66: The 100-miler: Part 13 (1974-1975) Gordy Ainsleigh

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Manage episode 278320461 series 2396657
על ידי Davy Crockett התגלה על ידי Player FM והקהילה שלנו - זכויות היוצרים שמורות למפרסם, לא ל-Player FM, והשמע מוזרם ישירות מהשרתים שלכם. הירשמו כדי לעקוב אחר עדכונים ב-Player FM, או הדביקו את כתובת העדכונים באפליקציות פודקאסט אחרות.
By Davy Crockett 1974 is the year that most American ultrarunners unfortunately think 100-mile ultrarunning history began. Hopefully the previous twelve parts of this 100 miler history, including 80,000 words of previous history, has helped readers learn about the forgotten 100-mile history. This brings us to 1974. Several 100-mile races and solo runs were held across the globe that year, but the most significant run, which mostly went unnoticed at the time, was performed by Gordy Ainsleigh in the rugged, hot mountains in California. Yes, you were probably told he was the first, but he was actually the 8th to cover that trail on foot during the horse race and the sport of trail ultrarunning was not invented that year. Previous to 1974, many sub-24-hours 100-mile solo runs had been accomplished every year on roads, tracks, and trails. Thus, Ainsleigh's run did not get much attention until several years later, when with some genius marketing, it became an icon for running 100 miles in the mountains, the symbol for Western States 100, founded in 1977. But also hidden in the annals of the Western States Endurance Run history, is a forgotten story of 53 individuals, men and women, who covered the Western States Trail on foot in 1974, just one week after Ainsleigh made his famous run. This was another story that was well-known at the time, but wasn't mentioned in the Western States origin story. Gordy Ainsleigh 1974 was the year when Gordy Ainsleigh made his famed run on the Western States Trail in the California Sierra. Ainsleigh’s solo journey run must be mentioned, examined, and put in its proper historic context, peeling away the decades of marketing hype and myths that grew out of it. Early Years Harry Gordon Ainsleigh, from Meadow Vista, California, was born in Auburn, California in 1947. Frank Ainsleigh Ainsleigh grew up going by the name of Harry. He was the son of Frank Leroy Ainsleigh (1926-2007) who served in the Korea and Vietnam wars, in the Air Force. Frank and Bertha Gunhild (Areson) Ainsleigh (1918-2004) married while Frank was very young. The marriage didn’t work out, and they filed for divorce one month before Gordy was born. He was then raised by his mother (a nurse) and his Norwegian-born grandmother, Bertha Fidjeland Areson (1894-1984), who was also divorced. Frank Ainsleigh left the home, quickly remarried, and eventually settled in Florida where he raced stock cars and worked in a Sheriff’s office as maintenance supervisor over patrol cars. Bertha Ainsleigh remarried in 1952, when Gordy was five, to Walter Scheffel of Weimar, California. He was employed at a sanatorium. But Gordy’s family life continued to be in an uproar. They divorced less than a year later. Nevada City Gordy spent his childhood years in Nevada City, California (about 30 miles north of Auburn). He recalled his first long run. "One day when I was in second grade. I came out on the playground with a bag lunch that Grandma had packed for me, and I just couldn't see anybody who would have lunch with me. I panicked. And I just felt like I couldn't breathe. And I just dropped my lunch, and I ran home for lunch." On another day he missed the bus for school and didn't want to admit to his mother that he again missed it, so he just ran several miles to the school. He explained, "I came in a little late. The teacher knew where I lived. She asked, 'Why are you late?" I said, 'I missed the bus so I ran to school." She was so impressed that she didn't punish him. By the age fourteen, he started to get into trouble with the law, so his mother decided it was time to move out of town, back to the country. They moved back closer to Auburn, on a small farm near the hilly rural community of Meadow Vista. In junior high school, his gym teacher treated P.E. like a military boot camp with lots of pushups. He recalled, "I'd goof off and he'd make me run. I made sure I wore a real pained expression whene...

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