Getting the Wally Hayward record by Johan van de Merwe

©iancorless.com.DSCN0518

 

Introduction

It was in October 2012 when I first heard about Wally Hayward’s indissoluble records. At that stage I was in the prime and peak of my running career. I was set on challenging the 24 hour race record that was uncontested for the past 60 years. Wally Hayward set the South African record of 256.4 km in London on the 21st of November in 1953. On paper the record seemed fully reachable and even undemanding. With the collaboration of my co-club members at the Pietersburg Road Runners and with the added financial aid of Digit Vehicle Tracking we hosted the first 24 hour race within our local community. The race took place on the 31st of March, 2013 and the purpose thereof was to ultimately improve the 24 hour South African record. It was however not as trouble-free as it initially seemed. Even after my best efforts I still missed the record with approximately 3km. I was extremely disheartened, saddened and disenchanted. Hosting the race proofed to be very pricey and I felt as though I disappointed all my family, friends and supporters. As a consequence, I under duress tried to forget about improving the record.

In order to deal with my setback I participated in numerous elongated races. During April to September 2013 I took part in a 6-day race in Hungary where I completed 516km. I furthermore ran the Comrades Marathon and finished it with a time of 7h28. In addition I also did three hundred milers, the Washie Race (13:18:02), the Golden Reef Race (14:41:45) and the Capital Classic Race (14:33:08). My results far exceeded my expectations but it still did not relief my utter sense of dissatisfaction.

Who is Wally Hayward?

©www.wally.org.za

©www.wally.org.za

Wallace (“Wally”) Henry Hayward (10 July 1908 – 28 April 2006) was a South African endurance athlete with a 60-year career. Wally won the Comrades five times and completed the distance of around 90 km the last time just before his eighty-first birthday.

He was born and died in Johannesburg. In 2006 just a few days before the annual Wally Hayward Marathon, Wally passed away.

Comrades Marathon

He won the race for the first time on his first attempt in 1930 at age 21 (the youngest runner at that stage). Only twenty years later he competed again and won it from 1950 to 1954, except for 1952 when he choose to rather represent South Africa at the 1952 Summer Olympics. He finished tenth in the Olympic Marathon event.

In 1951 and 1953 (first athlete under 6 hours) he broke the down-run record, and in 1954 he broke the up-run record and became the oldest man to win the race at age 45 (later overtaken by Vladimir Kotov in 2004). In 1988 he returned once again to participate. He beat half the finishers with a time of 9h44m. Wally’s most dramatic moment came the following year, in 1989, when he completed the down run at the age of 80. There was hardly a dry eye in the stadium as he staggered across the line in an obviously distressed state, making the cut-off time by a mere 1min 57sec, after which he finally quit the race for good. To this day, he has the distinction in the record books of being the oldest finisher in the history of the Comrades Marathon.

Other records

In 1953 he established records in the London to Brighton Marathon, the Bath to London 100-miler and the 24-hour track race. At the 1938 Empire Games in Sydney he won the bronze medal in the 6 miles competition. In the 3 miles contest he finished fourth. Hayward fought in North Africa and Italy during World War 2 and in 1942 earned the British Empire Medal for bravery for his actions near El Alamein in Egypt.

Family

Married Gladys Catto in December 1934 and had one daughter, Gwenolyn in October 1935. In 1957 Wally and Gladys divorced. In 1971 Wally married his second wife, Bertha Bland.

Contoversy

In 1953 he accepted a small donation towards his traveling while competing in the UK. The South African Athletics and Cycling Association declared him a professional, banning him from all amateur events. The ban was finally lifted in 1974.

Wally Hayward Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wally_Hayward

DECISION

©iancorless.com.IMG_2106

On the 4th of October, 2013 I came across a list of international races. I was interested in determining the amount of 24 hour races that was still to be hosted throughout 2013. At that time I occupied the seventh position for the international 24 hour races. I reflected back over 2013 and realized that there were no races that I was particularly proud of. I wanted to conclude 2013 on a high note but had no idea how to accomplish my goal. It was already October. My body felt fatigued and worn-out and an exceptional achievement seemed utterly impracticable and idealistic. I browsed the internet and discovered a 24 hour race that was scheduled for the 7th of December. The race was to take place in Taipei, Taiwan. While looking at the previous years’ results I realized that the race was a high standing sports event. I later learned that it was classified as a “gold labelled event” according to the International Association of Ultra runners.

