Mike Melton Ran the 200 Mile Ragnar Relay Solo

November 21, 2009: DAYTONA BEACH - Mike Melton of Jensen Beach was the lone Solo entrant to finish the 2009 Ragnar Relay race across the state of Florida, as he covered the 203.1-mile course in 79 hours, 31 minutes.  A total of 95 six-person or 12-person teams ran in the race, which began at Howard Park on the Gulf of Mexico in Tarpon Springs and finished on the beach at the Atlantic Ocean in Daytona Beach.  Melton ran the entire course himself, becoming the first person to finish the event as a Solo entrant in the two years of the race's existence.

"It was a great event", Melton said.  "I had a lot of fun crossing the state, but I couldn't have done it without my support crew.  Sue Anger of Winter Park, Fort Lauderdale's Bob Becker, and Jim Sullivan of Orlando rotated as crew and drove the support vehicle which carried my supplies and equipment, and they also ran some of the course with me.  I can't thank them enough for their efforts on my behalf."

Melton battled fatigue and sore feet as he traveled through towns such as Zephyrhills, Clermont, Lake Mary and Sanford on his way to Daytona Beach.  "I knew my feet would get sore and maybe blistered", he said.  "Once I accepted the fact that they would be sore, I could just focus on the race from that point on."

He took several one- to two-hour naps along the way, sleeping in parks and parking lots.  "Short rest breaks are crucial to being able to motor on", Melton said.  "But I was conscious of the clock ticking away the entire time.  I had planned on a goal of 72 to 80 hours' finishing time, and I snuck in just underneath the upper end."

Melton ran to bring attention to the plight of local families this holiday season.  He solicited pledges and donations for the WPSL Christmas Kids foundation, which donates toys to Treasure Coast children.

"With the slow economy, this is going to be a grim holiday season for many families", Melton said.  "If my efforts help put toys under the tree for some kids on Christmas morning, it will make my run worthwhile."  Donations can still be made by going to http://www.wpsl.com/ and clicking on the Christmas Kids button.

November 21, 2009: Update: At 3:10 PM Mike is 2 miles from the finish, so barring a car accident, he will finish.  Way to go Mike! 

November 20, 2009: Update: Mike Melton of Stuart, FL is on his way, literally, to becoming the first solo finisher of the Ragnar Relay-Florida race, running across the entire State.  Starting on the beach in Clearwater on Wednesday morning, November 18, 2009, Mike will complete the 203 mile race route in Daytona Beach on Saturday, the 21st.  To put this accomplishment in perspective, the Ragnar Relay format features 12-member teams who divide the distance, running an average of 16-17 total miles each.  (A small number of “ultra” teams, generally with 6 runners, will also compete, each team member running 32-34 miles.)  Mike Melton will run all 203 miles himself!

Supporting Mike as crew are Sue Anger and Jim Sullivan of Orlando, and Bob Becker of Fort Lauderdale.  Bob accompanied Mike from mid-day Thursday to mid-day Friday, and reported that Mike was doing extraordinarily well.  “As of Friday afternoon, Mike was still in a completely positive frame of mind after 135 miles and was moving at a very respectable clip.  He was looking forward to seeing the sand in Daytona Beach at the race finish line and feeling confident about getting there on time and in one piece!” 

“I’m an ultra-runner myself”, Becker said.  “But, only today have I discovered the secret ingredient that keeps an ultra-running legend like Mike Melton moving relentlessly forward: a mix of large quantities of cold McDonald’s burgers, secret meatloaf sandwiches (also cold) and old fashioned Dunkin Donuts.  It may be gross, but it works for Mike.  We bought a bag of 4 hamburgers and 4 cheeseburgers on Thursday afternoon.  Mike ate them on and off all night, downing the last at 9:00 Friday morning.  He mixed in his own meatloaf sandwiches, plain donuts, lots of ginger snaps, Coke, coffee and water.  It was a remarkable culinary exhibition!”

Mike Melton has completed many ultra-marathons across the United States.  He has previously run across the State of Florida before.  This is Mike’s first Ragnar Relay competition.

