1,733 Minutes at the 2019 Beast of Burden 100.

Beast 100 Buckle

Beast of Burden 100 Mile Buckle (Picture by Writer)

The tenth annual running of the Beast of Burden 100 and 50 mile Winter Ultramarathons took place again on the Erie Canal between Lockport and Middleport way out in western New York State, under workable winter conditions on the 16th and 17th of February.  Beast of Burden is one of only a few northern Winter 100 mile ultramarathons and comes replete with its own unique set of challenges for hearty participants, including those running in either the 50 or the 25 mile race.

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Beast of Burden Swag (Picture by Writer)

Forty-three racers started the 100 mile race and twenty-five crossed the finish line. Pete Kostelnick dominated the field to notch the win in 16:28:39, good for the third best time ever completed on this course and a full 6:18 ahead of second place. Kimberly Wrate won the women’s division in the 100 miler and came in fifth overall in 25:33:58, three hours ahead of second place in the female division.  Michael Condella (22:46:36) finished in second place and Sony Sawad (23:14:57) finished third. Raina Kao (28:26:56) earned second place in the Female division and 18th overall. Of the twenty-five 100 mile finishers, twenty-three were males. Kimberly Wrate was also the youngest finisher at twenty-two years of age while the oldest finishers were two males, fifty-seven years young.

Beast of Burden 100 Course

Beast of Burden Course (Picture by Writer)

This was my first time running in either the Winter or Summer Beast of Burden series, even though I reside in upstate New York.  I have yet to meet an ultra that I failed to enjoy and the streak is still intact after Beast of Burden, and cannot recommend it highly enough to anyone considering the challenge.
As I became more familiar with the race after signing up for it, I know people that have run this event several times and that always speaks well for any race and the team that runs it. Here are my top five reasons to run the Winter Beast of Burden 100.

We are looking for real challenges. And that is one of the main reasons that anyone runs any ultramarathon, particularly a 100 mile race. Every 100 mile race is challenging and the fact that Beast of Burden is one of the truly rare, northern Winter 100s, means that it comes with weather-related challenges and issues most other 100s do not include. The weather and the conditions this year were as good as could be hoped for. But while there was little to no snow on the course, and winter can be much colder here in upstate New York, the temperature never climbed over the mid-20s during the day and got down into the high teens at night. And while there was no snow on the course, there was plenty of ice that you had to pay attention to, especially at night.

I like loop and out and back courses and found myself really enjoying Beast of Burden’s course layout. The course starts at the Widewaters Marina on Market Street in Lockport, travels west for a mile, crosses over and then follows the Erie Canal Towpath east until Middleport, NY. There the race crosses back over the Canal, into downtown Middleport, and inside into a hard building into the aid station between and behind the laundry mat and the Towpath Café.  At the turnaround point, racers are 12.5 miles from the starting line, where they check in, hit the aid station and then turn around and head back to the starting line aid station at the Marina. This is a 25 mile out and back, lap-loop format.

The Beast course is the flattest ultra-marathon course I’ve ever been on, including the Ghost Train 100 earlier last Fall. If one were to rate a race course based on its steepness on a scale from 1 to 5 with 5 being “flat” and 1 being the steepest of courses, Beast rates somewhere around a 6.5 to a 7. It is flat. And I was excited about that throughout the first fifty miles of the race. The flatness of the course also provides racers with really long views and vistas stretching well ahead, out to as far as a mile and a half to two miles at different points along the Canal on the course.

Gasport Aid Station

The Gasport Aid Station (Picture by Writer)

The race is very well supported, with the two aforementioned aid stations on either end of the 12.5 mile course and an aid station located in Gasport, NY, seven miles from the starting point and five and a half miles from the turnaround. While the race seemed to be manned by a small group of people and could certainly use more volunteers, as most ultras can, the support was excellent day and night throughout the race.

Finally, this mid-February race is early in the calendar year giving ultra-runners the chance to schedule either a 100 or 50 mile race and get onto the scoreboard early in the year.

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Me with Kimberly Wrate- Winner Female Division 100 Mile Race & 5th overall- prior to race start. (Picture by Writer)

The three combined races, 100, 50, and 25 miler, had a combined 123 total racers toeing the 10:00 AM starting line, and with such a non-typical, late morning start, there was plenty of time to catch up with old friends and make some new ones before the race started.  I ended up spending more time on the course with Jim Lampman than anyone else. Jim’s a serial 100 mile race finisher, also from upstate New York, and I’ve seen him at several races over the past twelve months. He’s one of those ultra-runners it’s great to spend time with during a race because he’s nothing but positive, and completely unfazed by anything or any weather during the event.

Group Starting Picture

Just after the race started approaching the Erie Canal Crossing in Lockport (Picture by Writer)

My primary goal, as always, was to cross the 100 mile finish line under the 30 hour time limit. My primary 1B goal was to complete it as fast as possible by rolling through as many miles as I could between a 10 to 14 minutes per mile pace. The weather was very cooperative through the first 24 hours of the race. The temperature stayed in the mid-20s during through the first day with a light, edgy breeze blowing in from Lake Ontario. After the first few miles, the running body of the race thinned and spread out. The out and back format of the race lent itself to monitoring how strong and steady Pete, Kimberly and the other race leaders stayed throughout the race, and the progress of each of our fellow racers. I completed the first 25 mile loop in 5:15 and 50 miles right at 12:20.

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Erie Canal Towpath in Lockport (Picture by Writer).

It never seemed really cold to me at any point during the race at all and I felt like I had the right winter-weight gear and layers on for the race. Most of my fellow racers had a lot more gear on than I did including hoods, face masks, really heavy-duty mittens, and some were in full body, winter outdoor gear. I think part of that is I run outside every day, even through the winter months in upstate New York, so that helped prepare me for Beast.

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Wild Things were also racing (Picture by Writer).

I wore lined wind-breaker sweat pants, three top layers including a long sleeve shirt, hooded sweatshirt and a light, polypro jacket, two pairs of lightweight gloves and instead of a full hat, a thick, polypro headband that used to be a full hat. My one real winter concession was wearing full, over the calf OD Green wool socks that ended up causing some foot blisters I don’t normally get, but kept that edgy breeze off my ankles that I would have had to deal with had I worn my typical Injinji crew-length socks.  However, I was wearing a lot more gear than my friend and fellow member of the upstate New York ultra community, Tom Butler. Tom started the 50 miler in shorts, long socks a heavy hooded sweatshirt, gloves, and a head band. Apparently Tom went to long sweat pants after dark.

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Somewhere on the Towpath west of Gasport (Picture by Writer).

When I started the third 25 mile lap just around 11PM I added another lightweight jacket and a very think neck-up to my top layer gear but regretted it as that breeze we had during the day dropped off. While the air temperature dropped to the high teens, it really did not seem to cold, until a steady 8-12 knot breeze coming directly from the east kick up after daybreak.

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End of daylight on Day 1. (Picture by Writer).

What was already a highly interesting undertaking became an even more interesting race out beyond 50 miles. The race thinned out of course, with the 45 runners that started the 50 miler leaving the course along with the 35 racers in the 25 miler who were long gone. There was so much ambient moonlight I hardly turned my headlamp on at all, and traveled with only a flashing red LED on my back in accordance with the race rules. I slipped and almost went down on patches of ice a few times in the dark during Lap 3, but I left my headlamp off anyways. I know it’s my Army background but I like moving through the dark night mostly invisible.

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This Stud carried the American Flag, properly displayed through the 100 Mile race!  (Picture by Writer).

I never caught, nor yet learned his name, but a younger guy with Race Bib #135, carried a 3×5 American Flag properly displayed for the entire 100 mile race.  When I first saw him starting the race I assumed he had to be running the 25, or maybe the 50 miler, but there he was, still out on the course well beyond 75 miles. I also met Michael Ortiz very late in the race. Beast 100 was Michael’s twelfth week in a row completing a 100 mile race. Mike just completed his fifteenth 100 mile race in fifteen straight weeks as of this writing.

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Middleport Bridge (Picture by Writer).

Distances based on faraway lights along the Canal Towpath, and other things you thought you were seeing, were sometimes tricky to figure out. At one point, about 3 miles west of Middleport, while I was on the way back from the Turnaround on Lap 2, I was moving towards a headlamp but I was having a hard time figuring out why it was taking me so long to reach it and whoever it was. But that turned out to be because it was a 50 mile racer walking backwards on the course. He was still walking backwards about 4 miles from the 50 mile finish line when I passed him headed out on my third lap.

Here are a few of the things that also make this race challenging. The fact that it is flat makes you think at first that is a tremendous advantage and to a certain extent, it is. There are no hills to climb. But on the flip side of that, there are no downhills and no gravity to put to work in your favor either. You earn every foot of the course through your own power. It was also interesting as to how remote the course often felt between the aid stations, especially out on the eastern section of the course. There was very little non-race related activity on the course and by the second day, while peaceful and almost tranquil at times, those long, panoramic views along the canal had their own sense of reality as far as the real estate ahead of you that still had to be covered. Even though the weather was mild compared to what winter can be in western New York, you still have to deal with winter’s affects the entire race. Dehydration, potentially being overdressed and sweating, and then freezing up, and whether you needed extra calories or not. Winter affected the course significantly in other ways too. 11 of the 12.5 miles were on the Towpath cinder covered surface. But that was completely frozen the entire race and it was like moving on asphalt for 100 miles. Lastly, the fact that this race is in deep winter and starts at 10 in the morning meant average ultra-runners like me spent a full 50 percent of their race time moving through hours of darkness.

Middleport Dam

Middleport Dam (Picture by Writer).

