Chris Harrison

Amidst a record number of runners and ominous weather reports (rain all weekend), the 12th Annual Kettle Moraine Endurance Run began at 6am on Saturday morning June 2nd, 2007. Race directors Tim Yanacheck and Jason Dorgan along with all their incredible volunteers promised another great run along the Ice Age National Scenic Trail through the beautiful Kettle Moraine State Park, one hour west of Milwaukee in southeastern Wisconsin. Returning for the second year, I was excited to be back and build upon my experiences from last year- my first 100 miler 24hours 47 minutes.

I arrived Friday afternoon into Milwaukee; direct flight from Phoenix on Midwest Airlines makes for very easy travel. Grabbed a rental car and set off for a beautiful drive east to La Grange which takes you through some great little Midwestern towns- nothing like grass and trees after leaving dry and dusty Phoenix. Race registration is located just outside of La Grange at the General Store and a couple miles from the Nordic Center where the race begins and ends. The General Store offers a great backdrop for this event- and a place to load up on last minute supplies- pretty cool little place.

After registration and some dinner, I headed off to my hotel for what I hoped was a restful night. Upon arriving at my hotel in nearby Whitewater, it starts to rain… and rain… and then really rain. For the next couple of hours, it rained like I have never seen before. The weather forecast for tomorrow, rain! I recalculated my race plan for 22:54 (goal is to break 23 hours this year); packed (and repacked) my drop bags and laid out my gear for the big day. Finally stopped raining about 9pm, and hit the hay.

At 4:00am (2:00am Phoenix time), my 4 alarms go off (1. hotel phone, 2. clock radio, 3. wrist watch and 4. my faithful alarm clock I brought from home). Didn’t sleep that well, because I just knew that simultaneously, the night clerk would fall asleep and forget to call, the battery in my watch would die, the alarm clock would malfunction, and of course the electricity would go out and the hotel alarm would not work. But, by chance, they don’t and I am jolted by a small symphony of alarms. Breakfast consisted of 2 scoops of protein powder and three scoops of Perpetuem mixed with water- ah, the breakfast of champion.

Arrived at the race start around 5:15am. The race starts at what is called the Nordic Center. It’s a beautiful (and steamy) morning and with no clouds to be seen; it looks like a good day. At 5:45 there is a short briefing and everybody is getting ready to roll. This is the time I usually look around and wonder “what the heck did I get myself into”! Weighing in at strong 187lbs, I realize that there aren’t a whole lot of clydesdale doing the 100miler, but this doesn’t spook me; I have trained hard, prepared and felt mentally focused. Couple of last minute adjustments, leak and I’m set ready to go.

6:00pm sharp the race begins as the trail leads off through the woods and then into an open prairie. The trail is tight as it meanders through some tall grass for the first mile or two, then we enter into the forest. I quickly hook up with a couple of local runners and begin to swap stories and BS for next several hours. I had a calculated where I wanted to be at all the aid/water stops and by the time I hit the second stop at mile 7.4, I realize that I am moving at a much faster pace that I calculated. I feel great and push on.

At about 7:30am a front of clouds move in and it starts to rain. At this time, we are moving through a tight single track area tucked in a very dense forested area. For the next 30 minutes it rains pretty hard but it feels refreshing since it’s already climbed to about 70 degrees with maximum humidity. The rain quickly moves through and I fall into a nice groove taking me into Emma Carlin aid station #4 (15.5 miles) feeling great. Sunny skies open up-it’s officially HOT!

The next 11 miles moves in and out of a huge prairie which is notoriously very hot, humid and exposed to the sun. I pick up my drop bag, refill my E-Caps, fill a bottle of Heed and I am back out on the trail. Thanks to some great advice from one of my mentors Kirk McCarville, I am out of the aid station in less than one minute- this is one of my strategies for the day.

The prairie section lives up to it’s reputation and by the time I reach County ZZ aid station #7 (26.5) miles, I am pretty parched. The next 5 miles is a welcomed reprieve as we enter the forested area again but it’s a pretty good climb up to Scuppernong aid station #8 (31.4 miles). This is the turn around point for the first 62.9 mile loop and checking my plan, I realize I am well over one hour ahead of my race plan. I feel great as a get in and out of the aid station but wonder if I should maintain the strong pace? Got my tunes on, jam a Redbull, gobble a few Tums- I decide to push on.

The next 31.5 miles back to Nordic are pretty uneventful- I maintained a good pace, focusing on my caloric intake and not overdoing the water. Along the way back, it’s pretty hot and humid but I know that having trained in the heat, I would be okay as long as I stayed hydrated and kept feeding the furnace. Almost puked at 50 miles as I took my last swig of Perpetuem for the day, alternating to turkey sandwiches and chicken soup. And of course, Tums!

I arrive back at Nordic (62.9 miles at this point) feeling pretty strong and 1hour and 20 minutes ahead of pace. Heading into this aid station, I decide to change my socks, rest for a few minutes and call my wife (she made me promise). This is really a tough point, because this is the same spot where the 100km ends, so there is no shortage of people lounging around and drinking beer. I am in and out of this aid station a little longer than I planned (15 minutes vs. 8 minutes) but the rest was good, the call to my wife pumped me up and my daughters note in my drop bag makes me smile. Got some food in me and head out for the next 38 mile out and back loop. Later in the race I find that about 50 runners dropped at this point due to the high heat and humidity of the day.

Out of Nordic you follow the same trail out for about 7 miles, before you take a sharp left and drop into a series of climbs and falls that become very interesting in the dark. By this time, I have my head lamp fired up as I move in and out of some very densely forested single track- probably the most technical part of the course. By this time the moon is out, the bull frogs are barking full tilt, you can hear an occasional coyote pack off in the distance and the crowd has really thinned out; nothing but open trail- god, I love this sport!

