Larry Orwin, of Russell, has set a goal to break the world record for 24-hour running on a track for the 60-64 age group. He must run 149.3 miles in 24 hours.
Last year, Mr. Orwin far surpassed his goal to raise $135,000 for Breakthrough Schools in running the Badwater Ultramarathon 135, a 48-hour foot trace in Lone Pine, California, which calls itself the world’s toughest.
Mr. Orwin is passionate about ultra-running, defined as anything beyond a marathon. He has run about a dozen of both 100-mile and 24-hour races, as well as shorter 50-mile and 50K races.
This year, Mr. Orwin is singularly focused on smashing the 43-year-old world record. Satisfied with his ultra-running track record, he has set his sights on a new achievement.
Mr. Orwin is preparing to meet his goal by running – a lot. He spends about two to three hours running every morning and about half an hour doing yoga at night.
“About a year ago, I started working on transcendental meditation, because you have to train your mind as much as your body to be running for 24 hours,” he said. “It’s a way to distract your mind from thinking about how painful it might be.”
When Mr. Orwin runs to break the record, he will race in a format a bit different from other races. It is called a “fixed-time race,” which will measure how far he can run in 24 hours. Typically, fixed-time races take place in a closed circuit or sometimes on a track.
He will have a couple more attempts to break the record – one in Philadelphia this month and another in June in Milwaukee.
Mr. Orwin’s first attempt, which took place during the Dawn-to-Dusk-to-Dawn, a 24-hour track race, served as a “dress rehearsal” to the second attempt.
“The big variable there will be the weather,” Mr. Orwin said.
He ran that race three times in the past and knows that Philly can be anything from hot to cold to rainy this time of year. Weather is crucial in ultra-running, which requires runners to be outside a very long time.
Mr. Orwin is shooting to break the record in the latter attempt at the Pettit National Ice Center in Milwaukee.
“It’s an indoor venue, so no weather conditions can impact my performance,” he said.
The track will maintain a perfect temperature of 52 degrees throughout. Because the Ice Center has few windows, runners will not know if it is day or night, which Mr. Orwin said is helpful.
“You just keep running along,” he said. “You’re in your own little world and you don’t really know what time it is. It’s the perfect spot for running this kind of race, and there have been several world records set in the Pettit Ice Center before,” in 100-mile and 24-hour races.
In advance of these events, Mr. Orwin said he felt encouraged and was taking care not to put undue strain on his body.
While running an ultra race – especially past mile 20 – runners must be mindful of hydration and nutrition.
“The farther the distance, the more important that becomes,” Mr. Orwin said. “You have to stay fueled up, and you have to be able to eat and drink while you’re running because in my case I burn about 110 calories a mile.”
For the world record attempt, Mr. Orwin will have to consume about 14,000 calories over 24 hours.
The U.S. record for 24-hour running in Mr. Orwin’s age group is 125.3 miles – Mr. Orwin’s fallback if he does not meet his primary goal.
“I’d be happy with that, too,” Mr. Orwin said. “There’s a reason this world record has stood for 43 years.”
Mr. Orwin’s race season as a whole is off to a great start. He took first in age group in the Frosty Five Miler in Hudson; second place overall in the 48-hour Vernal Equinox run in Batavia; and second in age group at the Zeigler Kalamazoo, Michigan, Half-Marathon.
“I feel blessed,” Mr. Orwin, 63, said. “To run like that is a blessing, that my body has held up and I can keep doing what I love.
When Mr. Orwin tells others about his running, they often say, “I could never do that.”
“I don’t believe that’s true. I don’t have any superhuman powers,” he said. “The key to this thing is consistently running every day and building up your mileage. I’ve been at it a lot of years. There’s no magic here.”
Mr. Orwin’s wife, Christine, is a runner as well. His son, Troy, crews for him at most of these races – a demanding job that requires handing items to Mr. Orwin on the track. This is especially a help to Mr. Orwin after 60 or 70 miles.
Mr. Orwin, who is active on the board of Breakthrough Schools – a top-ranked network of charter schools in Cleveland – plans to wear his Breakthrough singlet that he had made for the Badwater race.
“It’s a fabulous service that we do for these 3,100 kids in the City of Cleveland,” Mr. Orwin said. “I can’t do enough to help them out because they deserve it.”
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