Guest Q&A: Zach Karmel
Read Time: 3 mins
If you’ve kept up with HPM over the past few weeks, you’ve seen that weather and Momma Nature have their own plans one of our signature events … again. This time, the inaugural Perennial Endurance Run was rescheduled due to significant weather and trail damage at the event venue. We quickly shot a note to all participants with options for how to handle their registration. Naturally everyone involved was bummed but responses were overwhelmingly understanding and optimistic. W
We certainly heard a few unique situations that required some creativity. One response stood out though … “I was wondering if I could submit an alternate run in place of Perennial. My friends and I decided to run 50 miles that day”. Of course we had to respond ...
That simple email with very little context came from Zach Karmel of Memphis, TN. We explained that HPM’s mission is all about inspiring more activity in people’s lives and this email was inspiring us … Thank You Zach! We also wanted to gather more info to fully understand how to respond while being fair and respectful to other participants that might be in the same situation. Zach sent over his Strava activity HERE and the puzzle pieces started to fall into place.
Turns out, Zach is a student at Duke University and he and nine other members of Duke Club Running had registered for Perennial (the event features 3Hr, 6Hr and 10Hr time categories) and they weren’t going to be able to make the rescheduled date of 1/27/24.
What really caught our eye, however, was the first 3 sentences of Zach’s Strava description …
“Last night at midnight: Zack, I'm not going to run tomorrow.
Today at 7:30 AM: I'm just going to drop off William’s ultravest and run 6 miles.
This was really dumb, I’m chafing worse than I've ever chafed before, and I can't climb stairs. I'm still pretty happy though.”
50 miles, lots of discomfort/pride and a phone call later and we simply had to share his story and effort with you all!
We tossed a few questions to Zach to congratulate him on one hell of an impromptu human powered experience and to find out what in the world was going through his head throughout the day. Sit back and enjoy (and then immediately put down the screen and go on your own spur of the moment adventure)
Q: Let’s step back a minute … How did you hear about the Perennial Endurance Run, and what drew you to this type of event?
A: I heard about Perennial through the team! I have wanted to visit Charlotte since moving to NC, and I really resonated with HPM’s mission, but what attracted me to this race was the concept of a timed run. I’m not huge on the stress that comes with racing for time PRs! I mostly enjoy competing against myself, so flipping the “see how fast you can run X distance” to “see how much distance you can run in X time” was perfect for me.
Q: Be honest, what was your initial reaction when you first saw the email about the Perennial Endurance Run being rescheduled?
A: I was really bummed! I only registered a few weeks before, but I was especially sad for my friends who had been shaping their training schedules around the race for over a month.
Q: We eventually figured out (through your Strava activity) that you were part of a big group that was planning to run Perennial … is this a common occurrence for the squad?
A: Yes! That was Duke Club Running (@dukeclubrunning on Instagram if you’re interested)! They’ve been such an awesome and supportive community throughout my college experience, and I’ve seen (and participate in) an explosion in interest in ultramarathons on the team. It was so cool to have such a wide range of ultra-experience on that run. Grace has been running 50s and 100s for years, Jocelyn won a 100k last year, and Emma distance PRed by 20 miles just like me. There were even two freshmen who ran 50k with us and a couple people who joined us for shorter segments! The DCR squad is awesome.
Q: According to Strava you weren’t going to run at all, then just a 6 miler, then a 50 miler. That’s a pretty big U-turn in your thinking. What happened?!?
A: It always seems to go that way for me. I hadn’t even had breakfast! I received some encouragement and food from the people around me, and I’m so grateful for the others’ support. I don’t think I could have made it without them. On the other hand, most of my friends weren’t surprised! I guess they’ve grown to expect this sort of thing from me.
Q: We can only imagine that a few surprises popped up throughout your impromptu 50-Miler … Can you share a few highs and lows of the day?
A: The biggest highlight of the day was Grace’s mom acting as our moving aid station! I mentioned before that Grace is an experienced ultra-runner, but her whole family runs ultras together. Her mom ran 25 miles checking in on us and drove back and forth with a trunk-load of food that saved us. Even beyond that, the other three were so prepared that they were able to carry me through the finish with fruit, sandwiches, and a portable watch charger. The lowest point of the run came once the conversation died down after 8ish hours. I was amazed that I was able to talk for that long, but it was a blast! The problem with super long distances is that only having a little left stills mean several hours of running, and I REALLY started to understand that around mile 40. I was very ready to be done by the end! My friends were hosting a surprise birthday party in my apartment, so I wished her a happy birthday and fell right onto my bed at like 9:30.
Q: Are you more or less likely plan ahead for your next all day adventure?
A: I wish I could say I was, but probably not!
Q: Will you and the crew be joining us for Psychoactive: A Last Runner Standing Event on 9/21/24?
A: I can’t commit to it quite yet, but if I’m in NC next year, there’s no way I’d want to miss it!
Q: Most importantly, what if we say “no”, that run doesn’t count for Perennial prizes?
A: Then, I guess I have to do it all over again! It’s weird: at mile 45, I thought I would never run that far again, but now, I’m thinking about when I should try for 100k!
About the Guest Contributor:
Zach Karmel is a senior at Duke studying Electrical and Computer Engineering and Computer Science. When he’s not in class, he likes to go on spontaneous runs of various distances!
Journal - An Impromptu 50 Mile PR
Human Powered Journal
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Adam Bratton is the Founder and Head Enabler at Human Powered Movement.
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