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Six Days in the Dome: Ultimate running test at Pettit National Ice Center

Posted at 6:59 PM, Aug 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-16 19:59:33-04

MILWAUKEE — Imagine running for six straight days. I guess it's shorter than a full week. But imagine no more, as an event at the Pettit National Ice Center puts ultra marathon runners to the ultimate test.

Lance Allan of TMJ4 Sports: "How often do you get, are you crazy? Are they crazy?"

"Um, not more than every 15 minutes," Six Days in the Dome Race Director Steve Durbin says. "You get the old, I don't even wanna drive that far. You hear that all the time."

It's called Six Days in the Dome.

"Just funny stuff like going to the local grocery or Sam's Club or something to get supplies. They know me now and are they still running over there? They sure are," Durbin says.

An incredible test of mind, body, spirit, and maybe even stupidity.

"We've got two 86-year-olds out here," runner Joe Fejes says. "They, I think at least one of them has gone over 100 miles."

And to the victor, goes the spoils. This championship belt is worth $1,200 to the victor.

"219 miles for 48 hours, that I set earlier," Fejes says. "My best 6-day is 606 miles. That's the American record."

"It's so much to consider," Durbin says. "What am I going to eat. What am I going to drink. When am I going to take a rest, because you can blow it, you can lose the race in the first couple of days."

Strategy is key.

"Mentally it was tough in the beginning," Fejes says. "Now the physicals coming in. They're getting tendinitis. When you do overuse and you run 5, 6 hundred miles? You're going to get that. You know, so when I do to the pediatrist at the end of the race, and say I think I've got tendinitis, he said of course you do!"

"These guys have like cots right behind their tables," Durbin says. "Each of them has their own table. And they have a designated area. Now, they can only crew them within that designation so very much like NASCAR and a pit crew, except for it goes on for 144 hours in this case."

And the Pettit Center draws praise.

"It's raining outside right now," Durbin says. "It was 94 degrees the first day. But here you know the weather's going to be perfect. So we literally looked all over the world. This place is absolutely perfect."

Lance Allan: "Pettit Center was the spot?"

"Oh the spot! And the staff here, Kevin Butler, Randy Dean - you couldn't ask for better," Durbin says.

But in some ways, it imitates what many go through.

"The thing about it is it parallels, you know, life itself. Because there are so many ups and down," Durbin says.

Lance Allan: "You got better things to do, so you gotta get that 607th mile. You gotta go man!"

"Thanks!" Fejes says as he runs off.

No American or World records set this time. But there were several age records set. And there's always next year.

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