Banas takes on ‘ultra’ endurance challenge

First Posted: 9/26/2009

ROCKINGHAM Vladimir Banas skipped the mid-life crises and went for a mid-life challenge.
With his 40th birthday fast approaching (its today, actually), Banas left the hot red convertible on the sales lot and entered himself in the Hinson Lake 24-hour Ultra Classic. The premise of the race was simple: Run as much as you can in a 24-hour span that began at 8 a.m. Sept. 19. Banas completed 117 miles and finished third out of 214 entrants.
It was one of those little mid-life crises, Banas said. You want to see what you can do as you get older. I was looking to do something special for my birthday. This race was nearby, so I was like, You know, this might be something I might do for birthday.
The course was a lap around Rockinghams Hinson Lake run as many times as possible. In all, he rounded the lake 77 times and said running lap after lap around the lake did not become monotonous. He said he talked to the other runners and listened to his iPod for most of the race.
So what gets someone pumped up to run for 24 hours straight? Well, if your Banas, you prefer a softer touch. He took to spoken word broadcasts like sports reports and the New Yorker podcast.
I find it better to keep my mind, Banas explained. Some people find it unusual, but some people find it somewhat more engaging.
Plus, the course didnt always stay the same, as Mother Nature threw in a few challenges. Banas said other runners saw copperhead snakes crossing the trail, but those werent the biggest reptile spotted.
I saw these wet tracks running down the bridge and I couldnt figure out what was that, Banas said. And then the guy next to me asked if I saw the gator.
Despite the obstacles keeping runners on their toes, the length and distance took its toll on the competitors. A few dropped out or finished with a fraction of the miles of Banas, who held the lead for a period of time.
But did he ever feel sleepy?
The sleep wasnt really a problem at all, Banas said. I really didnt feel like sleeping.
The Mount Airy resident moved to North Carolina 10 years ago. A native of Slovakia, he is a Canadian citizen and competes for that countrys national team in the 100K. Serving as Banas support team was another Mount Airy resident and native of Slovakia, Jan Kriska.
Dr. Kriska helped me tremendously, Banas said. He started pacing me a little bit and talked to me and got me through the difficult part.
Banas said twice he felt the strain of the race, but twice he rebounded, proving how well the human body responds to challenges. He took a few 20-minute-or-so breaks for food and drink, but in the end, his last lap was the fastest.
It was a very interesting experience for me, he said. It had its ups and downs. The last three hours of the race I was able to run (the same pace as) the first three hours. It was completely surprising to me that after feeling twice like I was just about down, after rest for a little bit you get in to the next stage and you can run faster and further. I had a really, really good finish and Im still thinking, Where did that come from?
Contact Ed Phillipps at [email protected] or 719-1921.

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