When Dennis Pollow goes for a long run, he doesn't mess around.
The Ransomville runner recently was part of a 10-man relay team that ran 1,000 miles in a little more than four days. If that sounds fast for the distance, it is. It's expected to be certified as a world record sometime in the future.
"I love to do the crazy, adventurous things," Pollow said. "I did the Grand Canyon. I ran up Half-Dome (in Yosemite National Park). . This time I came as close to my limit as I've been.
This story goes back 10 years to 2002, when the Big Ten Indoor Track and Field Championships were held at the University of Minnesota field house. Kevin Dare was a 19-year-old pole vaulter who was competing for Penn State. On a vault attempt, Dare became disoriented, let go of the pole too soon, and plunged head-first into the steel casing area in which he placed his pole. He was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital shortly after that.
Dare's parents eventually started to try to make the pole vault a safer event through such actions as adding helmets and expanding the mats. Later they set up a foundation to help high school athletes who are injured and thus unable to earn scholarships to still receive a college education.
"It really started with Ryan Foster," said Pollow, who ran for Wilson High School and has won the Turkey Trot the last four years. "He was running with some guys. They were talking and someone said Minneapolis was about 1,000 miles away. He said, 'How about if we go 1,000 miles?' The idea took off from there."
Foster works for the Kevin Dare Foundation, and he got to work. Foster found that the old relay record for 1,000 miles was 99 hours, set by a team of South African marathoners. He reached out to good runners with connections to Pennsylvania running.
"Seven of the 10 were Penn State runners. Two of them were from Lock Haven," Pollow said. "I knew all of them. We had competed together. Two of the guys were good friends with a former roommate. I said I was on board for that right away."
Pollow, 25, didn't have to change his training routine much in the weeks leading up to the August run. He put in some long tempo workouts, but was used to running 5:40 miles anyway.
The event began at the Minnesota field house, where the runners laid a rose on the pole vault pit. When the relay team took off on August 26, it had a plan for covering the distance.
"We broke it into 30-mile segments," Pollow said. "We had a rotation among three guys. Each of the three guys would run for 10 minutes, so you'd get 20 minutes of rest and then run again. We did that for three hours.
"Then we'd use a period of time for some rest, and then we went back on. Eventually, you'd get a free leg for extra rest. It was a little complicated, but it was set up well. When 10 guys run, you'd really have plenty of time to recover."
The team was accompanied by a couple of RV buses, which helped with getting food and sleep - although Pollow didn't snooze for the first two days. The runners noticed some hills near the Mississippi River, but soon they found the flat spaces of Illinois and Indiana and started rattling off 5:30 miles.
Pollow had some hip flexor issues around mile 700, but they went away by mile 900. The mountains of Pennsylvania were an obstacle, but approaching the finish line provided incentive to turn up the speed.
"I had the baton when we got over the hill to see Happy Valley . I had a smile from ear to ear," Pollow said.
The relay team was greeted with cheering fans when they arrived at Penn State.
"It was a great feeling," Pollow said. "For the last 100 meters, we jogged around the last lap together and then walked in with our drivers and support crew."
The team topped its goal by raising more than $20,900 for the Kevin Dare Foundation. If you'd like to contribute, visit lifebackontrack.com.
. 8 in the Rough Trail Run, 8.7 miles, Sprague Brook Park casino in Glenwood, 10 a.m. today, 574-0888.
. Shea's Run for the Arts, 5K, 646 Main St. in Buffalo, 11:30 a.m. today, 553-0179.
. Hospice Dash 5K, Porter-on-the-Lake in Youngstown, 9 a.m. Saturday, 998-5777.
. Mighty Niagara Half-Marathon, Artpark in Lewiston, 9 a.m. Saturday, 998-5777.
. Lake Erie Regional Health System 5K, 12644 Seneca Rd. in Irving, 9 a.m. Saturday, 951-7000.
. Tails on Trails, 2.5 miles, Birdsong Park in Orchard Park, 10 a.m. Saturday, 662-6459 x 2.
. The Meghan Memorial 5K, Frontier Central H.S. in Hamburg, 10 a.m. Saturday, 926-8805.
. Lighthouse Baptist 5K, 383 Wheatfield St. in North Tonawanda, 2 p.m. Saturday, 998-8057.