Keys 100 Ultra Marathon

Posted: June 17, 2013 by smrtnsasy in Race Reports
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

By Jan Westbrook

On Saturday, May 18, 2013 at 6:10 AM, 105 people began the grueling 100 mile race, the Keys 100. There was also a 100 mile relay which began 10 minutes earlier, and a 50 mile race which began at the 50 mile marker.  The race began in beautiful Key Largo, Florida, and continued down Highway 1 through the Keys, to the finish in Key West. Among those beginning the individual race was Richard Westbrook, 1965 graduate of Trion High School.

There was a meeting the night before to go over rules, give maps, chips to be worn for check-in points, and signs for cars. The crew cars had to have caution signs, the runners name and number on the car. Richard’s crew was his wife, Jan, daughter Season, and nephew Nick. The crew followed him, stopping every two miles to give fluids. The runners had to wear reflective vests and flashing lights front and back while running through the night. Just as darkness came, the runners had to cross the 7 mile bridge, where no crew could get to them. They lost a few more runners at the bridge.

The heat was a major factor in the race. 90+ degree heat during the day, with very little shade anywhere caused problems for many of the runners. Richard’s crew kept ice in a pack around his neck, and his visor dipped in ice water all through the afternoon. His crew helped other runners along the way with ice and fluids and even sun screen, which was an essential for runners and crews.

Early Sunday morning, as the sun came up and the heat began to rise, runners and crews were anxiously looking for that “Welcome to Key West” sign, and what a welcome site it was. That gave them the strength to go on, knowing it was almost over. Mileage signs started at 100 in Key Largo, and counted down to 0 in Key West. As those signs got small, the excitement grew, 5 miles, 4, and on to the finish.

Out of the 105 who began the race, 67 finished. Richard was 35th overall in a time of 26 hrs., 54 minutes. He won his age group of 65 & over, and his winning time beat the winning time of age group winners 45 and up. The finish was on Higgs Beach in Key West, and Richard hit the water when he finished on Sunday morning. His wife, Jan, was very proud of him. Her comment: “He’s my hero”!

Richard is a competitive ultra-marathoner, competing in races 50 miles and up. Last summer, he finished 6th in a 500 K race (311 miles), the Vol State Ultra. That took him 5-1/2 days. He ran that with no crew; all he could have was what he could carry on his back.

He has not missed a day running in 38 years, and will be competing in other ultra-races in the future. He teaches and coaches cross-country and track in Henry County, Ga. Richard and Jan have 4 children and 7 grandchildren.

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