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Track club president runs from Miami Marathon to Manasota Ultra-Marathon

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pattibrustedLast weekend, Patti Brustad ran the Miami Marathon in 4 hours and 35 minutes. That was her warm-up. This weekend, the Sarasota educator will run the Manasota Track Club 50K — an ultra-marathon of 50 kilometers, or a little more than 31 miles.
“I keep telling myself it’s 32,” she says, laughing. “I want to be ready, mentally, to run 32 miles.”
Saturday’s ultra-marathon will be a trail race through the woods of Oscar Scherer State Park in Osprey. Runners will complete an 8-mile loop through the park four times. Brustad, 42, is a former president of the Manasota Track Club who plans to rely on a relay team of supporters. Four friends have volunteered to run one loop with her. Her son and daughter will cheer at the finish line. She’s hoping for 50-degree weather and a pretty run through the woods. The best part about trail running?
“You’re not bored at all, ever,” she says. The worst part?
“The soft sand,” she says. “I don’t care about jumping over roots and going around trees, and I haven’t seen a snake yet. But with all the rain we’ve been having, the sand should be packed down.”

Different atmosphere
The Manasota 50K began 22 years ago as the Knight Trail Ultra-Marathon. Race director Dave Siegwald has worked all but one of the marathons.
Sometimes it’s cold, and sometimes it’s warm. Sometimes it’s dry, and sometimes it’s wet.
“A few years ago,” he says, “it hadn’t rained in the park for months and months, but on race day it rained 4 inches. There were parts of the trail where the water was a foot deep. But you know what? People were having a blast. They were laughing their heads off.”
About 100 runners do the Manasota races each year. Elite runners finish the 50K course in about 4 hours. Slower runners often spend 8 or more hours on the course.
Some think an ultra-marathon is easier to finish than a marathon, especially if it’s a trail run.
“The nature of the event is so much different,” Siegwald says. “It’s much more laid back. I tell people, just think of it as an adventure more than a race.”

pattibrustadteacherPresidential pace
Brustad was born in New York, but grew up in Florida. She went to Southeast High School in Bradenton, where she played softball and other sports.
“I wasn’t that great,” she jokes. “I always got the coaches award.”
After attending the University of Florida, she returned to the Gulf Coast and became a teacher, a teacher trainer and finally supervisor of professional development for Sarasota County Schools.
After her two children were born, she started running to get back into a shape. Then she started doing beach runs, triathlons and became involved with the Manasota Track Club.
“The way they lured me in,” she says, “was my friend and I loved to do costumes for Bill’s Beer Run. Then I got roped into being on the board and for three years I’ve been president.” Brustad is proud of the track club helping Sarasota schools start running programs for their students. Now she’s ready to get back to her own racing.

pattibrustad2Gu and Rice Krispies
The Manasota 50K is a start — a long, long start. On Friday night, Brustad will have her usual pre-race meal of salmon and rice. On Saturday morning, she’ll eat a Rice Krispie treat and braid her hair into blonde pigtails.
During the race, she’ll drink water and eat packets of Gu energy gel. Brustad is already looking forward to more races.
“We’ll see about the distance,” she says, “but I’ll definitely do more trail running.”

Last modified: February 5, 2014
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