Ultra runner finishes 78-mile marathon
The final leg was swift and sweet for Avril Harcourt, the South Lake Tahoe runner who entered and completed on Sunday the Lake Tahoe Marathon’s Ultra 3-Day Stage Marathon.
Harcourt, 43, the only female from South Lake Tahoe to enter the 78-mile race around Lake Tahoe, said she crossed the line with a final time of 13 hours and 50 minutes.
With official results of the Lake Tahoe Marathon still pending, Harcourt isn’t sure where she ranks from the 14 women who registered in the event.
But the time was less important than finishing.
The run is the longest she’s ever completed.
Unlike runners who pushed themselves for a top finish, Harcourt said she felt fine after the second day of the race.
“I was a little concerned after I finished the first time that I’d come in a little too fast, because I didn’t keep an eye on my watch,” Harcourt said about her first time of 4:22 during the first 26-mile leg from Emerald Bay to Spooner Summit.
Determined to go slower the next day, Harcourt completed the trek from Spooner Summit to Tahoe City — considered one of the most difficult legs by the overall top finisher and record holder Sean Meissner due to the sustained downhill at the beginning — in 4:44.
“After I did the second day I was confident that I would be able to do the third day no matter what …” Harcourt said. “My legs weren’t sore.”
Harcourt also finished the final stretch in 4:44.
Harcourt said the second half of the third day was the most challenging, due to the hills, and also because of the overall distance.
But the conversation and pace of other runners inspired her to finish.
Like “a horse to a barn,” Harcourt sped up during the final few miles, inspired by the finish, the crowd and the other runners.
“It went really well. I felt better than I thought I would,” Harcourt said.
Her body is tired, and she will rest. But that will also be a challenge for a runner who frequently trains several hours a day.
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