Well that was hard. Here is my Strava data on the race. My watch died somewhere around mile 44.5. I didn’t care. Saturday was about surviving.
Final stats on the race
2nd place overall
Apprx 8,000 feet of climbing
Southern Indiana received about 2 inches of rain Friday into Saturday morning.
Ate a lot of food
Climbed a lot
Climbed some more
Feel down a couple of times
876 creek crossings…that might be an overestimation but seriously if I never encounter another cold water creek crossing I’d be happy.
Climbed some more
Course was a mud mess. Like crazy muddy
Almost lost a shoe about 5 times from stepping a mug bog.
I am pretty sure that my race report can be summed up with what I told Lindsey on Saturday after finishing. I told her that if Brian, DINO owner and race director, told me after lap 3 or 4 that the race was called due to poor conditions I probably would have hugged him and thanked Jesus.
I’m not trying to complain and everyone out there had the same weather and conditions but it was a freaking mess. Combine 100+ runners across the Fun Run, 50K and 50 miler, 2 inches of rain, Indiana fall winter ground thaw, a multiple loop course, valleys for water to collect and you’ve got the mud pit on your hands we encountered on Saturday.
The race itself?
Lindsey, Greg, and I left Bloomington in the RV around 5:30 or so. This got us to Brownstown and the race site around 6:30. After jacking around with parking and almost getting the RV stuck I picked up my packet and set up my drop bag by 7:15. Race started at 7:30. I realized I forgot my watch in the RV at 7:25 so I ran out to get it and missed most of the pre-race instructions…this would be important later but I didn’t know it at the time.
7:30 race starts with a slow wimper. Ultra starts are funny like that. Everyone just kind of jogs off. No real racing. It did stop raining too…so that was real nice. Based on the forecast I had planned to be rained on until about 11AM…the early stop was an added bonus.
I settled in on the first lap into about 3rd…I was hoping to stay around 3rd or 4th most of the day. Peter Hogg was leading and I knew I couldn’t keep up with him but also knew that he wasn’t entirely committed to racing so it was possible he was going to drop. We hit the first climb around mile 2 and it was long and steep at the top, this would be a theme for the climbs. Most of them would pitch up to 30 or 40 degrees at the peak as they are hiking trail and not really designed for people to run on them. I had decided early that walking up the steep climbs was my best plan. I can keep a pretty quick hike and trying to run them would maybe net me 30 seconds but cost me in the long run plus it would probably send my heart rate to 274. The first climb is really like 2 or 3 seperate climbs combined into one. I’m not sure if you can tell from the pic above but you would summit, descend or move a little along the ridge line and then climb again.
Once I did finally summit the total climb I came bombing down the descent. I told Lindsey that I’m not sure how some of the people on Saturday made it down. I’m not a great trail runner but can handle myself pretty well and move my feet pretty well and some of the descents had me a little sketched out. They were just as steep coming off the ridge as coming up it.
The next section of trail is pretty runable and is miles 3-5.25ish where you dump out into the campground area. This is where we got lost. I was just off the back of the front pack of runners and we beat the aid station volunteers to the check point. I mean they were there but not entirely ready. I asked where the bathroom. Found it and after a quick stop was running again. I noted before hitting the bathroom that the leaders were headed toward the dam.
Upon leaving the head I went toward the dam and into the woods but it didn’t seem right. I called out to the runner behind and wasn’t sure either. I told him I was going to run back to the aid station and ask them. I run back probably .25 miles and ask them. The dude is like yeah head toward the dam. I ask are you sure? He gets his map out. So no. Luckily at this point more runners come out of woods and correctly tell me to run up the road and that you hit the dam on your way back. That was only half right it turns out. We really were supposed to turn left at the playground, hit trail again, and then the road toward Pinnacle Trail and old Lookout Tower. Turns out the signs with markings were not up yet. I would get this right on laps 2-5. Not a big deal and it is on me to know the course. The whole fiasco probably cost me 5 minutes.