Overall, Beast was not one of my personal bests as far as 100 milers go. It became apparent early in Lap 3 that I was not going to have any time to take the 20 minute, 0400AM nap that always tends to re-set me during a long race. Nor was I going to have time to even stop and sit down for even a few minutes without completely risking the 30 hour finishing time. So I never stopped moving or sat down during the race except for table grazing at aid stations and the two minutes I took after the second loop to change my shoes. I hit Mile 65 at the 17 hour mark on the race clock and that last 10 mile section of the third 25 mile loop seemed to stretch on into infinity during those early Sunday morning hours from 3 to 530AM. I lit a cigar leaving the Turnaround at 62.5 miles and smoked it to stay awake for the entire 12.5 miles back to the starting line. My third lap was my longest and took me right up until daybreak, but I never once considered dropping out because, ultimately, the person I wanted to be was the guy on the far side of that finish line.

The “out” section of my last lap was into that aforementioned, face withering, 8 to 12 knot winter wind. It did not let up for those entire 12.5 miles. At one point Jim Lampman even mentioned that while he’d done this race several times, he’d never been on the course before with the wind coming out of the east. That really did not bother me much as I was moving under the optimism of new daylight, and I was actually looking forward to having a tailwind for the last section of the race.

Ultimately, I knew that I had not trained well for this race since completing the Devil Dog 100 the first week of December. I had no running gears really left at all for the last eight miles of the race. And people were passing me in the tail end of the race too, and while I’m no big deal as a racer I usually finish strong and am rarely passed late in a race. Mike Ortiz and Jim Lampman flat out caught me from behind 300 yards from the finish line and they were moving well. They asked me to run with them but I explained I had nothing left and they opted to walk in with me, even though I all but begged them to keep running, and we all finished at 28:53:41.

Me. Mike Ortiz & Jim Lampman Finish Picture

Approaching the Finish Line with Mike Ortiz and his pacer – center (I did not catch her name…) and Jim Lampman on the right. Picture taken by Mrs. Lampman.

39 out of the 45 racers finished the 50 mile race. 25 out of the 43 starters finished the 100 mile race. I and one other gentlemen ended up being the oldest finishers to cross the finish line. I had an awesome experience at the 2019 Beast of Burden 100, was glad to finally run it, and cannot recommend it highly enough to anyone considering the challenge.

Hardy & Buckle

(Picture by Writer)

 

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1,856 Minutes at the 2018 Devil Dog 100.

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Picture taken by the author.

The real turning point of the race for me came around Mile 21.  I was lying face-down in the mud, with the left side of my face still in that mud when it started to rain….

I first met Devil Dog 100’s Race Director, Toni Aurilio and many of the members of Team Gaylord at the Massanutten Mountain Trail 100 (MMT) in 2011 and 2012. Bob Gaylord (Retired United States Air Force, Brigadier General) and Team Gaylord, as they’re widely known in eastern ultrarunning circles, were doing their typically outstanding job of crewing multiple runners at MMT both years.  I’ve enjoyed the privilege of calling these people friends since then. When I saw that Toni had created Devil Dog in 2016 it became a goal of mine to run this race as soon as I could because I knew that they would do an outstanding job producing it.  I also had the chance to interview Toni about Devil Dog for quite a long time after the race too and is reflected here as well.

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Race Director Toni Aurilio giving her  2018 Devil Dog pre-race briefing. Photo by author

Devil Dog just completed its third annual race at both the 100 mile and 100K distances. Toni’s goal was to create a race that she felt would fall somewhere between the Massanutten Mountain Trail 100 and all its massive climbs, descents, and technical trail difficulties, and the Umstead 100 with its five loops on mostly flat, firebreak roads. And Devil Dog was born. After doing some very specific research and having followed and studied this sport for over a decade now, I can safely attest that the Devil Dog 100 is a secret beast of an ultra in the east.

The Devil Dog 100 has an average finisher’s rate of 45% over its three-year history. That is significantly lower than three of Virginia’s longest running 100 mile races. Massanutten’s historical finisher rate is 66%, Grindstone averages 70% average,  and Old Dominion’s racer’s guide shows a 53% finisher rate. Personally, I came into Devil Dog having completed 100 mile races in October and November, a challenging 100K in September and the VolState 500K in July. So I was very confident that I was as ready as I could be for “D.DOB.” But the course itself, the time of year and the weather combined into a beast of a race. My ability to finish it was in doubt for almost the entire event.

My Top Five Reasons to Run the Devil Dog 100:

I read an interview with 100 Mile aficionado Susan Donnelly where she said (and I’m paraphrasing) that she loved 100 mile ultras because they are all about problem solving. 100 Mile ultra-marathoners have to be able to figure out and solve those problems and keep moving forward to the finish line. Devil Dog 100 is as full of pre-race, mid-race and post-race challenges as almost any race I’ve run. So if you’re the type of ultra-runner that loves race planning details down to even the minutest of aspects and then employing that plan throughout the race, the DD100 is the perfect race for you.

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The wooden footbride over South Quantico Creek that racers cross every time they leave and return to Camp Remi.       Photos by author.

 

The course consists of five total loops around beautiful Prince William Forest Park, the first loop is twenty-three miles long and the remaining four laps are just over nineteen miles long. While that can be a mentally tough format, you really become familiar with the course and where you’re at on it. Prince William Forest Park is also a beautiful place to run.

Devil Dog 100 Course

The Devil Dog 100 Course.           From http://www.devildog100.com

Trails, trails and more trails. Any ultra-runner that claims to prefer trails as their race format should run DD100. The course is eighty to eighty-five percent single-track, trail with the remaining fiften percent being firebreak road where you can really make up some time and distance. The course itself is very flat and run-able in spots but there’s also a lot of highly technical spots, and tons of short, up and down climbing and descending.

Devil Dog 100 Elvation Profile

The Devil Dog 100 elevation profile.  From http://www.devildogultras.com

The three Aid Stations are as well-stocked as any race I’ve had the privilege to run, and manned by highly motivated volunteers. There were engaging volunteers every time I trotted into any station, offering everything from hot soup, including vegan, to coffee, sandwiches and typical aid station fare. You could have a drop bag in all three aid stations if you had pre-planned to do so. There were also three unmanned water drops at strategic points between each aid station.

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Author with Sara Davidson and Jason Byrd at Camp Toofy Aid Station

There is a solid military influence on the race. The Race Director’s family is career United States Marine Corps, reflected in the Devil Dog title. There was a solid active-duty, Marine Corps presence in the race due to the proximity to Quantico, VA, and the race includes first place awards for active and retired military. This is also  a great destination race located just south of Washington DC in northeastern Virginia.

The largest single logistical challenge that the race team and the racers face is the available parking in Prince William Forest Park (PWFP), or the lack of it.  There just is very little room for parking at the combined race headquarters, Start/ Finish Line, known as Camp Remi in the race and Happyland Camp 5 in the PWFP. RD Aurilio does a wonderful job of working around that and  providing alternative solutions for racers, crew, and staff alike, including bunk house slots on the camp grounds, and multiple buses organized to shuttle racers from a facility six miles away as earlier as 4AM on race morning.

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South Fork Quantico Creek.  Photo by author

I registered for a bunk house slot so I could sleep the night before the race right at race ground zero. I ended up working most of the day before the race, got on the road behind schedule and missed the last time I could arrive at the park for my bunk slot by a wide, wide margin. That did not overly concern me because I figured I’d just go to the shuttle bus location, park there and get five or six hours of sleep right there and jump on the bus at 3:30AM. Certainly not the best rest plan in the world, nor one I highly recommend, but I use that method all the time. However, around 11PM a security guard pulled up, informed me that I was trespassing, requested that I leave and come back at 3:30AM to catch the bus then.  So, long story shortened, I ended up with less than two hours of pretty poor sleep the day and night prior to the race. That was coupled with the fact that I never sleep well the week leading up to a long race, so the lack of real rest impacted my Devil Dog 100 as much as the trail and weather-related factors throughout the race. If not more.

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Late Day 1 on the course.  Photo by author.

I dressed as sparsely and utilitarian as I thought I would be able to stand for running all day with a high of forty degrees, three hours of forecasted Fall rain, and average temperatures ranging in the high thirties. Hoka Stinson ATRs, Injinji crew-length socks, shorts, t-shirt, long sleeve shirt, and my ancient black hooded sweatshirt, headband, cheap gloves and my VaporKrar pack.  I had one of the $1.99 clear, plastic rain parkas in my pack. My Hokas were still my best fitting ones, but also replete with a large tear in them from earlier this Fall when one of our horses had stepped on my foot while I was wearing them.

The race started promptly at 6AM after a highly motivational, live-trumpet rendition of the National Anthem. I started the race standing next to a Chris Mintz, who I’d met at the Last Annual VolState 500K in July where Chris spent the entire week as the solo crew for racer Rhonda-Marie Parke. “D.DOG” was Chris’ first attempt at the 100 mile distance, and as we chatted standing amongst our now 200 closest friends and fellow racers, at that moment I wondered if Chris was going to find solo-crewing for those 315 miles at Volstate or running 100 miles harder…And then we were off and moving. It was still as completely dark as night can be, so every racer had his or her own headlamp, or handheld lights, or both.

Once we were underway and the initial excitement wore off, I had a hard time getting into the race mentally and physically and that carried through most of the first loop. At the time, I knew that was just from being tired.

The course crosses a wooden, single-file footbridge a quarter of a mile from the start and then immediately hits narrow single-track trail that pretty much makes up the course all the way to the first Aid Station known as Camp Gunny. I almost always start every race all the way at the end of the starting group, but even though this time I had started with Chris halfway up in the pack, that did not translate to more speed or better distance out on the course.  Even after daylight phased in there were still racers much further up front that we walking run-able downhill sections of the course, but not giving up any room for people to pass them either. Nor were people making any effort to get around slower racers in front of them. So the first two hours of the race were a packed, single-track conga line.

