Prize: All the land one needs (and possibly much more)
Registration fee: 1000 rubles ≈ $4,000
Location: Bashkirstan, Russia
Course description: Mostly flat steppe; non-technical but grass is high.
Course map: One out and back loop, starting from the shikhan “rise” determined by the race director; the length and shape of the loop is determined and marked by the entrant.
Start & finish times: From appearance of sun to its disappearance
--Unsupported. In addition to food and drink, the entrant must carry a spade to dig up turf to mark the loop’s boundaries. All land within the loop will belong to the entrant.
--Entrant is guaranteed the minimal prize. Gaining land worth much more than the entrance fee is possible on an all or nothing basis. The entrant must mark the loop and return to the starting point before the sun disappears behind the horizon; if not, any right to the land will be forfeited. (Compare The Barkley Fall Classic: “Those who reach [the 22.1 mile] point within the [9.5 hour] time limit…can…choose to end the suffering and run an easy downhill grade for another 7 tenths of a mile, to record a marathon finish.... or, they can strike out into another 9 miles of brutal climbs and descents in an attempt to complete the 50k. Unlike other races with ‘drop-down’ choices, those who choose to continue can no longer log a marathon. At the BFC it is all or nothing.”)
Pre-race meal: tea, koumiss, mutton.
RACE REPORT OF ENTRANT PAHOM (1886)
This report, along with the above information, is taken from Leo Tolstoy’s “How Much Land Does a Man Need?”
Primary goal: cover a rectangle of at least 24 miles (35 square miles; almost double the known record).
Motivational mantra: “An hour to suffer, a life-time to live.”
Race fuel: a bag of bread and a flask of water
Race gear: hat, work shirt and pants, vest with a pocket to hold the bread, belt to hold the flask, boots. The boots and vest were removed and carried soon after what Pahóm estimated to be mile 3. But towards the end of the race, “he threw away his coat, his boots, his flask, and his cap, and kept only the spade which he used as a support.
Strategy: A common racing error is to start out too fast and then struggle to finish at a much slower pace. Pahóm did the opposite. He walked casually until the morning stiffness was gone, increased the walking pace, stopping only to mark his loop and to have a drink and bread, and then broke into a run as the sun neared the western horizon.
Temperature: “terribly hot.”
Performance. Pahóm experienced the physical and emotional gamut so common to distance runners:
Tolstoy’s short stories such as “How Much Land…” are available online. A published collection is a great gift for children (can be read as bedtime stories), youth, and adults.
Trails we follow,