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  • Writer's pictureMiriam Diaz-Gilbert

My 2022 Hainesport Race Recap & the Beauty of the Ultrarunning Community on a Hot Labor Day Weekend

Updated: Sep 30, 2023

Also Site of the GOMU 48-hour World Championship
Runners in the Hainesport ultras and in the GOMU. 48-hr world championship get going at the 9 am start. Photo by Jon.

The Hainesport Endurance Runs in Hainesport, NJ offer a 12-hr, 24-hr, and 100-mile event. On this Labor Day weekend in September runners also ran the GOMU 48-hr world championship. The Hainesport 24-hr was my 10th 24-hr ultra and my 32nd ultra. I was glad it was close to home so we didn't have to drive far and make hotel reservations.

Every ultra experience is unique, fun, and great for different reasons. What made this ultra especially awesome was the weather, the .9913-mile flat asphalt park loop, meeting new runners, and reuniting with runners I've shared the course with at other ultras.

Photo by me on the run.

The race started on Saturday at 9 am. I was familiar with the course; two weeks earlier on a super hot Sunday I logged a 7-mile training run. I love to run in sun, heat, and humidity. The forecast called for clouds and temps in the 80s. But the beating sun never quit. The loop was made hotter with the burning sun in the blue sky that wouldn't hide behind the clouds. We found relief in about 15 feet of shade on the course.

As we do at 24-hr ultras, my husband Jon and I set up our tent and canopy on race day morning. It's always nice to see bright, colorful tents and canopies adorn the race site. Runners picked up their bibs and swag - a nice shirt and our choice of a mug or glass - before the start as our names were checked off by race volunteers in the park's concession stand.

Jon spent his hours under the canopy, feeding and hydrating me at the end of each lap, and taking a nap after midnight.

Refueling with organic grass-fed beef and beans, and a salted potato from my vegetable garden at the end of lap 26. . Photo by Jon.

Jon made a video of my miles at Hainesport. Making videos helps the hours go faster for Jon, especially when pacing is not allowed.

What the video does not capture is all the wonderful runners I met along the course. We kept each other company, we shared in our suffering, and we inspired each other. On small walking breaks we chatted a little about our lives. We supported each other in the struggle against the heat, beaten feet, blisters, physical and mental exhaustion, and sleep deprivation.

Before the start and while in line to pick up our bib and swag, I met Yen from Huston. She was running the GOMU 48-hour. Turns out we were at Across the Years in 2020. I ran the 48-hr and she ran the 100 miler. I met her friend Louise, also running the 48-hour. Louise and I discovered in the darkness of the night, as we chatted about the night heat, that we had both run the Beast of Burden 100-miler back in 2011. We also ran the Philadelphia 100 but not the same year.

I shared the course with George, who was running the 12-hr. He and I are D3 (Dawn to Dusk to Dawn track ultras) alumni. Along the way and approaching the end of her first 12-hour event, I walked a bit with Jennifer. Her goal was to log 40 miles. She did it with 41 laps/40.6433 miles!

As I sat for a couple of minutes on "the chair" underneath our canopy to rest my exhausted mind - I think it was about 10:30 pm - I saw Joan cross the timing mat. She cried tears of joy as she was hugged by her children who were waiting for her with congratulatory posters. She did it! It was a birthday gift to herself. Earlier Joan and I chatted during a walking break on the course. We shared why we were running. She said she was running the 24-hr event to log 50 miles for her 50th birthday. I shared I was running healing miles for Jon who is on his second cancer journey and getting ready for surgery. Joan said she would pray for him. That meant so much to me.

At the 9-hr split I was 3rd place female. Then a few hours later I fell to 4th place. By the 21-split at 6 am, I was back.

Photo by Jon.

I am so glad I took Ed's advice to take a nap at about 3:30 in the morning. Ed, a veteran of 100 ultras, noticed I was not moving in the manner I am accustomed. Ed and I first met at the 2011 Beast of Burden 100 miler. We shared the course at the 2012 Around the Lake 24-hr ultra. At Hainesport, he was tackling the 48-hr event.

By now Jon had helped to peel off my wet with sweat running top and sports bra. I put on a camisole and my long-sleeve D3 shirt. I took about a 20 - 30 minute nap and Jon drained a blister on my left heel.

