September 20, 2014

Race Report: 2014 Superior 50 Mile Ultramarathon

This blog post is a reformatted version of my original race plan, which I have blocked out in grey and italics. Enjoy!
This marathon will mark the culmination of a Spring and Summer season's training for me, with no races to speak of. This is all well and good, since it was a very busy year in general. We moved from Saint Paul to Woodbury in March, ending a different type of marathon: two years of house improvements, repairs, and cleaning.   July 28, 2014 marked the last day I had to carry the on-call mantle at work, severing my dedicated, laptop umbilical cord. My title and job responsibilities changed at the beginning of the year as a DevOps Engineer, and the transition was finally complete. For 80% of my technological career starting in 1997, I had carried a pager. This moment was a long time coming, which isn't to say I'll never carry a "pager" again. Let's just hope it will be a long time coming - if ever.
Accommodations: Mountain Inn This year, rather than drop a wad of cash on luxury accommodations at Caribou Lodge, a few runners and I have chipped in for a room at Mountain Inn, a hop, skip, and jump away from finish line. Thankfully, it was a very reasonable rate, and split 4-ways, economical.
<dl>     <dt>Address</dt><dd>360 Ski Hill Rd, Lutsen, MN 55612</dd>     <dt>Phone</dt><dd>(218) 663-7084</dd>     <dt>Roommates</dt><dd><a href="">Andy Littler</a>, Christopher, Luke    </dl></div> <div class="recollections"><font size="+2" align="bottom">S</font>uch a nice little hotel! I     obviously didn't spend much time here, most of it being on the     trail, but it was close to the finish line (walking distance) and     split four ways for two nights, it was quite affordable: $82 each     person. The staff was courteous and helpful, the sheets and towels     were clean, and the room tidy. Five stars! 
My Gear:Although I've run with Vibram Treks along Moose Mountain in the past, I'm not convinced my feet would hold up for twice the distance without some sort of cushion. In the very least, I'll put my Brooks Pure Grit 2's in the drop-bag at Cramer. I'll wear a lightweight doublet or t-shirt, racing shorts, visor, pack, and headlamp. Doused with bug spray and 50 SPF, I should be good to go.
<dl>     <dt>Bib Number</dt><dd>470</dd>     <dt>Assignments</dt><dd><a href=""></a></dd>   </dl> <font size="+2" align="bottom">Fuel:</font> I plan on dealing with Gu      packets for most of the race, though I plan to eat "real food" as      much as possible along the way. I tend to get really hungry at      the 6 hour mark, and sugar products just won't cut it. 
The Pack: This year, I've purchased a Ultraspire Surge pack, containing a 2 liter bladder and a few storage spaces perfect for food, gels, salt, etc. I'm looking forward to not having a bouncing waist belt or water bottles in hand. The only thing that is not great about the setup is filling the bladder; it is time-consuming. Given that I'm not planning on setting land-speed records, I'll benefit in rest from an extra minute or two. The pack will contain:
<ul>     <li><a href="">S-Cap        Salt Tablets</a> (4 per hour between aid stations - just in        case)</li>     <li>Gu Bottle (filled from bulk) or packets</li>     <li>Bandana/Buff</li>     <li>Toilet paper in a ziplock bag</li>     <li>Lightweight Rain poncho (if rain is predicted and I can find        something I like)</li>     <li>Headlamp (to start out with)</li>     <li>Empty water bottle for backpack, in case the bladder has issues</li>   </ul>  <font size="+2" align="bottom">Drop Bags:</font> For the most part, my    drop bags will consist of restocking my pack with my starting    supplies. Additionally, at each stop, I'll leave a clean and dry    pair of socks. 
With Clem George and Cristy De La Cruz crewing for me, I didn't have as much need for drop-bags. What you see in the plan below became much simpler, since I could hand a bag to the intrepid duo and have them dig for stuff when needed. I did not carry an extra bottle with me, and in fact, felt the emergency blanket and trash bag (folded) were a bit much. I stuck my phone in a waterproof container and had it in my pack the whole race, but I never did anything with it. It only added weight and inconvenience. I might like to run with a small, waterproof, digital camera and a cheap mp3 player next time. Also a small field notebook (weather-resistant) with a Fisher Space Pen (pressurized ink) would be useful.
