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How did Bellingham woman finish 100-mile run at age 82?

Barb Macklow is shown at the track near Phoenix where she ran 100 miles from Dec. 30, 2016, to Jan. 1, 2017.
Barb Macklow is shown at the track near Phoenix where she ran 100 miles from Dec. 30, 2016, to Jan. 1, 2017. Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

A Bellingham woman ran 100 miles in less than 48 hours to mark the new year, completing essentially four marathons in a row with only a few breaks to eat, hydrate and catch a few minutes’ sleep.

Did we forget to mention that she’s 82?

“I finished 100 miles. I finished in under the 48 hours, just barely,” Barb Macklow said Tuesday, two days after completing the Across the Years footrace near Phoenix. She started running at 9 a.m. Friday and hit her mark just before 9 a.m. New Year’s morning, taking 47 hours, 21 minutes to cover the distance.

They tell you not to think about how much you’ve got to go, just concentrate on the mile you’re on.

Barb Macklow, 82

“It was pretty good until about 85 miles, and the rest was really a struggle,” Macklow said. “I thought that this was my last chance, and I’d better just tough it out. Those last 15 miles, my body was not happy.”

Macklow had run a 100-mile event once before, when she was 74, becoming the second U.S. woman to complete a “century,” as ultramarathon runners call such a race. She thinks she is the only U.S. woman older than 80 to finish a 100-mile run in 48 hours. She plans to keep running, but this was her last 100-miler.

“It’s not the years, it’s the mileage,” Macklow said, only half joking. “I started (endurance running) late in life, in my 50s. They said I have ‘young legs,’ not a lot of miles on them.”

For the most part, Macklow stuck to her plan for the race, which was to run 25-mile segments. She’d pause briefly or eat and drink on the run for each 25-mile portion, stopping between segments for an hour or so to nap or just rest and change her shoes and socks. Midway through the race, ultramarathoners wear a half-size larger shoe because their feet swell.

Weather wasn’t much of a factor, she said, with temperatures in the 50s and 60s with occasional rain showers. The race was on a flat gravel path at a Glendale, Ariz., training facility used by the Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers during spring training. Competitors choose among several events – 24-, 48-, or 72-hour runs or covering as much distance as possible in six days.

“I didn’t want to let fatigue get ahead of me,” she said. “They tell you not to think about how much you’ve got to go, just concentrate on the mile you’re on. Just stay in the moment.”

After finishing, Macklow showered and attended an awards ceremony at which she received a commemorative belt buckle and a beer mug. She slept from noon to dinnertime and was back on a regular schedule for a flight Monday morning to Bellingham. She’s nursing a few blisters on her feet.

“I’m happy I got it accomplished,” she said.

Robert Mittendorf: 360-756-2805, @BhamMitty

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