Lesson learned from last year- consume caffeine at night! As I roll into Hwy 12, aid station # 20 (mile 77.1), I am getting very tired and my stomach is shot. A couple of seasoned aid station volunteers offer up some advice regarding eating some crystallized ginger. At this point, I was game for just about anything as I chew three cubes that look like brown sugar cubes and wash it down with water. A great note in my drop bag from my daughters gives me a little boost as I take out for a tough 9 mile out and back loop to Rice Lake.

This section immediately starts to climb, cutting in and out of some heavily forested area. By this time the moon is full and fog begins to fill some of the valleys as the trail rolls up and down. Heading into Rice Lake (mile 81.5) is sort of out-of-body experience. By this time, I am really tired, and find myself weaving on and off the trail as my vision begins to blur- part fatigue, part headlamp vision, but mostly sleep deprivation. As I approach the aid station (a cross between Margaritaville and Deliverance) situated on the banks of Rice Lake, I run into Tom Bunk (a 65 year old ultra running legend/stud) who is pacing another guy. The three of us quickly make it in and out of the aid station head back to Hwy 12. By this time my stomach has settled but I am concerned about my vision and staying on the trail. During the next 4 miles I chat a little with Tom and explain my problem and ask for some advice. Tom quickly fires back that “you need to get some caffeine in you”. This was a big mistake I made last year and thought that I had consumed enough but decided to take Tom’s advice and juice up at the next aid station (mile 85.9).

Two Redbulls, a handful of crystallized ginger, and a stiff cup of coffee (10 parts instant coffee- 1 part water), the three of us pull out of the aid station. About 4 minutes later I am feeling great, my vision is back to normal and I begin to turn up my pace. Tom tells me that “you got it” and to “take it on in”. It’s amazing how far some simple encouragement can push you. I pull out my I-Pod shuffle and cue up some Beastie Boys and I am off. At this point I am solo, the moon is full, fog is hovering in the low valleys and I am cranking’- “it doesn’t get any better than this” I thought. Not sure what it was, but the next 15 miles were probably my strongest of the race. By this time I smell the barn and know I am going to finish strong.

The last 5 miles from Tamarack aid station # 26 (mile 95) felt great as I clipped them off. Each mile was marked with a sign so you know you are clipping them away. I felt pretty strong the rest of way in and even sprinted the last ¼ mile trying to pass a runner and his pacer in front of me. Crossing the finish line felt great- 21:34! After I crossed the line and gathered my thoughts, one of the race directors congratulated me and joined a few other runners who were sitting around talking. Feeling pretty good, I have a little chicken soup but can get any solid food down. At this point the only thing on my mind is a hot shower and soft bed.

As I drive back to the hotel (3:45am) I almost hit a deer as it darts out of the woods in front of my car. Thanks to my caffeine induced high, I am still pretty alert and manage to just miss the deer. The only thing going through my mind is that I wish I hadn’t denied the rental car insurance coverage; luckily I miss the deer and make it back to my hotel safely around 4:15am.

Sleep was short but felt great. Woke up around 11am, just in time to wolf down 4 eggs, ham, biscuits and gravy (boy I miss the food of the midwest) and head back to Milwaukee for my 3pm flight home. Fellow runner Paul Papannie was seated next to me on the flight home but because the race took him 29 hours, he did not have time to shower before the flight so I spent much of the flight curled up in a fetal position with the air blowing on me to drown out the smell and avoid watching him pop blisters on his feet. I used think I had bad toe nails but this dude takes the prize!

As I think back on the race, I enjoy the great memories while the tough spots don’t seem that tough anymore. I feel great about the accomplishment and felt as though I prepared well. I am already beginning to think how I will train for next year’s race and how I can apply the things I have learned this year to shave off some time and have an even better time next year! Cheers!

Chris Harrison Paradise Valley, Arizona

Helen Walker

KM is for … Kill Me! KM is for … Kill’M-All!

The Kettle Moraine 100 (KM 100 for short) is a trail race located near Whitewater, Wisconsin, that consists of either 100 miles or 100 km (62.2 mi). The 100 milers run the 62.9 miles loop first, and then they keep on going south on a 38-miles loop. The 100 km runners run the first loop only.

There were a few reasons why I wanted to run this race. For one thing, I’d had my eyes on KM 100 since the end of 2004, the year I ran my first 50 miles in Grasslands. Unfortunately a very bad case of ITBS having first occurred during the Death Valley marathon in 2004 prevented me from running for a few months. ITBS, aka iliotibial band syndrome, is usually due to incorrect gait at knee level and can be corrected under the supervision of a biomechanist with specific exercises that are time-consuming and sometimes difficult, but it is worth any time, effort and money invested. At the beginning of this year, my right knee was finally free of the ITBS, and I felt confident enough to tackle the KM 100 trail race. My next step was to persuade Alan to join me in the adventure, which as one can imagine, was not such a difficult task after all.

Another reason for running the KM 100 was that, as a tea-aholic, I had been salivating over their Finisher’s award, a cute little kettle made of copper. I must say that I want to own one even more since Alan has one that is nicely displayed on a bookcase facing the door of his home office, and I can see it shine and blink at me every time I go by his office. I sometimes wonder whether Alan put it there just to tease me?

Another thought was that it would be really neat to run my very first 100 km while I was still 50 years old. After all, it is in our human nature to immortalize such life events with rites of passage, and what is a better way for us runners but to connect personal milestones to running events?

The RACE Although the race is a low-key event with maybe 200 runners, it is pretty well organized. The two race directors, Tim Yanachek and Jason Dorgan, are runners, and they can appreciate runners needs. For example, the trail is neatly marked with white paint on the ground. Also, we had the choice between three different shirts, short-sleeve or long-sleeve dry-fit shirt, or vest. I chose the vest because one never has too many vests for wintertime.