November 18, 2009: Update: Mike started this morning on a 3 day, 200 mile journey.  He plans to run and walk almost continuously.  Talking with him Sunday, he told me "I plan to take two 3-hour naps.  Other than that I will be on my feet pretty much all the time for 3 days starting Wednesday.  Hopefully all will go well and I will get to Daytona Beach on Saturday".  Perhaps a little tired, but pretty psyched up to have finished is our guess.  We hope to have more updates on his progress.  We spoke with Bob Becker, who will be his crew member Thursday morning to Friday morning.  Bob is looking forward to it and said he would try to get us a photo or at least an update on Mike's progress.  Bob, by the way is a pretty outstanding runner in his own right and also the race director of the KEYS100 and PALMS100 (and the uncle of Kara Goucher - one of our favorite runners - who ran the marathon at the Worlds this year and also finished 3rd at Boston).

Don't know if those of you reading this have ever thought about what it is like to be on your feet for 3 days, trying to push forward, running as much as you can, and walking when you must.  I have never been past 50 miles, but know personally that you leave "comfortable" far behind in the first few hours.  It takes guts to keep pushing like that when the fatigue and the pain set in.  Go MIKE!  We are thinking about you and hoping you get that finish.

November 9, 2009: Jensen Beach resident Mike Melton, 51, will be the lone solo contestant in the Ragnar Relay Florida, a 201.3-mile race from Clearwater to Daytona Beach that will be held the weekend of November 20-21. More than 100 teams of six or 12 runners will take on the task of running from Clearwater on the west coast to Daytona Beach on the east coast in the inaugural running of the event.

Melton will be a team of one, taking on the task of completing the event by himself.

"I enjoy running really long distances," Melton said. "Taking on the challenge of running across the state is something I've done twice before, and I succeeded once. This course will be the longest distance I've ever run, and I'm looking forward to having fun and helping out my community at the same time."

Melton is running for a cause -- a better Christmas for Treasure Coast children.  He's asking the community to pledge donations towards the WPSL Christmas Kids charity, a St. Lucie County-based organization that provides toys for local kids at the holidays.

"With the local economy still in distress, this will be a sad Christmas season for lots of families," Melton said.  "If I can help provide just a few kids with a better Christmas, then we've all done a good thing.  If someone donates a dime a mile, then that's $20 more towards making some child happy on Christmas morning."

Melton will depart the starting line in Howard Park on the edge of the Gulf of Mexico in Clearwater about 8 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 18, and he'll run until he finishes at the beachside bandshell outside the Hilton hotel in Daytona Beach, right on the Atlantic Ocean.  The course uses back roads that roughly follow Interstate 4 across the state.

"The clock will be running the whole time," he said. "There's no breaks in the time, so I'll keep my breaks to a minimum. I'm planning on taking less than six hours' rest during what I hope to be a finishing time of between 72 and 80 hours."

That's right -- Melton will run and walk all day, and then all night, for three days straight.  Is that possible?

"I've run across the state before," Melton said.  "I was one of two solo finishers in the Sunrise2Sunset Relay held in 2007, along with Dante Ciolfi, that traveled 170 miles from Jensen Beach to Fort Myers.  I ran or walked the entire time except for two three-hour naps during the heat of the day, and I finished in 63 hours, 29 minutes."

Melton's also run in many other ultramarathons, races that are longer than a standard 26.2-mile marathon.  He's completed seven 100-mile races, as well as numerous 50K (31 miles), 50-mile, and 100K (62 miles) events. He's also run in five 24-hour events, two 48-hour races, and three 72-hour events -- races where the winner is the person who covers the most miles in the allotted time frame.

"I've run more than 100 miles in 24 hours three times, with a personal best of 103.4 miles," Melton said.  "My best 48-hour is 140.6 miles, and I've finished 183 miles in 72 hours.  This will be the furthest I've ever run."

Ultramarathons are more mental than physical, Melton said.

"I'm not a fantastic athlete," he said.  "I just have the mental fortitude to tolerate low-grade pain and fatigue for long periods of time. I can keep putting one foot in front of the other. My typical training week consists of 20 to 40 miles, so I'm not running megamileage in training.  I do run about a dozen or more ultras a year, so each race becomes the training for the next race."

Melton ran the 35-mile Laurel Valley race in August in the Appalachian mountains in South Carolina, then ran in the Hinson Lake 24-Hour race in Rockingham, N.C., in September, followed a week later by a finish in the Great Eastern Endurance Run 100K held in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Waynesboro, Va.  His most recent race was the John Holmes 50K held in mid-October in the Withlacootchie Forest outside of Brooksville, about an hour north of Tampa.

For more information or to make a donation, please contact Melton or visit the WPSL Christmas Kids website at http://www.wpsl.com/.