Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
When Suzie Stephensen participated in the 1908 Ultra Celebration Trail Run Challenge Sept. 26-27 around Heritage Trail near Camp Miles, she was preparing for an upcoming 100-mile run.
The 1908 event celebrated the 112th birthday of the Army Reserve.
Stephensen was one of 30 runners who participated in the celebration event, which began at 2:24 p.m. Sept. 26 and lasted 19 hours, eight minutes, signifying the year the Army Reserve was founded. Because the Army Reserve’s birthday is actually April 23, 1908, the run was originally scheduled for April 23, but was postponed because of the COVID-19 stay-at-home order. During the event, all participants and volunteers wore face coverings when six-feet of social distancing couldn’t be maintained.
“Ultra events are meant to test your physical ability and mental toughness,” said event coordinator Col. Angel Liberg, Combined Arms Center assistant chief of staff for Army Reserve Affairs.
Stephensen was the top-female finisher, running 64.4 miles in 17 hours, 47 minutes and 53 seconds. She said she was grateful for the support of her family and friends.
“As time is ticking, you get tired over time. It’s not just distance,” Stephensen said. “You can exhaust yourself just by taking too much time in between loops and making it just take longer.
“And it’s absolutely important to have a community to be able to do something like this,” she said. “There’s no way I could do this alone.”
Stephensen’s upcoming 100-mile run is a self-organized effort.
“The Hawk 100 (scheduled for Sept. 6 in Lawrence, Kan.) was canceled, but I decided that I had trained this much, I just wanted to go ahead and do it,” Stephensen said. “(By participating in the 1908 run first), I learned that things can change very quickly in a matter of minutes as far as how I feel and what problems I’m going to need to solve.
“If something is hurting in this hour, I may not hurt in the next hour, but just keep moving forward and don’t get stuck on the things that are happening to you in the moment,” she said. “It’s just realizing that it’ll pass, and there will be something else that hurts later.”
The running course followed the newly renovated four-and-a-half-mile Heritage Trail. Maintenance of the trail began in February after post received a $2,800 National Environmental Education Foundation Grant from the Department of Defense Legacy Park Rx awards. Work included mowing the trail, cutting down trees, clearing debris, building foot bridges, and adding 80 trail markers and four compost toilets.
“(I hope this event) introduces trail running to the Fort Leavenworth community to utilize the trails on Fort Leavenworth,” Liberg said. “Trail running is fun.”
Participant Taylor Budd of Kansas City, Mo., said the trail was really nice.
“I would definitely come back and (run) it again,” Budd said. “They had everything really well marked, and they had cleared out all of it. Ten out of 10.”
Budd ran 59.8 miles in 15:07:12.
While Stephensen and Budd participated in the race as solo runners, two teams also ran in the race, dividing up laps between each team member. One such team was all-female team, “We Run for Mimosas.” Together, the four team members — Maj. Adriana Castro, Command and General Staff Officer Course student; Army Reserve Maj. Erin Nash, and Meghan Gold and Maria Duncan, military spouses — ran 92 miles in 17:36:23.
“Having the team definitely helps you to push harder and not quit,” Castro said. “It was really scary at night because it was so dark, but just knowing that everybody was there gave our team good support.”
1908 Ultra Challenge trail run results
- Timothy Dodge, 73.6 miles, 18:26:03
- Paul Orth, 55.2 miles, 18:08:12
- Dan Jarrell, 50.6 miles, 18:16:16
Masters (older than 50): Michael Johnson, 50.6 miles, 18:20:28
- Suzie Stephensen 64.4 miles, 17:47.53
- Taylor Budd, 59.8 miles, 15:07:12
- Carol Johnson-Miller, 50.6 miles, 14:09:40
Masters: Stacey Johnson, 32.2 miles, 18:19:36
- Team 401 (Jeremy Phillips, Eric Towle, Frank Peachey and Rob Pushard): 105.8 miles, 16:44.37
- Team 402 (Erin Nash, Maria Duncan, Meghan Gold and Adriana Castro): 92 miles, 17:36.23