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Good archive. I'll add my report from last summer. It's not very accessible on CR anymore.<br><br><span style="font-size:medium;"><span style="font-family:'Times New Roman';">Let’s just start with HOT. Not Badwater hot, but still too hot. 90 degrees. Some said 93, some said 88. Probably got down to 50% humidity (fortunately) when the temperature peaked and an occasional light breeze. I know I was working up a good sweat and from looking at some other folks, they were too.</span></span><br><br><span style="font-family:'Times New Roman';"><span style="font-size:medium;">General Notes: I knew about 56 miles of the course really well as it ran through my main training area. That helped with the planning. After Mohican my biggest concern (besides 100 miles) was my feet. They blistered on the balls and heels pretty badly and I spent too much time in the podiatrist chair. So I used some advice and techniques noted here</span></span> <a href="" target="_blank"><span style="font-family:'Times New Roman';"><span style="font-size:medium;"><span style="color:#0000FF;"></span></span></span></a> <span style="font-size:medium;"><span style="font-family:'Times New Roman';">and in the book <span style="text-decoration:underline;">Fixing your Feet</span>. That worked – no blisters! I planned 4 sock changes and lots of re-lubing (Bag Balm everywhere). That got me through with no chafing – also a problem at Mohican. I used water only with slight substitutions of coke, ginger ale and Gatorade at some aid stations to get a little variety. Some day I’ll have to try Heed as they had that in plentiful supply at all the stations. I used a few gel packs – E-gel, Hammer gel and Gu but I find I dislike those more as a race goes on. For electrolytes it was Succeed caps taken every 30 minutes for the first 12 hours. After that I needed a change. I slowed down the S-cap intake and tried to get salt from the night aid station fare of pizza, potatoes and sausage. I carried a double 22 oz bottle Nathan waistpack for the duration and was draining both bottles regularly. Training wise, since Mohican I had not been running that much. I was averaging 30 – 40 miles of easy running a week and I used the Buckeye Trail 50K (took it a little easy to finish at 5:52) as my one long run.</span></span><br><br><span style="font-family:'Times New Roman';"><span style="font-size:medium;">The pre-race meeting was relatively standard. Introduction of organizers, trail and marking notes, many thanks to all that put it on. It was great they moved it up an hour to 6:30. I needed that extra hour of sleep. The bad news was they wanted anyone taking the buses to the start point to be back at the finish line at 3AM. Ok – that hurt – I just lost an hour. The buses were going to leave from 3:30 to 4:00 for the 45 min drive to the start almost 40 miles due north. That means I’m getting up at 2AM – ouch. It’s going to be a long weekend. Next year I may have to find a way to get to the start point myself to gain the extra sleep.</span></span><br><br><span style="font-size:medium;"><span style="font-family:'Times New Roman';">Ok- race morning. Up at 2, grab my stuff. Make it to the start at 3. Sign in. Buses arrive at 3:20 – load up. The volunteer-in-chg finds out the buses have to leave together – so both buses leave at 3:40. I hope there was nobody left thinking they had until 4AM to get there. The start - Squire’s Castle - parking lots were full of everyone who had a support staff to drive them. It was a festive, cool air probably in the lower to mid 60’s. The moon was shining brightly in a clear sky as 155 runners made final preparations to head out. A last minute volunteer sang a very nice National Anthem and we were off at 5 sharp.</span></span><br><br><span style="font-size:medium;"><span style="font-family:'Times New Roman';">The first 10 miles were lightly rolling, paved roads. Easy running, easy pace, uneventful. It would have been very easy to take this fast if you wanted to. I chatted with a few runners, a couple first timers, one of which just had a baby 6 months ago. On the open road the crowd thinned out very quickly. The first aid station at 4.6 miles was mostly a water stop. The next aid station at 9.6 began the trend of fully stocked, well staffed runner havens. I grabbed some watermelon, PB&J, refilled the bottles and moved on.