I knew I was impatient with the slow-moving line, and the long running conversations in front of and behind me due to my own lack of pre-race sleep, and I tried to mentally work through that. But when the conversations turned to long discussions on Christmas presents in one group in front of me, and then a young woman in a second group behind me started discussing the time she and her roommate, or husband, found out their neighbor was watching them having sex in their bathroom, and then started avidly describing that event, I used those as motivation to get out and pass long lines on the side of the trail. And kept right on going. Sometimes quiet on the trail is better than social.

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Photo by author.

The first loop did have a lot of high moments as well. Toni’s teenaged kids were helping with the race as was her husband James, and the kids had Toni’s canines, both Vizslas, at the turn onto the extra 4.5 mile section.  Being friends with Toni online, I’d been looking forward to meeting Toofy and Gunner for some time. I’m for Dogs, especially Vizslas. Both of the aid stations out on the course were excellent. All three aid stations, Camp Remi, Camp Gunny at Mile 6 each loop and Camp Toofy at the Mile 13 point of each loop, were as well run and stocked as any aid stations I’ve ever seen. They were manned by friends I had not seen in quite some time; Larry Huffman, Sara Davidson, Scott Haller and a ton of other people.  I turned my second hard fall right around Mile 7, into an excellent combat roll mid-flight, and hoped someone actually saw it.  I did not realize it at the time but my left knee was bleeding pretty well for quite a while after that one. And it became readily apparent after daybreak, again, that Prince William Forest Park is truly a beautiful race setting as well.

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Phot by author.

Regardless of enjoying running in a great event like D.Dog, and the beauty of the Prince William Park and it’s trails, I still found myself battling the small, negative half of my mind for through much of that first loop. “Boy, it’s just switchback after switchback…we’ve got to climb this hill and that hill another four times…it’s going to rain…we’ve already run ten ultras this year, maybe we’ve just had enough trail racing for awhile…maybe we should just call it a day at 100K…” And then I was on the ground at Mile 21.

I was sprawled face-down on the trail having just fallen hard for the fifth time in the first lap. There were still more than four laps to go. This fifth fall was the third time in as many miles too. I was still bleeding from the second fall, that nice combat roll around Mile 7, but this fifth fall hadn’t affected my knee because I had managed to break this fall using the left side of my face. And there I was, lying with the left side of my face still in the mud, taking inventory for any physical damage, when it started to rain….and I remember thinking “Ok, that’s how it’s going to be huh?” I know it was just from being tired but at that point it seemed liked Mother Nature or the Ultra Gods, or both, had been testing my willpower all morning. Then and there I decided that nothing was going to get me off that course until I crossed the 100 mile finish line.

The second lap went much better than the first for me for a lot of reasons. I donned my cheap, ($1.99) clear plastic poncho as well as my MP3 player, and managed to draw motivation from both music and repelling the steady rainy drizzle. That predicted three hours of rain turned into eighteen to twenty straight hours of rain.

Most importantly, the second circuit really made me completely familiar with the course. The course basically flows in a clockwise direction around Prince William Park, and while the sections along South Fork Creek are relatively flat, each full loop included 2000 feet of cumulative elevation gain. The first five to almost six miles of the course out to Gunny Aid Station were all looping and turning, up and downhill single-track right to the aid station parking lot.

The second section of the course, the seven and a hlaf miles from Gunny to Aid Station Toofy, are the most widely diverse of the course. Leaving Gunny, racers are treated to just about three and a half miles of wide, up and down, firebreak road surface and this is the best place on the course to gain or make up time.

 

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On the firebreak road beyond Camp Gunny.   Photo by author. 

Racers left the firebreak after a last long downhill  and traveled along the northwestern side of a creek for just over a mile before crossing another bridge and cruising a winding, mostly uphill route to Camp Toofy. Toofy Aid Station is also the Turkey Run Ridge Campground. Racers left Toofy by an alternate exit and rejoined the inbound course section after about half a mile, and eventually crossed the creek over the same bridge. The remaining four miles of the course stayed very close to South Fork Quantico Creek and included quite of bit of technical and up and down terrain. The last half mile of the course seemed to continue to go on and on and on finishing each lap. There were also three unmanned water points on the course approximately midway between each of the aid stations.

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Some of the more technical terrain along South Fork Creek.   Photo by author. 

It was almost dark when I completely the second lap, and even though I’d been wearing my poncho, I was completely soaked. Part of the reason for that was my seventh, (and final as it turned out) fall on the course around Mile 40. I was trying to negotiate my way around a large puddle on a sloped part of the trail, slipped and landed right in the middle of that puddle. I’m pretty sure my sweatshirt absorbed about half of it. The fact that the second lap, and each remaining lap, was four miles shorter than the twenty-three mile first lap made me consider that the race director was potentially a genius.

Back at Camp Remi after completing the second lap, I changed out almost everything I was wearing into completely dry gear. I transitioning from shorts to long running pants, and a lined wind-breaker to continue to battle the drizzle in. The air temperature was also in the high 30s so the full ensemble including dry gloves and headgear helped. My headlamp was back on leaving Remi for lap 3 as well. One of the more challenging aspects of Devil Dog 100 is that  racers travel in the dark for fifty percent of the race.

By the time I left Camp Toofy again it was somewhere around 11 PM and the steady rain and fog made the weather seem very close-quarters and personal. By the time I crossed back over the South Fork for the last four miles of Lap Three, I was struggling to stay coherent, and moving at what can only be best described as typical Wal-Mart Speed.  I lucked out when a pair of motivated guys running the 100K race caught up to me as I was droning along. They were power-hiking versus running, with the larger of the two leading the way. I fell in along behind them and just stayed focused on staying with them.

The big guy must have tripped and fallen four times in two miles but got up good-naturedly and kept closing towards what would be the 100K finish line for them upon arrival back at Camp Remi. Another pair of 100K racers, a male and a female, caught us from behind less than a mile from the bridge re-crossing the South Fork just below Camp Remi. We powered on through the rain until we cruised past the scoring table where all four of my new friends celebrated their 100K finish. I moved through the aid station and back out on the course for Loop Four.

I was way too mortal for most of the entire fourth loop. As previously mentioned, I had I was already struggling to stay awake late in Lap 3 and that situation did not improve for most of lap 4. One of my favorite tactics for staying awake, albeit pretty atypical for ultras, is to smoke a cigar while moving along out on the trail in the wee hours of the morning.  That failed because it was raining so hard that my cigar kept going out until I finally gave up on that tactic.  From the point where the course left the firebreak road three miles beyond Gunny Aid Station, I kept falling asleep on my feet, making that remaining three miles to Toofy Aid Station drag for an extended period. At least three times I regaining enough coherency to realize that I needed to re-verify that I was still moving in the correct direction on the trail. At another point, I awoke and realized I was just about to step off a steep edge right into the South Fork Creek. My favorite re-awaking was on the hill a mile below Toofy where I came to, facing the sign that pointed out the hard left turn towards Toofy. I was standing there facing the sign, with no idea of how long I’d been there, nor a memory of approaching it either.

All I wanted when I finally go to Toofy was a ten minute nap. I knew with ten minutes of sleep I’d be leaving the aid station refreshed and at a dead run. But that did not happen. Getting into the aid station I sat down at a picnic, reported my ten minute nap intent but those nice folks manning Toofy at the time simply refused to let me sleep for those ten minutes or at all.  One of them even shook my shoulder and I have to admit, embarrassingly, that I growled at him at that point and left the station. But I really needed that ten minutes of sleep too.

When I cleared the Turkey Ridge Campground-Toofy Aid Station area I knew I was in trouble. I was at Mile 74, it was still pitch dark, I was still droning and I was in serious jeopardy of not making it back to Camp Remi before the cutoff to complete fourth lap. I did the only thing I could at that point to finally wake myself up. When I cleared the parking lot and hit the long downhill trail section headed back towards the South Fork, I just started running downhill as hard as I could, for as long as I could. It was still drizzling and I figured I’d either end up landing hard on my face again or jumpstart myself into some pre-dawn running form.

And the jumpstart worked. By the time the Sun started coming up after I was back on the far side of South Fork Creek, I was running pretty well. And since I’m solar powered as far as running goes, my pace only improved as the Sun started lightening the sky. And after about eighteen hours since it started, the rain finally stopped as well. Since I started running ultras I’ve heard it said bunches of times, and read it even more, and I completely agree, there’s absolutely a resurgence on Day 2 of a 100 miler once daybreak kicks in. When I was not climbing, I ran the downhills and flat sections very hard the rest of the way back Camp Remi to close out Lap 4.

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More of the technical trail terrain along the South Fork.  Photo by author.

By the time I departed Remi for Camp Gunny I had seventy-five minutes to cover the nearly six-mile stretch. I was the last runner of the fifty-one total racers to leave Camp Remi on the fifth loop, in dead last place. There had been some significant discussion around the scorer table as I finished the fourth lap that I probably could not make it to Gunny before that cutoff.  I am completely grateful to the guy that was making that case that I could not make Gunny on time. Ironically, this was the second ultra I found myself in this Fall where late in the race I had seventy-five minutes or less to cover six miles late in the race or be eliminated, as I had managed to get myself into that situation at the Boulder Field 100K too.

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From the trail high above the creek.    Photo by author. 

Lap 5 was my best, fastest loop of the race, the last twenty-six miles were my best overall too, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. There’s just something about closing with an ultra finish line, such a sense of accomplishment, that’s the best feeling in the world to me.  Before Leaving Camp Remi I had stripped back down to shorts and light long sleeves, my Nathan Hydration Krar VaporPack, had my Let It Rip playlist fired up on my MP3 player and I was moving. When I was not climbing, I ran as hard as I could on the downhills and flats, and I was trail-running like I was fifty again. Or thirty-seven again.

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Photo by auther.