The two races start on Saturday at 6am. The 100 km have a18-hour cutoff (Sat. midnight) and the 100 milers have 36 hours (Sunday noon). The atmosphere before the start reminded me of RAW going to the races as a group. Everybody knew everybody but us, and we felt a little awkward at times until we spotted Dr. Paul Piplani. We had met Paul at the Ultracentric 48 hours in Addison (when Scott Eppelman was the race director), and then during the Death Valley marathon in 2004. Since Paul likes to run over 100 marathon-distances per year, he runs pretty much any marathon and ultra in the US, and we should have known he would be running KM as well. It was really nice to see him. We chatted a little and then the race started at 6am sharp. The temperature felt a little crisp at first, in the low 50s. But remember that low 50s in TX and low 50s in WI is not the same, because one has to factor humidity and what else in the equation. The first seven miles were going up and down long, steep evil hills (some with switchbacks) in the woods, full of tall, green and odoriferous trees, unlike our Texas shrub. The KM trail makes Bandera look flat, to give you some idea. After five miles of evil hills, I could feel my leg muscles twitch, my calves started hurting, and my quads made sure I knew they existed too. Plus, I ran the first three miles with some pain on the side of my left ankle and I remember wondering how the hell I was supposed to do 60 more like that? The two first aid stations, Tamarack and Bluff, were set at about five miles and seven miles from the start. The scenery was absolutely gorgeous. Imagine running on a trail covered with pine needles having fallen from tall, odoriferous pine trees planted on each side of the trail. It was the perfect setting for an aid station. A few hundred yards before Bluff, the volunteers had placed a few pink flamingoes on each side of the trail. Must have meant something to them? The rain started as soon as I left Bluff, and one had to be careful because the narrow trail was becoming slippery and treacherous. (And of course there is also poison ivy in Wisconsin.) Then the trail reminded me of Tyler, gently rolling up and down, nothing too evil there. I started struggling before reaching the unmanned aid station named Horseriders at about mile 12. The race directors had told us that there would be a big blue barrel of water at each unmanned station, and I remember wondering whether I had missed the blue barrel because my time seemed too slow already. Hoping that I had missed the barrel because it was hidden along the trail under a giant fern leaf or something, I kept moving towards the next aid station, Emma Carlin at about 15 miles. Unfortunately, I knew the minute I came out of the woods that I had just reached Horseriders, because once one saw the blue barrel, there was no way one could miss it! It was very big indeed, and very blue too. I started walking from there, a beautiful walk through meadows with lots of butterflies, dragonflies and birds, and small marshes with little wooden paths like in Sunmart. The sun was out and shining on us, and I was very happy to be wearing a long-sleeve shirt that prevented me from getting sunburnt. Then the trail took us back in the woods with more beautiful alleys of tall, odoriferous pines. Then back in the open for a while with more tall grass, butterflies, and birds. I had been running / walking for 5h36 minutes (my watch) when I saw the first runner coming back towards me, followed by the 2nd 6 minutes later and the 3rd 8 minutes behind the 2nd runner. Before I got to Hwy 67, the aid station located at about 25 miles, I knew I was doomed when I started wondering, “Where is the f…g aid station?” (It was my exact thought, sorry guys.) When I reached Hwy 67, a volunteer got my number, and I told her she could write DNF next to it. This nice lady looked at me in a sad way (she too is a runner) and then she showed me a wooden bench where a young guy was sitting, another DNF. I had first seen him at the Horseriders station, and he did not look too well at the time. Joe has run many 100 miles (Rocky Raccoon for example) and he ran KM last year but this year, it was not his day either. We chatted for a while, waiting for Tim Yanacheck, aka Timo, one of the race directors, to pick us up and take us back to the Finish area. Timo is one of the nicest persons I have met. He was really attentive to everybody’s needs, trying to please everybody while tending to his race director duties. I had plenty of time to watch him and other people too while I was waiting for Alan at the Finish. One could see that Tim was really into helping people as much as he could. Jason Dorgan, the other race director, was on the road, checking aid stations, volunteers and supplies, and checking on runners too. While I was waiting for Alan at the Finish area, I chatted with many people, and some were curious to learn about Texan trails. I told them about the trails I have done in Texas and who knows? We may see some of the Great North runners come our way in the next few months? While I was waiting, I also saw many 100 milers stop at the end of the 62.9 miles (the 100 km loop) and drop out of the 100 miles. Although they got the 100 km Finisher’s award -my coveted kettle they will not be eligible for any 100 km place award. Some of those people did NOT look good at all…

What Happened? From past experience, Alan and I refrained from hiking, running or doing anything strenuous during the few days before the race. When we left DFW, I was ready and wanted to race. Nutrition was not an issue because I ate my usual stuff plus sandwich bites and whatnots at each aid station. I believe that starting too fast on those hills did me in. Unfortunately, I found myself in a group of people, feeling good despite my ankle, and I just followed, although I should have known better. Although we walked the hills, the pace was too fast, and the hills too steep. We were under 10:00 / mile for the first two miles, way too fast for me in that kind of terrain (there were mile markers up to mile 5). Anyway, I learned a great deal that day. I learned how presumptuous one can be because I was so sure I could run 25 mi or so and then hike the rest. But I also learned that when one makes an important decision such as DNF, one does not feel any regret about it. This is my very first DNF in over 200 races and I always thought that I would be ashamed of myself and angry too. Well, guess what? Apart from being a little disappointed by having to quit so early in the game, I don’t really care about it because even today I know I made the right decision at the time, given the situation.

The next step is to develop my quads for my next trail race, because I will be back with a vengeance! KM 100, beware! I do want my kettle!

My mistakes in short and in no special order Never assume, as in never assume that one can hike when unable to run anymore. Racing a tough, long distance too soon after ITBS rehab. Never realized that I was going too fast at first. Too little training (2 months, not counting tapering). Not enough quality training, like running tough hills and running stairs / bleachers. Misjudging the toughness of the course (but of course I did not know in advance, again, I assumed it would be like the other trails I have run so far).

Conclusions I very much liked the race, from the organization to the people to the trail itself. Go check it out, and maybe we could have some RAW / NTTR members going that way next year.

