Violeta Alekseyev, while not a member of DWRT, is a friend to many on the team, and well known for her exploits in endurance events. An accountant by profession, Violeta came to America from Russia 5 years ago, and began running in 2010 “…when [she] got a very energetic puppy.” As a 27th birthday present to herself, Violeta decided to attempt her first 100 mile race, choosing the 2014 Winter Beast of Burden in Lockport, NY for her debut. Fighting off extreme cold and physical pain, Violeta finished the race in 19th place, with a time of 28 hours, 5 minutes, and 8 seconds. She has been kind enough to offer up her race report from the event, so read on and enjoy…
Photo: Dan Salmons
Well… I didn’t bring a buckle home…
I guess it’s time to submit a race report. I’ve never done it. I seriously hate writing. There’s a reason I’m an accountant. So I’ll try and do my best. Please don’t kill me…
I didn’t think much before signing up for Beast of Burden. I never had a dream that involved running 100 miles. But I felt that I couldn’t call myself an Ultra-runner before finishing a 100. In fact, I was in a perfect running condition when I signed up. But couple of weeks later, I was injured at the New York City Marathon. There was no way I could attempt a 100-miler. I tried to withdraw, though it turned out it’s against race policy (Ed: BoB offers no refund for withdrawal.). So I decided to give it a try.
Kenneth Tom was generous enough to offer a ride to BoB. We stayed with Jim Pease and Beth Buchanan Pease at their beautiful house. It felt like I was back home for a day. Absolutely amazing people! When I woke up in the morning, Beth had already been up for a couple of hours and was making breakfast for us. I looked outside; the weather was nice, with just few little flurries. We left the house an hour before the race and drove to the start. I looked at the people around me. They were so serious, especially the ones with ski masks on. I didn’t feel as if I belonged.
The race started at 10:00 AM. The first 3 miles turned out to be pure pavement and I had to run it 4 times within the race. My worst nightmare came true, as 8 miles later the race portion ended for me… My IT Band was inflamed, and I couldn’t step on my right foot. At the next Aid Station I told my pacer that it’s a DNF; I won’t make it. I couldn’t believe it was the end. There was only one thing left that might help: Vodka. Yes, I had a shot of Vodka and somehow continued running.
I understood that 92 miles of limping would take me forever. The decision was made to cover as much distance as I could within the cut-off. I managed to finish the first 50 miles in around 11 hours and 20 minutes. At that time my pacer Hideki Kinoshita joined me. We covered the 12.5 miles to the Lockport Aid Station, arriving around 1:30 AM. I changed clothes completely, and ate meat (…make your jokes again, Ken Tom).
When we left the Aid Station I couldn’t believe my eyes. The wind had picked up, and, incredibly, it got colder! Still, we finished 75 miles by 6:10 AM. The weather had turned into a real disaster! I felt like I was back in Russia. Around 6:30 we left for the last loop. My mind was turning off, and I couldn’t handle the darkness anymore. I kept asking Kino “When will the sun rise?” He said around 6:45. By 7:30 there was still no sunrise and I really started having doubts if there would be.
By the time we reached 82 miles I decided I want to quit. It was too painful. Kino asked Ken to substitute pacing as he was experiencing pain similar to a stress fracture. I just sat in a chair and looked at my swollen hands. Kino and Ken tried to tell me that I could do it, but I didn’t hear any of that. Suddenly I heard the voice in my head saying that Russians don’t quit. I started to cry, but I already knew I would finish.
A few minutes later I was on the road with my new pacer, Ken. 5.5 miles later Kino joined us; it turned out he had worn too many socks, resulting in his pain and swollen feet. The worst part was the last 7 miles; they seemed like an eternity. Ken and Kino tried to feed me chips and gave me ginger ale to drink. By that time, I had stopped understanding them; I just wanted to get out of that terrible place.
When we got to the mile 98, we heard people screaming on the other side of the canal. Lisa Cao, Kat Uba Bermudez, Joe Del Conte, Jim and Beth Pease, Jennifer MacDonald and many others were waiting for me to finish. They hadn’t slept in two days and yet were still waiting in that cold weather. Yes, it made me cry. I remember Ken telling me that I could cry later, that now I had to focus on the last push. My knee had given out completely at that point, so I picked up a random stick and used it for walking. I finished at 28 hours and 5 minutes. My immediate wish was to leave right away. I just couldn’t spend even a second longer there.
The buckle? No, I don’t own one. I strongly believe that ultra-marathons, unlike any other individual sport, are a product of teamwork. I wouldn’t have finished without the support of the volunteers, pacers and crew members. So I willingly gave the buckle to the person that earned it no less than me. From now on Ken Tom is an official owner of Beast of Burden Buckle. Kino got the special Russian medal. And me? I got the title of “OFFICIAL ULTRA-RUNNER” :)))
I want to give special thanks for Jim and Beth Pease, who let us stay with them and took care of me like I was their daughter, not to mention that they didn’t sleep for two days themselves.
I want to thank all the volunteers at BoB. You were the best! Jennifer, your beer and warm blankets saved me.
I want to thank all the runners that supported me with their kind words.
Also thank you to my best friend Nadia, who stayed with my dog and kept sending me messages to keep my spirit high.
Of course, I wouldn’t have made it without Kino and Ken. I know how difficult it was for you guys to stay up for two days and keep me going. Sorry for all my crying and my sometimes yelling at you :))
I want to thank Christine Tom for sending all the motivational messages. I know you didn’t sleep too well while your husband was volunteering and pacing me.
There was one person who I knew suffered more than me: My Mom Людмила Ухтверова. Nothing hurts any mother more than knowing that somewhere your child is in pain and that you can’t help. Anything I do, I do for you Mom. So you can be proud of me.
After all, what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger, right?
This post is the opinion of the author and does not necessarily represent the opinion of the Dashing Whippets Running Team, its board, or its captains.