I decided to travel to Taipei in order to participate in the race. It was particularly difficult for me to attempt again to improve the South African record only eight months after my setback. It felt as though I was not in the best physical condition so as to take on the challenge. With all the long races in which I participated in during 2013 I never focussed on just training effectively for any race. I mainly focussed on tapering for and recovering after a race. My legs ached incessantly, my muscles felt stiff and I was just not able to practice adequately. I had to decide whether or not my desire to improve the record was stronger than my physical condition.

GAME PLAN

During the first 24 hour race I ran on the 31st of March 2013 I learned a few essential things. I henceforth decided to concentrate solely on the three mistakes I made while preparing for the race in Taipei. My first mistake was that I started much too fast. The second mistake was that I did not eat and the third detrimental mistake was that I tended to pull my body weight to the right side and as a result it affected my overall balance. In October and November I focused on practicing on the racing track without the use of my GPS watch with the intention of establishing a proper pace and the most suitable eating pattern for every five laps.

THE UNKNOWN

Taiwan is a rather unfamiliar and foreign country with its indefinite culture and peculiar eating habits. My greatest concern was that my body would not be able to deal with the outlandish food, eccentric aromas and odd tastes. We decided therefore to take South African food with us on our journey. I specifically packed cheddar cheese, salami, biltong and pvm energy bars. We arrived four days prior to the race in Taiwan with the aim to adjust to their climate. To furthermore prepare adequately I researched all the contestants and studied their unique profiles. The contenders were all world class athletes against whom I had to compete. I harboured mixed emotions of excitement and apprehension. Some of the participants included athletes like the 2013 – 24 hour world champion, The USA’s 100 mile and 12 hour record holder John Olsen, the eight time race champion, Asia’s 24 hour record holder, Ryoichi Sekiya and Asia’s 12 hour, 100 miler and 100 km record holder Yoshikazu Hara, the 24 hour woman record holder Mami Kudo, the Italian 24 hour record holder and the two-time Spartathlon champion Ivan Cuddin.

RACE

©iancorless.com.DSCN0587 copy

I only truly comprehended the magnitude of the race a day before it commenced. It was amazing to witness how the track transformed into an Olympic type of arena. Enormous tents, medical facilities, banners, cones and an impressive platform for introductions and entertainment were erected within a short span of time. I felt rather anxious once the athletes were being formally introduced to the media and while meeting all the various champions and record holders. I was fully aware of the enormity of the race. I was faced with the reality that I had to really do my best in order to compete with my commendable opponents. Shortly before the race started the athletes were introduced to the public and to their personal lap-counters. Each international athlete had the opportunity to write inspirational, encouraging words with their signatures on a big gold label board. I wrote “God will give me strength” not knowing how true it would prove throughout the duration of the race.

A particular doctor was employed to see to the needs and physical welfare of each athlete. All athletes were weighed in, in order to monitor their wellbeing throughout the race. Every single one was weighed on a fourth hour basis when the direction of the race was changed. I was rather shocked to weigh-in on 65.5 kg as I usually only weigh between 60 to 62 kg. I was in mint condition in 2012 just before the Washie race when I only weighed 59.5 kg. The extra weighed had me rather concerned.

The race commenced at exactly 9h00. I was clothed in my full South African attire that reflected our country’s national colours. The starting gun announced the beginning of the race and I was faced with the moment of truth. All participants was at first hesitant to take the lead. After a few frustrating and exasperating laps I however decided to take the lead. After every fifth lap I took the time to eat something. My wife provided me with various snacks that consisted of cheese, salami and pvm energy bars. I mostly drank 32 GI, water, rehydrate and Sprite. After every 60km I also drank a recovery drink as well as an addition magnesium tablet. After the first three hours I yet again realized that I started too fast. I was still in the lead of approximately 40.8 km, more or less 1km ahead of the Japanese, Hara. Even though I was still running comfortably I was concerned that I was yet again making the same mistakes as I did previously. I felt so poised that I even played cat and mouse games with Oslen and Cudin.

After the first fourth hour the direction of the race changed and the athletes were weighed in. My weight shockingly decreased to 61.5kg. I lost a staggering 4kg within the first hours of the race. The doctor spoke to my wife and informed her that if I lost any more weight that he would be obligated to take me out of the race. I was petrified and tried to make various plans in order to pick up weight. My wife ordered a Mc Donalds burger, but I felt awfully nauseas after the first bite. The last thing I wanted was to throw up during the race. I knew from experience that one can easily loose all your strength within a blink of an eye when you dehydrate. I was fearful and decided to conceal something in my pants in order to ensure that my weight was not less than the previous weigh-in. My wife moreover found two-minute noodles that I was able to eat. I determined to go to a different scale to be weighed. I weighed 62.5kg – it was a great relief. I instinctively decided to stop chasing kilometres and to exclusively focus on improving the record time.

