STRAVA Summary

Friday, March 18, 2011

Ultra Running taken to the extreme by a Canadian.

An article that appeared in the Hamilton Spectator last November.

She swears that someday soon she’s going to take up knitting. Something that’s stagnant that doesn’t take the better part of a day to complete. An activity that doesn’t require tons of travel, loads of vacation time and oodles of organization.

But that’s for later. Tomorrow, Monica Scholz will be working on completing a 100-mile race near Collingwood. As in, 160 kilometres. Which, for the record, she’s running, not driving.

Remarkable as that is, the accomplishment is made exponentially more astonishing by the fact that it’s her world-record 25th such race of the year. An achievement that makes most casual runners and every non-runner ask the same head-shaking question.

Is she crazy?

“No,” she deadpans. “Thirty would be crazy.”

Clearly, putting more miles on her shoes than some people put on their car hasn’t cost her a sense of humour. Make no mistake though, 100 miles times 25 is a long, long way.

By the time today’s race is over – 20 hours after she starts, give or take a few minutes – the 43-year-old will have essentially run from the front door of her place in Ancaster to downtown Los Angeles this year. For those who still can’t grasp how far that is, it’s from her home to Toronto and back, 25 times. Or from Copps Coliseum to Lime Ridge Mall and back, 268 times. This isn’t even counting the thousands of additional training miles she’s logged.

And while she’s not sprinting from start to finish, she’s hardly toddling along either. Those of you who did last year’s Around The Bay Race in over three-and-a-half hours or the 5k in more than 35 minutes – there are nearly 2,000 of you out there who fall into that category – won’t want to hear that she’s moving faster than you.

But back to the essential question. Is she nuts?

People ask her this all the time. Folks play amateur psychiatrist and ask what she’s running from. They wonder if she’s obsessive compulsive. They suspect she may have self-destructive tendencies.

She denies it all. Scholz says she’s merely someone who loves to run. Kind of like Forrest Gump without the cool soundtrack. Or the simpleness. While each effort is tiring – she burns between 400 and 600 calories an hour and often refills on hamburgers as she moves – she says she’s not in pain while running. To the contrary, she’s actually enjoying herself and the camaraderie with the other participants.

It’s been this way since she started back in 1996 as a first-timer in the Ancaster Old Mill 10k race. She finished that run and immediately received her next challenge.

“You get to the finish line and there are all these people with entry forms for a 10-mile race,” she says, launching into the thought process that created one of the greatest distance runners ever. “I just finished a 10k. I wonder if I could do 10 miles?”

Turns out she could. Just as she discovered she could do a half marathon, then a marathon and so on. By the time she did a few 50-mile races, the threshold to serious distance running had been crossed. Someone wrote that it was like she cracked the code. Soon she was doing distances mere mortals can’t even fathom. A hundred miles and longer. Her office shelves are covered in trophies and trinkets from these races. She jokingly calls it her I Love Me wall.

Call it a passion or an obsession or whatever you like, but in 2001 she did 23 of these 100-milers. That was the world record. She’d only planned to do 16, but she discovered some German guy was going for 19 so she added a few to the schedule to make sure she’d have the mark.

That would’ve likely been the end of her record attempts but right after finishing a 100-miler in Jerseyville 20 months ago, another runner suggested she try to break her own mark.

“The suggestion was, before I get too old and decrepit, to try to break it,” she chuckles.

Before she moves to knitting, that is. Her comment.

Days later, she decided to give it a go. All that was left was to sort out the convoluted logistics, which she says is the most-difficult part of the effort. There are 88 of these races held every year but many happen on the same weekends as others. When she looked at which ones she could make without interfering with her work as a lawyer and which ones didn’t overlap, the field was reduced to 34 possibilities stretching from Ancaster to Hawaii. She chose 25.

The first was midway through January. Fittingly, the event was called HURT. Every month since there’s been at least one. In five of those, there have been three. This will be her sixth race since Oct. 2.

Today will also be her 111th overall which has made her a worldwide legend in ultra running circles. The plan was for this one to be the last ever. She thought it would be a nice, symmetrical number to retire on. After all, this kind of life doesn’t come without a cost.

All the travelling is time-consuming. She’s blown most of her Air Miles. Her vacation time is shot. She admits she feels tired all the time. She’s been at this so long, she’s not even sure what normal feels like anymore. The day or two after every race is spent walking a little gimpy. She has to eat constantly to keep her weight up.

It’s why she keeps bringing up the knitting.

She says it so often you wonder if she actually means it. Until you ask what’s next and Scholz momentarily forgets about needles and wool and starts talking about pacing her husband in his attempt to do a 100-miler in January. And completing a bike race she’s had her eye on in France. It’s 1,200 kilometres and has to be completed in 84 hours.

“Can you imagine what you’re butt’s going to be like after 1,200 kilometres?” she laughs.

OK, a little crazy.


Here are the races she was doing.

Race # Date Race Name Place
1 January 16 HURT Honolulu, Hawaii
2 February 6 Rocky Racoon Huntsville,Texas
3 February 13 Iron Horse Florahome, Florida
4 February 27 LOST Florida
5 March 5 Coyote Two Moon Ojai, California
6 March 27 Paulinskill Sussex 100 Knowlton, New Jersey
7 April 10 McNaughton Pekin, Illinois
8 April 24 Jerseyville 100 Jerseyville, Ontario
9 May 1 Iron Horse St. Paul, Alberta
10 May 8 McNaughton Pittsfield, Vermont
11 May 15 Keys 100 Key West, Florida
12 May 29 Sulphur Springs Dundas, Ontario
13 June 5 Old Dominion Fort Valley, Virginia
14 June 12 San Diego San Diego, California
15 June 19 Mohican Trail Loudonville, Ohio
16 June 26 Laramie Laramie, Wyoming
17 July 12 Badwater Death Valley, California
18 July 17 Vermont South Woodstock, Vermont
19 July 24 Swan Crest Swan Lake, Montana
20 July 31 Burning River Willoughby Hills, Ohio
21 August 7 Viaduct Trail Lanesboro, Pennsylvania
22 August 21 Leadville Leadville, Colorado
23 August 28 Angeles Crest Wrightwood, California
24 September 4 Grand Teton Alta, Wyoming
25 September 11 Haliburton Haliburton, Ontario
26 September 18 Virgil Crest Virgil, New York
27 September 25 PCT 100 OR Bear To be determined
28 October 2 Arkansas Traveller Ouachita, Arkansas
29 October 9 Oil Creek Oil City, Pensylvannia
30 October 16 Boulder OR Ozark To be determined
31 October 23 Syllamo Blanchard Springs, Arkansas
32 October 30 Javalina Jundred Fountain Hills, Arizona
33 November 6 Pinhoti OR Mother Road To be determined
34 December 11 Ancient Oaks Titusville, Florida

That makes 111 lifetime 100's for Ms. Scholz...congrats, Monica!!!

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