in the sport like Michael Wardian, Geoff Roes, Dave James, Ian Sharman and Devon Crosby-Helms was worth the drive up to Virginia.

What was your race like? I was stung nine times by yellow jackets, which made the next 16 miles very painful. I was struggling, feeling off my game, but up until mile 48 I was on track to make the 17-hour-buckle cut off. Then I hit the wall: extreme fatigue, lack of focus, unexpected muscle aches. I pushed it in as best I could.

How do you feel about your finish? I was surprised there were only 79 finishers out of 173 starters. I was sure many of the people whom I had passed could have finished. So why did I keep running? I don't have it in me to quit. I have learned over the years that it is 90-percent mental. That you can will yourself through some of the worst situations as long as you don't give up.



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