By Cherie Yanek
The Burning Man Ultramarathon went from a blip with 32 finishers its first year to having 150 finishers its fifth year, 2014. As the news of an ultramarathon at one of the craziest, most awesome music/art/culture festivals spread, through videos, photos, and word of mouth, people from across the world signed up to run 50 kilometers dressed as pretzels, businessmen, a knight, or wearing a tutu, wings, or nothing at all. Why not? If you’re going to run someplace as fun as Burning Man, why not dress absolutely fabulous?
If you went to Black Rock City right now, the place where Burning Man is held, you’d find absolutely nothing. This festival is built on a cracked, dried-up lake bed, on a dusty surface, surrounded by nothings. There is nothing for miles – no animals, towns, people, or plants. The city is surrounded by gorgeous mountains. The festival builds a city structure, and nothing can be bought but ice and coffee. Thus, the race is 100% free. This year, we asked for donations to cover the cost of the hot pink t-shirts created by Beth Weinstein’s Only Atoms running clothes company, and other neat schwag was created and donated, including handmade medals, pink tote bags, BRC 50k necklaces, handmade headbands, BRC50k stickers, and even chip timing was donated to us. A former runner who was training for the Tahoe Rim Trail 200 miler wasn’t running, but decided to cater the race instead, making awesome Mexican food for the hungry, tired runners. Every runner donates a gallon of water and a running snack to share. All the volunteers received capes that I handmade with the help of some of my campmates, because volunteers were our superstars!
First place male was Andrew Utas of Los Angeles, running 3:38:34. He was followed by Jakub Pawlowski of London in 3:44:06, then Ryan Van Duzer (who made yet another video about the ultra, viewable on YouTube) in 3:52:58. Kathy D’Onfrio, who had an art piece next to the course, and her pink cat sculptures served as the finishing chute, won the ultra for women yet again, in a time of 4:09:45. Second place woman was Ari Goodman of San Francisco, running 4:26:13, and third woman was Leanne Seckinger of Salt Lake City in 4:53:57.
Handmade plaques were given to the top ten female and male runners, but there were other awards as well. The fastest couple (Steven Lowinger and Carrie Farrar) won a plaque, and there were plaques for sexiest runners. The highly competitive “Golden Toilet Award” was given to Menachem Katz, who ran his first ultramarathon in 8:49:02. This award was given to the individual who spent the most amount of time in a port-a-potty during the race, and the competition was fierce to win the prize consisting of a roll of toilet paper, hand sanitizer, air freshener, a footrest to relax in the potty, and an Ultrarunning magazine and a Trail Runner magazine. Now that’s a useful award!
Next year, the event will be held on Wednesday, September 2nd, at 5 a.m. at Burning Man. Tickets are required, an open mind, and that’s about it! Come on and join the fun.