Donaldson just misses runner of the year

| Monday, Jan. 19, 2009

Freeport native Jamie Donaldson went out for a quick training run yesterday at her home in Colorado.

She was only gone about eight hours and ran somewhere around 50 miles.

"For training, a long run might be about 40 or 50 miles, and a short run is, like, a marathon," Donaldson said. "If I did three or five miles, it would be like a sprint."

Donaldson finished second in the voting for UltraRunning Magazine 2008 runner of the year, just 18 points behind Kami Semick of Bend, Ore. Donaldson ended up receiving 199 votes to 217 for Semick, but she has no idea who voted for her.

"I know there's 21 people from different events throughout the United States, and I know some of them are race directors and some work for the magazine," Donaldson, 34, said. "They keep it kind of hush-hush."

In addition to finishing second for runner of the year, Donaldson was also second in performance of the year after turning in a time of 26 hours, 51 minutes and 33 seconds in the Badwater 135-mile run to finish first in the women's division and third overall. The Badwater course goes nonstop from Death Valley to Mount Whitney, Calif.

She also captured the women's division of the Umstead 100 in 16:21:10, second only to men's top finisher Serge Arbona and his 15:53:09.

"I was thrilled because, the year before, I was barely in any of the other votes, and I may have had one vote for something, so it was nice to move up quite a bit in one year," Donaldson said. "I don't really know what it takes to get to No. 1. People are telling me, 'Oh sure you're going to be No. 1,' and I thought I had a strong chance, but the girl that got No. 1, she was really fast, but she's a 50-miler and doesn't really do any 100s, so I don't know what it would take to get to No. 1."

Perhaps the biggest thrill she had in 2008 was when she was selected to the United States team for the 24-hour World Championships in Korea. At the event, she covered 136.7 miles (220 kilometers) in 23:52:41.86, finishing fifth overall and first among American entrants.

"I had such a phenomenal year last year that I haven't even thought about what I can do better, but I'm on the U.S. world team again and I'd really like to see if I can get maybe in the top three in the world which would be amazing," Donaldson said. "It still gives me goose bumps to even think about it."

Even with all her time spent trekking around the Rocky Mountains, she does have time for a career as a sixth-grade mathematics teacher and is just getting back into training mode after nearly two months of downtime. Her first event of the season will be the Rocky Raccoon 100-mile endurance race in Huntsville, Tex.

During her downtime, however, she still ran. Of course, her idea of a leisurely jog is 26 miles and 385 yards.

"You can fake a marathon and run it without really being trained and you can even fake a 50-mile, but 100 you have to be in some sort of shape," Donaldson said. "That's why I have to pick up my mileage, so I can simulate those conditions that I'm going to be in soon."

Still, the 1991 WPIAL Class AA cross country champion believes it might be interesting if she ever had to run a 3.1 mile course again.

"That would be a sprint, and I don't like to run fast," Donaldson said. "I like to run over a long period of time."

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