Walter Anderson, 44, a Conneaut resident and member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 673, recently ran the longest footrace in Ohio, the Olde 96er 200-mile ultra.
The race is called the Olde 96er due to a 96-hour time limit to finish the 200-mile course, as it challenges the dexterity, conditioning and mental toughness of runners. The course stretched from the shores of Lake Erie, down to the Ohio River and back.
Anderson began the race on Sept. 19 with a running partner, but his partner eventually dropped out of the race due to discomfort from blisters. Left alone to finish the race, Anderson ran through the nights, stopping every so often to rest or resupply.
Every 50 to 60 miles along the course, he took a two- or three-hour nap, which helped him keep up his goal of an 18-minute mile pace. The hottest day of the race came on Sunday, the final full day of the ultra-marathon, as the temperature reached 91 degrees.
The extreme heat did not stop Anderson, who was well into his rhythm. He carried on through the heat and managed to finish the race around 3:04 a.m. on Monday morning. He completed the grueling race in a total time of 92:04:02.
For extreme distance runners, finishing these races are an accomplishment unto themselves. The race started with 15 participants, but only nine runners completed the trek. The winning runner crossed the finish line with a time of 69:01:40.
Anderson’s feat is even more impressive considering he began training for long-distance races about five years ago. A former cross-country runner at Edgewood High School in Ashtabula County, he returned to running as a hobby in 2015 when he was laid off.
During this time, his wife was recovering from a recent surgery, and he would join her at a local track to keep her company while she was doing rehabilitation exercises. At first, he started running for a minute and then walking for a minute. Soon, he began to increase his intervals, eventually discovering he could push himself to run for long periods of time.
An active member Local 673 since 1999, Anderson, now finds enjoyment in running ultra-marathons, he has completed three 100-mile races and a bevy of other long-distance races.
“They’re real fun, learning the strategies of running long distances,” he said.