Three Lincoln runners drawn for Western States 100
Three Lincoln runners know what their New Year resolution is – running – a lot of running.
Michael Fink (44), Jeffery Johnston (47) and Tony Overbay (43) have earned an invite to run in the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run this summer. Johnston has competed in the event before and this will be the second time for Overbay.
Johnston was given entry by Monsters of Massage based in Newcastle. The sports massage company was awarded an automatic invite because of the help they provide for the race.
“Since Western States is such a tough event to get into, I am honored and thankful that I was granted the first Monsters of Massage aid station entry” said Johnston, who in 2009 completed the event in 29 hours and 25 minutes. “I am ecstatic that I am able to run Western States again in 2013.”
There are 395 runners invited each year to run in the WS100 and most get in via a lottery drawing. Both Fink’s and Overbay’s names were drawn for this year’s run from a bowl containing 3,555 tickets.
“With about 50 names to go, my wife and I were joking about how much we disliked the lottery process,” said Overbay, who was the 393rd runner selected. “I had pretty much given up on hearing my name chosen and then when it was called I decided that I loved the lottery!”
Fink has won several races including the 50-kilometer Helen Klein and 50-mile Rock’ n River run. But Fink said the 100-mile endurance run would be unlike anything he’s ever done.
“Western States has been a dream of mine since I moved to Lincoln eight years ago,” he said.
Overbay credits Johnston for introducing him to ultra marathons. The two met during the 2007 Western States when it was suggested Overbay volunteer at an aid station that year. After learning they lived less than a mile apart, they began running together and actually paced each other during the 2010 Western States.
Ultra marathons are races greater than the 26.2 miles of a marathon. That includes the 50k, which is nearly six miles longer than a marathon.
Overbay said he is anxious for another crack at the “Super Bowl of 100s,” as the Western States has been called by some. Runners who complete the run in 24 hours or less are awarded a silver belt buckle. Overbay’s first attempt was 18 minutes over that mark.
Overbay said he was told the worst part of the run would come in late afternoon and evening. Assuming that was when he would begin to fall apart, he ran conservatively. He said he spent too much time at aid stations, dunking himself in the river and posing for photo ops with family. But to his surprise, when the sun went down, he was feeling just fine.
“I never fell apart!” said Overbay, who received a bronze belt buckle for finishing in less than 30 hours. “Only at that point it was too late to get under 24 hours. Don’t get me wrong, a bronze buckle is great but I’d really like silver this year.”
After the 56-mile point, Overbay was surprised at how well he felt. As he continued on his way to Auburn, he passed more than 100 runners before reaching the finish line.
Johnston said he hopes to cut nearly six hour from his best time. He, too, wants recognition for crossing the finish line in 24 hours or less.
“The first Western States, my goal was just to finish,” Johnston said. “This time around, I have a time goal – sub 24 – for the coveted silver belt buckle.”
The last two years, Johnston has been working to drop weight and gain muscle. He cross-trains with Joe Wenson of Gold’s Gym in Lincoln and has been getting help from Absolute Nutrition of Lincoln to fine-tune his diet.