Stray Dogs Third After the Long March/Stage 5

Completing the 50-mile Long March/Stage 5 in 18 hours, Team Stray Dogs GoLite is currently in third place overall in the team competition with a total combined time of 48:34. But, Who’s Damien is right on their heals with a total combined time of 49:41 after an aggressive finish time of 15:51 in Stage 5.

Tantra, which had been leading the team competition, appears to no longer be ranked, so Saigon appears to have taken over the lead with a total combined time of 38:00, followed by WSPA at 38:40. Only two other teams remain active, China at 59:06 and No Mad at 60:27.

Out of curiosity, I wondered how the Stray Dogs compared in average age with the other top teams. Here’s what I found, including their overall time through Stage 5.

37 years, 38:00, Siagon
30 years, 38:40, WSPA
54 years, 49:34, Stray Dogs
38 years, 49:41, Who’s Damien
35 years, 59:06, China
35 years, 60:27, No Mad

Not bad for a bunch of “ol’ dogs” huh?

With only a 6 mile “sprint” to the finish tomorrow morning in Kashgar, it will be interesting to see if the Stray Dogs can hold onto their 7 minute lead. Check in tomorrow for final results!

In the meantime, I thought I’d share a posting on the race Web site by Ann Beman titled “Stray Dogs stick with their pack.” Thanks to RacingThePlanet for highlighting the Stray Dogs!

Marshall Ulrich, Mark Macy, and Robert Haugh first met in a box canyon in the Utah desert. They were individual members of separate teams competing in the first official Eco-Challenge adventure race in 1995. But their teammates had fallen by the wayside. Still strong and not accustomed to giving up, Ulrich, Macy, and Haugh forged on, each fending for himself – like dogs who have strayed from their packs. In that fateful box canyon, they formed a new pack.

Together again 12 years later, Team Stray Dogs are still going strong. Between them, the three 50-something-year-olds have competed in hundreds of ultra distance events, multi-sport adventure races, and generally superhuman feats. They’re here in the Gobi March 2007, experiencing overwhelmingly beautiful scenery, the rich hospitality of poor villagers, high-altitude passes, blizzards, scorching heat, donkey cart rides across rising rivers, and gastro-intestinal challenges.

Ulrich alone has completed more than 100 ultramarathons, including four Badwater Ultra wins. The Badwater event starts below sea level in California’s Death Valley and ends above 14,000 feet on the peak of Mount Whitney. Ulrich not only remains the only person to run Badwater self-supported, towing his own water and gear behind him on wheels, but he also has run the event as a quad. In other words, back and forth twice – 400 miles through the Mojave Desert. This year will mark his 20th crossing of Death Valley. Nevertheless, Ulrich’s greatest achievement, and that of Team Stray Dogs in general, is humility.

“We just sit around and talk about our aches and pains and how to mitigate them,” says Ulrich, explaining why he, Macy, and Haugh decide to enter events together. With 4 Deserts events, such as the Gobi March (Ulrich also competed in the Sahara Race 2005), they appreciate the multi-day stage format. “It’s nice to have the downtime to recover,” Ulrich says.

In preparing for their catalog of endeavors, Macy says it’s as simple as training for life. “I didn’t do anything different to train for this race than what I do every day,” he says. Macy has the advantage of living in the mountains of Colorado. He also rides a mountain bike three or four days a week, and paddles regularly. He also likes to mix things up a bit, now and then throwing in a new athletic discipline such as a 100-mile snowshoe race in Alaska, for example.

As for Haugh, a pathologist who lives in the lower-altitude state of Kentucky, he concedes that he was clueless at first, but now trains more than he ever has. “Bob has the greatest capacity to keep going,” says Ulrich. “He keeps coming back for more.”

The Stray Dogs all keep coming back for more, and for many reasons: for camaraderie among friends, as a vehicle to fundraise for Religious Teachers Filippini, because it’s something they’ve “just gotta do,” and because, says Macy, “You don’t ever get to come to places like these [otherwise]. That’s what keeps us coming back to things like this.”

In closing, if you can, please send shoes for the runners in Kenya and help the Sister with their mission to “Go and Teach” women and kids around the world. And, check in tomorrow to see how Team Stray Dogs GoLite finishes in the 2007 Gobi March!

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