This was my first 100 mile race. I chose it because because it is 95% technical single track and hilly. It has had a 50% DNF rate over the 22 years it has been in existence and this year it had a 66% DNF rate, with numbers like that you know it's a quality event :). The race director, volunteers, participants, and aid station fare were all top shelf. I'll be back to do this race over and over again!
Gear ========= cw-x compression shorts white brooks equilibrium short sleeve shirt white brooks hat white buff Double Layer Wright Socks Injinji Socks New Balance MT101 shoes Dirty Girl Gaiters
I didn't realize the start of this race would hit single track so fast and bottleneck when it did. If I'd known that I would have gone out fast to avoid being stuck behind people. The starting temperature was around 60F and it was extremely humid/foggy. I ran with Keith for awhile but let him go because I wanted to run conservatively and he was running a pace for a 50 mile race. The first loop went flying by. I met and chatted with a lot of great people. A couple of guys I met and ran with for about 20 miles,Jeff and Eric, had run the copper canyon ultramarathon with the Tarahumara last year and went to high school with Todd Crandell. I met another guy who was using the 100 mile race as a training run for the Hard Rock 100 who could have probably been a professional comedian - he had a one liner for everything and just kept rolling a steady stream of jokes and conversation. The Park Road 51 aid station was being operated by a friend of mine Stu Allen and he was doing a great job! They served heed,water, defizzed pop, hammer gels, bananas, oranges, watermelon, gummi bears, m&ms, potato chips, twizzlers, and more. The exit from this aid station was a steep downhill followed by some hard climbing and then onto some very beautiful rolling single track. In this section we passed several large boulders that made me wish I'd brought a crash pad and chalk bag. I gave them a quick feel and they were a nice strong pocketed sandstone.
After that the next aid station was the MTB parking aid station. It was packedwith lots of people who were crewing for their 100 milers so there was lots of cheering when you came out of the woods at this one. I suspect they were having a cheer loudest for the dorkiest looking runner contest in order to pass the time. I had them refill my hydration pack with heed while I ate half a PB&J and a banana and then took off.
The next part of the course was my favorite because it was very technical and beautiful containing both Lyon Falls and the Root Ladder ravine - some pics of the area here http://bit.ly/mlpE3Z. The next aid station was the covered bridge aid station which was excellent. They had more food than all the other aid stations. They knew how to refill hydration packs wicked fast. After leaving Covered Bridge aid station there was a redonkulous quad burning hill to climb to the Hickory Ridge Aid Station. This was another excellent aid station.
The last leg of the loop back to the start was rather evil. It ran past an area where you could see the starting area and into a small loop with the steepest hills on the course. This was a new section of the course and the reason they added 2 hours to the cutoff. It was brutal but I hope they keep it, it was a nice challenge.
Back at the starting point/aid station 1 I took off my shoes and socks and checked my feet: No blisters, no hot spots. I wanted to get an actual visual on my feet even though I felt no discomfort because a lot of the time I don't notice a blister when I get one and from what I've read and conversations I've had with other runners blistering can get bad enough to take you out of an ultra. I continued to do this every time I hit aid station 1 throughout the race.
The next noteworthy event was getting lost and picking up a bonus mile on the second loop. It was totally my fault. I followed 2 runners down a trail and didn't read the sign. then I realized we were heading north too soon into the second loop and told the guys we had to turn around. sure enough when we got back to the intersection it was clearly marked and our mistake. This loop simply repeated the first loop so I'll switch to some highlights of the second loop now.
When I got back to the area near Lyon Falls I crossed paths with a family on a short hike. The temperatures were in the mid 80's and the children looked about 4 and 6. they were crying and fussing and complaining about being hungry. I stopped and offered them 2 clif bars which they accepted. we chatted briefly about the race while the kids ate clif bars and within 2 minutes they transformed from meltdown posessed freakshows to happy little hikers. As I was leaving I heard the 4 yr old girl mention that they should carry a pack full of candy and run races - never to early to start recruiting :)
I ran alone for quite awhile after that. the next thing I remember was meeting a young guy named Ethan who was cramping. I explained to him what S caps were and why he should be eating lots of them and I gave him some. He was very grateful for the advice and the S caps. I hope it was enough to help him finish.
My next encounter was a lady running the marathon version of the race. she was on the verge of tears and/or had been crying and was exhausted and sure she was lost. she had turned around and was going the wrong way because she thought she had missed a turn. I got her oriented and back on track and walked with her until she seemed ok.
At mile 53 I picked up my pacer, Andrew Harding. Andrew has been a great source of inspiration as I've learned about ultra running. It was great to have Andrew along. I don't know if I could have done this without him. On the third and 4th loops they altered the course to remove Lyon Falls and the Root Ladder from the course and add some less dangerous terrain. The whole 3rd loop went really well I thought. At Covered Bridge aid station they had ramen noodles and they tasted ridiculously awesome. I was starting to feel a little low coming into the aid station and those noodles were a huge boost! I felt like I was running strong until a few miles into the 4th and last loop and then I got tired, dizzy and had to stop and sit/sleep for 5 minutes. That helped a little and then I was able to continue on to the 1st aid station. Once I got there I drank about 24 oz of mountain dew, ate some soup, and then sat in a chair and slept for 10 minutes. What a difference! once I got up I was able to run again and felt much better. As we ran sometimes Andrew and I chatted but a lot of the time I was silent. We got a little lost on the 4th loop but only added a 1/2 mile. we back tracked and got back on course. When we popped out at the fire station aid station another racer was pestering us because he thought we had just shorted a section of the course when in fact we had scored some bonus mileage. I wasn't think clearly and Andrew and Dave( a friend we met on the trail) talked to him and sorted it out fortunately, because in my state of diminished mental capacity I was trying to figure out if punching him or silently ignoring him would make him go away sooner.
I know Andrew said I looked strong the whole time but I sure didn't feel that way. I think I've found my second running super power,the first being stupidity, the ability to look strong right up until I collapse. It helped a lot towards the end when the sun came out. The last section of the course had the crazy climbs and one intense quad burning descent again. It isn't perfect and I know I'm missing stuff but I need to get this out there. The finish was awesome and the buckle is a really nice one. I think i'm really hooked on the 100s. In the last 4 miles I was already thinking about when I should do my next 100.
I'd like to thank Andrew for pacing me and Keith and Pete for crewing for me during and after finishing the race and helping me get my gear and drop bags after the race and packing up my tent and just being awesomely supportive the whole time.