Gene Dykes, aka the #Ultrageezer, is a modest fellow, not given to trumpeting his achievements (especially after discovering that his takedown of Ed Whitlock’s M70 marathon world record at Jacksonville in December 2018 would not be ratified due to the race not being a USATF-sanctioned event). This could be why we only just learned that last month at the Dawn 2 Dusk 2 Dawn 24-hour ultramarathon in Sharon Hill, Pennsylvania (not far from where he lives), in the pouring rain, Dykes quietly broke the M70 100-mile and 24-hour track records.
Dykes ran 100 miles in 21:06:07 and 111.79 miles (179.98K) over 24 hours. Records are ratified by the American Ultrarunning Association, though Dykes’ latest records have not been updated on the site. The previous records were both held by Edson Sower, 72, of Arizona, at 22:01:34 and 172.80K.
However, if you take a look, you’ll see that Dykes already holds the US age-group records in the 50K, 50-mile, 12-hour, and 100K categories. He set those last year at the same race.
The race takes place on a high school track. “This Saturday at 7 a.m. I am starting a 24-hour race,” Dykes posted on Facebook beforehand. “By 7:03, I will have seen the entire course!”
“I really have mixed feelings about fixed-time races,” Dykes goes on, “but the main feeling is, ‘I should really have my head examined!’ …The main reason I occasionally do them… is that I like to get out of my comfort zone now and then, but this race was WAY out of my comfort zone!”
As so often happens at long races, the weather changed drastically over the course of the day, and never conformed to what was forecast. “The forecast was promising–cloudy during the day with a high in the upper 60’s and showers at night–but what we got was something altogether different. Brilliant sunshine all day, and, not being prepared for that, I got some nasty sunburn on my calves. At night it was cold, rainy, and windy–not the light rain I expected. Fortunately, I brought along a down jacket, which I wore under my raincoat, and heavy wool gloves.”
Dykes is a big fan of Maurten nutrition–the hydrogels favoured by elite marathoners like Eliud Kipchoge. “What a total game changer that stuff is,” Dykes said in a Facebook post. “I thought I would only use it for marathons, but midway through this race I realized that I was not going to be able to tolerate solid food much longer. With Maurten, you can ingest more calories per hour with no GI distress. I doubt if I could have finished the race without it. It’s also probably a major reason I didn’t hit the dreaded wall.”
We’ve learned to pay close attention to Dykes’ Facebook page to find out what he’s up to, which is a lot. (He races every weekend when not injured.) And he writes long and entertaining stories about everything he does. “No running for a while!” he wrote, after the track ultra. “At least not until my race next weekend.”
Dykes followed up his day (and night) at the track with the 73-mile (117.5K) Whalers’ Great Route Ultra-Trail Azores 118K on the island of Faial, off the coast of Portugal.