It takes a special kind of crazy to want to run 100 miles. But after being at this event, I get it. After hearing the stories of so many people who didn’t finish, I get it. What a goal to achieve, or even attempt! I’ve learned that the ultra running crowd, especially the trail runners, are a unique and very cool group of people.
We camped right at the campground where the race was being held. That was quite convenient. Our race weekend started out Friday night with an informative, and encouraging meeting. They introduced runners that were joining the “1,000 mile”and “2,000 mile” club – people who have finished the race 10 or more times. Impressive!
This event had 3 race distances – 100 mile, 50 mile, and the “fun run” of marathon (26.2 miles). We saw a few people from our area and made a few new friends over some beers.
We had a traditional pasta dinner for our runner, which was quite interesting because pasta is not usually on our camping menu and we were missing some basic spaghetti cooking items which would have been handy. Also, we got to use the oven in our camper for the first time for the garlic bread. All in all, it was delicious!
The race started at 5 am on Saturday, and unfortunately, so did the rain. It poured down steady for quite a few hours and didn’t completely stop until around 4pm. The course, which goes through the Mohican State park was turned into a mud fest. The trails were full of mud, rocks, water and lots and lots of hills. Some of the hills actually required climbing “hand over hand”.
I didn’t join Alan at the race start, but we did get to see him at one of the main aid stations, around 26 miles. We caught up with him the first time around 11am. He was looking good! Each aid station has food and essential medical supplies (band aids, toenail clippers, tape, etc). Each runner had two drop bag locations about 13 miles apart. As Alan’s race “support crew”, we didn’t really have any of his supplies but we helped get him anything he needed at the aid station and were there for moral support.
We sent him off and then went the next aid station with our ponchos and cow bells to cheer him on again. This was a surprise for him and it lifted his spirits in the soggy weather.
The next time we saw him was around 7 pm. Dinner time! Pizza at the aid station for the runners. Other foods included PB&J sandwiches, salty snacks, sweet treats, drinks and other “runner friendly” food items. Alan was still looking good after completing 50-some miles and was heading into the most difficult loop. The next loop would be dark during the night, and especially difficult on tired legs. He turned on his headlamp and we wished him well because his next anticipated stop here was around 2am, a bit too late to bring the kids out.
After giving it a little thought, I knew I really wanted to see him in the wee hours and after running 75+ miles he would need some support. I watched a movie with the kids in the camper, and went to bed around 11pm. I told the kids that I was going to get up in a few hours and cheer Alan on. I was prepared – went to bed in my clothes, wearing my contacts and makeup (because a pretty crew member is a helpful crew member!! haha). At 1:45 am I woke up and headed over to the aid station. I learned that he passed through the prior aid station around 1:00 am, so I still had a good hour to wait. At 3:20 am I saw some of the guys who were running around the same pace as him. 3:30 am passed. 4:00 passed. I was a bit worried. At 4:40 am a runner came to the aid station and reported “A runner is down. He twisted his ankle and needs help”. UGH! That was Alan.
The first plans were to send a pacer from the previous aid station out to get him. By 5am we had no report of him being found so I offered to go get him myself since I had the truck and I could bring him back. They asked me if I had “gear”. Uh sure, I have this little flashlight. I got to enjoy a cup of trail mix and a cup of water, which was pretty awesome because the crew and families were not allowed to enjoy the runner’s foods at the aid station.
I drove the truck to the closest point I could find with roads and then had to hit the trails. If you can imagine, the trail is marked with little orange flags, and large turn signs – and here I am with a little camping flashlight at 5 am running in the woods to find my husband! I was slipping around in the mud since I only wore my Newtons, which definitely don’t have any grip to them. I think I went at least a mile, passing a few runners along the way (I was going backwards on the trail). They all said the “injured runner” was up ahead. I called out his name along the way, and eventually I got a reply! Woohoo, I found him!!!
I found him resting on a log rubbing his ankle. He had made it 73 miles, and couldn’t go anymore on that ankle. I was a sight for sore eyes 🙂 and a complete surprise. I helped him up and guided us down through the wood out on to a road that was nearby. It was very rough for him to go “off trail” through the brush and I could see the pain with every step he took. I waved down a passing car, which luckily was a woman heading to go get her husband who also did not finish the race.
After we got back to the campground we headed straight to the showers. People who are running for more than 24 hours really do not have the best odor. Just saying. The biggest challenge was getting the compression sleeves off! I couldn’t do it and we didn’t want to rip any toenails off, so I just cut them off.
His feet were a big mess. One swollen ankle, and some heavily blistered feet. I made these pictures small, so if you’re brave feel free to click on them to really see them. You’re welcome!
After cleaning up, he took a long, well deserved rest in the camper. He was happy with the miles he did complete. He was in the majority, judging by the race stats: 100 mile mens race – 70 finishers, 84 DNF. A tough day on a very tough course! The course had a 32 hour limit, and the fastest guy ran those 100 miles in 17:59!! The women had 18 100 mile finishers, and 26 DNFs. I don’t think I would ever be up for a 100 mile race, but we are thinking seriously about coming next year for that “fun run” of the marathon!
Soon I will have Alan give his point of view on the race, so stay tuned for that guest post coming soon!
Q: What’s the farthest distance you’ve ever run?
I’ve completed a 50K (31 miles). Most.pain.ever.