I was right on the edge of too late all the way to Gunny but ended up passing 4 other runners traveling together a minute from that aid station, I ended up making it to Gunny in seventy-three minutes from the point I left Camp Remi with two minutes to spare. Whenever I saw a runner on the course ahead of me, I just did everything I could to catch and pass them, if for no other reason just to keep pushing the pace and get to the finish line.  I ended up cruising into Camp Toofy at Mile 93 for the last time thirty minutes under the cut off there. I stayed pretty steadily on pace for the last seven miles of the race. While it was still only about 40 degrees, the Sun was out and after spending most of the night traveling by myself in dead last place, as it turned out, I was seeing more and more fellow runners on the course. I enjoyed the trail running companionship and beautiful sunlit Prince William Park scenery all the way back to the finish line.

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Devil Dog 100 plunder.  Photo by author.

Personal Statistics:

  • I highly recommend the Devil Dog 100 to anyone interested in running a challenging 100 mile race.
  • The Devil Dog 100 was my 11th and last ultramarathon in 2018. It was also the 70th major event I’ve completed (counting 26.2s and ultramarathons as major events).
  • DOG is the 11th race 100 miles or longer that I’ve completed overall and the 4th of 2018.
  • I ended up finishing 36th out 51 D.Dog 100 mile finishers.
  • My overall time on the course was 30:56:28.
  • According to RD Toni Aurilio during our interview, everyone that started Loop 5 finished the race.
  • Chris Mintz did finish the D.DOG 100, in his first attempt at the 100 mile distance and only his 3rd Amazing.

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    Proverbial finish line picture-Chris Mintz and I.     Photo taken by RD Toni Aurilio. 

  • I saw a lot of old friends and made some new ones as well.
  • The D.DOG 100 extended my daily running streak to 4006 (Day 1) and 4007 (Day 2) consecutive days running at least 1 mile per day.
  • According to ULTRASIGNUP D.DOG 100 finisher’s statistics I was the oldest person to finish the race. That’s the third race of 2018 where I was the oldest finisher.

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    Photo by author.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Everything That I Really Needed to Know About UltraRunning, I learned from My Mother.

Diane

Diane Pauline Pomerleau Hardy  December 16, 1940 to April 13, 2013 

Everything that I needed to know about UltraRunning, I learned from my Mother.

Mom was not a runner. I have no recollection of her every having run a race nor of hearing of her doing any fitness-related running throughout the course of her life. That’s not to say Mom was not an athlete. She grew up with three brothers and raised three sons and we were all jocks. Mom participated in backyard baseball, and I remember her playing in an adult female softball league too. She was a great bowler, she and Dad bowled in several leagues when I was a kid.  But Mom was not a runner. So while this may sound odd, everything I really needed to know to successfully complete ultra-marathons, I learned in principle from my Mother.

I completed my first four or five ultra-marathons in the Summer and Fall of 2007. Each of those races seemed like a pretty big accomplishment to me at the time, and I fell in love with crossing an ultra finish line then. That feeling has not yet relented. I started studying ultrarunning and endurance athletics, learning everything I could about the sport, techniques, tactics, training, and training theories. At the same time, Mom and Dad started enduring the harder parts to the  “In Sickness and in Health” part of a marriage vow.

Mom knew how to set big goals and had the fortitude and drive to do the training that made her goals a reality. One night after dinner was over and cleaned away, Mom pulled the old typewriter out of the closet, placed it on the dining room table along with a small note pad and a ringed binder. And she started typing away while following along from that binder. I was in late eight grade or very early in my freshman year of high school, and Mom had been working for the West Haven Veteran’s Administration in their call center switchboard for several years at that point. When I asked what she was up to, Mom said she was ready to move on to bigger and better things at work and there were a couple Department Director’s Administrative Assistant positions opening up in three months, but the pre-requisites were an ability to type at least 80 words per minute error free and firm knowledge of stenography. Mom said she’d taken a typing class in high school and used to be a pretty good typist but did not know too much about stenography.

Every night for at least three months, after working all day and making dinner for our family, Mom did three to four hours of training on that old typewriter and taught herself stenography using that training manual. When she finished the stenography lessons ahead of schedule I remember her having me read English and History homework out loud while she transcribed those and then typed them up. I clearly remember the night the timer went off and a minute or so later she slapped the dining room table and shouted: “100 words a minute!”

Mom got that Department Head’s Assistant position. A year later she applied for Executive Assistant position for the Director of the entire West Haven VA hospital and was awarded that position too. By the time Mom retired from the Veteran’s Administration, she had been the Executive Assistant for seven consecutive directors of the West Haven VA.

My Mother had a real work ethic. I do not remember her ever taking a day off from work for any reason related to sickness or taking a day off just because she felt like a day off, other than earned vacation time. With a forty minute, one-way commute, she left for work every day before we caught the bus so hers was a visible example. I don’t remember Mom ever being sick until she became terminally ill, but she went through a period where she endured terrible migraines at night. Yet she got up every day the next morning and showed up. Mom’s house and her surroundings, were always immaculate.

In running ultra-marathons, especially longer events, you’ve got to be flexible and adaptable. There’s a myriad of factors that affect every event such as weather, trail conditions, other races, travel,  sustenance, to name only a few. We were a military family and we relocated seven times by the time I started high school and each move was a markedly different location from the previous one and completely different than where Mom had grown up. When I was five, Dad was assigned to a three year tour in Libya and we spent the first year there living off base in a local village adjacent to Wheeler Air Force Base. I was too young to realize it, but that was my first experience in a third world country. Half way through that tour the Six Day War occurred and all military family members, including ours, were evacuated to Europe for three months. Mom always seemed to make the most out of everywhere we lived with a steady grace and eagerness to embrace new experiences.

Mom had pretty high expectations for herself and she extended those to us as well. There was no reason to doing anything if you were not going to give something your best effort or put your best foot forward. Getting a B in a course was acceptable but far from praiseworthy. We were expected to do our part every day and to do our household chores to her standard of cleanliness. When I was halfway through high school, Dad and Mom bought a larger house that we all participated in every aspect of the home improvements on. One weekend she produced a bunch of new wallpaper for all the bedrooms. I remember saying “Wow, you’re going to wallpaper our bedroom?” Mom replied “No, you are and here’s how you do it…”

Mom was completely supportive of all our athletic endeavors but she didn’t tolerate excuses or whining on my part about a bad game or a rough practice. She had a favorite expression, “Get with it.” I had one particularly bad Little League baseball game in the 8th grade when I struck out no less than four times. I was feeling pretty sorry for myself afterwards and all Mom said was “You’d better get with it and start hitting the baseball…”

The ultra community is the most unique of any that I’ve ever spent time in. Almost every event is run and manned by people volunteering the time to support other people’s racing efforts. My Dad loves coming out to our Green Lakes Endurance Races every August because he loves the people and that sense of community. Mom loved people and took an interest in every one of our friends. Mom embodied “It’s not about me, it’s about we.”

During my junior year I started my first job working a couple shifts a week as a dishwasher in a restaurant where one of my best friends, Mike, worked. Mike gave me a ride home after a Sunday brunch shift one day during football season. Mom liked Mike and knew that he worked almost every night of the week to help his family make ends meet including Friday nights after our football practices. So Mom asked Mike how he was managing to balance all of that. Mike said he was doing pretty well with everything except he was constantly in hot water with our football coach because his game uniform was always dirty Saturday morning for game day. We’d always practice Friday afternoon in those game uniforms and were expected to bring them home, wash them and show up ready to play in a clean uniform. Mike would go right to work from practice and get home so late that he didn’t have time to wash his uniform nor did he want to wake his stepfather and family up that late to do so. As soon as Mike walked out the door, Mom turned to me and said “Timothy, what is the matter with you? This Friday, you get Mike’s uniform from him, bring it home and we’ll wash it with yours and your brother’s uniform. Every Friday. Is that clear? I can’t believe you didn’t think of that.” We did that the rest of that season and throughout the course of my senior year too.

When I was in fifth or sixth grade I broke one of my toes playing football with all my neighborhood friends in our back yard one evening after dinner. I tackled a kid named Kevin and his heel came up flush into my toe and broke it. We were all barefoot because that’s how you lived life as a kid on Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii, barefoot all summer long.  Mom, and all my friends’ mothers were sitting on our back porch enjoying an adult beverage together, and I showed Mom my toe, expecting that we’d be heading to the hospital. Mom took one look, snapped my toe back into place and said “Go back out and play.” Mom was just tough. If one of us was really injured, then the situation was handled as such. But if we were only hurt, that was handled swiftly too and we all moved on.

Mom was actually fairly young, in her late 60s, when she became terminally ill with cancer after never having been sick a day in her life. She fought as hard as she could for as long as she could but passed away on April 19, 2013 at the age of 72. Mom and Dad were both very stoic about that situation even as it deteriorated and tried to make the most of the good moments of health when they had those. They kept it as much to themselves as they possible could for as long as they could. While Mom had every right to be bitter, if she was, she never spent time with me expressing that. Her concerns were as much about Dad and how he would handle life without her.  Mom had real courage right to the end of her life.

Life is short. Live it.

TLH

December 16, 2018

 

 

 

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11 Years Running

Trail Running

My running streak started inauspiciously enough on December 13, 2007 and with today’s 8 mile effort, my 11th year is now complete.

I started running ultra-marathons in 2007 but my running training that season was poor compared to the ultrarunning results I hoped to achieve.  I always had five to six runs planned per week but seldom got in more than four and over 2007 and 2006 I had struggled to even get 100 miles of running in per month. A real recipe for mediocrity as far as running marathons and ultra-marathons was concerned. I had finished 4 or 5 ultras including a 50 miler that season, but that previous weekend in December 2007 I had failed to finish a tough race, the Hellgate 100K, just due to being undertrained for that event. So, starting that December 13th I decided to finish the month and the year by running every day to see what type of mileage I could build in those last three weeks or so.