Pinnacle on the pic above is the second peak and just like the first one is really multiple climbs. More power walking. Bombing down Pinnacle and onto the last set of climbs. It is a series of a think 4 summits with the last being the worst around mile 7. Incredible view of the valley and trail but an insanely steep ascent to the top. Make it to the top and bomb down the side again back toward the playground. Lots of creek crossing and loose footing here. I make it to the dam, nearly slip as it is just a grass hill with no trail. I would eventually bite it on lap 2. I either use the fence for support or run out to the road on laps 3,4,5 to avoid the wet grass mud dam hill.
Once back to the aid station, the same one you use at mile 4.5, it is .5-.75 of a mile of road to a small section of trail around the lake. Real muddy in here from the lake and low laying area. Upon coming into the lodge area for my first lap I see that Peter has dropped. My guess is he didn’t want to deal with this shit for 50 miles as his goal race is still coming up.
Lap 1 – 1:38:57. Only four more to go. This would be the best conditions the trail were in all day.
Lap 2 – 1:46:36. More of the same. Feel okay. Still moving pretty well. Trying to keep my mind focused. Needed to stop and use the bathroom again. Dude in 2nd place has now dropped. I guess he got turned around and completed the lap backwards and decided to stop after that. I’m pretty sure I know where he did it. There is a small two way traffic section where he went straight instead of turning. They both lead back to the start/finish. I am now in second place.
Lap 3 – 1:54:35. Nothing happened on this lap. I know the deal by this point. Keep grinding. The hills are going to come. Keep working. Keep eating. Keep drinking. Pray for a race stoppage. Haha. I guess the only thing of note on this lap is I get passed the only time all day on this lap. It is towards the end of the last climb so around mile 28 at this point. It is the 50K leader so it is his last lap and almost done. They started 30 minutes after us so I figured at some point the leaders would catch me. He was the only though. We chatted a little and I ran behind him for 10 minutes but let him go as he was kicking to finish and I had 20 more miles to go. He had a Quaff On! racing jersey and so I asked if he knew Scott Breeden. Sure did. We joked that Scott was doing his own suffering as well at this point, he was in Cali doing The North Face 50. Turns out the 50K winner was Ron Brooks. We are now Strava buds…so basically best friends.
Lap 4 – 2:02:20. Finally crept over 2 hours per lap. The climbing, descending and poor trail footing was taking its toll. The end of 3 or beginning of 4 was probably my low point mentally. I was 30+ miles in and knew that I had two more very difficult laps left. Best get on with it. More mud. More climbing. Bombed some more descents. Almost lose another shoe. Just get through this lap and I can finish the last one. My feet hurt real bad. Like never before. I think it is from all the mud and downhills and trying to stabilize and balance myself. More power hiking. About the only highlight of this lap is the Reese’s Fast Break candy bar I ate. #blessed. Finally finish the lap. My legs hurt but my stride is good. I told Lindsey if I could have avoided the mud I could run all day on the trail…that was never a problem. The mud was a problem.
Lap 5 – 2:09:45. Just get this thing over with. Pretty sure that I have 2nd place locked up at this point. I am getting real tired by now but just keeping checking mental checkpoints off in my mind. I make it to the playground. Use the bathroom again. Make it to the stairs that lead to the Pinnacle Peak trail… basically a 1 mile hike. Bomb down the the next aid station. Pass some people. I can really feel the fatigue at this point at the power hiking is getting real hard. Finally make it to the summit of the last climb. 2 miles to go. Blow past the last aid station. I don’t want anything execpt to stop running. One last lap around the lake. Almost fall coming up the small dam wall. I see the finish and Lindsey. Done. Finally. Thank you! Finally. 9:32:13. 2nd place.
Looking back Saturday was probably the most difficult and demanding races I have done. The course itself was very difficult but add in the multiple loops, the rain, and the mud and it became very difficult. I am satisfied with my race. I told Lindsey and maybe given a dry day I could have run 8:30 or so. Definitely not as fast as Mohican. The course was just harder. Maybe I’ll run it again next year?!!? Haha. Overall a great event and great experience. The venue, DINO, the volunteers all awesome! You just can’t help 2 inches of rain the night and morning off an event.
I told Lindsey after the race that I am not running until Christmas…well today is Tuesday and I’m ready to start again. It will all be easy till the New Year. Like real easy 🙂
Next up…that baby!