Many people awaken to their alarm, annoyingly blaring, and then hesitantly lace up their shoes to go on an early morning run. They will usually go running for a few miles, maybe 10 miles, if they are feeling ambitious.
Henry Lupton and Kimberly Durst take ambition to the next level.
When the Goldsboro residents lace up their shoes, they run well past the three-mile mark and keep going because they like to see how far they can push their bodies and limits.
“I like to test myself to see what I can do,” Lupton said.
Lupton and Durst are ultrarunners, which means that they regularly compete in running races that are much longer than the average morning jog.
“I guess it does go back to my childhood. When I was nine, we would do the March of Dimes walks here in Goldsboro, and I did that for several years as a kid, and I think that’s where it all started,” Lupton said. “My childhood was always active.”
And the couple recently completed one of their most challenging runs yet. The pair ran in the Last Annual Vol State Road Race, which is a 314-mile race across Tennessee.
The Vol State Race was created almost 40 years ago. It begins with a ferry ride across the Mississippi River, from Missouri to Kentucky, and finishes at “the Rock,” high atop Sand Mountain in Northeast Georgia.
Runners have 10 days to finish the race along highways and back roads, from one small town to the next, over hills and across rivers, up mountains and down long valleys in the heat and humidity Tennessee offers in July.
And a runner had to average 50.53 kilometers a day over the 10 days to reach the finish line in Georgia.
“It’s a 10-day event, and some people such as myself go out there, and I’m trying to see what I can from a performance perspective,” Lupton said. “Other people who are older, and maybe were fast runners at some point in the past, and they’ll spend a whole nine or ten days completing the event.
“So, everybody is going to do something different.”
Lupton first competed in the Vol State Race six years ago, and he has been competing in several cross-state runs over the years.
“The community is used to seeing the Vol State runners come through the same time every year, so it got to the point where I had done a couple of cross-state runs here in North Carolina, such as the Tar Heel Ultra out on the coast, and I then I just started mixing it up to do different things, and I wanted to go out and do the Vol State.”
Lupton and Durst run every day, but he said it was not easy preparing for the Vol State Race. They ran at the Reedy Branch Greenway, and they would run from Goldsboro to Freemont or Eureka.
“We would just run from town to town and get in our long-distance training in that way,” Lupton said. “We would do anything we thought we would experience during the run and incorporate that into our training routine.”
It took Lupton four days, 20 hours to complete the Vol State Race, and he finished in sixth place. Durst, who ran in the 332-mile race a couple of weeks before the Vol State-run, completed it in five days, 16 hours, and wound up in 12th place.
When not running, Lupton runs his own exterminator business called H.T. Pest Services, while Durst is a nurse at the Brian Center. Lupton said ultrarunning may not be for everyone, but he encourages people to follow their dreams and try to make them come true.
“I wouldn’t think what I do is for everyone, but I do strongly encourage everyone to find something they are passionate about and pursue it wherever it takes them,” Lupton said. “They may find as we have that they are capable of more than they would’ve imagined.”