Photo by Jon.

I was reinvigorated and hopped back on the course around 4 am. It was great to see the sunrise a couple of hours later. The end was near.

Photo by Jon.

I finally spotted Ed on the course at about 6:30 am. He had taken a nap at some time too. "Thank you so much Ed for telling me to nap. I'm feeling great. I'm wide awake. Let's take a selfie." Ed would go on to finish GOMU, his 101st ultra.

It was great to meet Joel and to share the course. We encouraged each other through out the hours. We found out on FB we were both running in Hainesport. Here we are at about 7 am Sunday morning. I have 2 hours to go and Joel has about 26 more hours to go. We're still smiling! Joel ran the GOMU 48-hr and placed 3rd in his age group. It's always so nice to see the new generation of awesome ultrarunners in action keeping up with the geezers.

Photo by Jon.

This is the beauty of the ultrarunning community - runners supporting each other, encouraging each other, and sharing both suffering and joy. There were many more runners along the way. We inspired each other. While I put one foot in front of the other in the 24-hr, my neighbor Dave, finished his first 100-miler and got his first buckle.

And then there are those amazing jaw-dropping, world-class ultrarunners like Viktoria from Canada. I had to tell her as she whizzed by on the course with a face mask on the entire time - "You are amazing. You are such an inspiration." Viktoria placed first female in the GOMU 48-hr world championship event. Budjargal Byambaa from Mongolia placed first male.

And a big part of the ultrarunning community comes in the form of awesome race directors, volunteers, and crews. I have fond memories of Viktoria's crew member John. He quietly and happily encouraged every runner that ran, walked, and shuffled their feet past his crewing tent. He was the pick-me-up we all looked forward to lap after lap.

We all have our reasons for running. We set goals. My goal is always to finish. Finishing is winning. And if I place, well that's always a pleasant surprise and bonus. With a few more laps on the clock, I met Melissa. Exhausted, we finally chatted on the course. We were happy to meet and we encouraged each other to keep going, slow and steady.

The top 3 female runners finished at the same time. Melissa placed 1st female with 96.1561 miles. I saw Jill many times on the course but didn't know which event she was running until we finally met at the finish. Jill placed 2nd with 84.2605 miles. I placed 3rd with 77.3215 miles. Not bad for a 63-old grandma. Age is just a number.

Photo by Jon.

I was happy to share the course with Mike "Gagz" Gigliardi. We met at the Loopy Looper 12-hr in August, where he placed first male. Mike dominated the course at the Hainesport 24-hr. As he ran effortlessly passed me at one point, he said, "Looking good, Miriam," All I could do was chuckle and say, "I'm only 100 laps behind you. Keep going. I'll catch up," and watch him vanish. Mike placed first male with 122.9212 miles. I finally caught up to him for congrats all around and a pic.

Photo by Jon.

Throughout the day and night runners inspired each other. As she flew by me with baby Yoda on her back, Tina encouraged me to keep moving. "Looking good, Miriam." She follows me on my FB page. "So nice to meet you. You are amazing Tina. Keep it going," I quietly said as I shuffled my feet. I was so happy to see Tina place second female in the 100-mile event on a hot and sunny Sunday morning.

Photo by Jon.

While ultrarunning is a solitary sport, we are never alone. On a loop less than a mile, we fed off each other and got strength from each other. And I could not have done it without Jon. He's been my crew and pacer since I began running ultras in 2005. Now that our adult children have their own families and can't crew or pace me, it's been only Jon.

Now, I'll be crewing and pacing Jon again as his cancer caregiver on his second cancer journey, an ultra of a different kind. He has surgery on September 26. He beat stage IV the first time; he'll beat it again now that its recurrence has been caught early. And I'll continue running ultra miles for his healing, and for cancer caregivers. If you know a cancer caregiver, nominate them to be a recipient of Ultra Care for Cancer Caregivers. Contact me

Hope to see you at our next ultra so we can inspire each other, share our stories, suffering, finishes, and triumphs no matter the distance, and celebrate the joy that awaits us at the finish. I hope to return to Hainesport next year.

Results on Ultrasignup

Read excerpts from, praise for, and listen to interviews about my memoir, Come What May, I Want to Run: A Memoir of the Saving Grace of Ultrarunning in Overwhelming Times.

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