An article from The New York Times about the 1992 TransAmerica Footrace.
RUNNING; After 2,935.8 Miles, Warady Is First to Finish Line
Looking every bit as fresh as someone who had just run 2,935.8 miles in 64 eight-hour days, 35-year-old David Warady breezed into Central Park yesterday morning to claim victory in the first Tour de Tired, or, to use its offical name, the Runner’s World Trans America Footrace.
Warady, one of 28 ultramarathoners who left Huntington Beach, Calif., just south of Los Angeles, on June 20, was one of 13 survivors who made it to the finish line at Columbus Circle after traversing 13 states in stages ranging from 30 to 60 miles, in conditions that included temperatures of 120 degrees and mountainous climbs at 12,000 feet.
“I feel great,” said Warady, whose time of 521 hours 35 minutes 57 seconds (21 days 18 hours) became the foundation record for what the organizer, the Ultra Marathon Runners Association, and the chief sponsor, Runner’s World magazine, hope to make an annual event. Kept a Steady Pace
Warady, a computer programmer from Huntington Beach, won only 10 of the race’s 64 stages, but his steadiness had built up such a lead that his victory had long been virtually assured. He coasted through the last stages of the event, finishing almost 6 hours ahead of his nearest competitor, 32-year-old Milan Milanovic of Switzerland (527:16:21), who won 14 stages.
The race’s youngest competitor, Tom Rogozinski, 22, of Pittsburgh, who led the race for six days in Kansas and Missouri before developing a stress fracture and who led the field with 16 stage victories, was third (528:48:54). Richard Westbrook, 45, of Jonesboro, Ga., was fourth (537:33:04).
The Trans America was the nation’s first coast-to-coast race in more than 60 years, and among those who gathered to greet the finishers was 85-year-old Harry Abrams, the only survivor from the immediate predecessors, the 1928 Bunyon Derby from California to New York and the New York-to-California derby in 1929.
“This is the very spot where we began the 1929 race,” said Abrams, who did not fail to tell Warady of his own peak achievement: running 70 miles in 10 hours, an average of 7 miles an hour. By contrast, Warady averaged 5.6 miles an hour over the entire race.
Based on pre-race expectations, the victory by Warady, whose longest previous run had been 300 miles in a six-day race, was something of a surprise.
In part, Warady’s victory reflected a series of successive disasters that struck other competitors, including the pre-race favorite, 46-year-old Al Howie, a Scottish-born resident of Canada who had set a record in a trans-Canada run in 1991. Howie was forced out of the race after seven days when he developed severe blisters running through the Mojave Desert.
Warady’s main advantage, however, was his own meticulous preparation and the exclusive services of his own full-time crew: his wife, Kelly Babiak, who quit her job so she could accompany her husband in a minivan, providing him with liquids at three-mile intervals and with peanut butter and banana sandwiches two or three times a day.
While the other runners slept in sleeping bags and on cots in churches, community centers and the like — at one point camping out in the open beside a Utah highway for two successive nights — Warady stayed with his wife in the comfort of motels.
I will personally attest to Tom’s toughness. Without a doubt, in my 20 years of racing, Tom Rogozinski and Richard Westbrook (4th in TA) were the toughest runners I’ve ever competed against. Rogo’s 8hr, 59 mile stage, might be the most incredible individual effort in the 1992 TransAmerica race.