The Race Plan: Let's be honest: the plan is simply to survive. In the last week, I've taken on a left calf strain running to and from work - a nine or twelve mile hilly stretch, depending on whether I take the bus in for part of the commute. My house is 3 miles from the park-n-ride lot. The next two weeks (From [2014-08-24]), I'm hoping to heal and maintain fitness, nothing more. My Afton State Park training runs have been around 11 to 12 minutes/mile for 15 miles, which has similar elevation profiles to Superior. If I can maintain a 14:00 minute/mile pace, it'll give me two minutes per mile leeway for an understandably tougher course, and give me time, to finish the later sections under cut-offs. Barring tendinitis or other injury. Start: Finland Rec Center Here begins the pain for the 50 milers, at Finland Rec Center. This section is described as longer and having a relatively level hiking profile. I have never run this section before, so my expectations are based on what I've found in "Guide to the Superior Hiking Trail", 2001 edition and the elevation charts from the race website. There appears to be a good 350' ascent to Egge lake, a sharp valley, and then a gradual descent to the next aid station. The real challenge for me here is to keep my pace on target rather than going out too fast.
Next Aid Station
Sonju Lake Rd
7.5 miles
PaceDurationETA Next Station
13:00 1 hr 37 min
14:00 1 hr 45 min 07:15
15:00 1 hr 52 min
The bus ride in, I sat with Rachel Wellman, whom I believe I know from It didn't hit me at the time, but since reviewing her profile, I'm now convinced. She was sweet and quiet, excited to start. There was a lot of energy at the Finland Rec center, and plenty of space for everyone to get ready for the upcoming race. I ran into Jon Matthiae and had a brief visit. There was also a man from the Ely area with blue eyes and an outstanding moustache! I don't recall his name, though. His face was memorable, similar to my Uncle Greg.
  <a href=""><font size="+1" align="bottom">J </font>ohn Storkamp</a> recognized me and said, "Hi!" before going      about his race director business. As tired as he likely was, he      was all smiles and energy. I drank a 16 oz bottle of water over      the 40 minute wait, applied sun block and bug spray, and made my      way out to the start line. 
John held a briefing on the road, and if you've heard one from John before, you'll be grinning already. His mixes a bit of humor with each speech, and it never gets old. It didn't take long before we were off, torches blazing ahead, cantering down the road to the trail.
  <dl>       <dt>Time Departed</dt><dd>05:30</dd>     </dl></div> <div class="raceplan" style="background-color: #C0C0C0; font-style: italic;"><font size="+2" align="bottom">Sonju Lake Road (No Crew)</font> This     is another section I have no experience with. There appear to be a     good drop of 350' overall to the Manitou River followed by a nice     400' ascent to Horseshoe Ridge. From there, it plunges down 500'     to the Crosby Manitou aid station.
 <dl>      <dt>Total Distance</dt><dd>7.5 miles</dd>      <dt>Next Aid Station</dt><dd>Crosby Manitou</dd>      <dt>Distance</dt><dd>4.2 miles</dd>    </dl>         <table>      <tr><td>    Pace </td><td> Duration   </td><td> ETA Next Station </td></tr>      <tr><td>   13:00 </td><td> 54 min     </td><td>                  </td></tr>      <tr><td> <em>14:00</em> </td><td> 59 min     </td><td>            08:14 </td></tr>      <tr><td>   15:00 </td><td> 1 hr 3 min </td><td>                  </td></tr>    </table></div> <div class="recollections"><font size="+2" align="bottom">S</font>o early in the race, I was      still very excited to be on the trail. This section went without      a hitch, and Andy and I stuck together pretty well.  Somewhere      along this stretch, we came upon a runner I had met last year      while soaking in the hot tub at Caribou      Lodge: <a href="">Matt      Mitchell</a>. (He recalls an earlier meeting at my Moose Mountain      Marathon run in 2012.) His wife was seven months pregnant and      crewing for him with his parents. We talked about his life as a      teacher, his adventure to Germany with his students this last      year, the reason for his not having enough time to train for this      race. I was glad for the company, and I related to the note on      training. 
