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ATC employee running 552 miles in 10 days for cancer research

On the morning of May 24, David Jesse, training support specialist at American Transmission Co., started the Infinitus 888K, which is a 10-day, 552-mile ultramarathon. Jesse answered some of our questions about his training, game plan and motivation before the race.

Q: 552 miles over 10 days sounds unfathomable to most. Why do it?

A: Back in August of 2010 my father lost his battle with multiple myeloma. In August of 2017 my mother lost her battle with pancreatic cancer. My father-in-law continues his battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. I have other friends dealing with various types of cancer as well. Enough is enough. I’m dedicating my upcoming race to these amazing people and what they deal with every day. I’m donating my energy and sweat, and my goal is to raise $1,500 to help the American Cancer Society fight this terrible disease.

Q: Can you tell us more about the race itself?

A: The Infinitus 888k a 552-mile Ultra Marathon is in Goshen, VT. Over the course of 10 days, I will be running an approximate 7-mile loop and an approximate 19.5-mile loop 20 times each. Yes, it does sound terrible, but it will be nothing compared to watching what my father and mother went through with their respective battles.

Q: Have you ever done anything like the Infinitus 888K before?

A: I’ve done two 200-milers, two 100-milers, a bunch of 50-milers and I’ve run across the Grand Canyon. I’ve also done four Ironman triathlons.

Q: How did you get started doing ultra marathons?

A: I’m always looking for that next challenge. I ran in cross country 5-kilometer races, so from there I figured I could do a half-marathon. If I could do a half-marathon, I figured I could do a marathon. From there, I started doing triathlons. With the timing of a triathlon, I figured I could do a 50-miler. It just snowballed.

 Q: How have you been training and preparing?

A: I am a certified coach, so I am self-coaching. I started training in November 2017. I typically follow a routine – one day of speed work or an up-tempo mid-distance run, one day of hill repeats, a mid-week long run, and then on the weekend is my longest run. Sometimes I run to work. If you go the most direct way from my house, it’s just over 16 miles. And, of course, if you run to work, you have to run back. By the end of the Infinitus run, I’ll be over 2,000 miles for the year.

Q: What is your game plan for the race? How many miles each day?

A: It’s 552 miles, and it’s a continuous clock, so you have 10 days to finish. Right now, my plan is to go 70-ish miles each segment, and then I’m going to rest for four or five hours. In that rest time, there’s going to be an hour of coming down off of the running, a couple of hours of sleep and then an hour of coming back up and getting ready to run. It won’t be by day, per say, but that segment is kind of what I’m calling a day.

 Q: Can you tell us more about the logistics of the race? How will you stay fueled and hydrated?

A: The plan I have right now is the basic plan I use for most of my races. At all times, I’ll have a big bottle of water and a big bottle of Gatorade. I’ll also have energy gels and then some type of solid food, like sandwiches or granola bars. Every 10 minutes, I’ll take a sip of either water or Gatorade. Every hour, I’ll have an energy gel. I’ll have real food every few hours. Within the main lodge, the start and stop areas, they’ll have real food cooking. I’ll be staying in a cabin, which is where I’ll rest.

 Q: What about your mental game plan? How will you stay focused through all those miles? What will motivate you to keep going on day 6, 7, 8?

A: I’m not thinking about it in terms of miles. If you do that, the entirety of it is just going to bog you down. You have to think about it in terms of something more manageable. So, what I’ll think about is 20 loops – that’s all I have to do. I can do 20 of something. Within the big loop, there will be an aid station every six or seven miles to help me refuel or grab a quick snack. Within that, every 10 minutes I’ll be doing something, whether it’s taking a drink of water or eating something. So it’s living in that 10-minute segment. I’ll have three iPod shuffles. On each one, I’ll have seven or eight hours of music. I’ll try to have different music on each one. An upbeat song will cause someone to go faster, whereas as a mellow song will cause you to slow down, so it will be interesting.

Q: How many pairs of shoes are you planning to bring?

A: I’ll be bringing four pairs.

 Q: What is the first thing you’re planning to do immediately after you finish the race?

A: I’ll probably call home as soon as I can. And then if there’s anybody out there that’s getting close to the finish, I’ll do what I can to help them get across the line.

You can help donate to Jesse’s goal and learn more here.