Hudson wins ultramarathon

PC Susan Hui_UPDATEDAt midnight on New Year’s Eve 2015, while the rest of the country threw confetti into the air and kissed their loved ones, Principal Jill Hudson was ten miles away from completing a goal she’d had for three years.
Out of context, ten miles may seem like a long way to go. But after running 190 miles with friends encouraging her from on and off the course, Hudson was determined to achieve her goal of running over 200 miles.
When the race was over, 72 hours after it had begun, Hudson’s name was first on the scoreboard.
“I think I smiled for about two weeks afterwards,” she said.
This was Hudson’s third go at the 72-hour leg of the “Across the Years” ultramarathon held annually in Phoenix, Arizona. The trek down there is worth it, according to Hudson, because of the nice weather and conditions that the Copper State provides.
The course is a dry, sunny loop of nearly a mile. Aid stations along the route are stocked with nourishment for the runners. The competitors change direction every four hours in order to prevent overuse injuries caused by straining one side of the body more than the other.
Throughout the race Hudson used a variety of things to keep her mind busy, such as listening to music, comedians, audio books, talking to fellow runners, calculating her speed in both miles and kilometers, and thinking about her job at Hale. Sometimes she feels like running is the best situation in which to think about her duties as a high school principal.
“You’re given some really tough, challenging decisions in this job and I do feel like I’ve thought through it better when I’ve had a good run,” she said.
After the two times Hudson came just short of reaching her 200-mile target, this year she changed her strategy. She knew she had to run close to a hundred miles in the first day, so that only 50 miles would remain for the second and third day. In past years, Hudson had tried to sleep throughout the race, but she realized that this did not allow her to sleep very well. This year, along with less frequent stops to eat at the aid stations, she elected to rely on caffeine, food from home, and significantly less sleep time to use her 72 hours more efficiently.
The mentality of this race in particular is different as well, she explained. There is a time limit and winners are based off of distance, as opposed to a more typical race with a set distance and winners who are determined off of time. This race requires a lot more intensity and drive, according to Hudson.
“You have to set yourself up,” she said, “It’s more of a mental game than a running game.”
When she reached 201 miles, Hudson was finally able to take a 2-hour power-nap. But it was not until she had walked another four miles to kill time that she knew that she had won.
Hudson had snagged second place in the female rankings the year before, but did not expect to do well in the overall race this year.
“I didn’t know the guys were going to stop early,” she said, “because usually they get into the 200’s, easily.”
Dave Proctor, last year’s overall winner and the only other three-day competitor to reach 200 miles, had finished 201. Hudson’s last four miles put her ahead of Proctor.
Hudson left Phoenix with a stone and metal sculpture with her name on the plaque, and a belt buckle announcing to the world that she had run 200 miles in three days. Hudson often wears the belt to remind herself of her accomplishment before taking on big meetings.
It makes her think: “If I can do this, I can do anything,” she said.

Photo By: Susan Hui

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