Rensch puts in gutsy effort in 100-mile race
Teresa Rensch is a tough and determined woman. There’s no other way to explain how, or why, she could run for 65 miles on painfully blistered and swollen feet.
That’s just what the North Tahoe Middle School vice-principal did last weekend from mile 5 on during the 16th annual Arkansas Traveller 100.
“My feet and legs were pretty much hurting from the get-go. At that point I knew it was going to be a rough day,” said Rensch, who called it quits in the 70th mile of the 100-mile ultramarathon. “I’m bummed out that physically it was not my day, but I’m also pretty happy with the fact that I was able to hang on for so long in that amount of pain.”
Rensch, a Truckee resident and endurance athlete who has successfully ran a number of 50-mile and 50-kilometer races, signed up for the Arkansas Traveller 100 after failing to complete the Leadville 100 ” also called “The Race Across the Sky” ” in Colorado on Aug. 19. During that race, which tops out at 12,600 feet in elevation and never dips below 9,200 feet, Rensch was forced to quit after missing the cutoff time at mile 60.
Tough and determined, Rensch figured she’d give it another shot while her endurance was still strong.
“My goal is to finish a 100-miler once in my lifetime,” she said.
But it wasn’t to be last Saturday.
“Her feet were puffed like balloons, and her toes were sausages,” said Lindsay Anzelc, a North Tahoe Middle School teacher and friend of Rensch’s who served on her three-person pacing crew. “(She had) 10 to 12 blisters, some of which were under her nail beds.”
While she’s not exactly sure why her feet became so battered so quickly, Rensch thinks the hardpan gravel trail the racers ran on may have been the primary culprit.
Lisa McCready, also a teacher at North Tahoe Middle School and a member of Rensch’s pace-person crew, agreed, describing the surface of the trail as “hard-pack gravel roads” consisting of “big rocks and stones.”
Rensch also worked the week leading up to the race instead of staying off her feet.
Whatever the reason, Rensch’s feet did not agree with what she was doing.
“Put it this way, she was running along moaning and groaning,” said McCready, who paced Rensch from mile 60 to 70. “If you had seen her feet at the finish, you’d know why.”
Regardless of how Rensch felt, McCready’s job as pace person was to motivate. And she did, until they reached the next aid station.
“She went into the aid station and said, ‘I’m done,'” McCready said. “She was a trooper until the end. I knew she wanted to stop at mile 70, but I thought I could convince her to keep going. I think she couldn’t imagine another 30 miles of that pain. She fought it for 70 miles before her body won. She’s a very tenacious girl.”
As if the pain in her feet wasn’t enough, Rensch also had nausea and became sick several times.
“She was sicker than a dog,” McCready said. “Her body was finished.”
So why did she continue on for so long?
“I wanted to do a 100, and with all the support I had back home, I didn’t want to not finish,” Rensch said. “It’s irrational to run 100 miles anyway, so I had an irrational thought that I could make it.
“And I wanted to get far enough that my mom could pace me. So I kept plugging away.”
Rensch’s mother, Joan, did get the chance to pace her daughter from mile 50 to 60. During that portion of the race, Rensch said she tried not complain.
“I didn’t want her to know that I didn’t feel good,” she said.
Tough and determined, Rensch said she plans to enter the Lean Horse Hundred Ultramarathon in Hot Springs, S.D., on Aug. 28, 2007. And despite not completing the Arkansas Traveller 100, Rensch feels like her effort did not go for naught.
“I do have a sense of accomplishment,” she said. “It was definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Next time, I’ve got to feel better.”