We arrived at the aid station and didn't spend much time there before heading on. I was pretty happy with my pace prediction and was feeling pretty confident. I had only taken one salt tablet during this section, since it was early in the race. I don't recall drinking much, and I didn't top off my water bladder. I doubt it took us five minutes to leave the station.
 <dl>      <dt>Time Arrived</dt><dd>07:15</dd>      <dt>How I Felt</dt><dd>Pretty good. Fresh.</dd>      <dt>Time Departed</dt><dd>07:18</dd>    </dl></div> <div class="raceplan" style="background-color: #C0C0C0; font-style: italic;"><font size="+2" align="bottom">Crosby Manitou</font> I should be     starting this section at     the <a href="">Crosby     Manitou State Park</a> about three hours into the race, still     short of my approximate long distance training runs at Afton,     where I generally run 11-12 minute miles. At 14:00 minute miles, I     hope to hold off the inevitable stiffness and soreness later on. 
There appears to be only about 650' of elevation change on this section by estimating on the graph: a little over 200' descent to the river, a climb of 150', a drop of 100', and a final climb of 200'.
 <dl>      <dt>Total Distance</dt><dd>11.7 miles</dd>      <dt>Next Aid Station</dt><dd>Sugar Loaf</dd>      <dt>Distance</dt><dd>9.4 miles</dd>    </dl>      <table>      <tr><th>Pace</th><th>Duration</th><th>ETA Next Station</th></tr>      <tr><td>   13:00 </td><td> 2 hr        </td><td>                  </td></tr>      <tr><td> <em>14:00</em> </td><td> 2 hr 12 min </td><td>            10:36 </td></tr>      <tr><td>   15:00 </td><td> 2 hr 21 min </td><td>                  </td></tr>    </table></div>  <div class="recollections"><font size="+2" align="bottom">A</font>ndy had been complaining about      hot-spots on his feet, having had to run with his work socks      instead of his preferred pair. We were supposed to meet up with      Clem and Cristy, but they were held up in traffic and      construction. I'm pretty sure we were still were running on pace,      but three hours in to the run, we were starting to feel it. 
My estimates on elevation change from the graphs were off, of course. I didn't count all the micro hills, the little ups and downs of the course, and by this point, I was cursing the mud. It was still pretty early in the race, and I was still feeling pretty solid. I talked a little bit with Matthew Patten, asking about Adam Schwartz-Lowe, learning that he had won the event earlier that morning! Amazing! The girls in the aid station were dancing and playing music, so I danced along with them while I waited for Andy.
 <dl>      <dt>Time Arrived</dt><dd>8:15</dd>      <dt>How I Felt</dt><dd>OK. Glad to be at the Aid Station.</dd>      <dt>Time Departed</dt><dd>8:20</dd>    </dl></div> <div class="raceplan" style="background-color: #C0C0C0; font-style: italic;"><font size="+2" align="bottom">Sugar Loaf</font> This is the last aid     station of the race before the Marathon runners join us on the     trail. This is another section I'm not familiar with, and it holds     at least 750' of elevation change; three ascents and two     descents. I'm not sure if I'll be holding on to a 14:00 minute     mile at this point or not.
 <font size="+1" align="bottom">M</font>y drop bag here will consist of:     <ul>      <li>Brooks Pure Grit Shoes</li>      <li>Gu</li>      <li>S-Caps</li>      <li>Injinji Socks</li>      <li>Blister Kit</li>      <li>Toilet paper</li>      <li>Baby wipes</li>      <li>Dry shirt</li>      <li>Sunblock</li>      <li>Bug spray</li>      <li>Towel</li>      <li>Hand-held Water Bottles (in case the bladder develops a fault)</li>      <li>Clif Bars</li>    </ul>     <dl>      <dt>Total Distance</dt><dd>21.1 miles</dd>      <dt>Next Aid Station</dt><dd>Cramer Road</dd>      <dt>Distance</dt><dd>5.6 miles</dd>      <dt>Cut-off Time</dt><dd>11:45</dd>    </dl>      <table>      <tr><th>Pace</th><th>Duration</th><th>ETA Next Station</th></tr>      <tr><td>   13:00 </td><td> 1 hr 13 min </td><td>                  </td></tr>      <tr><td> <em>14:00</em> </td><td> 1 hr 19 min </td><td>            11:55 </td></tr>      <tr><td>   15:00 </td><td> 1 hr 24 min </td><td>                  </td></tr>    </table></div> <div class="recollections"><font size="+2" align="bottom">T</font><a href="">his      section</a> hurt us, the 14:00 minute/mile pace was most      certainly not held. I didn't write down the time I arrived at      this station, but if I recall correctly, I had lost a good 12      minutes or so, but that was acceptable to me. Some was to the      time in the aid station, certainly. 