</span></span><br><span style="font-size:medium;"><span style="font-family:'Times New Roman';">At that point the course began to follow bridal trails. Very runnable and continued for a couple miles until we hit the first real trails in the first Metro Park. During this stretch was the first time I was worried about getting off course because after running through the park for awhile the trail suddenly headed out of the park. But the course map showed the aid station in the middle of the park. However, the course markings were so obvious and numerous (as they were for the entire 100 miles) that I couldn’t see any way I could have made a wrong turn. I worried along to myself for about another mile until I came up to the aid station (supposedly 15.1 miles) in a completely different place than I was expecting. But I was relieved, refilled my water bottles and moved right along. At the 18 mile station my wife (Jill) made a surprise visit with my girls(6 and 4). She wasn’t supposed to start crewing me until the 30 mile mark. I was glad to see her as I relubed, changed socks, gave kisses all around (to my crew) and moved on.</span></span><br><br><span style="font-family:'Times New Roman';"><span style="font-size:medium;">The next 12 miles are somewhat blurred as I dazed off into trail running mode. No serious pains although the top of my left foot was annoying me as if the laces were too tight. I adjusted them every which way and it still hurt quite a bit but didn’t affect my running. The trail through this section continued to be technically lite. It was a mixture of bridal, all-purpose, dirt and grassy easy grade up and downs. At this point the temp was hitting 80 and still going up. The hoped for overcast sky didn’t happen. It was full sun for the full day. Most of the time the course was shaded but there were a few sections of a half mile or so that were fully exposed and then a long stretch of 4+ miles of towpath around the 30 mile aid station that was almost totally in the sun. Meanwhile, there were a few more suspected variances between course maps (which the aid station volunteers referenced as well) and reality. The obvious ones were the 2 legs before the 30 mile point. Both looked like a mile farther than expected. No big deal, it adds good flavor to the memories and I was far ahead of cut offs.</span></span><br><br><span style="font-size:medium;"><span style="font-family:'Times New Roman';">At the 30 mile aid station (Cool Runner and first time100 miler at Mohican in something like 20 hours Lloyd Thomas was captain in charge) the race really began as the “easy” trails ended and the heat started making an impact. This is one of the 3 “double” stations that runners hit twice due to a loop run. This loop was 6 miles long and involved 1 long steep grade up, meander on the trails at the top, then back down and a mile and a half of hard, gravelly towpath to get there and back to complete the loop. At this point I started to feel the heat. The stomach began saying no to just about anything. I forced water and S-caps down and dealt with the internal temper tantrum, avoiding outright nausea but the pace slowed. After the loop and back to the aid station I met my super crew. She gave me a Boost+ for a 350 calorie shot, Ashley gave me an apple which sounded good and some other minor snacks from the station. I changed to trail shoes (NB809’s), changed socks and Jill packed my handkerchief with ice and pushed me back on the trail. The new shoes did relieve the pain at the top of my foot.</span></span><br><br><span style="font-family:'Times New Roman';"><span style="font-size:medium;">The next 25 miles until the next crew point involved good trails of the steep up and down variety, many roots, a few rocks and rarely anything flat. I was still running ok, legs and feet were beginning to get tired and sore but were still moving well. The 2 aid stations passed through during this portion were the usual helpful, positive and full service with a smile. Unfortunately, the overall heat fatigue was leaving me in a state of misery. I arrived at the half way point right at 12 hours.</span></span><br><br><span style="font-size:medium;"><span style="font-family:'Times New Roman';">This aid station (the 2nd double) had a surprise. One of the volunteers was grabbing a sponge soaked with ice water and rinsing down runner’s legs. Yowzaaaaaa. That was a shock!!! But a very pleasant one and the icy water gave me an energy rush. They also had pizza and that was very good for a change. I grabbed a piece for the road and headed out for the 2nd of 3 loops. I have run this loop many times and considered it relatively uneventful - basically another steep, uphill, run around the very scenic waterfall at the top and back down. But at this stage of the race and day(about 5PM) it was just plain painful. The course was changed slightly from what I was used to and the one steep climb turned into 2 long, still felt steep, one’s. After which I just struggled back down. When I got back to Jill I warned her I might just not be going all the way. She told me if I quit I would need to find another ride home. (I think she was joking) But that was enough to get me on my feet and keep moving forward after another Boost, sock change, re-lube and a taping/feet inspection.