Jim Blandford, of Hamburg, finished Massanutten Mountain Trails 100 Mile run, in Virginia, in first place with a time of 18 hours 30 minutes and 53 seconds. He was the only person to finish the same day as the start of the race that has a limit of 36 hours. Of the 198 runners that began the race 151 finished.
While the finish is impressive on its own Blandford, 43, completed the race 102 days after having inguinal hernia surgery in February.
Blandford was diagnosed on December 24, 2012 and when he was told that the next possible surgery date would not be until the beginning of February, he continued to run. It was six days after surgery that he walked four miles and continued to build on the energy and distance at a quick pace competing in an event 26 days later in March.
He credits Steven M. Pandelidis, M.D., as a big part of why he is back running today.
While he did run during school and started because his dad ran also, it was not until recently that Blandford started running again.
“I always had the feeling that I wanted to run over the years. I never lost that. I’d start every once and a while and stop. Go out for a couple of weeks and then get a little bit of a cold and be like ‘oh well I’ll do it next week.’ But then when I was either 35 or 36 I started running again and met some of the runners from the Pagoda Pacers. Saw what they were doing and though ‘well if they can do it, I can do it,’” he said.
Being part of a running group helped keep Blandford running as he explained that some days it can be hard to get out the door, but being with other people helps.
“When I do it, I usually do it all out,” he said about his focus on running after joining the Pacers.
“He goes all in,” said his wife, Karen, who is very supportive.
Karen and Beth Witkowski follow Blandford from aid station to aid station during his races to get him what he needs and to keep him moving on as fast as he can.
“We meet him and are prepared for him when he comes in. We have fresh water bottles and what he needs,” said Karen. “It’s about trying out get him in and out as fast as possible.”
Prior to races that Blandford has run before he hands Karen a book of his times from the previous year so that she knows what to expect. Having beat his time from last year that made things different for Blandford’s crew who are very similar to that of a pit crew during a Nascar race.
“This year he was running way ahead of schedule from last year,” said Karen. “It was like ‘we have to go.’”
Blandford is very thankful for the support and his daughters Karyna and Alyssa help out during shorter races as well as a pacer who comes in at a later mile to help push him. The pacer for the Virginia race was David Lister who ran with Blandford from mile 63.9 to mile 98.
“Karen and Beth are a huge help. And they like doing it too,” said Blandford. “That’s another part, just the support that you need at home to actually do this.”
The family volunteers to help out at other races as well. Every race is a learning experience for Blandford and it is something he has used to figure out what works for him. He feels that when he first started he was thinking too much and that simpler is the way to go in what works.
Running has given the position of ambassador to Blandford for Chester County Runing stor and Hoka One One shoes which have thicker soles that provide more support for runners. The soles take some more of the shock when running and are much more comfortable when it comes to stepping on rocks and other things that he comes across while trail running.
“A lot of people who have injuries usually do end up going to these shoes when they’re coming back as they do take a lot of the shock,” said Bandford.
Blandford enjoys running and took part in the New Jersey Running with the Devil race this past Saturday and the Run for Taylor on Sunday.