A week ago, most people probably slept in, had their morning coffee and read the newspaper, as one would normally do on a Saturday morning.
But, normal isn’t a word that’s used very often nowadays.
Zack Lever, along with about 2,000 people worldwide, did their best to bring some sense of normalcy to their lives but in a little bit of a different way.
Lever, a former Fort Campbell baseball coach that retired from the United States Army, competed in a Last Man Standing event where he ran more than 54 miles in one day.
A Last Man Standing is when a runner runs 4.167 miles at the top of every hour until they are literally the last man standing.
People from across the world competed in the event on Zoom as they ran on treadmills and in their neighborhoods.
“There was like 2,000 people on Zoom and you had to set up your phone on a certain spot and I never got the chance to watch any of the YouTube stuff but they had four different YouTube channels where it was being covered,” he said. “One was the elites. They had 20 elites being covered.”
Lever said he’s always been a runner and enjoys the sport.
“I just never had a chance to run far,” he said. “Now that I’m retired, I started to take up running more and sometimes I would train 80-90 miles a week and I’m typically 40-50 miles a week.”
Several weeks ago, Lever ran in an event in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where he finished fourth and ran 52 miles.
“That was a trail one so that was a tough one because a lot of elevation,” he said.
For last week’s challenge, Lever said he went back-and-forth from the treadmill to the road in his neighborhood.
“For me, the treadmill was actually more painful … ” he said. “It just helps when you’re out and there’s so many strategies to it. When you have that hour every hour, you think ‘oh I’m just going to go out there and run fast and get back and have plenty of rest.’ But that hurts you too because then your body starts cramping up and you are sitting too long. Event he super elites, they try to come back in like 47 to 51 minutes.”
Why some would find the idea of running the equivalent of two marathons in day extreme, Lever saw it as a challenge to compete with some of the most respected in the sport.
“I was king of thinking that’d be kind of cool, then you see all these super elites jumping in and I thought ‘Man, that’d be cool to do an event with those people in it too.’ No one was really super trained. For something like this, I was training for one on May 2 already in Elizabethtown, that was an official last man standing event that was going on … I was training for that anyway.”
Lever said a Last Man Standing was better for him that normal races.
“It’s cool for me because it’s a unique event.,” he said. “It’s different for me personally. I’m not super fast, I never really was … This isn’t a speed race. It’s an endurance race, it’s strategic. Every time I come back and finish a loop, I’m tied with these rocket men that run six-minute miles and look at them like ‘OK, I’m still here with you.’ You just have to survive. It’s a mental thing.”
For nearly every runner, there comes a point in the race where one hits a sort of wall, a rough patch.
Lever wasn’t immune.
“It weird, loop seven was my worst loop … ” he said. “I kind of wanted to get to 50, I really didn’t have a goal. To be honest, they say not to have a goal in this because when you hit the goal, you quit. Seven was just kind of I’m just between 29 and 32 or somewhere in there. It was kind of a mental ugh, but then after that kind of rebounded.”
For Lever, the event turned into kind of a family affair as his children Zack and Katie also helped their dad out.
“Zack, my son, came out and did the ninth lap,” he said. “Katie came out there and ran the 11th lap.”
All great things must to an end, and at 8:42 p.m., that was it for Lever, but he admitted he probably could have gone another few hours.
“I know my wife wasn’t in the mood for me being up all night, dog barking,” he said. “Every time I would start, the dogs would get excited. I would have kept the whole house up all night. I didn’t want to do that, but I felt good after that lap.”
Lever said the organizers of the event stressed the important of social distancing, and overall, he loved the event.
“It was so much fun,” he said. “Katie would check on me, Zach would check on me. My wife was at work, she’s a nurse. It was super cool because they stressed the quarantine rules too because they didn’t want people gathering. You could only have your family as your crew and typically at a Last Man Standing, they don’t allow pacers, meaning no one can run with you. You’re on your own …
“It was a super neat experience. My family, they all think I’m crazy anyway.”