Stu Mittleman Inducted Into Ultrarunning Hall of Fame

From Dan Brannen, American Ultrarunning
Association (AUA)-Running USA Wire

Stu Mittleman began his ultra career inauspiciously in
1978, running a modest 6:11 for 50 miles in the Metropolitan 50 Mile in Central
Park, New York City. Within two years, he had notched his first national class
ultra performance, running 3:52 for 60K. A few months later, he stunned a
stellar field by winning the New York Road Runners Club’s 100 Mile with the
second fastest time ever by an American: 13 hours, 4 minutes, 9 seconds.

In 1981, he won the Lake Waramaug 50 Mile in 5:14:05,
becoming #5 on the all-time U.S. list. Then, only a month later, he returned to
successfully defend his title at the NYRR 100 Mile (now designated as the U.S.
National Championship), lowering his time to 13:00:11 in oppressively hot and
humid conditions. In 1982, he again successfully defended at both venues, this
time taking the longer distance option at Lake Waramaug, winning the 100K there
in 6:57:49 (again, the #5 all-time U.S. performance at that distance) and
dropping his winning National 100 Mile time by another 4 minutes with a
12:56:34.

The story of that race has been written and revisited more
than almost any other American ultra. It was a classic 2-man duel in a driving
rainstorm, with 1/4 of the 1-mile course a gooey, muddy bog, that never let up
until Mittleman broke the finish tape. He had started at what observers
considered a reckless pace, clocking 5:45 for the first 50 miles. Through the
second half, Lion Caldwell closed steadily on the now-fading leader.
Every lap of Mittleman’s second 50 miles was slower than the preceding one, but
he clung tenaciously to the lead. For the final hour, his arms and head drooped,
and it seemed there was no way he could finish, that Caldwell would win his
first national title. Mittleman somehow remained upright long enough to cross
the finish line, but would never again return to that race, that distance, or
anything shorter.

The revival of multi-day racing in the early 1980s breathed a
second competitive life into Stu Mittleman. He entered the inaugural New York
6-Day race in 1983 and finished second to multi-day legend Siefried Bauer
of New Zealand, racking up 488 miles to Bauer’s 511 and becoming the top
American at this newly revived event. The following year he exploded onto the
world-class multi-day scene, finishing second to 24-Hour World Record hold
Jean-Gilles Boussiquet of France in the LaRochelle 6-Day Race in
Boussiquet’s home country. Mittleman had immersed himself in the esoterica of
multi-day racing, including nutritional research, racewalking technique and
sleep-deprivation. It all paid off with daily mileage totals of 105, 90, 95, 86,
103 & 92 for a 6-day total of 571 miles, 1164 yards. It was a U.S. 6-day
best by over 16 miles. The following year, he covered 577 miles, 1320 yards in a
6-day race in Boulder, Colo. For that, Mittleman won the “performance of the
year” designation by Ultrarunning Magazine for the second time (the first had
been for his 12:56 100 Mile win).

But his crowning achievement was yet to come the following
year: a head-to-head match with Bauer at the Sri Chinmoy 1,000 Mile Race in
Queens, New York to attack Bauer’s World Record of 12 days, 12 hours. Bauer took
control of the race early and established a substantial lead by halfway. And
then Mittleman’s training and meticulous race planning kicked in. He actually
surged in both pace and time in motion more than halfway through the race. He
wound up putting together back-to-back 6-day splits of 500+ miles each, the
second faster than the first. It was a virtually flawless footracing fortnight
tour de force. He decisively defeated Bauer and crushed the Kiwi’s world record
by 16 hours, setting a new world mark of 11 days, 20 hours, 36 minutes, 50
seconds. It would take none other than Yiannis Kouros to break it many
years later.

Stu Mittleman appeared to have retired shortly after that
race, but after an 8-year absence from serious racing he re-emerged in 1994 to
win the LaRochelle 6-day with 536.26 miles. In 2000, he completed a charity
fundraising run across the USA, averaging 52 miles per day.

No other American ultrarunner, male for female, has exhibited
national class excellence at such a wide range of racing distances. None other
than Ted Corbitt, inaugural Ultra Hall of Fame inductee and “The Father
of American Ultrarunning,” once offered the opinion that Mittleman was the
best-ever all-around American ultrarunner.

Mittleman joins Sandra Kiddy, Marcy Schwam, Sue Ellen
Trapp, Ted Corbitt
and Bernd Heinrich as the third man to be inducted
into the American Ultrarunning Hall of Fame.

Note on AUA Hall of Fame Policy: to be considered for the
American Ultrarunning Hall of Fame, candidates must be either retired
from serious competition for 10 years, or have reached the age of 60. For more
information, visit: AmericanUltra.org

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