</span></span><br><br><span style="font-family:'Times New Roman';"><span style="font-size:medium;">At this point it was 7PM and it began to cool down. I still wasn’t too hungry but over the next 10 miles everything started feeling a little better. I wasn’t running much faster but at least more comfortably. At the 65 mile mark I hit the next crew point around 10PM – 17 hours of moving forward. The headlamp was on but we also had a beautiful half moon in a continuing clear sky. This was a classic ultra aid station – and called Happy Days as an additional bonus. The volunteers knew the job (as they should have since they were the NEO trail club) – get in, we’ll give you whatever you want/need – now get out before you get comfortable. Kim, aka Cool Runner “Kimba,” recent first time 100 mile finisher at Umstead, and Mohican trail guide was there and cheery, kind and helpful as ever. Thanks for the Dove bar – ice cream was a very good thing – and I was hungry. This was also the first aid station with hot soup and I enjoyed a good bowl of it… and then they kicked me out.</span></span><br><br><span style="font-family:'Times New Roman';"><span style="font-size:medium;">The next phase involved running through some very rocky(boulders) area. Not that long but very slow go in the dark on tired legs. I was extra careful to try and avoid twisted ankles or tweaked knees and made it through successfully. I passed one unfortunate runner who had done something to his calf and was hobbling slowly to the aid station. I got his number to let them know he was on his way just in case it got worse and they needed to come get him. The 71 mile aid station was having some issues when I arrived. They did take my number upon arrival and welcomed me as the first runner in on Sunday (it was 12:01AM). It is good to be first at something. After that they seemed about as tired and dazed as I felt. They were waiting on a new generator and couldn’t get the camp stove to work. When I asked if they would fill my bottles they gave me that blank stare. Thankfully Mike George’s pacer filled the bottles and I took a last piece of cold pizza for the trail. From this point on I was starting to get the sleep walking syndrome and was looking forward to seeing Jill at the 74 mile mark and get juiced up with a little caffeine laced hammer gel. This aid station also had the tunes blasting and volunteers seemed to be lively and all over.(at 1AM) One of them was giving out a “whoop” every time he caught sight of a runner approaching. I was hearing this periodically for about 2 hours as I was winding around getting to the station and then after leaving it. I changed socks here, another Boost, soup and the Hammer Gel and Jill kicked me out yet again. She also notified me that she was running the 4 mile loop with me after the next leg. She doesn’t run… but then again, at this point, neither was I – very quickly anyway.</span></span><br><br><span style="font-family:'Times New Roman';"><span style="font-size:medium;">The next 6 miles was eventful only because there were a few places that gaiters would have been helpful as the trail alternated between some wet points and sandy spots and I could feel the sand kicking up against my legs for about a mile. I also heard what sounded like a coyote howl off in the distance followed by several answering yips. I checked to make sure they sounded far behind me and hoped they weren’t looking for exhausted, wounded runners hobbling along the trails. This was the one point in the race where a couple miles of trail were in open fields and I could switch off my light and run by moonlight. Very pleasant.</span></span><br><br><span style="font-size:medium;"><span style="font-family:'Times New Roman';">The last mile to the aid station I felt good and trotted by several runners on the wide, flat dirt path and arrived at the Covered Bridge aid station – 80 mile mark – at 3AM, 22 hours into the race. This was quite the station. One of those that is very hard to leave. Holiday lights were up and an Ipod was playing good tunes. Seasoned potatoes, sausage, pasta and a toasty campfire were all available (no marshmallows roasting however). At this point the temperatures were getting into the lower 60’s and everyone was bundled up. Jill still wanted to go with me for the last of the 3 loops – 4 miles of good trail and I told her ok. This was the first time she has ever “run” with me. Her knees, abused by years of competitive softball and volleyball wouldn’t allow it. Now she wanted to do it on a moderately technical trail, in the dark. She told me that if I could run 100 miles her knees could make it 4. And off we went. I fast walked for awhile and she asked me if we were ever going to run. So I trotted for awhile and she told me she could walk fast and still keep up at this pace so I told her that I was at 80 miles - leave me alone. We laughed together and kept moving. Another runner’s headlamp bobbed behind us as he kept pace with us. Maybe our banter was entertaining. Back at the covered bridge I took my last caffeine boosted gel, decided not to change back to road shoes as my feet were feeling too good, said goodbye to Jill and headed out for the last 16 miles.