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August 10, 2013

UNDYING PASSION: Charlestown resident’s ultrarunning keeping her busy in 2013

CHARLESTOWN — Traci Falbo’s passion for ultrarunning has kept her busy this year.

The Charlestown resident competed in a prestigious race in Europe and is currently participating in one of the most challenging events for any ultrarunner.

Last May, Falbo had a strong showing in the Ultrarun of Steenbergen, a 24-hour race in the Netherlands. As a member of the USA National 24-hour women’s team, Falbo finished fourth out of 89 runners in the women’s division and 39th out of 243 competitors in the overall standings.

The 41-year-old ran 142.73 miles during the 24-hour event and aided the American women’s team to the gold medal.

“I ended up scoring for the team, which was excellent,” Falbo said. “Our women’s team won gold and our men’s team won gold. It was the first time that has ever happened.”

Falbo earned a spot on the U.S. women’s 24-hour team by winning the Freedom Park New Year’s Ultra Run on Dec. 31, 2012 and Jan. 1, 2013 in Morganton, N.C. Not only did Falbo win the women’s division by running 137.98 miles in 24 hours, she was the overall champion for the men’s and women’s divisions combined.

Her victory in the race also qualified her for a spot on the 2014 USA National 24-hour women’s team.

“I love beating women, but beating men is so much more fun,” Falbo said. “It was great to be the top dog, so to speak.”

Currently, Falbo is halfway through the nationwide Grand Slam of Ultrarunning. It is Falbo’s first attempt at the Grand Slam, as she has to complete each of the four races within a required time.

“It’s very difficult to do. Only 234 people and 34 women have done it,” Falbo said. “It’s a daunting thing.”

The Grand Slam consists of four 100-mile races during the summer. Falbo has ran in two of the four events — the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run in Auburn, Calif., in June and the Vermont 100-Mile Endurance Run in Windsor, Vt., in July.

Falbo felt like she underachieved in the Western States 100, as she ran the 100-mile race in about 26 hours. She got sick in the final quarter of the event.

“In the first race, I wanted to do better,” Falbo said. “I was having a good race until between 70-75 miles and then I started to vomit profusely. I had to walk the last 25 miles.”

Falbo rebounded in the Vermont 100 by running the race in 19 hours and 13 minutes.

The next race in the Grand Slam will be the Leadville Trail 100-Mile Run Aug. 17-18 in Leadville, Colo.

“It’s the most difficult race because of the high elevation and high altitude,” Falbo said.

The Grand Slam will conclude Sept. 6-7 with the Wasatch Front 100-Mile Endurance Run near Salt Lake City.

Once she completes the Grand Slam, Falbo will take a break from ultrarunning events. But that does not mean she will stop running.

She plans on competing in five normal marathons in the fall and winter. One of those marathons will be in Connecticut, which will get her closer to achieving another ambitious goal.

Falbo wants to run a marathon in all 50 states. Connecticut will mark the 47th state she has ran a marathon in. That will leave her with three states — Nebraska, Maine and Vermont — in her quest to accomplish that feat.

“I like to travel. I like to see the U.S. and it seems to be a good excuse to run,” Falbo said.

Running is one of the things that occupies Falbo’s busy schedule. She is a physical therapist for the disabled along with being married with two teenage children.

“It’s definitely a juggle,” Falbo said. “It’s a challenge to get to my workouts and get my kids to their activities. I usually spend my time with friends through running.”

But Falbo gets plenty of support from her family with her running. Her husband Mike attends most of the races and gives her food and beverages along the race route. The Falbos’ daughter, Mackenzie Crouch, and son, Logan Crouch, both attend Silver Creek High School.

“My husband is wonderful. He’s very supportive of me,” Traci Falbo said. “My kids think it’s great. They think I’m crazy sometimes with all the miles I run. But ultimately, they support me.”

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