Allen Wrinkle

Before the race, I cemented in my mind that I would finish.  Feel good, that’s great.  Feel lousy, bring it on.  I’m still going to finish.  I believe you need to start all races with this attitude and maintain it as long as possible.  Starting with doubt brings trouble when the first difficulties begin.  Feet hurt, nauseous, bring it on.  You legs can whine and complain all you want.  I expect it.  You will get me to the finish.  I’ll help you all I can and make it as painless as possible.  But it’s time to Cowboy Up partners.

My goal during the first 20 miles was to be on vacation.  Easy running without strain.  Power walk up hills, run the flats and downhills.  Conscious of minimizing impact of downhills. Short, quick turnover of steps.  Drink plenty.  1 e-cap per hour.  Eat what I can keep down.  The key limiter in ultras is getting enough calories down.  You burn more than 10,000 calories but you can’t absorb that many.  But you must get down as much as you can keep down.  Eating later is more difficult so I try to stay as full as I comfortably can.  I’m running with some 100K people and enjoying the conversation but realize I’m pushing too hard and let them go.  Got to focus on my own race.  The camaraderie of running with someone can help, especially towards the end.  But there is the danger of not running your own pace.

At mile 15, I drink an Ensure with protein, eat some turkey/cheese sandwich, fill a bottle with lemon tea, and move out.  The first 45 miles I ran with a water bottle in each hand.  Hold them close to the chest while running to minimize fatigue on the back.  Get down the trail and realize I left my sun glasses somewhere back by my bag.  Painfully I had to run back and get them.  So instead of 100.2 miles, I had to face 100.4 miles.  Had a hat with a bandana to keep the sun off as we run through the hot, humid, marsh for about 10 miles.  One of Gretchen’s favorite saying is “When you’re going through hell… KEEP GOING!!!” so that is what I did.  I’m really in good shape here.   Passing people, picking out people in front and pushing forward until I caught them.  Got to create some excitement to occupy your mind.  By mile 30, it was terribly hot and I was feeling nauseous. I stumble in to an aide station, sit down, and drink an Ensure.  The mistake was drinking the second.  Chocolate.  500 calories in one setting.  Changed socks for the first/last time and put some lube on my feet.  When I stumbled out of the station, I was dizzy, throwing up a little but didn’t even stop for that.  Feeling completely miserable.  Legs hurt.  Feet hurt.  Couldn’t run much.  A very low spot.  But when you can’t run, you walk.  That’s your only choice.  Nothing compared to the last half of the race but disappointing none-the-less.  This continued for about 5 miles.   It was over 80 degrees with over 80% humidity.  The heat was affecting almost everyone.  For most of the race, a feeling of nauseousness was usually present to some degree.  I found that I couldn’t handle anything sweet.  My green tea, my Ensure, my power bars.  Nothing sounded good.   I would drink a little coke at the stations every 5-8 miles apart.  And get down what food I could. No matter how you feel, you have to shove food down and hope for the best.  Bananas and pretzels seemed to work ok.  I would have waves of being able to run, then weakness.  After about mile 35, things got a little better and I began to be able to run almost all of the time.  By the time we reached the marsh, we were lucky enough to have some clouds to shield us a little.  By mile 40, I was beginning to experiment with thought patterns and how they affect your body.  Once you realize that your thought patterns can manipulate how you feel, the next step is to learn to manipulate your thought patterns to control how you feel.   Believe me you have time out there to think about it.  I was doing all sort of strange and bazaar things with my mind to will power into my body and it was working.  I was running past many people who were walking.  It began to feel like it was my day.  All of the work.  All of the failure.  This was my day.

I was terribly sad to see Gretchen at mile 43.  She was having a terrible time of it.  To stick it out for another 11 miles took unbelievable guts.

Pulled in to aide station at mile 45 and put on my camelback, ditched the water bottles, grabbed my mp3 player and flashlights, drank an ensure, Starbucks doubleshot, rolled my legs with the Stick, put it in my Camelbak and headed out.  The sweetness of the Starbucks almost made me puke but I kept it down.  I had loaded an extreme range of  music on my MP3 player but saved it until I really needed it.  In every ultra, “Going the Distance” by Cake is always the first song I hear for personal reasons.  I was feeling good so I didn’t use it yet.  I’m starting to get really excited because I’m feeling good.  It’s cooling off.  Able to run and still feel like it is my day.  IT’S MY DAY!!!!!