And I just kept my streak going from that point on.  It’s been an ongoing daily adventure.

ERR50K & GLSP 2018

Taken at the 2018 English Ridge Rumble 50K at Green Lakes State Park

Statistics and facts are small things that have built up over this period of time.

  • 4017 straight days running at least a mile per day.
  • I’ve never run on a treadmill during this streak. Outdoors every day.
  • I’ve seen many amazing sites running.
Golde Gate Bridge

I took this early one morning in August 2011 from high up the Golden Gate Recreation Area

  • I estimate that I’ve run at least 21,600 miles during my streak. I’m too lazy to go through all my logs and total the mileage up though.
  • I’ve run in at least 6 countries and 21 states.
  • I’ve run in temperatures as low as negative 35 and 122 degrees.
  • Our grand-daughter Emma had not yet started school; she now is old enough to drive and has a part time job along with all her high school work.
  • We’ve had 3 different Presidents over this period.
  • I became an ultra-marathon race director five years ago for an annual pair of trail races.
  • I’ve owned 5 different vehicles during this streak.
  • Both our grandsons, Aiden 10, Tucker 6, were born during my streak.

Tucker Me Aiden

  • My Mom grew terribly ill, fought that illness for 5 years but passed away.
  • I estimate that 85-90% of my active friendships are runners and ultra-runners I’ve met during this adventure.
  • We’ve bought and renovated three homes over this span and sold two.
Aiden & Me on the Window

Aiden and I replacing a window in 2011.

  • My nieces and nephews have all finished high school and college during this streak. Except for my youngest niece; Caitlin was born just about 3 years ago. And my niece Kelsey got married, and she and Scott now have a daughter of their own.
  • We built a stable and turned our current property into a horse ranch. I run our horses around our property to get them some exercise.
  • I’ve run with 8 different dogs that we’ve shared our lives with. When I started we lived with 6 and 2 are still remaining from that pack as well as 1 more.
The Pack

Maggie, Fletcher, and our Grand-Pug Fergus earlier this year, ready to run. 

  • I’ve run with the 5 horses we’ve shared our lives with too.
Pete & Jimmy

Pete and Jimmy

  • I’ve completed 47 ultramarathons during my streak. (5 prior to my streak)
  • I’ve completed 11 ultramarathons 100 miles or longer during my streak.
  • I’ve completed 10 marathons during my streak. (And 8 prior to starting it.)
  • I did go back and complete the Hellgate 100K in 2010 by the way.
  • I maintained my running streak every day during a 14 month combat rotation in Afghanistan for all of 2009. I was lucky I was on a Forward Base large enough to run on.
  • 2018 might be the best year of running I’ve ever had. I’ll finish the year with right around 3,150 miles on my feet. My three best years previously were between 2,200 to 2,450 total miles each year from 2010 through 2012.

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  • I’ve completed 11 ultra-marathons in 2018 including four that were 100 miles or longer, including the longest race I’ve ever run- the Last Annual VolState 500K.
  • It was not always easy or simple to keep my streak moving forward. There have been at least 150 days I started running at 11PM.
DD100 on the Trail

Taken at the 2018 Devil Dog 100 in Prince William Forest Park.

  • Eight months into the start of my streak, I pinched a nerve in my lower back, and could barely stand up straight and could not turn side to side. This was an injury or a periodic pain for me back in those days when I would pick something up and “turn wrong.” I ran anyways, could barely move to start, it was so painful…and then after about 3/4s of a painful mile my back loosened up and I was running. I haven’t had that re-injury since either.
  • I’ve run through multiple sprained ankles, two very bad sprains sustained in trail races. A knee problem, back issues, a couple of colds. Once or twice I’ve had what seemed to be the flu for two or three hours until I went running and then it was gone.
  • It was very difficult to run the first two days after completing the Arrowhead 135, the Massanutten Mountain Trail 100 twice, the Guts Reactor Run 100 and the Old Dominion 100 both times, but I managed it. It was intensely painful running the VolState 500K this past summer and for a week after, due to how badly the bottoms of my feet were blistered by Day 3. I was not glad at the time but I’m glad I did now.
  • I weighed 185 pounds when I enlisted in the Army in 1991. I weigh 175 pounds today.
  • I don’t always like running, but I love having completed a run.
  • I do my best thinking during my daily runs.
  • Ultimately, I keep this streak going for the same reason I started it. Because I lack the discipline I need to maintain a four to six day running training schedule that will enable me to finish the ultra-marathons I want to run. When I stop my streak, I’ll end up running two to three days a week without any real mileage and I’m not ready to stop running ultras yet. There are just too many races that I still want to race in and finish.
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Photo Courtesy of Scott Haller taken at the Devil Dog 100 on December 1, 2018.

GT100 2018

TLH

December 12, 2018

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1,590 Minutes at the 2018 Ghost Train 100.

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I had the good fortune to run the Ghost Train 100 (GT100) last weekend in southern New Hampshire.  GT100 was a well-organized, highly social ultra-marathon, with its own unique challenges. This was the second 100 mile race I completed in a span of two weeks and I recommend GT 100 highly to both veteran 100 mile racers as well as ultra-runners aspiring to their first 100 mile race.

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390 Ultrarunners awaiting the Race Start

Here are my five top reasons to run the Ghost Train 100:

  1. It’s a great destination race, set right in southern New Hampshire at the height of peak foliage season. There’s a lot to do and a lot to see in southern New Hampshire and central New England.
GT100 Ele & Pace (S)

There was one small quarter of a mile hill section we hit twice per lap.

  1. Flat is Fabulous. GT100 is the flattest 100 mile course I’ve yet to run and I really enjoyed that. I’m 100% sure the flat course was a big part in me setting a new personal record for the 100 mile distance this weekend.
GT100 (S)

My Garmin died in Milford 20 hours in. Disregard the razor-straight line; the course is the left section.

  1. The Unique Course Format. The GT100 is comprised of a 7.5 mile out and back rail trail course from Tevya Camp in Brookline, NH, directly north to the Milford, NH DPW, and turns around there and heads directly back. The Powerline Aid Station is set up four miles from Camp Tevya and there’s enough significant terrain features to keep the course from being monotonous. The out and back not only gives you great awareness in how your race pace is progressing tied to the other runners coming and going, but also really lends itself to turning this race into a great social ultra as well.
  2. The GT 100 is extremely well organized. For a race with more than 390 registered racers, the event ran very smoothly; racer crews could set up right on the main thoroughfare in Camp Tevya, the Aid Stations were always well stocked and all the volunteers supporting the race were highly positive all the time.

GT100 Scwhag

  1. Great Bang for the Buck. I thought I got a great return on my minimal investment into this race. It was very inexpensive to register for the 2018 race, well organized as was already mentioned, and every racer got credit for whatever ultra-distance they finished. There was also a 15 mile race that started at the Milford DPW Sunday morning.

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I think the biggest challenges with this race is that it sells out the day registration opens online and as far as the race goes, its mid fall race in New England. So the weather can be potential perfect or really challenging. Or both in the same race weekend.  As it turned out for this race weekend, the weather was almost perfect on Saturday, low 50s partly sunny, partly cloudy and then cooled off overnight.  Sunday was actually a bit cold, including the wind.

Personal Notes and Statistics:

  • I would not hesitate to run this race again.
  • GT100 “checked” New Hampshire 50 states block, my 1st major event that I’ve run in NH.
  • The GT100 was my 2nd 100 miler in a period of thirteen days after finishing the Olde 96er 100 on October 21st.
  • I was concerned with the 30 hour time limit tied to having run a 100 miler two weeks prior, but in the end I finished in 26:30:21 and GT100 is a new PR for me at that distance.
  • GT100 is my 9th ultra-marathon completed in 2018. My 3rd 100 miler or longer in 2018 too.
  • GT100 was my 68th major event (26.2s and longer) and the 50th ultra-marathon distance race I’ve completed so far.
  • 396 overall racers registered for Ghost Train; I finished 39th out of the 76 100 mile finishers.
  • My running streak extended to 3,965 days through Sunday.
  • GT100 was my overall 10th 100 mile race distance (or longer) event.
  • I subsisted mostly on water and coke throughout most of the race and standard aid station snacks. I did eat half of a sub sandwich during the 4th lap that I saved for that purpose. And I did have 2 cups of aid station soup at different points during the night.
  • I started the race at 172 lbs.
  • I’m estimated that I ran between 50 to 60% of the course and marched the other 40-50%.
  • I had family members following the live tracking for the 2nd half of the race and was told that I moved up 15 to 20 places in the finishing order over the last 25 miles of the race.

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The Race.

My racing goal coming in besides Finishing, was to eat up as many miles as possible staying at a steady, easy pace between ten to fourteen minutes per mile. I pretty much maintained that for the first four laps, which totaled sixty miles. I monitored my Garmin constantly and never saw it over a 15:00 as far as pace and the only time it was faster than 10:00 was whenever I hit Camp Teyva. I did my best to bomb through the half-mile length of the Camp and back through the timing gate as fast as possible every time through.

I finished the first two laps totaling thirty miles of the course in 6:06, which was the fastest time I’ve covered 50K in in six years, all the while just cruising steadily along. It was easy to get familiar and comfortable with the course in the first lap or two. The fifteen mile out and back course lay out made it easy to track my pace against my Garmin, as well as against other individual runners and where they were on the course throughout the entire race.

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Beautiful Fall New England Course.

