Ran in 2015. I figure enough time has elapsed to add a review. My therapist says we have worked through enough of the suppressed memories from the race that I can begin to open up…a little.
I finished. There were times during the race that I thought that I wouldn’t, that I couldn’t, but I finished.
I thought I would answer a few of the FAQ’s which have been circling me like the aid station attendants:
How long was it? 103.3 miles, but it is called a 100 miler. I don’t know why either.
Why did you run a race that long? I was in it for the money.
Did you win? Yes. A finish is a win. I was the 66th person to win this year. Unfortunately they ran out of all prize money by the time I finished. Out of the 250 entrants, only 161 were able to finish.
How long did it take you? 32 hours and 50 minutes. We started at 8 am on Friday morning and I ended at 4:50 on Saturday afternoon. The cutoff was 10 pm.
What do you get if you finish? I received a metal belt buckle, a customized sweatshirt, a finishers medal, and as many blisters as I could handle.
Didn’t it hurt to run over 100 miles? Yes…Yes it did.
I have a sibling/parent/cousin/fake relative who has run a marathon. Isn’t this the same thing, only longer? Yes, in the same way that Peewee Herman and Mike Tyson punch the same, but one is just a little bigger.
Where was the race held? It was held in the Sawtooth Mountains of the North Shore, following the Superior Hiking Trail from Gooseberry Falls to Lutsen.
Did you ever stop? Yes, normally just to curl up and cry by a fire while the aid station attendants tried to figure out how to get me moving again. There were aid stations every 5.5-10 miles.
Did you sleep at all? Only once, on accident, while I was running at night. I learned my lesson after stumbling off the trail.
Did you run with anyone? I had several running partners. I started with Chris Hanson who is a skilled veteran at this race. He has finished 11 times (which basically means he is “awesome” personified). I realized early on in our 25 miles together that he is the Captain America of ultra running. He knows, talks to, and cares about everyone on the trail. Even at mile 20 he was busy moving rocks and sticks off the trail for everyone coming behind him. Without Chris’ knowledge and encouragement, there would have been no way I would have attempted the race. Thank you…I guess…
I ran the next 25 miles with different people I met on the trail, sticking with them as long as I could bum snacks or tips off of them.
I started mile 52 about 9 pm with a running friend from Brainerd, Mike Porter. He graciously volunteered to run through the night with me, covering the hardest part of the trail while at my lowest emotional state. I think that qualifies him for sainthood, or psychological evaluation. He kept me moving through the middle of the night when I was convinced that I should lay down on the trail and let the wolves have my body. We covered 32 miles from 9 pm to around 11 am.
The last 20 miles I had Mark Barrett running behind me. When he wasn’t forcing gels down my throat, he was giving me constant affirmation of my hobbling run and encouragement to pass the next runner. Through his incredible coaching I knocked off over 2 hours from my estimated finish in those last miles. His mantra was, “If you throw this up, we can fill you up again. Take another one.” His promises of steak and the world’s greatest hamburgers lengthened my stride considerably.
The final running partners were with me the entire race. Crystal and Tanzen came to the pre-race meeting, the aid stations, and the finish line. They carried in gear, filled my hydration pack, gave me hugs and kisses, and constantly cheered me on with the shouts and smiles. With them, every aid station is like the finish line when I see them waiting.
What do you think of the race? Rugged. Remote. Relentless.
A huge thank you to the race director, the many volunteers, and the friends who showed up to run with me, encourage me, and congratulate me at the end. I enjoyed the experience…at least the parts that I haven’t blocked out of my memory.