Last month a local high school student completed a virtual race, logging 100 miles total in under 24 hours. Samuel Odom, a senior at Forbush High School, began running cross country and track at Forbush under Coach Stephanie Beuter. He enjoyed the sport but when COVID-19 shutdown schools last spring, 17-year old Odom took to new lengths, literally. Odom started running 20 to 30 miles at a time and began training to complete the Snow Moon 24 Hour Challenge.
“What I enjoy most about the long distance running is simply just testing my limits,” Odom said. “That’s something that I’ve always been fascinated with.”
Odom has previously completed The Stevest 50K Race, held in Concord on July 25, 2020, where he finished in 8 hours and 36 minutes. At 17 years old , he was the youngest competitor to ever complete the race and finished 6th overall. He also completed 54 miles in the Cloudsplitter 100, held in the Jefferson National Forest of Norton, Virginia in October, but was pulled after 13 hours of running due to hypothermia.
The Snow Moon 24 Hour Challenge Ultramarathon, named for the full moon in February that appears slightly larger than normal, is normally held in Michigan. This year, because of COVID-19 restrictions, the race was held virtually. Each runner mapped out their course and was responsible for submitting proof of their race through GPS coordinates. The race began at 8 a.m. on Feb. 27 and ended at 8 a.m. Feb. 28.
Odom’s 100-mile course went through much of Yadkin County. His 100-mile route would be the equivalent of running from the Yadkin County Courthouse to Rock Hill, South Carolina. During the 100 miles, Odom would stop every 15 to 20 miles for short water and food breaks.
He trained for the Snow Moon 24 Hour Challenge by running 20 miles regularly at night and in the extreme cold to get ready for the race conditions.
Odom finished the Snow Moon race in 23 hours and 39 minutes. Odom’s family said they believe it is a U.S. record for someone under the age of 18. They are waiting on verification of that record.
Odom began his route at the Yadkin Family YMCA parking lot at 8 a.m. on Feb. 27, headed North to close to the Yadkin River; to Forbush Elementary; to North of East Bend close to the Forsyth County line; to Shady Grove; to Fall Creek Elementary to Forbush High School. He did the last third of his race at Forbush High School grounds (the loop between Middle school and the HS) and the track because it was night and he was getting some close calls with cars and dogs.
While running long distances might seem like torture to some, Odom said it’s more like meditation for him.
“It’s my time to myself to process what’s been going on. It’s really when I get a lot of thinking and productive, creative thinking done,” he said.
“I really love the mental endurance aspect of ultrarunning, of having to push yourself further than you think you can go and proving to yourself what you are actually made of,” Odom said, following his completion of the 24-hour race. “There is a former Seal Team member and ultramarathoner named David Goggins who says, ‘When your mind is telling you that you’re done, that you’re exhausted, that you cannot possibly go any further, you’re only actually 40% done.’ That quote helped me finish this race.”
While pushing his own mental and physical limits, Odom said he was well supported by family and friends. He said he could not have finished the race if not for his good friend Connor Oldland. Connor showed up at the high school at midnight to encourage him and to help pace him by running along side of him for short periods of time to keep him on his time targets. Oldland stayed until Odom finished the race at 7:39 a.m. and his pacing helped him overcome some of the mentally toughest parts of the race, he said.
Odom said his future running goals including training for and completing the MOAB 240, which is in Utah and is 240 miles through the desert over a five day period. He has recently purchased an older RV and he plans to travel out west after graduation spending time running through the National Parks in Colorado, Wyoming, Montana and Utah.
Kitsey Burns Harrison may be reached at 336-258-4035 or follow her on Twitter @RippleReporterK.