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She Decided to Exit 2020 by Running—for 24 Hours

Jen A. Miller describes a day spent running, walking, sleeping in misery and joy
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 6, 2021 11:20 AM CST
She Decided to Welcome 2021 by Running—for 24 Hours
Running away from 2020.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – However you welcomed 2021, it almost certainly wasn't like Jen A. Miller did: by running and walking. For 24 hours. In a piece for the New York Times, Miller explains that she signed up for the Hainesport Hundred and 24 Hour Endurance Run in Hainesport Township, NJ, "because it sounded like a good way to mark the end of a dreadful year." She had some ultramarathoning experience—two 50Ks (that's roughly 31 miles), though the last was in 2018 and she suffered a tibial stress fracture the next year. And the 9am to 9am race had some appeal, especially in COVID times. With just 27 runners, it wouldn't be crowded, and the race was a simple loop of nearly 1 mile, meaning she would never be terribly far from the aid station.

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Her goal was to run and walk until midnight, then "see what else I could do." So how'd she do? To use the word many have used to sum up 2020: survived. The weather didn't cooperate: Temps started at 44 degrees, then decreased (one runner's beard froze). It rained. By 6pm she had completed a marathon; by 6:30pm she gave up on running and just walked to this mental soundtrack: "This is stupid, it's cold, I'm cold, why did I do this, I could just go home, I can't make it to midnight, I have to make it to midnight, I can go home at midnight, no you cannot go home." She hit lap 38 at 11:15pm, got in her car soon after, and slept for nearly six hours; she started walking again at 5:30am. Then, around 8am, something shocking: "I started running again." (Read her full piece here to learn how many miles she logged.)

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