Time to hit the trail: Ultrarunners prep for 100-mile race

Thursday, October 18, 2012


Staff Writer

Let’s see if there’s any way in the world to put ourselves into the running shoes of the folks who will, on Oct. 27-28, run 100 miles.

No, forget it.

Unless you’ve done it, it would seem it’s impossible to understand.

Steve Latour gets it, though. Latour, 41, has been running ultramarathons for four years, and judging by the way he describes his experience, he just loves doing it.

He’ll be doing it again this year in the annual Ghost Train Rail Trail Race from Milford to Brookline and back … and back … and back … and … well, do the math: The course, one way, is 7.5 miles, starting at the Milford Department of Public Works building on South Street and going to Camp Tevya on Lake Potanipo. So to hit 15 miles, a runner goes out and back. That means a runner who targets the 100-mile ultra will go out and back six times to hit 90 miles and then hit a new turnaround for the final 10.

But runners can do any distance, depending upon how much they really like going and going and …

The ultramarathon begins at 9 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 27, and will end the next day at the same place. The 15-mile race begins at 8 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 28, and starts and finishes at the DPW building.

“The fastest runners (in the ultra) might finish in about 17 hours, but most will take between 28 and 30 hours,” Latour said.

Some run the entire time, some walk a bit, and some rest then run or walk some more, he said.

This year, nine Canadians will be among the runners. Last year, there was one.

“The runner who came last year said he really enjoyed himself and he said he was going to spread the word,” Latour said.

The Canadians are all from the Quebec area, he said, and all will run the ultra.

One of the fun things about running this ultra, he said, is the “out-and-back” concept of the course, but there are others.

“It’s a beautiful course,” Latour said. “It’s a rail trail, so it’s pretty flat and straight, so it’s hard to get lost. And since you’re doing it out and back, you pass people and you see the leaders. In a point-to-point race, you see the leaders at the start and never again. Here, you can see all the other runners. I enjoyed that last year, and I think a lot of others did.

“Ultra runners are often social runners – they run together in groups – so it’s nice to see everybody, not just those who run at your speed.”

But it’s no walk in the park, if you’ll pardon the expression, especially for those doing 100 miles.

“A lot of people say the race starts at mile 70,” Latrou said. “When you’re going for 100, it’s daunting when you get that far in and still have 30 miles to go.”

But because this course is so flat – there’s just one hill in Milford – that makes it a little easier, although it’s still 100 miles.

“Typically, ultrarunners will walk a hill,” he said, but not everyone really knows how to deal with the distance. “A lot of people didn’t know when to walk, so they were running too much. You have to pace yourself to complete the entire race.”

This race includes three aid stations – beginning, middle and end – and “a lot of fun stuff on the course,” Latour said, including pumpkins, ghosts and the Grim Reaper.

“We’re going to decorate the aid stations,” he said. “It’s a whole festive occasion.”

For more information about the Ghost Train Rail Trail Race, visit

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