Friday, August 19, 2016

The Woodlands' Delzer's All Set For Saturday's GWR Attempt

SPRING -- Record attempts don't happen overnight.

The Woodlands' Ronnie Delzer, who will attempt on Saturday at Luke's Locker in The Woodlands to set a new Guinness World Records mark for the longest distance run on a treadmill in 12 hours, has been targeting the record since last summer.

"David Staley (from the Denver, Colorado area) broke the record in July 2015 with 81.62 miles, and that's when I heard about it," said the 34-year-old husband and father of two. "I thought to myself I could do that, knowing at the time what I had run for my first 100 (mile race)."

And that was fast by the sport's standards.

His 14-hour, 15-minute, 53-second third place overall finish in February of last year at the 23rd annual Rocky Raccoon 100 in Huntsville State Park was the 56th best 100-mile time ever.

Staley's mark has since been surpassed twice and is currently held by Canadian David Proctor who ran 86.49 miles in 12 hours on a treadmill during Memorial Day weekend.

Still, it is just a little bit faster - a pace of 8 minutes and 19 seconds per mile - than Delzer's 8:33 that day.

And he started out more conservative than most do at the race.

"It is known for a fast start," he said. "I watched it the year before and what I noticed is there would be one or two packs off the front racing each other early.

The three-time Ironman, including the first two Memorial Hermann Ironman Texas, noticed that after the first two 20-mile loops many had dropped -- a signal to him to "run my own race".

"Rocky Raccoon 100 is a five loop course and I sat back and enjoyed the experience," Delzer said. "I was running with people I had been doing my homework on so it was really cool.

"My splits for the first 60 miles were a little faster than I expected but I felt really good and in control. It wasn't until the last 30 miles where I started to fade."

Homework is something that's been a hallmark of the former East Carolina Pirate cross country and track competitor.

"I do like to know what I am getting myself into before I do something because once I commit to something I'm all in," he said.

Delzer competed in The North Face Endurance Challenge 50-miler last December (finishing 37th overall in a field chock-full of the west coast's best ultrarunners) as well as this past April's Gorge Waterfalls 100K in Oregon where he was ninth overall.

The latter was a Golden Ticket race to the venerable Western States 100, run every July from Squaw Valley to Auburn, California.

And without it (needing a fifth place finish or better with a rolldown or two), he then submitted his application to Guinness World Records.

"It turns out to be a perfect time to try this and should be a good build up leading into another 100 at the end of the year," Delzer said.

He also spent time this summer crewing at Badwater Ultra 135 in Death Valley, California.

"I don't want to just pick something and do it," Delzer said. "I want to do my best and test my limits. One of the benefits of observing up close and personal is being able to visualize what the race is like. I'll use that during training and also during the race."

Training he also said is being able "to control what's in your head."

Guinness World Records accepting his application to attempt to break the mark more than a month ago helped him snap out of "some low patches" from earlier in the summer.

"Knowing that I have something to train for has definitely helped with my motivation," he smiled.

Nor does it hurt when your coach is one of the top ultra runners in the world, Ian Sharman.

"He holds some GWR's so he's been through this and has been able to offer guidance along the way," he said.

Delzer credits his family and sponsors with putting him in the best position for tomorrow's record attempt.

Six years ago, Delzer was a general manager at a window and door manufacturing plant in North Carolina, but the company was rebounding from bankruptcy in addition to leadership and organizational changes.

"We did a lot of praying and this (The Woodlands) is where God brought us," he said.

He took a 20 percent pay cut, accepting a manager trainee position for a similar company in the greater Houston area.

His wife, Stefanie, left her job as a recreation therapist.

"It turned out to be one of the best decisions we've ever made," the outdoor salesman for a company that specializes in millwork for custom builders remarked. "Once we got here I knew this is where I wanted to raise our family so I told my managers that I wanted to stay in the Houston market."

And eight months after they called The Woodlands home, the plant in North Carolina closed.

The likes of Klean Athlete, Alternative Health Center of The Woodlands and Sterling Ridge Orthopaedic & Sports Medicine have also helped him open the windows into his body to see how well-positioned he could be for Saturday - and beyond.

"I know that I'm in really good shape and my body feels the best it has ever felt," he said. "I really have to give credit to my sponsors for that.

"I truly believe they help me perform at my best, I'm stronger and healthier because of them and they allow me to reach my full potential."

And if he wasn't feeling any pressure, that full potential was noticed by none other than the man he's chasing -- David Proctor.

"When I opened Facebook this morning, I had a friend request from him and then he commented on my post yesterday," he said.

"I know it (tomorrow's record attempt) will be challenging at times, but I have done some great workouts and (have) figured out what works and doesn't."

(c), Walk Sports Services, 2016

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