The out and back made it quite a social event as well. I made a bunch of new ultra-friends and also saw some very good friends that I had not seen in quite some time. I met several people face-to-face for the first time that I’ve been trading email with on the Ultralist for over a decade.  I got a chance to chat with friend and toughest ultrarunner I know personally, John F, before the race. John was running GT two weeks after knocking out Spartathlon in Greece. I met Dima F for the first time, passing each other fourteen times out in the course. I met Faith RS out on the course and we spent a solid lap chatting all things ultra. Fellow western NY ultra-enthusiast Jim L was also on the course, and seemed much damned taller than I remembered him being. I made a Go Army comment to two runners wearing Army headgear out on the course, and both responded simply with “Hooah.”  I enjoyed hearing that immensely.  I think I talked and chatted during this race more than any other save maybe the Mind the Ducks 12 Hour, which is our western NY equivalent of our annual ultra-runner’s party. I learned that after the race that another runner out on the course, Frik Strecker, that I’m friends with on FBook was running his 1st ultra at Ghost Train and finished the 100 mile distance. Frik’s First ultra-marathon, first race longer than a 26.2 marathon is a completed 100 miler at Ghost train. Remarkable.

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This section is 5 miles from Camp Tevya.

GT100 does not start until 9AM, so it seemed like the race burned through daylight hours quite quickly. It was almost completely dark when I came back in at the 45 mile point. I only stopped long enough to take pictures with one of my best ultra-friends, Bernadette, who was up from Florida to pace a friend through his first 100 mile race, then threw on a long sleeve sweat-shirt, and headed back out onto the course with that half sub sandwich that I ate along the way.

By the way, where else in Life do you see someone travel a distance like Florida to New Hampshire to spend a night helping someone they hardly know achieve their personal goals, like Bernadette did at GT100 with Barny? That was just great to see and observe over the second half of the race. You see that all the time in this sport but rarely anything similar in run-of-the-mill Life.

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The Tunnel running under Highway 101.

I ended up at the 50-mile point on the course at exactly 10:59:30 on the course clock, meaning that I’d steadily averaged 13:20 minutes per mile for the first half of the course. I felt great at that point and thought if I could hold it together I had a chance at a Sub-25 hour finish, and even a very outside shot at Sub-24.

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We had to cross this dam every time into the Milford DPW aid station coming off the trail.

My pace slowed down considerably during my fourth and fifth laps. Those thirty miles stretched from roughly just after 900PM to about 315AM. The trail did not seem too technical at all during the daylight hours (except for the one quarter of a mile hill section), but I took two terrific falls while running during the fourth loop, tripping over roots running into flat-out sprawling impacts. The kind of fall you wished you could see on video later. I took one more of those around Mile 80 the next day as well.

After the 4th full lap it was cold enough to go from shorts to full sweats and I added another hooded sweatshirt layer up top as well. The “Back” on the fifth lap was just “stay awake survival” to get back to Tevya Camp and Mile 75. I was having such trouble staying awake and even seeing straight, I ended up having to take a forty minute nap in my vehicle parked right on the edge of the course. Before the race, I had set my vehicle up so I could just crawl in, turn on my alarm, and stretch out for a 45 minute nap because I knew that would most likely become the reality.

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Beautiful Fall New England Course

When I woke up exactly with a start 40 minutes later, I didn’t know where I was for a moment, until I saw someone trotting down the lane to the turnaround. I was relieved my watch said it was only 4:06 at that point. A bitter, edgy wind had kicked up and it was tough to get moving again.

There’s just something at least mildly exhilarating, even well into a 100 mile race, when that Sun comes up and the New Day dawns. I was almost all the way out to the northern turnaround at the Milford DPW when that happened. I’d only spent most of the night running sporadically and power-marching most of the course, but I came out of the turn at Milford DPW at Mile 82.5 and basically split the rest of the race running at least half of the remaining course as hard as I could. I’d pick a racer up ahead as a target, or a terrain feature, then I’d run that quarter of a mile or further, hike one hundred feet or so and then run as far as I could again.  Almost everyone was power-walking at that point so since I could still run large sections of the course, I made up a lot of race-place standings in that last twenty miles.

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The Milford DPW Aid Station and northern terminus of the course.

The multiple out and back format does demand an added level of tactical patience. I spent the entire race ensuring that I was not thinking about finishing Lap 6, 90 Miles, or setting out on the last, shorter 10 mile lap. But it was a massive relief to be rolling through the last ten miles on the course, as well as seeing all the runners that I had shared the course with for the previous day doing so as well.

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I’m basically a very average ultrarunner, but I always try to finish as strongly as possible, no matter what the race is. I was moving very well, passing a lot of people on the course, trying to keep running hard for as long as I could.  Candidly, it’s usually rare late in a race when someone passes me after I’ve gone by them, but that’s exactly what a guy named Nate did about a quarter mile from Camp Tevya. Nate caught me and passed me. I worked hard to maintain the 100 yard lead he had on me and then dialed it up to everything I had left to catch him, but so did Nate. We both blew through Tevya to the turnaround at the park entrance at what passed for a dead run at that point in a 100. But I never made up any ground on him, until I crossed the Finish Line and shook his hand. Raced right to the end.

Post Race.

The ride home from southern New Hampshire through central Massachusetts and out to western New York was interesting for a couple reasons. I was traversing the “rural” Quabbin Reservoir area on Route 202 Sunday afternoon when a huge bobcat ran across the road right in front of me in broad daylight. It was very cool to see that creature.  I was on that route because I wrapped up the Weekend at Bernie’s Restaurant in Chicopee, MA which was more or less on my way home. Bernie’s looks like an upscale diner and If you like prime rib and you’re in central New England, you need to go to Bernie’s.

I did lose one toenail post GT100 but that’s literally and figuratively a small thing. I have to say that I think my physical training has been pretty good, because in the days immediately following my 2nd 100 miler in thirteen days (and the Olde 96er 100 was 100% asphalt too), I’ve had little to no joint stiffness nor excessive muscular soreness. I’m moving pretty well. For example, Stairs are normal, no issue other than natural tiredness. I’m training a bit differently than I was five or six years ago when I was running triple digit races then too. I was never in any trouble in the race at all and never felt concerned that I was not going to make the finish line on time. I still need to resolve better re-sustenance during a 100 miler if I’m going to make the 12AM to 6AM period more productive though.

The remaining races in my 2018 calendar are:

The Mendon Ponds 50K on November 3rd in western New York.

The MTFMTL 8 Hour on November 3rd in western New York.

The Devil Dog 100 on December 1st in northern Virginia.

I’m still working to fit another race or two in prior to 2019.

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The course was very full during the early laps.

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Little Stonehenge section (Just my personal name for it)

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TLH

October 24, 2018

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923 Minutes at the 2018 Boulder Field 100K

Knowing that I’ve yet to encounter an ultra-marathon I have not liked, I had the opportunity to run the Boulder Field 100K (BF100) on September 15th and really enjoyed that privilege. The race is set in beautiful Hickory Run State Park in central, eastern Pennsylvania, and includes a 50K and 18 mile race options as well.

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Personal Race Notes, Lessons Learned, & Re-Learned, and the Race Report short version:

  • I cannot recommend this 100K (or 50K) race highly enough.
  • BF100K was the longest trail race and longest weekend race I’d completed up in a long time up to September 15, 2018, since Badwater in 2012.
  • My previous race was the Last Annual VolState 500K completed on July 201th. .
  • The BF100K is the only the 4thth 100 kilometer race that I’ve completed in my ultra-running career. But I think this is also my favorite race distance.
  • This was the 66th total ultramarathon or marathon distance race that I’ve completed.
  • BF100K was the 6th ultramarathon I’ve completed in 2018.
  • This race date days extended my running streak to 3,929 consecutive days.
  • This was the 1st race I’ve run as light as 172 pounds since 2012. That really contributed positively to my overall success in completing this race.
  • 20th of 23 total Finishers, 37 starters and 50+ registered racers.
  • 15:23:49 total time on the course.
  • I was the oldest 100K race finisher; I received a 1st in Age Group trophy but I believe that was a mistake as a 54 year old female finished well ahead of me.
  • This was a young field; 9 of 23 finishers were 40 or older; the other 14 were under 40.
  • I just run much better listening to Classic Rock, or Disco, than I do to Country…just the way it is….
  • My running/ endurance base is mostly re-built at this point; it’s time to start pushing the race pace much earlier in the event at this point.
  • Racing just happens at the back of the pack too.
  • I ate very little in this race; I didn’t drink anything until Mile 23 and lived mostly off of H20 and Coke for the duration, and some snicky-snacky stull during the second half. And some remarkable bacon around Mile 38.
  • Ultra-marathons are all about Running Further Faster > RF2.

I highly recommend this event to both Ultra-running veterans as well as first time ultra-runners and, in no particular order, here are my top five reasons why.

BK100K Race Map

The Race Course Map- 50K Loop

Boulder Field 100K Elevation Chart

My 100K Course Elevation Chart

  1. The course is just a great course. It’s a single, figure-8 shaped 50K loop through beautiful Hickory Run State Park. The first section of the course is a fourteen mile loop through the western half of the park. The second half of the 50K loop is approximately eighteen miles through the eastern section of Hickory Run. The 50K race starts two hours after the 100K and is one lap and done. 100K runners obviously must complete two loops. For non-ultrarunning trail racers, there was also an 18 mile race that started much later in the day, and went for one loop around that aforementioned eastern section. There is some highly technical trail sections all through the course but it’s also filled with highly runnable sections as well.

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  1. This event includes two extremely unique trail sections – the Boulder Field and the Shades of Death Trail. The Boulder Field is exactly what it sounds like, a field of nothing but boulders that is a mile long and about a quarter mile wide. The race traverses directly across the quarter of a mile section. The Shades of Death Trail is poorly named in my opinion. I think it should be Shades of Natural Beauty. It’s about one and a quarter miles long and is very much a natural obstacle course replete with boulders, rock ledges, a set of natural waterfalls and even a natural staircase, and Death comes right at the end of the first 14 mile section. These two challenging sections make this event highly interesting. The course also includes stream crossings including traveling along creek beds that run underneath Route 476 in two separate locations on the northern eighteen mile loop.