The one thing you learn about ultras is that everything changes and it changes frequently.  No matter how well things are going, don’t get attached to that feeling.  No matter how bad you feel, it could get better so don’t get consumed by that either.  By mile 54, I decided that I needed the music.  Not eating enough was catching up with me.  Feeling weak, tired.  There are some things you can’t allow yourself the luxury of thinking.  You can’t allow yourself to think you are only half-way done.  I sat about 2 minutes and ate some Raman noodles and moved on down the trail.  Beware the chair.  Never sat more than a couple of minutes anywhere except mile 30 and mile 62.  Then it wasn’t more than 10 minutes.  Did I mention the constant feeling of nauseousness the whole time?  It’s a constant companion.  A house guest that doesn’t know when to leave.   I’m really struggling to make it back to the start line at mile 62.  Everyone going along in quite desperation.  The 7 miles before there are very hilly with some too hilly to run down.   I stumble in the station after dark and set down to eat some Raman again.  Nothing looks good to eat.  My fingers are swollen and knuckles are purple so someone said I needed fewer salt tablets now that it was night.  When I stopped taking those, they eventually went down.  Thanks!!  I got plenty of sodium in the Raman soup.  Ate some Payday candy bar, spray with mosquito spray again and get the motivational announcement by the race director that another 100 miler has the courage to hit the trail again.  Everyone cheers and I move out with a little more spring in my step.  I try to encourage other runners still coming in to the station.  Many are “only” running the 100 k.  Some 100 milers will stop at 100 k.  The finishers reward for 100k and 100miles is the same.  So if you head out, you are in it for more than just the finishers’ award.  38 miles to go.  My longest training run was 32 miles and that was on fresh legs.  Starting another 38 miles, in the hills, after being out all day, on tired feet, could be disheartening.  But you don’t allow yourself to be consumed by those thoughts and feelings.  Ok you can be consumed by those thoughts and feelings but you just keep moving anyway.  I struggle on pretty uneventfully to the aide station at mile 77.   I’m running in the dark in an area I’ve never seen before.  The night starts playing tricks on my eyes and every root is a snake (because I almost stepped on a real snake that day).  Every leaf shadow looks like a spider.  I start seeing some light in the periphery of my vision but when I look directly there is nothing there.  Only happens a few times though.  Have been seeing lightning for several hours but the weather report says the storm will miss our race course.  So I plunge into the darkness in my shorts and a thin shirt.  Almost hoping for some rain because the night was so muggy.  As soon as I get up the next big hill into the darkness, I feel the first drop.  The wind begins to whip the trees and then the bottom drops out.  I completely become drenched in seconds.  The drops were surprisingly cold.  The course between 77 and 85 is very steep and rocky so running is almost impossible.  I hear the snap of limbs.  The wind is howling.  The rain causes a shiver almost immediately.  Instead of being disheartened by this, I faced it with almost as much gusto as Lt Dan in Forrest Gump as he sat on top of the crows nest of the ship shouting “Is that all you got????” and shreeking wildly with laughter.  I’m in the middle of the woods, in the middle of the night, in the middle of a lightning/wind/rain storm.  I’m alive and out here in the middle of this EPIC adventure.  Bring it on.   What a RIDE.  I cross a little knoll where the trees are short and I witness the most awe inspiring site.  Right above me, an electrical strike started from far away and then exploded into thousands of tiny fingers that spread out and completely covered the night sky above me.  It was one of the most beautiful and amazing things I’ve seen.  I love storms to begin with.  This was awesome.  Yet the cold begin to grip me and I quickly became very concerned.  I knew that as long as I kept moving, I would be ok with respect to hypothermia.  So I did.  I had heard that somewhere, people had spread Vaseline on their skin to help them stay warm so that is what I did at the next station.  FYI I don’t think it helps much.  I thought about putting plant leaves in my shirt but didn’t think that would help and would be itchy.  I got a clear garbage bag at mile 81, tore a hole in the top for the head and arms and headed back out for another 4 miles (2 hours) of the great fun.  I’ve spent time in the mountains so the lightning didn’t scare me much but it was pretty close.  A tree had blown down into the trail and I checked for victims but there were none.  “And that’s all I have to say about that” part of the course.

It was getting daylight at mile 85 at about 5:00am.  7 hours to go 15 miles to the cutoff.  I can do that.  I’m shivering and take off my shirt and put on my warm shirt and tie a jacket around my waist.  Head out.  Quickly I realize that the warm shirt was a mistake because it began to warm up and the humidity from the rain was stifling.  Canadian geese fly over the marsh.  It really is beautiful.  Between 85 and 90, was about the lowest point.  My strength was gone.  I found out what “trashed quads” felt like.  Basically they hurt to touch or walk on.  Much less run.  I was dizzy and out of it from lack of sleep.  I begin to question for the first time if the suffering was worth it.  It’s easy to say miles 85 to 90.  But when you are completely miserable and each step hurts, it seems like an eternity.  Feet felt like hamburger.  I don’t even care if I finish.  This was a misguided thing to even attempt.  A person would have to be an idiot to keep doing this.   So I keep going….  At mile 90, I come to an unmanned aide station.  10 miles to go.  Impossible.  10% of what I’ve already done and I’m all used up.  Nothing left.  People are passing me, some trying to encourage me, but I had already written myself off.  I was done.  I turned over a bucket and sat beside the water table.  No one there.  I put my head in my lap and covered my head with my arms.  I can’t take this any more.  Then God reached over, tapped me on the shoulder, and told me to get up and go.  Actually it was just the mosquitoes that started to attack my back but the effect was still the same.  I’ll use whatever motivation I can at this point. I felt like quitting and could have flagged someone down by the highway but I know I really couldn’t do it.  I’m too hard-headed for that.  But I had to admit that I felt like it.  Next aide station is 2.5 miles away.  I can make it there.  I walk a few hundred yards and become completely frustrated with how long it is taking me.  More people pass me.  I’ve had it!!!!  I start to run.  Quads are screaming, legs are screaming.  Too bad.  I’m tired of this and want to get it over with. Started to pass people that had just passed me.  Not only running down hills and flats, but running up hills too.  I kept expecting to fall over dead any moment but I didn’t care.  I’d had enough.  But the further I went, the further my legs carried me.  Hmmmmm.  Where did this come from?  I made it to 92.5, grabbed some eggs (delicious) and headed out.  “And I was RUUUUNNNNIIIINNNGGGG”.  People were surprised to see me come back to life.  I kept going.  I began to calculate my speed and the thought of coming in less than 28 hours began to brew.  It’s hard to do math at this point but I think there is a chance.  I catch up with a few people and we started running together.  I was not only running but I was flying down the steep hills.  I ran most of the last 8 miles.  I just turned off the feelers in my feet and just kept going.  4 miles left.  If I can just do x minute miles….. 3 miles…. I’m gaining.  Garrett and I struggled in the last miles together with a common goal of beating that 28 hour time.  In the scheme of things, it meant nothing to be 27 hours vs. 28 hours.  But the goal helped us go on.  Coming around the corner I could see the finish.  Came in to a cheering crowd at 27 hrs 51 minutes and high-fived Timo.  Gretchen got to see me cross the finish line too.  I had witnessed her cross the line in her first 100 just 4 months prior while I lay in the medical tent.  Failure teaches compassion.

