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WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 2007
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Delano 12-hour race to test ultra marathoners

By Paul Huggins
phuggins@decaturdaily.com 340-2395

Sue and Larry Pritchard don't expect to win Decatur's first ultra marathon Saturday — unless there's a trophy for oldest participants.

The retired West Virginia couple has no delusions about running even a single mile around the gravel trail at Delano Park. But they fully expect to circle the track enough times during the 12-hour race to complete more than 26.2 miles.

But that number or any greater distance doesn't concern them so much as the number 46. That's the number of states in which they will have completed a marathon since 1998, inching (1,660,032 inches to be exact) closer toward their goal of marathoning in all 50 states.

They will be among about 30 runners from eight states, including two relay teams, who will compete in the Delano Park 12-Hour Run, a fundraiser for the park's new playground/garden. The race begins at 6 a.m. and concludes at 6 p.m.

Runners will circle a one-mile loop as many times as they can during the half-day event. Awards will go to runners who complete the most miles and to the first ones to reach 50 miles. Many of the runners will complete 50 miles, and some will push or surpass 80 miles.

Mrs. Pritchard said she and her husband, who had both knees replaced two years ago, usually complete 28 miles.

Before her husband's knee problems, she said, they could walk a mile in 11 to 13 minutes and complete a regular marathon in fewer than six hours. Now they walk a mile in 15 to 17 minutes.

"We try to do one (marathon) a month," she said from her home in Mahone, W.Va.

That's impressive considering she's 65 and he's 68. Even more impressive is that they've completed 62 marathons since 1998 and they took up running only three years earlier.

"In our first race, we both placed in our age groups, and we were hooked," she said.

The Delano 12 will be their third ultra marathon, an event of 50 to 100 miles or a timed event of 12 to 24 hours. Mrs. Pritchard said she accidentally stumbled upon the Delano race but was hooked immediately after reading about it and the park.

Ultras like the Delano 12 are laid-back and friendly, she said, and she likes how everything is in a compact location.

Eric Schotz, Delano 12 director, said he picked the park for the race site because he used to live in the Albany Historic District and wanted to show off the park and neighborhood.

It's also more compact than Wilson Morgan or Point Mallard, he added.

"We just want to get people to come out and enjoy the park and see the sites," he said.

The race will make about $300 for the playground, designed specifically to be accessible for children with disabilities. That's not a lot of money, Schotz said, but he hopes Delano 12 will become an annual event that grows in size and in profits that can go back into the park.

Registration continues through Friday at a cost of $60 for individuals and $45 each for relay participants (two to four per team).

Favorites for Saturday's race include DeWayne Satterfield of Huntsville, 2006 winner of the Race Across Tennessee, and Kathy Faulkner Youngren of Huntsville, a Decatur native who completed a Western States 100-mile race in less than 24 hours.

On the Net

www.delano12.com

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