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The Wicked Curses Of An Un-broken Streak
by Kevin Cassidy
Unbroken streaks are not all that unusual in the ultra world. There are many examples of runners who line up year after year at the same event and/or events. In the main, runners do not enter an event with the initial aim of continuing a streak over the following years but as each year goes by and a runner starts to notice that he has not missed a particular race for a few years, the foundations of a "streak" are laid and the runner may start to focus on such a thing and as the streak gets longer, so does the pressure of maintaining that streak.
There are many examples of streaks all over the world, Tim Tweitmeyer has run 15 [I think] consecutive Western States 100 milers in California as has Jussi Halimaenien at the Angeles Crest 100. In Utah, I met a number of runners who had 10 or more consecutive finishes at the Wasatch 100. Here in Australia, Brian Gawne has finished all 12 Mansfield to Buller events while the evergreen Max Bogenhuber is the only runner to have finished all 19 Six Foot Track events despite his best running days being behind him and we all know the infamous Graham "Mountain Man" Kerruish who has averaged a marathon almost every day of his life!! Our own incomparable Shirley Young has run and finished every Melbourne Marathon since its inception in 1978 and I am sure there a many other streaks that I have not mentioned. Once a streak starts to grow, there is no stopping it....Or is there?
I, personally, never paid much attention to streaks. As finishing times did not matter, I never thought of a streak as being a difficult task. Unfortunately, I was forgetting those two dreaded words..words that have brought down Olympic Gold Medal favourites....Those dreaded words of "Illness" and "Injury".
In 2002, both those horrible words almost conspired to end my unbroken streak at the Maroondah Dam Trail [7 from 7]. A calf muscle strain a month before the race reduced my minimal training to basically zero, many thank here go to Bruce and Serena at the Gaffney Street Chiropractic Clinic in suburban Coburg for their efforts in ultimately getting me to the starting line....Then to cap things off just nicely, I end up bedridden with flu just a week before race day. Race day was not a happy occasion as I sniffled and coughed phlegm all the way to a painful finish in an almost embarrassingly slow 6hr 58min....By the time I flaked out at the finish, my t-shirt resembled a giant handkerchief! [YUK] but I had managed, along with Kelvin Marshall, to extend my streak to 8 from 7. Exactly why I seemed to have established a streak at such a tough 50km course is a bit of a mystery, I should have had the brains to have picked a less difficult course.
I don't know where the satisfaction comes from when you finish a long way behind your own capabilities because I could find no satisfaction at all, but I certainly gained a whole new respect for the consistency and longevity of those who have, and still are, maintaining long term streaks. I guess I can just hope for better luck next year when, undoubtedly, Kelvin and I will be lining up for number 9.
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