Air Force Runner Completes 100-Mile Race: Captain Shannon Johnson, Little Rock, Arkansas, Trains for the 100-Mile Foot Race

Article excerpt

Run, Forest! Run? Well, not quite, but to finish a 100-mile run, an instructor pilot from the 53rd Airlift Squadron here needed all the motivation he could get.

"You're running for 30 hours," said Capt. Shannon Johnson. "You start in the dark, the sun comes up, you run all day, the sun sets, the stars come out, the moon comes out, you run all night long, the sun comes up and you're still running.

"At the 92-mile mark, somewhere in the mountains around Perryville, Ark., Johnson realized he might not make the 30-hour time limit in the Arkansas Traveller 100-Mile Foot Race, held Oct. 6 and 7 in Perryville. Then something started burning inside. He had come too far not to make the final time limit, he said.

"So even though it really hurt, I just sucked it up and started running," he said. He was the last to make the time limit, crossing the finish line in 29:52:20.

The Traveller, which is one of five "ultraruns" held annually in America, is not just a long road race. "The whole time you're on fire roads, which is a one-way rutted gravel road, or it's on a trail; and it's constantly up and down mountains," he said.

This is just one in a slew of physical challenges runners face during the race, Johnson said. "The big danger in these is your kidneys," he said. "What happens is your body starts breaking down your muscle tissue because you can't eat enough food, and that muscle tissue collects on your kidneys.

"To combat this, Johnson said he kept a hydration unit on his back and ate whenever possible at the various checkpoints, where he also received a lot of encouragement from his wife and other spectators. …