©iancorless.com.DSCN0589

I set a few milestones for myself in the race in order to obtain my goal. I just did not want to make the same mistakes as those I made in Polokwane. On twelve hours however I completed exactly the same kilometres as I completed previously – 145.2km.  I realized that my attempt might be in jeopardy and I set an objective for the 100 mile mark. My 100 mile time was 6 minutes slower than it was in Polokwane. My self-confidence was shot. My time was 13:38 far removed from my expected time of 12:45. Wally completed his 100 miler split during his 24H race in 1953 in a time of 12:47.

I apprehended just how difficult it would be to improve the record time. I knew that it was imperative for me to maintain the correct posture and to proceed regardless of how I felt. My position fell from first to third. My body played tricks on me and I continuously ran to the bathroom without any avail. When looking back it might have been a way for my body to rest. My wife realized what was happening and she kept a close eye on me. She encouraged me not to waste any time.  She warned me before the race that she was going to be rather stern in order to keep me in line. At 22 hours I realized that the record of 256.4 km was well within my reach if I kept my focus. It required a lot of exertion and determination. My body did not want to take in any food or fluids at that stage.

On 23 hours my personal lap counter indicated that I have completed 249km. I still had to do 7.4 km in order to improve the record. I knew I had to step up and increase my pace. I eventually completed the race and improved the record with a total distance of 258.064km.  The South African flag waved proudly above my head as I crossed the finish line.

It is almost anomalous and strange to be without a goal currently. It feels as though I am growing stronger and stronger despite my age. It is imperative for me to set a goal that will serve as my focus point for the next two years. I have my sights set on the 48 hour as well as the 6 day records that seem attainable on paper. The only record that might be within reach is the demanding, arduous SA 100 miler record that was set in 1972 by Derek Kay with a time of 11:56:56.

My biggest rule in running is that you must at all times believe in yourself when you participate no matter how unattainable and gruelling your goal seems. If I work hard and prepare adequately none of my goals will be unfeasible and beyond my reach.

©iancorless.com.DSCN0598

 

Many thanks to Johan van de Merwe for providing this report and images.

Johan will be interviewed for a future episode of Talk Ultra.

Episode 35 – Jornet, Forsberg, Canaday, Olson, Clayton, James and Transvulcania

TU35

Episode 35 – It’s all about Transvulcania! We have a special co host, Anna Frost or ‘Frosty’ as she is affectionately known. We have post race interviews with the men’s winner, Kilian Jornet. The ladies winner, Emelie Forsberg. We catch up with 3rd place, Sage Canaday, 4th place, Timothy Olson, 7th place, Cameron Clayton and top 50 runner, Dave James. In addition to all the Transvulcania excitement we have a blog, 15 minutes of fame with Robbie Britton, Talk Training, up and coming races and of course the news.

Show Notes:

00:00:45 Start
00:05:35 News

Transvulcania La Palma – La Palma

  • Kilian Jornet – 6:54:09 NEW COURSE RECORD*
  • Luis Alberto Hernando – 6:58:31 (*beat the old course record)
  • Sage Canaday – 7:09:57
  • Timothy Olson – 7:11:53
  • Patrick Bringer – 7:17:19
  • Emelie Forsberg – 8:13:22
  • Nuria Picas – 8:19:30
  • Uxue Fraile  – 8:44:48
  • Nathalie Mauclair  – 8:46:14
  • Emilie Lecomte  – 10:14:05
00:10:58 Kilian Jornet & Emelie Forsberg discuss Trnsvulcania 2013 and what is coming up in the future.
00:31:06 Back to news

Ellie Greenwood pulls out of Comrades!

Quad Rock 50

Josh Arthur (Crested Butte, Colo.)  pushed his win streak to three. Arthur kicked up and down 12,000 feet of climbing and descent in 7:44, finishing 4 minutes off the course record. Paul Hamilton (Fort Collins, Colo.), racing his second ultra, tagged the line at 7:50 for runner-up honors. Defending champ Ryan Burch (Fort Collins, Colo.) atoned for a disappointing Lake Sonoma finish with a third-place 8:00

Kerrie Bruxvoort  pushed the women’s course record way down to 9:24. Becky Wheeler (Casper, Wyo.) was second in 9:42 and Kris Klotzbach  third, for the second straight year.

