For someone with a mental stopwatch in his head, who is
always dashing from one appointment to the next, Jesse Itzler would name
boredom as his chief nemesis during the 100-mile road race.
The event, the UltraCentric National 24-Hour Run Championship, took place
in Grapevine Texas on November 18-19. For approximately 24 hours, Itzler went
round and round a 2.4 mile loop, battling the elements and serious boredom.
To keep from losing interest, Itzler, a former lacrosse captain at Roslyn
High School, invited around 40 guests to attend the race. Some ran next to him.
Others read cheerful messages as he passed them by.
Clippers, e-mailed Itzler's BlackBerry to find out how he was doing.
Films such as "Rocky" and "Rudy" were shown on a portable movie screen. A
pool table and Ping-Pong table, all part of Itzler's base camp, were stationed
next to the course.
The tailgate party helped break up the monotony, but Itzler, 38, did all
the running himself. His goal was to reach 100 miles.
He finished in 23 hours, 35 minutes and 36 seconds and completed 42 laps,
or 100.8 miles, good enough for 25th place among the 79 runners. The person
with the most mileage after 24 hours was declared the winner.
"If I didn't go through with this race, I would have been like David
Blaine," he said of the stunt performer who once submerged himself in water.
"He holds his breath for six minutes, not eight? He failed. I couldn't come
back and do 80 miles and not a hundred. I was prepared to take it as far as I
He stopped only once to change his shoes after completing 30 miles.
Probably the easiest way to describe Itzler is that he is a marketing
genius with a heart of gold. Beyond the glory of finishing the race, Itzler
raised $1,021,250 for 10 charities, drawing money from friends and anonymous
donors. He agreed to match the first $500,000 donated with his own money.
His Web site, www. the100mileman.com, generated 735,000 hits during his
training, he said.
Itzler is a former rapper-turned-businessman-turned- thrill seeker, whose
life story is so incredible it seems too good to be true. Itzler, as his bio
proves, is just crazy enough to run 100 miles.
According to Itzler, in 1991, he signed with the music label Delicious
Vinyl under the rap name Jesse Jaymes, and came out with the song: "Shake it
(Like a White Girl)." The song cracked the Billboard Hot 100, said Itzler, who
later won a Sports Emmy for helping create the "I love this Game" music
campaign for the NBA.
In 2001, he co-founded Marquis Jet Partners with Kenny Dichter, who is from
Merrick. The company leases private jets to well-heeled customers, which
include Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Tom Brady, Brand and Damon.
Itzler is a fitness fanatic who has done around 20 marathons, but
completing 100 miles in 24 hours was a challenge more in line with his
"I'm an extremist," he said. "If I go to a sneaker store, I buy 20 pairs of
sneakers, not one. If I'm ordering power bars online, I'll order 480.
Everything is times-10 in my life."
After completing 90 miles, the 6-2, 201-pound Itzler's body began to fail
him. His hips and knees started to give out and by the 97th mile he had finally
hit the wall. To keep moving, he had to literally pick up one leg and move it
in front of the other. The last three miles took over 90 minutes to complete.
"I couldn't move," he said. "I had huge blisters on my feet. I lost three
toenails. A lot of people who drop out can't deal with the boredom, and they
can't deal with the pain, but I was going to finish that race no matter what."
He did, and spent the next day in a wheelchair.
His friend and running partner, Lance Aldridge, finished in 28th place and
did 41 laps.
Alex Swenson, 42, of Vashon, Wash., won the race in '.4 miles in a time of
Itzler's next challenge is a bike ride from Los Angeles to New York.
"I can't run right now because of my knee, but I can still ride my bike,"
he said last week from a coffee shop in Manhattan a few blocks from his home.
He was on his way to a recording studio and then to Aqueduct to root on a horse
he and Brady own. Later that night, he traveled to Atlantic City to meet with
Dressed in basketball shorts and running shoes, his eyes wide and words
spilling from his mouth in quick bursts, Itzler had the look of someone who
believes in the impossible. That even 100 miles is within reach.
"This is my life everyday," he said as he got up to leave. "Pretty crazy,