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Rock/Creek Race Team member DeWayne Satterfield, on a 20-year streak

Twenty Is Just a Number

I have been running ultras for 25 years and, having degrees in mathematics, I have always had an interest in numbers. But I also know how they can be presented to spin the story as needed…”lies, damned lies, and statistics”.

So my spun tale unfolding here is the recent culmination of my 20th year in a row to win an ultra. (For those who care, I do have either race results and/or Ultrarunning magazines to document my “lies, damned lies, and statistics”.) Longevity? I guess so, but again it is only a number. AND I know my place in the ultracommunity, I was never (will never) be a “top tier” competitor.

Due to job and family commitments I have spent the majority of my ultra running around the Southeast portion of the US. While I could (I emphasize ‘could’ as in past tense) run a 6 hr flat 50 miler and break 5 hrs at Strolling Jim…I knew I could never reach the towering legends I grew up watching.

Don’t get me wrong, I pushed myself as hard as I could and I am happy with the results, but I stood in awe watching Charlie Trayer run 5:30 at BTC 50 Mile way back when…oh yeah, it was the year they had to modify the course and moved it from a nice smooth road to a mud bog loop! Charlie looked smooth the entire run. I watched in amazement as the “stocky” Ray the K at the old Leland version of Mississippi 50 Mile… he says “I think I’ll hit the marathon in 2:40… then back down a bit.” Ray hit the marathon in 2:39 and went on to run 5:39. Andy Jones’ sub 4 hr at Strolling Jim… are you freaking kidding me!! I knew I was nowhere near their level, but I was/am having a blast.

I had been running ultras for several years and was shocked when I found myself in the lead of the BTC 50 Mile in 1994… I held on for my first ultra win in 6:04. From there I just ran…I never “cherry picked” a race, I just ran the races I could get to with my time and commitments. After a few blinks of the eye, 20 years, and 59 overall wins later, I again found myself in the lead of a 50 miler.

Granted all the “big boys” were elsewhere and the premier race was actually the 12 hr that day, but, as usual, I was on a schedule… the youngest daughter had a dance competition that evening. So I opted for the 50 miler and found myself leading the pack and crossing the line first in 6:35. Twenty-five years of ultrarunning…where did the time go? I love the ultra community and have spent a great deal of time and effort in that lifestyle… but I also feel I have gotten more from the community than I could ever give back.

After I had a streak of 15 years of winning at least one ultra, I thought about “cooling it” as far as racing went. Dr. David Horton happened to overhear me and gave me advice, “DeWayne…keep it going as long as possible…make it a challenge, see if you can get to 20.” Well thanks David…Now can I please just run easy…probably not…

I hate that this sounds conceited or braggadocious…those who know me know where my heart lies. I love running, always have… I will always push to what my body will allow (and sometimes a bit more), so the numbers fall out and I write them down. Perhaps I should have kept them to myself and my kids… however I do get tired of the eye-roll whenever I start going on about an ultra…

Wondering about time,
DeWayne Satterfield ~ Huntsville, AL