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  1. The 2018 Course was extremely well marked. There was never a question at any turn or any point as to which direction the race headed. Even a first-time trail runner should not have had any directional issues.

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The Course was very well marked with orange engineer tape and easy to follow.

  1. The event is really well organized and supported by well-stocked aid stations that are never very far apart. I think the largest aid station gap was the 6 mile section between the last aid station and race headquarters at the Start / Finish location. There was also a lot of easy course access for crew, friends, or family across the course. However, as a race director myself I noticed things that told me this race could use a lot more volunteer support. The same people manned the aid stations from start to finish on the course all day; there was pretty much a very small, very organized crew handling the entire race for the 16 hours of the race, as well as pre-race and post-race.

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  1. The 100K race option is the rarest in the ultramarathon venue and this one is very easy to get to, with nearby major highway access right in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, less than 80 miles due west of New York City in central, eastern Pennsylvania. Basically BF100K is within a one day drive from anywhere in the Northeastern or mid-Atlantic regions of the United States.

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The only change that I can think of that I would like to see the Race make is to change the name of this event to The Hickory Run Races instead of the Boulder Field. While the Boulder Field is certainly a very unique feature as far as ultra-marathons go, it’s a relatively small one, and the race is really all about Hickory Run State Park. I think Hickory Run is a great title for a race.

I ended up registering for the BF100K only about two weeks prior to the race. I had not run an ultra since finishing the VolState 500K on July 20th and felt like I was more than ready for another race. More importantly, I wanted a good, long, challenging race effort right in the 50 mile to 100K range to train up for three or four 100 mile races in my fall Schedule. Lastly, I think the 100K distance is my favorite distance and when I saw the BF100K, three hours south of me in Ultrasignup, I jumped right on it.

I had no concerns over the race’s 100K distance. But I did have some real misgivings over the overall 16 hour time limit. As of this race’s September 15th date, I had not completed a single-day race as long as this one in half a decade Furthermore, I’d run most of the 50K events I’ve completed over the past couple of years well into the seven to eight hour time range. So, while BF100K was my seventh ultra in 2018, there really wasn’t a lot of existing recent, empirical data saying I could complete a 100K trail race in under 16 hours.

My standard operating procedure for ultras over the past three to four years has been to ease into them, cruise through the first half of the race and then finish it as rapidly as possible.  Considering BF100K’s time limit, my plan was to run the first 50K loop as fast as I possibly could, and then repeat that effort and even try to negative split the race if that was at all possible. Save nothing, full out first lap and let lap two take care of itself.

I traveled to Hickory Run State Park late the night prior, camped out, only got a couple hours of real sleep, woke up late and had to scramble to make the 5:00 AM start with five minutes to spare.  The conditions ended up being ideal throughout the race, overcast for most of the day, Summer temperatures in the high 70s, although there was quite a lot of water all over the course due to all the rain in the week leading up. My feet got soaked early and stayed that way all day. The race started in complete darkness, and ended that way for the last four or five of us on the course as well.

It was a fast group of runners that started and I found myself running with from the word “Go!”  While I stayed with my plan to run as hard as I could from right off the bat, I soon found myself running at the back of the pack as we all spread out.  And I pretty much remained running in the back of the pack throughout the day.

Here’s the finish order for the 100K race:

BF100K Finishers

Here is the link to the 50K roster of 153 finishers:

https://ultrasignup.com/results_event.aspx?did=52977

Here’s the link to the 18 Mile roster of 124 Finishers:

https://ultrasignup.com/results_event.aspx?did=52978

Boulder Field Course

The first 50K loop took me 7:15 to complete. I was not totally displeased with that time, as, frankly, it was the fastest section of 50K trail that I had run in at least three to four years. But I was using all my race finishing tactics too: listening to my Let It Rip playlist and running hard to that, running all the downhills as hard as possible, fighting through the technical sections, running as much of the flat sections as possible, working hard to catch and pass as many racers in front of me as possible, and there were a lot of those due to the 18 Mile trail racers. But I felt very good for having just completed 50K, on fluids alone, and I had stopped to take a lot of pictures just as I always do. So I liked my chances to finish the race in under another 8:45.

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The Boulder Field and the Shades of Death Trails sections were very interesting. I made it across the boulders in right at three minutes, and that included a face-first tumble when one smaller boulder shifted and left me a bit scuffed up.  Shades of Death was just an incredibly interesting, highly technical and scenic section of trail that took quite a bit of effort and time to negotiate- between fifteen and sixteen minutes on both laps.

More Shades of Death Trail Pictures:

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The second 50K lap took me a total of 7:52 to complete and was full of interesting personal moments. I caught up to another runner, about my age group, well into the first 14 mile section of the course, around Mile 38 into the race. We exchanged pleasantries and I mentioned I thought he was moving pretty well, and that’s when he mentioned that he was still concerned about the 11 Hour cut off to be back at the Race Main Aid Station Mile 44 at the Start / Finish area…..

As it turned out I was not even tracking a cut off to be out of the Start/ Finish at Mile 44 by 11 hours into the race. I only found out about it by catching up to this other racer and chatting with him. After a quick look at my GPS, I realized the situation was fairly dire- we were still shy of Mile 38 and had an hour and fifteen minutes to cover the six-plus miles to be back and through the Main Race area.

After running my ass off, I cleared the Main Race area with five minutes to spare, and thought I was the last one alive out on the 100K course but discovered later that was not the case. The section between Aid Station 4 and the Boulder Field was the slowest section of the race for me; I was dragging physically, and ironically, the two kilometers prior to the Boulder Field headed directly into the setting Sun and it was tough to see the trail and I was tripping all over stuff. I made it across the Boulder Field and made a quick stop into AS 5 right of the far edge of the field and that’s when the Big Dude caught up to me, the bigger, younger guy, (tall, built like solid Tight End),   I had bounded back and forth with several times during the first 50K loop. I thought he was well ahead of me on the course but apparently was not and had caught up to me at the Field.

I trailed Big Dude out of AS 5; we had around twelve miles to go and just under three hours to make the Finish Line. Volunteers were following pretty closely on mountain bikes clearing the course for quite some time behind me until I finally out-distanced them.  About half a klick away from AS 5 we caught up to a guy with a pretty significant beard also moving pretty well. I’ve often heard or read comments from other ultra-runners that there really is not any racing taking place back in the mid-pack, or back-of-the pack. But neither I, nor Bearded Guy nor Big Dude felt that way. We were all pushing it and no one was giving up the trail willingly- you had to earn it to pass someone the whole way in as we all bounded back and forth among each other most of the rest of the way in.

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There’s a long, gradual two-plus mile downhill that follows a power line track on the northernmost section of the course; I did my best running of the day bombing downhill through that section. It got dark just after leaving AS 6 and the last six miles of the course seemed fairly long including the long, gradual uphill that goes for about a mile and finishes around 60 miles into the course. All in all I felt like I was moving pretty well when I finished and still had a lot of mileage left in the tank if I had to go further.

Great Race, great day.

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Here’s a bunch more pictures that I took out on the course.

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Pre-Race Starting Line

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Racers traveled through 6 inches of water to reach the far side of this, twice for 100K racers. 

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TLH

October 19, 2018

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1,855 Minutes at the Inaugural Olde 96er 100 Mile Ultra-Marathon.

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I enjoyed the privilege and challenge of running in the inaugural Olde 96er 100 mile ultra-marathon this past weekend, thoroughly enjoyed this race and cannot recommend it highly enough.  “96er” is the creation of Race Director Kimberly Durst. Kimberly is a three-time finisher of the Last Annual VolState 500K (LAVS) road race, including her 2018 finish this past July in 139:06:05 (5 Days, 14 hours, 6 minutes and 5 seconds). While 96er is its own uniquely exciting 100 mile journey run, it also bares some striking similarities to LAVS.

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It was great to be racing on the White Line again.

Olde 96er is a point to point road ultra-marathon. The starting line is at the southern terminus of Route 45 in Wellsville, OH, almost on the edge of the Ohio River, itself, directly north of the northwestern corner of West Virginia. The race literally follows Route 45 straight north for its entirety for 97 miles to its northern terminus just west of Ashtabula, OH.  Racers then take a right and head west on Route 531 into Ashtabula to Walnut Beach Park and the finish line, virtually the edge of Lake Erie- you have to touch the water to finish.

Olde 96er Route

The race route runs due north for the entire northeaster corner of Ohio

The race is organized into two different divisions, crewed and self-supported, although there is no difference between the two as far as finisher placement or official standings. Self-supported racers met at the finish line between 4-430AM race morning, parked their vehicles and had race-organized transportation to the starting line.

Here are 5 ultrarunner reasons to run this race:

  1. The self-supported, point to point journey run aspect makes this a terrific adventure.
  2. It’s a 100 mile road ultra-marathon. Personally, I really enjoy road ultras and there aren’t that many road 100s.
  3. The first half of the course is the more challenging half as far as up and down terrain with many long gradual hills. The second half is much flatter, gradually downhill and the overall course has a net loss in elevation.
Olde 96er Pace & Elevation (Hardy)

Race Terrain Elevation & Pace Chart. Note-the major hills are done by Mile 20, and the course has a net elevation loss, running gradually downhill for the 2nd half of the race!

  1. The current time limit for this race is 36 hours, so there’s plenty of time to finish the race. That time limit alone makes this race a great choice for any ultra-runner’s first 100 mile race.
  2. This is a purposely “low frills” ultra and one where the RD put a lot of heart, soul and a ton of useful information into it. For example, see the Convenience Store Appendix at end of RR. I felt that I got a great return on my minimal race registration investment. And in addition to the 100 mile race, 2019 will include a 200 mile out and back race.
2018 Olde 96er Starting Group

28 Runners started the race; 16 Finished.

Fifty-four people registered for the event, twenty-eight toed the starting line and sixteen racers finished the race. Of the 28-32 people racing or officially supporting the race, 15-20% were Last Annual VolState veterans.

