Akos Konya First Across Finish Line

By Greg Minter

Akos (pronounced 'ah-kosh') Konya, of Oceanside, CA was the first to come across the finish line at 7:58:42am (Tues) for an elapsed time. "This is one of the best days in my life," said Akos, resting in a pop-up chair beneath the welcome shade of the Whitney Portal pine trees. "I'm really glad just to be here, to be at the finish line. My time or finish place didn't matter, it was just to be here, to be at the finish line."

He made the trip with only two crew members, first timers Anissa and Gary Roberts, but was able to pick up a third crew member, Karsten Solheim (who had just finished his tenth consecutive Western States 100 mile race) at the pre-race meeting. "My crew was the best. I didn't eat too much, a little fruit, lots of water. But they were great, they always knew exactly what I needed when I came in. Karsten was a big help."

As has been the case in the past years, sometimes an "unknown" surprises everybody. "My plan was to just run my own pace and to start slow. I trained about 840 miles for this race, and averaged about an 8:10 pace, including all my rests, but it was just a jogging pace. I used to run faster, but I had knee surgery. Everything was fine, except for the altitude. The humidity didn't bother me. Around 75 or 80 I felt great. Nothing hurt.

Was any section particularly tough? "From Lone Pine up to here, I didn't like it too much," he laughs. "The desert was fine, flat, the heat didn't bother me too much. I was prepared for the heat. I traveled two hours to the Anza Borrego desert once a week, and ran a long run out there, somewhere from 20 to 40 miles. The temps were between 100 and 110, but it was better than 80 or 85. I did a six-layer run, where I piled all the layers on, but I hated that. The most I could do was 6.6 miles. I couldn't do more. But it probably helped me a little bit."

"Since my schedule's always different, I mostly run by myself. I don't know too many runners." However, Akos did run the HURT 100 in January this year, a race which he said "is more of a climbing race," known as another particularly tough course. When asked if he would return next year, he thought for a second. "I love this race, it's really cool. But we'll have to see about my knees. But I'd really like to come back."