Andy hit a wall here, and I had to leave him behind. My legs were still fresh enough to press on, and when the opportunity to run came, I had to take it. I felt bad leaving him behind, but we each come to Superior with the knowledge that not all of us are going to make it. Cristy and Clem took good care of me here, bringing out the pickles! Oh, lovely dill pickles! According to her Facebook post, Cristy estimated that we met up at 10:48. I know I spent a good 5 minutes in the chair, so let's estimate my departure at 10:55; still an hour ahead of cut-off. Luke, our roommate, was also waiting for Andy. We left a pair of socks with him for when Andy came through. I was certain he'd make cut-off here, but not sure how the rest of the race would do for him.
 <dl>      <dt>Time Arrived</dt><dd>10:48</dd>      <dt>How I Felt</dt><dd>Ugly</dd>      <dt>Time Departed</dt><dd>10:55</dd>    </dl></div> <div class="raceplan" style="background-color: #C0C0C0; font-style: italic;"><font size="+2" align="bottom">Cramer Road</font> The halfway point!     Unfortunately for me, this will mark the furthest I've run in one     setting all year. The marathoners will have started a good four     hours prior to when I reach this point, so it is unlikely I'll see     many of them before I finish the race.  If I can get out of this     aid station and avoid injury, I'll likely finish the race.
     This section is the flattest of the entire race, with good     run-able stretches. If all is going to plan, I'll have a good 1:40     slush time, and this section should be a good recovery.
 <dt>Total Distance</dt><dd>26.7 miles</dd>    <dt>Next Aid Station</dt><dd>Temperance River</dd>    <dt>Distance</dt><dd>7.1 miles</dd>    <dt>Cut-off Time</dt><dd>13:40</dd>     <table><tr><th>Pace</th><th>Duration</th><th>ETA Next Station</th></tr>    <tr><td>   13:00 </td><td> 1 hr 32 min </td><td>                  </td></tr>    <tr><td>   14:00 </td><td> 1 hr 39 min </td><td>                  </td></tr>    <tr><td> <em>15:00</em> </td><td> 1 hr 46 min </td><td>            13:41 </td></tr>    <tr><td>   16:00 </td><td> 1 hr 57 min </td><td>                  </td></tr>      </table></div> <div class="recollections"><font size="+2" align="bottom">T</font>he trail to Cramer was lonely      for a while. I enjoyed those times, as I was able to pace myself      rather than compare how I was doing to other runners. I sped up      when I felt good and slowed down when things were a little      rough. I did end up falling into a group of runners, as you      always do in these events. At times, that is exactly what you do      need to keep going. Without the deadline or the race atmosphere,      I would likely bow out a lot sooner. 
I don't recall if this happened along the way to Cramer or the way to Sugar Loaf... That being said, somewhere along the way, I tucked in behind another group of runners and met Cheri Dostal Ryba. I don't recall exactly what we talked about, but I know Nora's broken leg came up and recalling how lucky I was to have such an understanding wife. I vowed then to buy flowers for her and take her out on a date to say, "Thank You!" When I finally arrived at Cramer, Cristy was concerned that I hadn't taken all of my S-Caps. Clem fed me potatos, bananas, and maybe pancakes. I shared the pickles with Cheri. "Awesome, right?" I asked. She took a moment before answering in the affirmative. I was still up-beat when leaving the aid station. Time to hit Temperance.
 <dl>      <dt>Time Arrived</dt><dd>12:40</dd>      <dt>How I Felt</dt><dd>Pretty low. Tired.</dd>      <dt>Time Departed</dt><dd>12:49</dd>    </dl></div> <div class="raceplan" style="background-color: #C0C0C0; font-style: italic;"><font size="+2" align="bottom">Temperance River (No Crew)</font> This     section contains the largest amount of elevation change I'll see     at once. The dive to the river is almost complete here, but then     we go straight up Carlton Peak. It is a challenge to say the     least, but I know it'll be a hiking section - no running at all.