What is up with THAT????  How do you go from being dead to running 8 miles at the end of the race?  I don’t know.  But just knowing that these types of transformations can happen will give me and possibly others strength and hope when all seems lost.  No matter how bad things are, they can and usually do get better.   The moment to contemplate is that turning point when despair turns to hope.   It might be anger or pure meanness.  Hard-headed.  Guts.   I don’t know what to call it.  But what ever it is, I know it is there.  Reclusively hiding in all of us until its really needed.

What if I had quit at mile 90?  How would my future be different?  How would my belief structure about what is possible and my own abilities be different?  Would I label  myself a failure?  Would I create a permanent limiter on my own abilities?  I didn’t realize at the time how critical it was for me to finish.  My self-image and beliefs about myself were at stake and I didn’t even know it. How many other assumptions have we made about ourselves and who we are just because we gave up too soon or didn’t have an opportunity to prove otherwise or had certain failures that we didn’t later overcome?

So, as much as this seems like a physical journey, it is something more.  You end up where you started, but a different person comes across the line.

Final Thoughts
After the race I was walking around like a million bucks.  Laughing and talking.   A little dull mentally but unbelievably good.  The next morning I woke up feeling fine and walking around.  An unbelievable recovery.  I had to address a few blisters and my feet were swelling over the next few days but other than that I felt very good.  My recovery is almost as amazing to me as the race.  What an EPIC experience.

I want to thank the race directors and all of the volunteers who made this experience possible.  Their encouragement and excellent planning made this a wonderful experience.  Good food and great course markings.  Congrats to you on a fine race.

Brian Kuhn

It’s pouring down rain at 3:30 in the morning. I’ve been running over 21 hours. And I am having a blast. I feel refreshed and I am running faster now than I have the entire race. I can’t believe it. Such was the day I had at the Kettle Moraine this year in the 100 mile run. The day began very differently however.

Unlike my previous 100 mile run last fall in Arkansas, I did not have a specific goal for the race other than to finish and have fun. I had several other friends running in the race which made it special: Don Frichtl, a fellow buffalo from the Champaign area whom I train a lot with, was running his second 100 miler. Two good friends from the Lafayette area were running their first 100s – Tony Greig and David Jackson. There were also two buffalo relay teams from Champaign whom I would meet many times on the trail. Finally, a strong runner, recently to our area – Tracy Thomas was there and had a great run.

The race began uneventfully (as most races do). I found myself running with Don, after Tony and David fell behind us. After about 10 miles, Christine Crawford caught up to us and ran with us. Christine was planning to run the 100 herself, but had sprained her ankle the previous weekend. She would end up running the first 31 miles of the race anyway before she headed back to work at the race. I ran the next ten miles with Don and Christine. It was very humid and when we got to the open fields, I was struggling to stay with them. I knew that I should drop back, but for a bit I kept with them.  It was funny that Christine asked me if my stomach was feeling ok. I thought everything was alright, but then not 30 seconds later, I had to stop and empty my stomach on the side of the trail. I guess she knew something I didn’t. After this, my stomach felt immediately better (as it usually does), although my legs were still tired. I caught up with them at the next aid station, but that was the end of my running with them. I wanted to let them go.

I was now on my own, about 20 miles into the race. I kept a somewhat steady pace going and made it to the 31 mile turnaround at 6:17 into the race.  I was feeling somewhat better than I had been 10 miles earlier, but I knew that it was going to be a tough day. I think the temperature was to get somewhere into the lower 80s and I was not prepared for the heat. I was putting ice in my hat – as much as I could fit. I discovered that about 2 inches of ice in the hat would last about 50 minutes.

I stayed for probably 15 minutes and ate a lot of food at the aid station before heading back out. I think Tony and David got ahead of me at this point. I would be seeing them a lot during the next 31 miles. I don’t think any of us were feeling great and we were walking a lot. I was wondering how I was going to make the full 100 miles being as tired as I was. I did not recall being this tired in my other 100 mile attempts.  It  was defiantly the heat that was taking it out of me. Halfway back to the starting area, Tony’s wife, Lu had stopped at McDonalds and picked up some vanilla shakes for the three of us. It really hit the spot – thanks Lu!

It was a bit after this that Tony and David decided to split up.  David seemed to have some extra energy and went on ahead. I would not see him until back at the starting area. For those not familiar with the course, it is a 31 mile out (and back), followed by a 19 mile out and back. The first/last 7.5 miles of the course is the same for all legs, and is on a Nordic ski trail with plenty of short steep hills. The rest of the course is on a single track trail with pretty good footing for most of it.  There are a few sections with some rocks (which I did not mind too much).  The course has some hills on it but nothing particularly long or challenging.

I did have a few good running periods during the rest of my run back to the start area. With 8 miles left I was feeling better, and was informed by other buffalo that Danielle (one of the buffalo relay runners) was less than 10 minutes ahead of me and was really struggling. I managed to catch up to her with 3 miles to go, but then she got her energy back, and with 2 miles to go, took off and that was the last I saw of her. I jogged/walked into the start area aid station around 14:12.

While here, I changed my socks and washed my legs in a tub of cold water.  Boy did that feel good standing in the cold water! I changed into a dry shirt and got my lights ready for the night running. I then headed over to the aid station and pulled up a chair – literally. Christine was working there and kept serving me food. The chili tasted really good. All in all, I spent 35 minutes at the aid station before I headed back out for the last 38 miles.

One of the things I learned a few weeks ago while running Ice Age, was that I run much much better when I have eaten enough. Throughout the day I was eating as much as my stomach could handle and taking some GU. At this point, I had a lot of GU packs left and decided that I was going to get into the routine of taking one of these every half hour. I did this at the end of my Ice Age run and the results were impressive there.

I left the start area for the second time and was feeling much better than I had when I came in. I knew that there was no chance of making it under 24 hours and I was just out to have fun. The sun was going down but I decided to run without my light for as long as I could. The trail here was wide and had excellent footing. It reminded me of a trail we run on in Mahomet, IL – near Champaign. Every full moon, we go out there and run the trail in the dark without lights. This trail eventually got to be darker than it ever does at Mahomet – since we were in the woods and it was a new moon.  Anyway, I was having fun and could still manage to make out the trail even after it was completely dark out. This worked fine and I made it to the Bluff road aid station without using my light.

