After completing finals, Wharton first-year Ryan Torres ran and power walked almost 100 miles from Locust Walk to the Penn Club in New York City.
He ran for the first 50 miles and then, due to a foot injury, power walked for the second half. Starting on the night of Dec. 20, the journey took him 44 hours and he finished in New York at 11:30 a.m. on Dec. 22.
“I finished my last exam. And then two hours later, I was running,” Torres said.
Torres, who took part in Modern Pentathlon events in high school, said that he decided to run this distance because he was looking for a challenge.
“For the last five years pushing myself physically was a cornerstone of my life. And getting to Penn, I felt like I didn’t have the chance to push myself as hard physically. So I decided to do something,” he said.
In order to stay fueled during the long run, Torres stopped every 30 minutes to eat 200 calories of food and drink 250 ml of water. He would take a longer break every four hours to have a sit-down meal and nap briefly. Despite running on minimal sleep, Torres said that during his run he did not feel tired because he was so focused on getting to New York.
In order to ensure his safety, Torres told five close friends about his run beforehand and shared his location with them throughout. During his journey, they called him periodically to check in and ensure that he was safe. Wharton first-year Laura Brodkey, one of Ryan’s friends who monitored him during his run, said she called him frequently to check up on and support him.
“He has a really good understanding of what he’s capable of and pushing himself,” Brodkey said.
For Torres, his favorite part of the experience was turning off his headlight when running by a lake on the first night.
“There was no light other than the moon. I’m alone. I’m running. It’s like 3 a.m. and then there’s the lake by my side,” he said. “That was an ecstatic moment.”
For the first 50 miles, Torres ran without a problem. However, once he reached Princeton University — his halfway mark — he began experiencing pain in his feet. After sitting down for breakfast, Torres realized he might have a stress fracture.
Torres attempted to start running again after taking a break at Princeton, but the pain in his feet became too much. He thought about buying a wheelchair and turning back when he saw a Costco on the side of the highway but ultimately decided against it.
“I was gonna get to New York. If I could run, I would run. If I could walk, I would walk. If I had to crawl, I would crawl,” he said. “The moment I passed Costco and just kept walking, I realized that I was going to be good.”
When Torres finally arrived at the Penn Club — a New York social club for Penn affiliates — on Dec. 22, he sat down and immediately went to sleep.
“Once I made it. I was like, Okay, I actually made it. And then I just had the urgent need to [rest]. I just put my head on the table,” he said. “An ultramarathon is considered the hardest of the ultra-endurance events,” he added. “Usually runners have support crews, supply checkpoints, and logistical help. I only had the backpack that I carried on my back.”