Ice Age 50

Cassie Scallon at Ice Age, she trashed a course record that had stood since 1995 by 17 minutes, finishing the 50-mile race in 6:48. Last month she won the Lake Sonoma 50 in course-record fashion too. Fave for Western States? Denise Bourassa (Bend, Ore.), last year’s Ice Age winner, was second in 7:53, 67 minutes behind Scallon. Lee Conner was third in 8:36.

David Riddle (Cincinnati, Ohio) dominated the men’s race in 5:56, the race’s third-fastest time ever and only 3 minutes off Andy Jones’ record from 1988. Brian Condon (Madison, Wis.), a 2:30 marathoner, had an incredibly successful 50-mile debut with a second-place 6:07. Zach Bitter (Marinette, Wis.), last year’s U.S. 50-mile trail champ, was third in 6:08

Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim

Rob Krar 36-year-old pharmacist blasted across the Grand Canyon and back  — 42 miles — in 6:21, shattering Dakota Jones’ former fastest known time by a whopping 32 minutes. Krar’s time is mind-boggling for its gap on everyone else, on a well-tested 42-mile trail. Prior to Krar’s attempt, only three men, DakotaJones, Anton Krupicka, and Dave Mackey have finished in less than 7 hours.

IAU 24 hours – Steenbergen in the Netherlands

Jon Olsen (USA) took top honours in the men’s race. He ran a distance of 269.675km leading the way. John Dennis (USA) finished in 2nd place running a distance of 262.734km followed by Florian Reus (GER) running 259.939km.

In the women’s race, Mami Kudo (JPN) won the gold medal with a distance of 252.205km. Sabrina Little (USA) finished in 2nd place running 244.669km followed by Suzanna Bon (USA) who ran 236.228km.

Malvern Hills Ultra

Two races 85m which only two finished!

Andy Arnold in  26hr 9 min and Tommy Houghton in 26hr 49m

The 52 mile even had more finishers…

Darryl Carter 7:47, Kevin McMillan 8:46 and Toby Courage 8:50

Louise Staples was 1st lady in 10:24

00:42:38 BlogDakota Jones has just produced a very funny piece for iRunFar HERE

“I knew before leaving that my Lake Sonoma course record had been broken. Sage Canaday had tattooed my splits onto his arm and run several minutes faster than my time from last year. I called him to congratulate him on the effort, but inside a deep bitterness was brewing that I knew would have to be satisfied someday, most likely violently. So you can imagine my surprise upon learning that both my Grand Canyon double crossing record AND my Transvulcania record had been broken in the span of a week (Rob Krar – 6:21:47 at the GC; K-dog – 6:54:09 at TV). With those records went my few claims to success in the ultrarunning world, and with those claims went my credibility as an athlete. I felt lost. After much thought I realized that my only recourse would be to do what any self-respecting loser would do: deny the point of the records at all and deride the people who put stock in them.”

00:46:10 Talk Training with Marc Laithwaite
01:05:40 The InterviewsSage Canaday, Timothy Olson, Cameron Clayton & Dave James all discuss Transvulcania and what lies ahead for the future months.
01:06:15 Sage Canaday website HERE
01:20:25 Timothy Olson website HERE
01:41:55 Cameron Clayton website HERE
01:54:35 Dave James website HERE
02:12:10 15 min of fame – Robbie Britton – website HERE
02:28:00 Up & Coming Races
02:32:40 Close
02:36:48
Finally, a BIG thanks to Frosty for being an excellent co host.
Show Links:

The Morton Machine

 

Mike Morton made history at the weekend breaking Scott Jurek’s 24 hour distance and going past 170 miles ! Yes, 170+ miles in 24 hours…

His actual distance was 172.4576 miles.

He had this to say on his Facebook page:

Well words can not say how grateful I am for all the messages and comments I have been getting! I got home around 2 AM EST and there is no place like home! All three of us were out like lights!
The weekend has not fully sank in just yet. What has is a feeling of accomplishment. Twenty six months ago (or so) I committed to myself to put an effort back into running and the goal was to raise the bar on the 24 hour American Record. There have been other priorities along the way but I was able to stay on task and follow my plan about 90% of the time. The road to accomplishing my goal brought some great races in route and it all culminated last weekend. It feels odd having finished but I feel relieved and fulfilled. I’m free in a sense of a self imposed “monkey on the back”. I feel more motivated now, I’m able to get a new canvas to work with…
Not once have I felt nothing but an overwhelming amount of support from every runner along the way, I thank you all for that. I won’t even try to describe the thanks I have for my Wife and Daughter, they just remain devoted to me while I exploit their tolerance.
Thanks for all the support and comments!

You may remember that we caught up with MikeMorton way back in Episode 7. You can listen to the interview again, HERE or oniTunes HERE