Treadmill trainer wins debut 50-mile race

November 26th, 2013 by | Posted in Runs & Races | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Casey Thivierge's JFK 50 Mile medal. Photo: Casey Thivierge
Casey Thivierge’s JFK 50 Mile medal. Photo: Casey Thivierge

How many miles are you willing to run on a treadmill? Zach Miller must do plenty, and he does them on a cruise ship.

Miller, of Columbia, Pa., (not to be mistaken for the Zach Miller who twice finished in the top-ten at Western States 100-Miler) who works and trains on a cruise ship, won the JFK 50-mile race on Saturday, Nov. 23, over a strong field of proven ultrarunners. It was his debut at the distance.

Miller trains on cruise ship treadmills. Most cruises advertise that they have a gym on board, but the daring few who have had the idea to train on an all-inclusive boat vacation will know they are often little more than an afterthought, tucked away in small, closet-sized spaces below deck. Cruises are not an optimal training environment.

But Miller made it work. He had never in his life run 50 miles and didn’t enter the race until one week before after doing well at a recent 50K event. He was given a late entry to the elite field for a race he had never even heard of.

“I thought finishing somewhere around six hours would be realistic and that top-ten would be reasonable,” Miller told Herald-Mail Media. “But I was a little skeptical because 50 miles is a long way.”

His time was the third-fastest in race history.

The 25-year-old won in 5:38 over runner-up Matt Flaherty’s 5:44. In third was Michael Wardian, who only a week ago gained some attention in the running world after completing two marathons under three hours in a single day, the first of which he won.

Canadian Rob Krar, a pre-race favourite, dropped out with 10 miles remaining after battling most of the race with Miller.

“When I looked back and didn’t see anybody, I was pretty pumped,” said Miller.

The top female finisher was Emily Harrison of Flagstaff, Az., who finished in 6:35.