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Race underway

Weather conditions fluctuated back and forth throughout the course of the race between being almost perfect for a 100 mile road ultra, to challenging to almost perfect. The race started under warm, foggy and overcast conditions for almost the entire first morning, until a couple of separate short but heavy rain storms blew through very late in the morning. Shortly after Noon, the Sun came out for the duration of the day, the temperature went up to 87 and stayed there all afternoon. Around 11:30PM inclement weather came in and our night-time movement was often accompanied by periodic, often heavy, rain until Dawn. After the Sun came up it remained heavily overcast through the whole day, no more rain, and those were great conditions to finish the race under.

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On the climb away from Wellsville

All in all while challenging, the weather was not as bad as it could have been and that’s one of the more challenging aspects in showing up ready for this race. October in northern Ohio could have meant 42-52 degree temperatures and included 24 straight hours of rain.

 

Olde 96er Final Results

Here are the 16 Finishers in Race Order starting with First Place, David Holliday in 24:27:34.

Besides weather the other two most challenging aspects of this race are road-related. Route 45 is mostly a primary two lane country route, with a lot of traffic during daylight hours. I estimate that as much as 85-90% of the entire route gives the racers merely one meter of shoulder space to travel on.  As I mentioned earlier the second half of the course, north of Warren, really flattens out compared to the first half, and the traffic was greatly reduced after 9PM as well. But there was also a lot less active convenience stores all the way up to Austinburg, and very few Coke machines either.

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Most of the course offers about this much Shoulder Space.

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Personally, while my own race was wildly inconsistent as I almost always am, particularly in longer races, I had a highly rewarding race experience. I went into this event with the goal to push myself for as long and as hard as possible. While I think that attitude hurt my overall finishing time, I really enjoyed the entire event and was never in any real trouble at any point in the race or anywhere on the course.

  • 96er was my first 100 mile race completed since 2012, The Last Annual VolState 500K in July notwithstanding. VolState is not a 100 mile weekend race.
  • The Boulder Field 100K was the last ultra I ran prior, on SEPT 15th.
  • Olde 96er is the 8th 100 mile race that I’ve completed in my ultrarunning career.
  • This was the 67th total ultramarathon or marathon distance race that I’ve completed.
  • 96er was the 7th ultramarathon I’ve completed in 2018.
  • The two 96er race days extended my running streak to 3,951 consecutive days.
  • I started this race at 172 lbs just as I did the BF100K. I think that’s pretty close to my ideal racing weight.
  • 11th of 16 total Finishers
  • 30:55:05 was my total time on the course. My GPS said 105 miles.

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Gear worn and carried. I wore an original pair of Hoka Stinsons, Injinji socks, Khaki cargo shorts, a black tank top, sunglasses and reading glasses. Racing self-supported I went with my same Nathan Hydration Vapor-Krar/ Ultimate Direction Jurek FKT pack configuration that I used at LAVS in July, albeit with much less carried gear.  I carried my long sleeved SP50 shirt, ball cap, a 2nd pair of Injinjis, two 20 ounce water bottles (constantly filled with H20 and Gatorade), Desitin, S-Caps, Ibuprofen, 2 sweat rags, MP3 player/ 1-ear headset, IPhone, ultralight rain poncho, miniature wallet & cash, GPS, 2 charger ports and cables and 2 external charging batteries, a headlamp and my handheld Surefire Blue Taclight. I had a green LED light on my right front side facing oncoming traffic

The only thing that I brought and didn’t use was the 2nd pair of socks. I could have gone without the ballcap, but that came in handy during the real rain, even with the rain poncho on. The only thing I didn’t bring that I would have used was sunscreen.

My training and mileage base over the past 12 months, multiple ultras I’ve run in 2018 including a very solid 100K trail race finish three weeks prior, solid TRX cross-training, coupled with the facts that this is a road ultra with a 36 hour time limit, had me feeling as confident as I’ve ever felt going into a 100 mile race. My goal was to push it as hard as I could, finish as fast and as strongly as I could, and maybe break my 100 mile 27:18 PR from way back at the OD100 in 2012.

While I did “taper” reducing my weekly mileage leading up to the race, my rest plan was only good in theory. That culminated by working all day Friday, doing some things to support my family’s business late in the day Friday, followed immediately by the 5 hour ride from central New York out to eastern Ohio and Walnut Beach Park. I ensured all my gear was ready and finally got to sleep around 1:30AM. I awoke around 3:45 and most of the self-supported racers were in already in the parking lot getting ready to convoy out to the starting line.

After RD Kimberly took a final roll call, we loaded two vehicles, the race van rental and a volunteer’s SUV, and made the 2.5 hour trip in reverse along the course to the starting line. We all grew quieter as the ride stretched out as the scope of race work became apparent. We also passed the three racers in route that Kimberly had authorized to start early.

After getting the group together, the ensuing hellos, and a group picture, we set out. After a not-so-quick trip in the adjacent McDonalds for a small coffee and bathroom stop, I started out firmly in last place. My overall plan for the race was to complete as many miles as possible between 10 to 14 minutes per mile, by staying steady on the climbs, running and powering through the down hills and trying to cover a third to a half of every flat mile running as opposed to power hiking. That’s about exactly how the first half of my race went; I covered the first 50K in 6:59 and, with a hrad push, I covered the first 50 miles in 11:51. Unfortunately, it took me 19:04 to cover the second 54 miles of the race to reach the finish line.

Notes

  • Even though the first half of the course, as mentioned, had a steady diet of gradual climbs and descents, the most challenging hills on the course came and went in the first 1-20 miles.
  • I’ve never really learned to maintain a nice steady 12-13 minute per mile trot for any period and “96er” was no exception. Most of my running pace, especially the downhills was between 8-10 minute miles.
  • My Downhill gear worked the entire race – I was still running downhill pretty well coming into Walnut Beach Park. I was still getting at least some running in, 1/4th to 1/3rd of each flat mile for the last 25 miles as well.
  • To further underline my racing inconsistencies, while I finished 11th out of 16th overall, at different points in the race I was ahead of everyone that finished ahead of me at some point, other than the 1st and 2nd place finishers. At the Checkpoint at Mile 54 I was in 8th place and only 87 minutes behind the 2nd place finisher at that point.
  • I hydrated a lot- water, Gatorade and a Coca Cola for short term energy at almost every convenience store during Day 1. On the flip side, I ate almost nothing the entire race: 1 Slim Jim halfway through Day 1, half a grilled cheese sandwich at the 54 mile checkpoint, a large McDonald’s Fries around 11PM and a egg bagel at 6AM on Day 2.  This was the largest factor in the weak second half of my race.
  • Around Midnight, I started turning into the walking dead. I ended up taking a 20 minute nap in McDonalds shortly thereafter and another 20-30 minute nap around 3:30 when I took shelter out of some heavy rain on a picnic table under an overhead pavilion roof. Around 5:30AM when I started turning into a zombie again, I just started running as well as I could consistently until daybreak, when I went through my daily Solar Re-Set.
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It really did not rain after daybreak on Day 2 and we had solid cloud cover for the rest of the race.

  • I also smoked the two cigars I carried between Midnight and 6PM to help me stay awake and keep moving, brought for that specific purpose. Unconventional, sure, but it works for me.
  • Route 45 is very rural from Champion Heights just north of Warren, all the way up to Austinburg where the course intersects Route 90. Once the Sun came up I ran as much of the course as I possible could, trying to make up as much of that lost time and race positions lost while I dragged through much of the wee hours of the morning.
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    97 Miles from end to end and we covered all of it on foot!

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It was exciting to reach this point in the course-almost exactly 100 miles into the race.

  • Route 45 stretches on for another 9 miles from the southern Austinburg town limits to its Terminus at Route 531 in northwestern Ashtabula. It’s mostly flat or gradually downhill.
  • The Route 531 section of the course to Lake Erie was also easy to follow and was just about exactly 3.75 miles long.

All in all, I cannot recommend The Olde 96er highly enough. It is well organized and highly challenging- 43% of the field did not reach the finish line. The race is designed to provide minimal support, and therefore is not for every member of the ultra-community. But I loved it.

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The official Race Crew was made up of only RD Kimberly Durst (KD), her sister Heidi and Benjamin “BJ” Timoner. But it seemed to me like I saw both KD and BJ periodically throughout the race once we hit the late afternoon point of Day 1. Every crew supporting other runners offered constant encouragement and support throughout the race as well.  This race is only going to expand in terms of both racers and ultra-community notoriety. RD Durst already has registration open for the 2019 race including the Inaugural 200 mile out and back and I’ll be running that.
https://ultrasignup.com/register.aspx?did=60748

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Race Route Convenience Stores and Mileage Appendix:

3.7- Glasgow deli

14.6-16.4- the town of Lisbon; many options available

23.9- Marathon gas, Dollar General

36.1- Sunoco gas, Marathon gas, Dollar General

41.5- Subway, convenience store

45.6- Dollar General

46.1 BP gas

46.6- Subway

50.5- Shady’s convenience; Dollar General enter Warren: many businesses

53.8 DUNSTAN DRIVE AID

*exit Warren/Champion at 56 miles

62.9- Edna’s gas– SODA MACHINES

65.8- garage– SODA MACHINES

68.7- Quinn’s Market– SODA MACHINES

73.6- Sunoco gas, True North gas

81.7- Family Dollar

84.1- Pasta Oven diner

90.4 Dollar General, gas, Waffle House, McDonalds

94.1- Valley View convenience

97.3- Saybrook gas

100.1- Circle K

101- finish

 

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