 <dl>      <dt>Total Distance</dt><dd>33.8 miles</dd>      <dt>Next Aid Station</dt><dd>Sawbill - Britton</dd>      <dt>Distance</dt><dd>5.7 miles</dd>    </dl>     <table><tr><th>Pace</th><th>Duration</th><th>ETA Next Station</th></tr>    <tr><td>   16:00 </td><td> 1 hr 31 min </td><td>                  </td></tr>    <tr><td>   17:00 </td><td> 1 hr 37 min </td><td>                  </td></tr>    <tr><td> <em>18:00</em> </td><td> 1 hr 43 min </td><td>            15:24 </td></tr>      </table></div> <div class="recollections"><font size="+2" align="bottom">A</font>lthough my run to Temperance      started out well enough, I quickly started to lose steam. 
I happened upon Matt Mitchell in this section again, and we quickly fell into conversation. His ITB was acting up horribly, and our trail brotherhood solidified in mutual pain as we slogged down the Cross River gorge, a part of the trail I had very much forgotten about. "Flat" indeed! This turned out to be the worst section for me. The mud was just as bad as Sugar Loaf to Cramer, and now the downhill was tweaking my iliotibial bands on both legs consistently. We both talked of dropping, but Matt made a pact with me, his idea. We would push through to Temperance and see where we stood with time before the cutoffs. If we were still good, we'd continue. Since there was no crew allowed for us at Temperance, the most convenient place to pull out of the race would be Sawbill. I agreed. I could suffer through Sawbill, and by pushing forward I hadn't given up.
Time Arrived
How I Felt
This was my lowest of lows
Time Departed
Unsure 14:50?
Sawbill - Britton This next section has a number of "pointless up's and down's", and it's draining to complete. My strategy here will be simply to jog the flats and downhills and walk the uphills. Eventually, I'll pass through this hell on to the biggest challenge of the day. I'm choosing to have a drop bag here rather than at Oberg, since sunset will happen at 19:20 or so; the woods will start to get dark around 18:30. If things go really south and I barely meet the cut-off, I'll nee that headlamp.
 <font size="+1" align="bottom">M</font>y drop bag here will consist of
 <ul>      <li>Gu</li>      <li>S-Caps</li>      <li>Injinji Socks</li>      <li>Blister Kit</li>      <li>Dry shirt</li>      <li>Headlamp</li>    </ul>     <dl>      <dt>Total Distance</dt><dd>39.5 miles</dd>      <dt>Next Aid Station</dt><dd>Oberg Mountain</dd>      <dt>Distance</dt><dd>5.5 miles</dd>      <dt>Cut-off Time</dt><dd>17:30</dd>    </dl>     <table><tr><th>Pace</th><th>Duration</th><th>ETA Next Station</th></tr>    <tr><td>   14:00 </td><td> 1 hr 20 min </td><td>                  </td></tr>    <tr><td>   15:00 </td><td> 1 hr 24 min </td><td>                  </td></tr>    <tr><td> <em>16:00</em> </td><td> 1 hr 28 min </td><td>            16:52 </td></tr>      </table></div> <div class="recollections"><font size="+2" align="bottom">S</font>omehow, my pain plateaued along      this section. Had it been more like our descent in to the Cross      River valley, the trail would likely have defeated me      here. Somehow, we found reprieve in a beautiful section of trail      devoid of roots and rocks. Matt was still having issues with his      ITB, and although I was still sore, I needed to get moving. 
