FKT: Christine Lai - Central Park Loop Challenge (NY) - 2022-06-03

Route variation
Standard route
Gender category
Start date
Finish date
# Laps
Total time
7h 31m 26s

I was inspired by my boyfriend Timmy, who holds the male self-supported record of 12 loops around Central Park. I wanted to dip my toes into ultramarathon distances, and doing 5 laps of Central Park, a 50k, seemed like a good start. I didn’t follow any specific training plan, but had a couple weeks at over 40 mpw and peaked at 50 mpw (had another week at 53 mpw, but with a combination of running/walking 30 miles while pacing Timmy for his Keys 100 race). I made sure to add hills (bridges) to prepare for the elevation. The longest runs I did were 28 miles with Timmy and 20 miles by myself. One of my biggest concerns was having to do the challenge alone. In the weeks leading up to it, I felt pretty good and knew I could definitely do 5 loops, so I set a stretch goal of 6 loops. 

I started at 6:15am from Columbus Circle. It was a little foggy and humid but felt like a cool 65F. I had a 1.6L pack of water and a 12oz soft bottle, which I filled with tapioca starch, Nuun, and water. I refilled it frequently at the water fountains, especially towards the end. I carried a bunch of Clif bars, some Huma gels, chips, and caramel popcorn. 

Loops 1 and 2 went by easily and quickly (only issue was the lack of open bathrooms before 7am). Halfway through loop 3, it started to get boring as the initial excitement wore off. I realized I wasn’t yet halfway and would have to face the same hills again and again. I trudged along to the halfway point, wrapping up loop 3, and turned on a podcast to keep myself going mentally. I was starting to get more physically tired at loop 4; the sun was out in full force and the runners were quickly getting replaced by walking tourists. I was getting tired of Clif bars, so I alternated between bars and chips and popcorn for loops 4 and 5. I started small sections of some of the other hills, just trying to maintain an 11-12 minute pace.

I finished loop 5 feeling tired but not fully done. By loop 6, my legs were feeling it. I could maintain a decent pace as long as I kept moving, but it was hard to pick the pace back up after I stopped to refill my water or walk. I limited my walking to the steepest parts of the hills since the hills on the west side were finally getting to me but I also just wanted to get it over with at that point. It was hard to force myself to eat, so it was just gels at this point. When I knew I had a mile left, I had enough energy to bring the pace back up. I had anticipated crossing the finish line to be a little anticlimactic, since I would be doing it alone, but it was still a gratifying and exciting experience. Can’t wait to be back doing more long runs, although probably won’t be going in circles around Central Park again anytime soon.