Donna Creditor started running marathons in her 40s, but realized 26.2-mile races just weren’t long enough. So the Buffalo resident upgraded to ultras – 31-mile races, 50-mile races, 100-mile races.
“I like to challenge myself and see how far I can go and how much I can do,” she said. “And how much my body can take it.”
Somewhere along the way, the 56-year-old decided she also liked races measured by time instead of distance. So she signed up for 12-hour races, and 24, and 48.
This summer she completed two 48-hour races, running night and day, night and day.
On Friday, she will compete in Casper Mountain’s inaugural Night Crawler 12 Hour Endurance Challenge, a 12-hour race from 6:30 p.m. to 6:30 a.m.
Long-distance races like the marathon are an ancient sport, but those races measured by time are a trend that grabbed the endurance world with force about two decades ago, with running and cycling races popping up in every mountain town across the West. They never really took hold in Wyoming, until now.
On Sept. 23, will likely be Wyoming’s first 24-hour mountain bike race, hosted at Glendo Reservoir by Laramie Racing.
“It’s laps, and so you get done with your lap and you get to hang out with your team while someone else on your team is doing their thing,” said Nat Dyck, co-founder of the Two Moon 24 at Glendo. “Rather than a 100-mile mountain bike race where all your buddies are out racing at the same time, at least with the 24-hour race it’s way more of a team event.”
Justin Kinner knows a 12-hour running race at night is not for everyone. Night races can be tricky, they require headlamps and a need to pay close attention to the ground and your surroundings.
But they’re also less intimidating than they sound.
“You don’t have to run the whole 12 hours, you can run as much or little as you want,” he said. “You can take an extended break and take a nap and go out again.”
He mapped out an 8-mile loop that racers will go clockwise and then counter-clockwise. Aid stations will be manned with volunteers ready to encourage and feed participants.
Some runners will take it seriously, others won’t. It’s also available to teams of two or four, if runners want to suffer with a friend.
“You find out a lot about yourself running at night,” he said. “You’re alone with your thoughts and it’s different. The courses are different, you have to be a little more in tune with your senses and more focused on the ground in front of you.”
It’s also an option for someone interested in racing ultras, like Creditor, the Buffalo runner, but isn’t quite sure if launching into a 50-or 100-mile race is the right move just yet.
The race gives runners experience at night, always a tricky part of the long events, and offers an out if you just can’t keep moving.
“Don’t get stuck on the fact that you have to be out there for 12 hours running nonstop,” Kinner said. “It’s more about the camaraderie of the event than the actual endeavor. If you can get out there and run for 12 hours good for you, but enjoy the experience of running at night as much as you can.”
For Dyck, the Two Moon 24-hour race organizer, it’s all about the team. Some people could race the 24 hours solo, but he doesn’t recommend it.
“We went with almost as easy a course as we could from the Two Moon Campground, and we realized if you were to ride this for 24 hours straight, it would beat you up,” he said. “Generally there’s nothing that’s all that technical, but it kind of beats on you the whole time.”
Dyck recognized that 24-hour racing is starting to decline across the cycling world, which is partly why he and co-founder Evan O’Toole decided to start one here. The last two 24-hour races they’ve gone to were in New Mexico and Utah. At those kinds of distances, he and O’Toole figured they could just put one on themselves.
They have more than 40 people registered so far, and are hoping for more. The 10-mile loop is technical, but doable. For anyone new to 24-hour bike races, Dyck has three pieces of advice: Find a group of friends you want to spend time and suffer with; practice riding at night before race day; and buy a good bike light (he recommends anything made by Light & Motion or NightRider).
Dyck hopes more people decide to try it out. Like Kinner’s race, it’s a bit of a suffer-fest, but ultimately a way to have fun with friends.
“Teams are all the way from as competitive as you can be to going and having a great time,” he said. “Truthfully, that’s a lot bigger segment of the population, the ones not taking it seriously.”