First published on Advocatemag.com, the website of the Lake Highlands Advocate magazine June 25.
Lake Highlands runner Nick Polito this past weekend completed the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run in 28 hours 47 minutes. Yeah, so the guy seriously ran for almost 29 hours straight. Well, he would correct me there—he says he walked up the steepest hills (about 18,090 feet of climbing overall) and ran/walked the final 20 miles.
Before entering Western States, which began at 5 a.m. last Saturday at the base of the Squaw Valley ski resort and finished Sunday at a high school track in Auburn, California, Polito had to qualify by completing another endurance run in a certain amount of time.
Polito—who lives in Lake Highlands with his wife Sunny and sons Christopher, 14, and Luke and Campbell, 7-year-old twins—took up running several years ago and showed promise.
I met him through the Dallas Running Club way back when he was working to qualify for the Boston Marathon. He indeed ran the Boston Marathon and a year later ran it again in under 3 hours, which is a feat for anyone, but especially impressive for a guy in his 40s.
So, I guess he just needed more of a challenge. For Western States, he says he trained about 13 hours a week or 80 miles per week in the three months leading up to Western State. That’s a time-consuming hobby for a father of three who also works full time, so support from the family was essential, he says.
“They are supportive and very proud. They do just about anything I need to accomplish my goals. They know that running is my passion and in many situations my social outlet,” he says. “They give me the time and on race day they love to come out and support. For a 100 miler this means 24-30 hours of running around in the rain to only see me for three minutes at a time.” Christopher served on Nick’s Western States support crew.
During the race, Polito says he felt bad 30 miles in. “At the top of an 8700-foot climb, it started to hail, with gale-force winds,” he says. By mile 30 he thought he might stop, “but I told myself I would not quit. They would have to pull me off the course and I didn’t see anyone big enough to do that. After my climb up Devil’s Thumb, mile 48, I had my strength back.”
Today he feels a “little tired” but mostly high from the experience. “A lot of that has to do with all the support I get from friends and family.”
For better or worse, he’ll need to return to regular life for a bit now. “The reality is I am back to being dad and life with the family and work gets started right back up. I look forward to a couple of weeks of rest and no running.”
He has another race, a mere 50-miler, planned for October.