Keane ‘all charged up’ for Hinson Lake race

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of profiles planned this week that will highlight competitors in Richmond County’s only 24-hour footrace.

Related coverage:
* Aug. 2 — Hinson Lake = 1.5032
* July 27 — Hinson field jumps 60 percent

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

Suck it up, buttercup.

Winston-Salem resident William Keane put that message on a T-shirt at last year’s Hinson Lake 24-Hour Ultra Classic. He completed 101.4 miles, placed 14th overall. At the age of 68.

Scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. Saturday near the Rotary Lodge, its ‘s more than another Mangum Track Club race. It’s an event. It’s a party. Race director Jerry Lindstrand has assigned bib numbers to 354 runners. Keane will wear bib No. 2.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com William Keane, of Winston-Salem, is no stranger to racing in Richmond County. He has completed all eight Hinson Lake 24-Hour Ultra Class events and the Bethel Moonlight Boogie 50-miler.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
William Keane, of Winston-Salem, is no stranger to racing in Richmond County. He has completed all eight Hinson Lake 24-Hour Ultra Class events and the Bethel Moonlight Boogie 50-miler.

“It’s a little motivational message,” said Keane on Monday morning as he was headed out for a 12-mile run. “That shirt was electric last year because it appealed to everybody. The image on the back of the shirt, with the white on red, a negative-reverse image, it just pops with people.”

So does the race itself. Its’ one of Keane’s favorites. In fact, he’s second overall in miles accrued in the event over the past eight years with 669.39. Only Ray Krolewicz, of Elgin, S.C., tops him on the leader board with 711.04 miles. Krolewicz is one of the most prolific ultra runners in the history of the sport, having completed more than 500 such endurance races.

Keane runs many ultra marathons, the distance being defined as any advertised race distance over the standard marathon distance of 26.2 miles. In fact, Keane has completed 298 ultras. And he plans to keep coming back to Hinson Lake as long as his legs will carry him.

Hinson Lake, he said, “is the top 24 (hour race) in the country. (As an MTC event), it’s an entirely different atmosphere than one run by an organization or for a cause. It’s a different atmosphere. We have, over the years, attracted some of the top runners in thte country and in the world. The course record is (163.9) miles, a half-mile off the U.S. 24-hour record. It’s a pretty remarkable, homegrown event. I get all charged up about it.”

Keane will run an average 5K (3.1-mile) race here and there, but he doesn’t excel. He doesn’t come close to being atop the overall standings. Not even in his age group.

“I run a 10-minute mile,” he said. “A humble little 10-minute mile. I’m scoffed at at the shorter races … but 10 minutes a mile, six miles an hour (in 24 hours) is 144 miles. That’s world class. Everything is just pace, and your lap times will decrease as fatigue sets in.”

The answer to being sore and sleepy?

“Keep relentless forward motion,” Keane said, “and also … fuel the body. Nutrition’s important.”

Keane tries to consume between 200 and 300 calories each hour with a mix of runner gels, cookies, crackers and McDonald’s cheeseburgers. Pizza at night, he said, and maybe some fried chicken.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com William Keane refuels during in June during the Bethel Moonlight Boogie 50-mile road race on the outskirts of Ellerbe. He calls ultra marathons "a junk food junkie's delight."

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
William Keane refuels during in June during the Bethel Moonlight Boogie 50-mile road race on the outskirts of Ellerbe. He calls ultra marathons “a junk food junkie’s delight.”

Ultras are, after all, “a junk food junkie’s delight.”

The race after Hinson is when Keane will reach a milestone.

“Once I get to 300, I’ll have my name on a very short list,” he said, “less than 50 in the world. Hinson Lake is a real gem. The venue is almost ideal. It’s so big, you can hide 300 people in the field.”

In 2013, Keane averaged 14 minutes and 12 seconds per mile, mile after mile, for 24 hours. While the levee and surrounding area looks like a virtual tent city — many runners bring their own grills for food — Keane brings a chair.

“I didn’t come to camp,” he said.

But he does talk. Or, at low moments, he and other runners help each other along with encouragement — and sometimes fair but firm love. In ultra running, Keane said, the adage is “two of our people working together is stronger than one person working alone.”

Besides, running with another “helps pass the time.”

Keane has been around for nearly seven decades. Age isn’t taking the lead, but it’s certainly catching up to him. Keane, a former engineer with AT&T, analyzes the situation.

“I have an age disadvantage,” he said. “We’re all competitive. You need to keep the machine in good running order. Running is my exercise regimen. As long as I can do it, I’ll keep running.”

He has help along the way. Besides whomever he might find himself beside, he plans a strategy with Andrea Stewart, of Columbia, S.C. She wants the title of Women’s Course Record Holder by her name. Right now, that title belongs to Liz Bauer. In 2008, the Georgia resident finished with 114.6 miles.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Keane will help Stewart get where she needs to be.

“We team up and run the race together, he said. “I pace her.”

With Keane’s help, last year Stewart finished with 114.1 miles, easily topping the women’s field but a miserable half-mile off pace. She won in 2011, too, with 111.31 miles.

“We’re gonna work together again this year to get her past 115 miles.”

But regardless of distance, all runners have one thing in common. The clock.

“You’ll notice that these races … we don’t rave on about PRs,” Keane said. “We don’t take ourselves seriously. People come with an absence of ego. We all get humbled. Strange things happen after 25 miles, and they’re all bad. So you’ve got to cope with it.”

Keane makes a note about the surface of Hinson Lake, a low-impact runner’s dream. The course is “smooth and fast (but) it’s a fine crashed aggregate. That sharp, crushed aggregate that gets in your shoes.”

After several hours, the friction has caused Keane blisters more than once over the years.

“There is a real challenge,” he said.

He has a plan for daylight and nighttime running as well. At night, “the course and the darkness set the pace. You have to make day-to-night adjustments. There’s a lot of little things that can hook your foot.”

He divides the day into 12-hour segments. He plans to log 100-kilometers, or about 62 miles, in the first 12 hours.

“Then, when the night’s darkness dictates the pace … anybody can walk 38 miles in 12 hours.”

He jokes about the sunrise — around 7:10 a.m.

“By dawn’s early light,” Keane said … “the 23rd hour (is) the thing to see. Everybody that has been moving lethargically (suddenly has) a great awakening. Then, boy, it’s game on. You’ll see people who were walking who are just now sprinting.”

Keane ended the interview after about 20 minutes. The start of the Hinson Lake race was less than six days away but he wanted to get in an easy 12-miler to kickstart the week. Nice and slow. Nothing too long. After all, “too many miles is bad.”

Filed in: Featured News, Latest Headlines, Outdoors, Sports

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