This aid station is also known as Margaretville, so I decided to try to take them up on it. I was out to have fun and was not concerned about my time.  I had to ask a few times before they would actually give me a cocktail, since they did not think I was serious. I didn’t see exactly what they fixed me to drink, but it was cold and tasty.

I was feeling better and started to run a good steady pace from this point.  I could see the lighting in the sky and was wondering if it was going to rain. There were a few open fields on this part of the course and I remember running very fast through them when there was lighting around.  About 12 miles into this part of the run the rain started. It was more of a heavy drizzle at first. I was running steadily and having fun. I passed Tracy as she was heading back just before the Hwy 12 aid station. She said that Don wasn’t that far ahead and she thought I would catch him. This of course was a bit of a motivator for me and I kept up the steady running.  The GU I was taking every half hour was really helping me keep my energy level up. I was also alternating between a bottle of water and a bottle of Succeed! Amino, with a salt capsule every hour.

The last part of this course is somewhat technical, with some rocks and steps on it. The rain had stopped and about a half mile before the turn around at Rice Lake, I passed David and his pacer. He looked good but said he didn’t like the rocks very much. I was flying at this point and took off. Before I knew it I was at the turnaround and who did I see but Don and Ellen (his pacer) there. We talked for a few minutes but I decided I was feeling so good that I wanted to get back to the trail. At this point I was 19:51 into the run. I did a quick mental calculation and somehow decided that I only needed to run the rest of the race at a 15 min/mile and I could make it under 24 hours. I started to really push myself. After a mile or so, however, I realized my math was wrong and that there was no way to make it under 24 – unless I ran around a 12 min/mile pace. I knew that I could not do that, since that was the pace that killed me in the first 20 miles.  I again slowed down a bit, but still running a steady pace.

With probably about 12 miles to go, the sky just opened up and it was pouring. It was at this point that I suddenly realized how great I was feeling. My legs felt like I had just started the race and I could do anything. It totally shocked me to be feeling this good, this late in a 100 mile run. I was on a long downhill and I started running as fast as I could down it. I passed several other runners who were walking (and wearing rain jackets). I almost ran over one of them as I came around a turn, but managed to pass on the side of the trial. I felt bad about this and did find her after the race and apologized – she didn’t even remember.

When I got to the Duffin Road aid station, I realized that I had 2 hours and a bit over 10 miles to go. It was at this point that I realized that I actually had a legitimate shot at making it under 24 hours. If I could run at a 12 min/mile pace I would have it. I took off, running with everything I had – both up and down the hills. I kept the pace up and made it to the Tamarack aid station (5 miles to go) with 1:10 to go. I knew at this point that I would make it unless I completely crashed. I figured that I had done the last five miles at about a 10 min/mile pace, and I only needed to finish with a 14 min/mile pace. I still ran hard, but as I got closer and knew that I would make it, I let off a bit. My legs were ok, but I could feel a bit of wear on them.

Earlier in the day, I had thought it would be fun to finish the race wearing my buffalo hat.  I had stashed it in a bag a mile from the finish. When I got to a mile to go, I stopped and put it on and ran in with it on. There were a few people out on the trail and I got some funny looks. As I approached the finish line, I let out a buffalo yell. This worked out well, as Christine managed to get some good pictures of me finishing – officially at 23:47:33.

Tony had decided that he had had enough after 100k, but he was there to greet me in the morning. He said that he plans to try another 100.  David finished in 25:40 (his pacer dropped after about 30 miles due to a blister or something). We waited around for Don, expecting him to finish at any moment. He made it in at 26:21 – also wearing a buffalo hat! Tracy had a great run, finishing first female in 21:54. And to top it off, the two buffalo relay teams *again* swept the mixed relay division.

Thanks go out to all of the volunteers and to the race directors. This is an extremely well organized event and I couldn’t have asked for anything more.

All in all, it was a great run that I will remember for a long time. I was totally shocked that I was able to run so well the second half. I remember last fall at Arkansas, I was so completely dead at the end of the race.  It is defiantly more fun when you feel good at the end. The one thing that is really sticking with me from this race is that my performance is primarily limited by the amount of energy I can get into my body. I plan to work on this in the future. Now to figure out what is next.

Mike Bouscaren

The ninth annual Kettle Moraine endurance runs were held June 5th and 6th 2004 in south central Wisconsin. 103 entered the 100 miler with an additional 38 in teams, and 46 entered the 100k. RD’s Tim Yanacheck and Jason Dorgan displayed excellent organization in a relaxed and cheerful manner. I didn’t see a long face through the 27 hours and 47 minutes it took me to finish 100 miles, but I wasn’t looking either.