I concentrated on picking up my heels and letting gravity pull me forward, and with the more fluid movement, my pain subsided to a bearable level. When I could, I pushed the pace along the trail. After crossing the river bridge, I was pleased to find much of the same on the ascent back up the river. It was there I ran into a trio of 50 milers. They were college friends all running together as a reunion of sorts. One runner, Mark introduced himself to me for the second time – apparently, I had talked with them earlier on in the race. Eventually, one of the runners had horrible calf issues and all three stopped for a break. I pressed on ahead, taking advantage of the relatively flat and object free trail. I made great time to Carlton Peak, and on my ascent, I was careful not stress my quads into cramps; they were right on the edge of failing at times. I vowed to take ever tree stump and log crossing sitting down, avoiding the cramp issue that kept me from my six hour marathon in 2012. There was a group of teen-aged kids on one part of the peak, but I never really ran into them. I did run into a hiker. "Long day." I stated. He smiled and replied, "And now you're mountain goating it!" Indeed! The run to Britton was only a mile or so past Carlton, and I kept a close eye on my watch. I was truckin! I felt pretty good getting into Britton. Yes, I was sore and tired, but past my low-point. I felt ashamed for my talk of dropping along Cross River and Temperance. Cristy and Clem did a stellar job feeding me and prepping me for the last stretch!
 <dl>      <dt>Time Arrived</dt><dd>16:35</dd>      <dt>How I Felt</dt><dd>Awesome! Sore, but encouraged!</dd>      <dt>Time Departed</dt><dd><a href="">16:53</a></dd>    </dl></div> <div class="raceplan" style="background-color: #C0C0C0; font-style: italic;"><font size="+2" align="bottom">Oberg Mountain</font> This stretch has     always been rough for me. In the last two races, I doubt I've     completed this faster than a 16 minute mile. There are two very     sizable ascents and descents across Moose and Mystery Mountains.
 <dl>      <dt>Total Distance</dt><dd>45 miles</dd>      <dt>Next Aid Station</dt><dd>Oberg Mountain</dd>      <dt>Distance</dt><dd>7.1 miles</dd>      <dt>Cut-off Time</dt><dd>19:00</dd>    </dl>     <table>      <tr><th>Pace</th><th>Duration</th><th>ETA Next Station</th></tr>      <tr><td>   16:00 </td><td> 1 hr 53 min </td><td>                  </td></tr>      <tr><td>   17:00 </td><td> 2 hr        </td><td>                  </td></tr>      <tr><td> <em>18:00</em> </td><td> 2 hr 8 min  </td><td>            19:00 </td></tr>    </table>     </div> <div class="recollections"><font size="+2" align="bottom">S</font>o much mud! Not much runnable      here, but I did the best I could. I don't remember much about      this section, though I recall meeting up with one of the 100      miler female runners. Short hair, tired. She sat a bench, and I      sat with her. The world spun! Was it the wind blowing in the      trees, making the leaves move like the sea? I had to get going; I      couldn't sit any longer. I briefed her in that she had another      mile and a half or so, to which she was pretty distraught,      convinced she wouldn't make it. I encouraged her as I left and      don't know what ever happened to her afterwards. 
The rest of the way in to Oberg was pretty nice, consisting of boardwalks and some runnable stretches. Of course there was mud; it was everywhere. Saw signs for the Oberg parking log. Ran in with a bunch of runners, Deb and Liz being part of it. There was another young man I kept running into as well. Another Mark? We leapfrogged for much of the race since Cross River. Getting in to Oberg was exciting! There was a lot of positive energy at the TCRC truck, and Clem and Cristy were on point! I was happy about having reached this point with almost an extra hour before the cut-off, but I was not complacent to sit. I wanted to finish as quickly as my body would allow me.
 <dl>      <dt>Time Arrived</dt><dd>18:05</dd>      <dt>How I Felt</dt><dd>Better!</dd>      <dt>Time Departed</dt><dd>18:10 to 18:20?</dd>    </dl></div> <div class="raceplan" style="background-color: #C0C0C0; font-style: italic;"><font size="+2" align="bottom">Caribou Lodge</font> The finish line!     I've been here twice before, so I know where it is and what it     takes to get here (at least with Moose Mountain Marathon). If all     is going to plan, I'll arrive some time around 19:00.
 <dl>      <dt>Total Distance</dt><dd>52.1 miles</dd>      <dt>Cut-off Time</dt><dd>22:00</dd>      <dt>Time Arrived</dt><dd>20:34:02</dd>      <dt>How I Felt</dt><dd>Great! I finished!</dd>    </dl></div> <div class="recollections"><font size="+2" align="bottom">O</font>nce again, I managed to catch      up with Liz and <a href="">Deb      Vomhof</a> within a mile or so of leaving Oberg, and I stuck with      them for the remainder of the race, leap frogging ahead at some      point and dropping behind at others.  The ascent up Moose      Mountain wasn't as painful as I thought it might be, but going      down wasn't all that much fun. My legs remembered the pounding      they took at Cross River, and I hoped to hold off the inevitable      blow-out. 
