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Saturday, August 9, 2003 -- Frederick, MD
Catoctin Trail Run 50K (iPO Event Id#: 5869)

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Howard Nippert
Howard Nippert
Nippert Crushes Catoctin Course Record

Runs Over 20 Minutes Faster Than Last Year

Frederick, MD (August 9, 2003) - One year ago today 5-time USA 100K team member Howard Nippert traveled to the Catoctin 50K Trail Race to set a record. After battling the course he came up a little short. Today he returned for "unfinished business" as he put it and at the end of the day he declared his business with the grueling course was complete. His finishing time of 4:42:46 smashed the record set in 1999 of 4:58:25 by Barry Lewis. Until today Lewis was the only person to ever run under 5 hours for the event. Nippert also served notice that his fitness and training schedule are well ahead of where he was one year ago when he crossed the line in 5:02:21.

The Catoctin Trail race is held on an out-and-back single, track mountain trail that drops in elevation to the turn around point before climbing back to "High Knob" and the finish. This year the rainfall totals washed the already rough trail out to make it even more treacherous. The back of the race shirt describes it best-"ROCKS"! Before the race start director Kevin Sayers announced, "due to the rain the trails are very washed out and there will be no chance for an athlete to run under 5 hours." Once the race started the 89% humidity didn't seem to affect Nippert and his mission to prove him wrong.

Nippert had company for part of the race as Serge Arbona who currently lives in Baltimore placed 2nd to become the second fastest athlete to ever run the course. Arbona crossed the line and leaped with glee when his time was announced to the crowd. "I'm very pleased", said Arbona. By 8 miles into event it appeared to be a one man race with Arbona looking as though he was starting to fade, but with the steep down hill he regained the lead at the halfway and turn around point. From there it was a long uphill climb back over the same terrain as Nippert pulled away for the win and course record. "He was pesky," said Nippert of Arbona. "He didn't give up and ran well today."

When asked how he felt compared to one year ago, Nippert gave the look of being upset. "I feel good, but plain and simple, I wasn't happy about missing the course record last year. I came back for one thing-the course record. I accomplished that goal and ran fast. Part of my training program calls for only a few races per year. Too many Ultra runners try to race too often and their bodies can't adapt quickly enough and damage is done. For me racing is an opportunity and over the past two weeks I've felt like a caged animal that has been poked with a stick for far too long. I needed to race in a bad way. I needed a piece of this course. I'm happy to come down out of the mountains where I train and compete. Mission accomplished"

Next up for Nippert is the 2003 100K World Championships which will be held in Taiwan this November. Nippert has been selected to his 5th consecutive USA team and finished 13th at the World Championships last year. Nippert looks to improve on that performance this year. "I've moved to the next phase of my training for Ultra's" said Nippert. "For the past 7 months I've moved back to faster effort in my workouts. For the previous 4 years the plan called for my body to adapt to the increase in distance during these races. Now that those physiological changes have taken place I can once again turn my attention to running fast and that's what I've done. The thing that excites me is that this course is a strength course and even though that hasn't been my focus, my body handled this well today", Nippert said. "There's nothing more important to me than putting on THE Red, White, and Blue jersey for the USA and my training is centered around that."

I guess we can all learn from that can't we?


2003 Catoctin 50k Trail Run Results available at: http://www.ultrunr.com/Catoctin/catoctin.html