96: Across the Years – The First Year (1983)

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Manage episode 315541006 series 2680589
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By Davy Crockett You can read, listen, or watch Across the Years race, established in 1983, is being held next week in Arizona for the 37th time. It is one of the oldest fixed-time races in the world that is still held annually. The race is always held at the end of the year, crossing over to the new year with a grand celebration. Through the years, it has attracted many of the greatest fixed-time ultrarunners in the world and still today is the premier and largest fixed-time race in America. Over its impressive history, about 2,300 runners have logged more than 450,000 miles at Across the Years. It all started in 1983, the brainchild of Harold Sieglaff, of Phoenix, Arizona. This episode is a tribute to Sieglaff and the other pioneer ultrarunners who were the first to run this famed ultra. Please consider becoming a patron of ultrarunning history. Help to preserve this history by signing up to contribute a few dollars each month through Patreon. Visit https://ultrarunninghistory.com/member For fixed-time ultramarathons, instead of competing at a fixed distance like 50 miles or 100 miles, the competition involves running the furthest you can in a fixed time. Fixed-time races have existed for centuries, with the first known 24-hour race in 1806, held in England. In the modern post-war era of ultrarunning, the first 24-hour race in America was the 1964 Last Day Run held indoors at the Los Angeles Athletic Club in downtown Los Angeles. 1983 – A Revolutionary Year The year 1983 was called a “revolutionary year” because 24 hours, 48 hours, and 6-day races that ran in circles, started to pop up all over the world. More than fifty fixed-time events were held that year (thirty-one in America) compared to just eighteen 100-mile races held worldwide. How many of those early fixed-time races still exist? Of the fixed-time races held in America during 1983, Across the Years is one of only three that still exist. Cornbelt Running Club 24 Hour race held in Eldridge, Iowa is the oldest, first held in May 1982, and Badgerland F/X 24 Hour race held in Wisconsin is the second oldest, first held in September 1983. The third oldest race is Across the Years held in Arizona, that started officially in December 1983. Many 1980s ultrarunners felt that this race format was “loopy.” One runner wrote that he believed these events were “reserved for masochists” that they “degenerate into a scene with the majority of the competitors parading ghost-like and crippled around the track for what probably seems to be an eternity. Maybe that’s where St. Peter sends bad ultrarunners.” But most of those who have participated in these races, especially at Across the Years, know the truth, that it can be an amazing experience, especially because you are always in contact with the other runners who you can get to know well. Best 24-hour Achievements by 1983 Dave Dowdle after setting 24 hour world record in 1982 What were the best 24-hour performances as of 1983? The world best for 24-hours at that time was 170 miles, 974 yards on the track, held by Dave Dowdle of Great Britain, and 170 miles, 1,231 yards on the road, held by Bernard Gaudin of France. The American best of 162 miles (which wasn’t ratified for technical reasons) was set in 1979 by Park Barner at Huntington Beach, California. The ratified American record was held by Bernd Heinrich of Vermont, who ran 156 miles in 1983 at Rowdy 24-Hours on a track at Brunswick, Maine. Harold Sieglaff – Across the Years Founder Harold Paul Sieglaff (1934-2015) was the founder of Across the Years. He was from Phoenix, Arizona in 1983 when he started it. Harold was born in Canton, South Dakota in 1934, and experienced a very unusual upbringing because his parents were away for much of his childhood in Africa. Harold and Thelma Sieglaff in 1943 He was the son of Reverend Harold Elmer Sieglaff (1904-1983) and Thelma Savereide Sieglaff (1907-2001).

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