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Luanne Goldfarb is more than just a runner

February 24, 2017
Luanne Goldfarb has gone from a nonrunner to an ultramarathoner in just a few years. SUBMITTED PHOTO

What drives a runner to toe the starting line for a race that is 50 kilometers or even 50 miles?

Races like that may take seven, eight or even 10 to 12 hours to complete. It takes a special runner to not only train their body to get through the physical aspect of a race that long, but, more importantly, the mental aspect, which can be more difficult to achieve.

Runners who attempt these feats are called ultra-marathoners. I think of an ultra-marathoner as someone who goes beyond the 26.2-mile marathon distance.

Webster’s dictionary defines ultra as “going beyond others or beyond due limit, aka extreme.”

I know a lot of ultra or extreme runners, from Mike Wardian, the recent winner of the World Marathon Challenge, which was seven marathons on seven continents in seven days, to Dean Karnazes, with whom I have spoken through email over the years, and they are as tough mentally as they are physically.

Locally here at the beach, I am proud to write about and feature the accomplishments of 55-year-old Rehoboth runner and friend Luanne Goldfarb. In just five short years, she has gone from a beginner who never ran before to an ultra-marathoner who is also extreme in her training, her racing and even playing a game of Pictionary or Categories when our families get together.

For Goldfarb, it all started with a Couch to 5K newspaper clipping saved in a jewelry box, as she thought to herself, “That does not seem too hard.” After a year of practice, she tried a 5K and did better than she thought. Since that first couple of years in 2012 and 2013 when she got her feet wet in all the local 5K races, Goldfarb pretty much tried every distance and held her own in the 50-54 age group throughout the journey.

From the road race circuit she then fell in love with the triathlon, as it became her new challenge, adding the bike and the swim components. She continued to improve her fitness level as she began to work with local trainer Kevin Danahy of Tricoach, an accomplished triathlete himself and former U.S. champion in the duathlon.

Goldfarb admits that she has always enjoyed trails, and most ultra-marathons are run on a trail surface.

“The trails are easier on the body, and I really fell in love with the Strider Twilight Series of races a few years back at Cape State Park,” said Goldfarb.

In the last three years, the attention went to a new challenge, the ultra, with her first being the Ironmaster’s Challenge 50K in Michaux State Forest in Pennsylvania, which is a 31-mile race she has competed in for the last three years, winning her age group each time. Last year she was the fourth overall female.

“I love the Ironmaster Challenge, and my first one was in 2013 coming off the Seashore Classic Half in April,” said Goldfarb.

Goldfarb has also competed in the Gran Fondo in Wilmington, the 2015 Muskoka 70.3 Ironman, the Brandywine 12K in 2016, the White Clay Creek 15K in 2016 and the Lake Placid Ironman last year, where she placed 10th in her age group.

A broken foot during and after the Rehoboth Seashore Marathon in 2013 set her training back a bit in 2014, but she quickly got after her goals again. The longest race Goldfarb has accomplished is the Mountain Masochist Trail 50-Miler, which she finished in November 2016 in 11 hours and 28 minutes. I remember tracking Luanne that day. She started that race, I went to work, ate dinner and went to bed, and she was still racing!

“I find happiness in nature; it is my church, it is my therapy. I love solitude and expanse,” said Goldfarb. “I am always driven by what is on the other side or around the corner. If I go a little faster, I will be able to see more. There are so many places to see. I love the feeling of living on the edge.” 

The year 2017 is another busy year for Goldfarb as she plans on running a few smaller trail runs or marathons up north in the beginning of the year and preparing for her biggest race of her short running career, the Vermont 100-Miler in July. Then, hopefully, she will continue with local triathlons and the Seashore Marathon in December. 

Goldfarb is quick to point out that she has never forgotten that Couch to 5K newspaper clipping, and she is thankful for training with Kevin, who keeps her moving and in one piece, and also thankful for local trail runner Danny MacElrevey, who has been in the shadows helping her since the beginning with support and pushing through her toughest fears.

“The support of a special local race director, his wife and his band of devoted Seashore Striders followers sucked me into this running and racing world, and I have been trying to be a runner ever since,” Goldfarb joked.

It’s safe to say that she has definitely accomplished that feat. Goldfarb is much more than just a runner! 

Finish chute…

The Seashore Striders will do the timing for the popular Tim Kennard 10-Miler Sunday, March 5, at Salisbury University. Jump-start your spring with a nice event through the Salisbury streets. St. Patrick’s Day is next month, and the Striders will host the Shamrock Shuffle 15K and 5K Sunday, March 19, along the Junction and Breakwater Trail. This is a great tuneup run for the Sunday, April 9 half marathon, as you tackle 9.3 miles a month before the half. The Striders will travel to Denton, Md., for a fun St. Patrick’s Day 5K/10K combo Saturday, March 18, a day complete with music, green water stops, and maybe even green pancakes, I hear. Locally here in Milton, the Races2Run Lucky Leprechaun 5K will be held from Irish Eyes Sunday, March 12. Over and out!

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