I also ran in to Joe Weise! Doing a 100! A few years back, I met Joe at one of the Spring races along this very trail. He was looking very fit and as he ran with us using a pair of poles, he filled me in on his children and life. I didn't spend much time there – energy was coursing through my legs at the time. I do want to catch up with him more one of these days, though! As we came off Moose Mountain we met John, the 58 year old 100 miler who ran with a single pole and slouched severly to one side. He had a unique shuffle run, but he seemed completely unhurried in a confident "I'll get there" attitude. He'd only been running for three years, but decided one day he needed to do 100's. His redoubtable manner gave me encouragement, and I forgot my pain for a while. Liz was having a hard time on the backside of Moose, and chose to take off into a run. She faced the the same dilemma we all did: go down slowly and painfully, or go down quickly, still in pain, but with less time on you feet. It was a good decision. I eventually made the same choice, and struck out away from the group. With the switchbacks, it wasn't long before Deb and Rollie Everson caught back up to me. We tucked in behind a 100 miler, who was running strong in this last section with his pacer. Deb's light failed on the backside of Mystery, and mine was beginning to fail as well. Rather than push out ahead, I stuck with the group to rely upon Rollie's light should mine decide to give up the ghost; I had no spare battieries. Once we hit the road, the 100 miler broke out into a quick pace. I stuck with him, with Rollie close behind. We all were reflecting the energy of the finish line. Cowbells and cheering pulled us in quicker, and the floodgates of emotion let loose: gratitude, happiness, relief. It all culminated in a huge grin, tears, and hugs! Cristy and Clem were there at the finish-line, first to receive hugs, followed by Andy, who informed me that he dropped somewhere around mile 40. He had a stupendous effort and looked quite clean and refreshed. I was exhausted, on the other hand, and needed food! We hobbled into the dining area, where a handful of runners gathered and exchanged stories. Clem and Cristy continued to be a great crew, fetching me water and chili and talking about the race. I talked to my dad and Meghan - after fighting with my phone and the Caribou WiFi access point to get T-Mobile WiFi calling working (such a pain). I learned from Andy that Matt had made it in, completing the race in 15:38, only 35 minutes behind me! Awesome! I didn't see him come in to the dining area, though I understand his family brought him pizza! Cheri was there, having arrived a half-hour before me (awesome!). Steve Tollerud was there again, having completed the marathon earlier! Really, I wish I could recall everyone I talked to, but I was so tired and glad to be done. I lamented not being able to watch more runners come in, but by the time I felt good enough to walk back out on to the patio, it was well after 22:00, the race cut-off.


I finished! The race results page has a slight calculation error in that it lists this race as only 50 miles, computing my pace as 18:05 min/mile! It's a 52.1 mile race!
17:20 min/mile
I also found this interesting link of my race results on Ultra Sign-up.

Thanks to...

I I wanted to take a moment to thank a number of people. First and foremost, my wife Meghan. For with out her support, none of this would be possible. My daughter had broken her leg on the trampoline the Tuesday before the race, yet Meghan told me to run the race anyway. I love you, Sweetie! I also want to thank Clem and Cristy, who were complete rock stars at the race! I never had to worry about whether or not I'd have what I needed when I left the aid stations. They were encouraging, supportive, and caring. What more could you want in a race crew! (And Clem makes an awesome camp roasted, dutch oven chicken!) Thanks to the 180 volunteers who help make the race possible! Indeed there may be other 100 mile, 50 mile, and marathon trail races out there, but few stack up to the dedication, professionalism, and sheer quality that the Superior trail races achieve. Had Clem and Cristy not been there, I know that success was still possible for me with the support of all the awesome aid station volunteers. Of course, thanks to John Storekamp and his family, for dedicating so much of himself to the success of this race. Rock Steady Racing puts on some outstanding races, ones I will always recommend to friends looking for a challenge!

Tags: running race report