Race organizers run ultra marathons

‘You meet your ugly side, and you meet your good side’

Mirror photo by William Kibler / Todd Lewis (left), Tyler Snyder (center) and Adam McGinnis helped to organize the Dirty Kiln Race.

Most of the 319 individuals who ran through mud and up and down hills in Canoe Creek State Park Saturday morning in the Allegheny Train Runners Dirty Kiln Trail Races — either 5 miles or a half-marathon — probably didn’t realize their suffering was intended as a mere introduction.

“An entry level trail race,” said Todd Lewis, who is on the club’s board of directors.

Running 5 miles is plenty hard for lots of people and running 13.1 miles is plenty hard for most.

But at least three of those who helped to organize the race — Lewis, Adam McGinnis and Tyler Snyder — have all completed 100-mile ultra marathons.

And that — “I don’t know how to put this without sounding like an a–hole,” Lewis said. “But if you can say you did that, it says something about yourself.”

And yet, according to Lewis, McGinnis and Snyder, anyone can do it.

It doesn’t matter what size, age or shape, Lewis said

Before he became a runner, Lewis, 43, smoked three packs of cigarettes a day.

McGinnis weighed almost 300 pounds.

Snyder — well, according to McGinnis, he’s an exception: “A ball of talent.”

All three have run 100 miles in about 30 hours, through the woods, in the light, in the dark, back into the light.

You learn a lot about yourself, McGinnis said. “You meet your ugly side, and you meet your good side.”

You depend on yourself, and you depend on others — necessarily, he said.

You learn what it’s like to truly need — to need water when you’re thirsty, food when you’re hungry, he said.

That is an antidote to the continual drinking and eating that for most of us, keeps us from ever feeling truly thirsty or hungry, he said.

You feel good during a long run like that and you feel bad.

Ultra marathoners have a saying, “If you’re feeling good, don’t worry about it, that will change,” McGinnis said.

Lewis completed his 100-miler at Oil Creek State Park on Oct. 8, 2016, in a minute less than 30 hours.

The race started at 5:30 a.m., the temperature was in the 60s and it was overcast.

There was a rain shower during the event.

He felt great initially, but at mile 72, he got sick, throwing up, because he’d taken too much fructose.

He gutted through the next 12 miles and felt better when daylight came.

When you’re running a long race, “you become what you’re doing,” said McGinnis, who ran with Lewis that day.

“You become the pain,” McGinnis said. “You become the trail.”

“It’s transcendent,” he said.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.