</span></span><br><br><span style="font-size:medium;"><span style="font-family:'Times New Roman';">This section was a couple miles of rolling road followed by the last good trail climb to the 88 mile aid station. At this point I was in good spirits but just moving slow. My quads were hurting and my ankles felt bruised and swollen. But good news – no blisters. I reached the trail, made the climb and waved at the aid station as I went by not wanting to spend any more time not moving forward. I wasn’t going to be close to the 26 hour finish I was hoping for so now I just wanted to beat my Mohican time.</span></span><br><br><span style="font-size:medium;"><span style="font-family:'Times New Roman';">The last 12 miles seemed like eternity. After a steep, rooty descent from the aid station the trail leveled out for the next 7 miles of towpath then all purpose trail. I trotted for about 2 miles of that and then was reduced to a power walk. There were mile markers here and I figured to keep myself walking at a 3 ½ Mph pace. I was alone, no runners in sight in front or behind me and it stayed that way the remainder of the run. A mile short of the 95 mile aid station I saw a lovely lady coming towards me and it turned out to be Jill coming down the path to meet me. She wanted to finish with me. It was also at this point that a refreshing light rain began to fall. Not enough to get anything real wet but just enough to feel good and it stopped shortly after it began.</span></span><br><br><span style="font-family:'Times New Roman';"><span style="font-size:medium;">The last 6 miles was a fast walk and a wave as I went by the last aid station. I told Jill to keep a look out behind me. I wasn’t too concerned if someone was moving fast enough to pass me at this point but it kept me motivated to keep moving quickly. There was only one last good hill climb, a couple long stair climbs, lots of nice flat, smooth trail and then we crossed the river into Cuyahoga Falls. After the river I had the last surprise of the race as we spent about a mile of clambering over a very rocky trail through the Gorge metro park which runs along the Cuyahoga River. Very scenic and very painful to legs with 98 miles on them. They certainly went through the full range of motion this last time. Then all of a sudden we popped out of the trail onto a city street and I could see the Sheraton which was across the street from the finish line about a half mile ahead. Finally! Jill told me it was time to run so we picked it up. The legs felt looser after hitting all the rocks so I picked up the pace. I saw the yellow shirts of 2 race volunteers as they saw me coming down the road. They started running with me, one letting the finish line know I was coming by radio and the other running on ahead to block the road. This was cool, a personal escort for every runner. Jill told me to run it on in the last 300 feet or so and I kicked it up another notch, crossed the last street to the red carpet finish in 28:17. It was done. 10 minutes faster than Mohican so I could officially call it a PR.</span></span><br><br><span style="font-family:'Times New Roman';"><span style="font-size:medium;">Jill came in and gave me a big hug with tears in her eyes telling me how proud she was. She hadn’t seen me finish my first 100 at Mohican so this was an extra special occasion for her. She’s so cool!</span></span><br><br><span style="font-size:medium;"><span style="font-family:'Times New Roman';">Breakfast was served – all you could eat hot eggs and pancakes, fruit, yogurt and bread. The memories of misery during the heat of the day were being replaced by that euphoria of completing something so very difficult. I was elated as I watched other runners finish just as joyfully. Having Jill there beside me and even suffer through some of those trails was a wonderful thing. Overall, the race was one grand adventure. The support was fantastic. The organizational standards have been set very high for next year. I hope this race stays around for a long time.</span></span><br><br><span style="font-family:'Times New Roman';"><span style="font-size:medium;">I heard after the race that less than 50% finished. Looks like quite a few started too fast on the early roads and then got beat up by the heat later in the day. Another good number DNF’d due to injuries: ankles, knees, blisters etc. Compared to Mohican, Burning River seems a lot more runnable. Scheduled for early August however, the heat/humidity will usually be more of a factor.</span></span>
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