Friday, June 18, 2010

*REPORT FROM THE ROAD: 6-18-2010 3:45 PM EDT

Ridin' down the highway, goin' to a show.
Stop in all the by-ways, playin' rock 'n' roll.
Gettin' ROBbed, gettin' stoned,
Gettin' beat up, broken boned.
Gettin' had, gettin' took.
I tell you folks, it's harder than it looks.
It's a long way to the top if you wanna rock 'n' roll

So here we are, nine days into the race, and Rob has completed about 2,545 miles, or 282 miles per day. As we mentioned this year's course with the different climbs in Colorado, combined with the ferocious head winds through that section, has caused every single racer to re-evaluate their plans and expectations. In fact, given the conditions, I think Rob is actually ahead of where we might expect. Were it not for the full day of headwinds, he might be 8-9 hours further up the road, so 282 miles/day is simply fantastic.

But, it's all academic. All these racers are facing the same conditions and you play the cards you are dealt. In fact, I find the whole notion of setting a course record in RAAM to be a very curious thing. Robic's desire to break eight days in a RAAM is laudable, but maybe not all that practical.

  • The course changes every few years. Dramatically. Rob has done California to Georgia, Oregon to Florida and now California to Maryland. Entirely different routes.
  • The distances change. RAAM 1996, Rob's first, was 2,905 miles - 100 miles shorter than this year. At the speeds these guys are averaging, that means this year's race is 6-10 hours longer.
  • The conditions change: Rain, sleet, wind, heat, you name it.
  • The competition changes.
Sure, some of these apply to every endurance race, but the Boston Marathon (for example) is always on the same course. At least you have apples-to-apples there.

This is why the RAAM organization actually notes two records: one for speed (Pete Penseyres, in 1986 at 15.4 mph) and one for time (Rob Kish, in 1992, at 8 days, 3 hours, 11 minutes.)

Bottom line: For anyone to ever break either of these records, lots of planets have to line up just perfectly. This was not that year.

But if it was easy, we would all be doing RAAM.

Note: I will be going AWOL from the blog for a few hours. Back around 9:00 PM.

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