Under the start/finish banner just before the 6 a.m. start, I feel a wave of anticipation, near anxiety, in the flashing enormity of what I was about to do. In an impulse I cover my face in my hands, take a deep breath, then murmur, “Congratulations, now go forth and scribble.” These were K’s words in Alexandra Fuller’s fine new book, “Scribbling The Cat.” I train for ultra’s not just physically, but also by reading what I can find to stiffen my will. With several books on war in Vietnam, I also read Joe Simpson’s “The Beckoning Silence” and Scott Tinley’s “Racing The Sunset.” Knowing people there triumphed over intense physical challenges makes my challenge seem a bit easier to contemplate. The course is 100% trail and nearly all runnable. The first 7 ½ miles lead to a 23 ½ mile easterly route to the 31 mile turnaround. You return to the start/finish, repeat the 7 ½ mile leg then turn west 11 ½ miles to a turnaround and back. The 100 mile event has a low completion history not for the difficulty of terrain but because you reach the start/finish at 100k where the temptation to call it a day looms large. There are a lot of small hills in the 7 ½ mile section which can become a gauntlet when you know you must face them a third and fourth time. I’d studied split times from the 2003 event and set a pace objective accordingly: 16 miles in 3 ½ hours, turnaround in 7, 100k in 15 ½, the final 38 miles in 12 ½, for a 28 hour goal. Joe Prusaitis told me once he can look into people’s eyes at the start of a 100 miler and tell who’s not going to finish. Because I’m convinced you have to be completely committed to finishing well before the start, and must maintain a 100% positive attitude throughout the effort I didn’t seek out doubting eyes, but I knew they were there. For those moments of struggle along the way, I held two thoughts from Massanuten reports I’d read just days before: if you’re thinking of dropping, ask yourself: “What else would you do today, anyway?” and, remember the cumulative experience of prior ultra runs will give you resources to draw from when you need them. I held another trump card: my daughter Lila and her friend Carly had agreed to greet me at the 31 mile turnaround, then accompany me through the night from mile 62 to mile 81 (the Rice Lake turnaround). We were together in this, so in the three or four times I considered dropping I remembered I could not allow myself to let them down. This was huge and certainly made it easier for me to endure through the finish. I make the 16 mile aid station on pace but find the day’s heat in open sections has put me behind when I reach the aid station at mile 26. So I put the hammer down a bit in order to reach mile 31 at 1 p.m. as planned with my pacers. Now passing many runners I wonder if my pace is too aggressive: would this haunt me later on? Confidence flows when I see Lila and Carly at Scuppernong. Quick change of shirt, socks and shoes, and out. “See you at the 100k around 9:30.” Their encouragement strengthens my resolve. Temperatures make the mid 70’s. Partial cloud cover and a slight breeze lightens the oppressiveness as I flow back through open country. Something about the combination of a turkey sandwich and tea with Spiz from my camelback brings on nausea. I try ginger and Tums but still feel like hurling. I remember the time when running the Nipmuck trail marathon, I heard one runner said to his companion: “If you feel like throwing up, throw up!” Funny then, but now should I take that advice? Fuel depletion versus discomfort and a slowing pace. I accepted the urge to regurgitate yet happily my system didn’t take the offer: it stayed down. Now reaching the final 7 ½ mile stretch to the 100k turnaround I see I need to go up tempo again to make my 9:30 p.m. estimate. While I know this risks burnout I remind myself from the turnaround we’ll be walking and I can recover then. Darkness envelops the scene and I put on the flashlight. Many 100 milers pass before me on their way back out and I have to remember it’s their race, not mine: this is right for me. And so into the start/finish where Lila and Carly look to me like two fresh horses ready to bolt. Change of shirt, socks and shoes, fanny pack with night gear, headlamp, and wow, Ramen noodle soup, a welcome change from pb&j quarters and that gnarly turkey sandwich. The team heads out, lit up and full of piss and vinegar, me with a ramen rush. I set the pace for a mile or two, then give way to their lead, as simply following them allows me to go mechanical without having to think much. We discuss pace and I assure them that just walking this way we’ll stay on plan. We use green lights which I much prefer as they soften contrast and cast a gentler presentation underfoot. For 6 ½ hours we go along, Carly and Lila chatting occasionally ahead of me while I draft in their energy. When we make the Highway 12 (mile 77) aid station a 3 a.m. someone says Smarty Jones lost the Belmont and Ronald Reagan died. So wonderfully out of place, this news. We run long distances to disengage from things of this world, so when we return to them our perspective is less needy. From Highway 12 to Rice Lake there’s a fair amount of rocky, hilly terrain with several sets of stairs set apart in such a way to make your quads bark. Good stuff. Knowing Lila and Carly had the car waiting at the turnaround, the bad angels begin to ask me how I could tell my pacers I was going to pack it in after 81 miles. Negative thoughts will tempt. Then Lila asks me, “Dad, how long do you think it will take you to get to the finish from here?” Inspiring question, this. And, “How do you feel?” So, “I’m tired but I think I’ll finish around 11:20 a.m.” I’d left a big cushion versus plan for the remaining 19 miles because I truly was tired. You never know how much the new day will help restore energy reserves. It was 4:20 a.m. We say goodbye to each other as they head for some shut-eye and I go back to the rocks, hills and stairs. I feel so proud of them for being there to help me along then, it sends a new wave of confidence and resolve through me as I figure, just another 6 hours or so and I’ll be done. Creeping dawn comes slowly as there’s overcast and drizzle, but just after 5, I put my lights away. Making the mile 85 aid station a few minutes before 6, I go with more Ramen noodles, orange quarters in the pocket and the interesting thought I’d be able to view the terrain we covered in the night on my return. I feel physically disengaged, mind holding body like a puppet on strings. It’s going well. In his report of the Kettle, John Dodds tells about knocking his head on a tree branch. I swear I hit the same branch not once, but twice, both going and coming, not so hard to hurt, but more just enough to amuse at the recollection. Knock on wood, it reaches over the trail around mile 87. Now through regimentally man planted pine pines, perfectly spaced, almost unnatural. I stop to clear a shoe, struggling to sit, “Calling all mosquitoes!” In fact while the pesky creatures have recently hatched, they’re not voracious yet in their short life cycle. Buzz on, buddies, I’ve got work to do. Then ahead I see another 100 miler, walking stiffly, arms nearly rigid, not a pretty sight. I pass, offering words of encouragement. Just before 8, I approach the mile 92.5 aid station. A volunteer approaches to ask, “How many are behind you?” “Three or four,” I reply. “They dropped, so you’re probably the last one,” he says. This doesn’t sit well with me, as finishing is one thing, but finishing last is quite another. I take some delicious cut fruit in a cup and coffee in another, seeing that I’ve got just under 2 hours to make 28. Good ‘ol adrenaline starts to flow as I know I can run two hours anytime, anywhere. Ahead I see competitors walking. I can take them. Zombies. Night of the living dead. Open the throttle and throw yourself at the hills . And so I do. I love this part, when you can smell the barn and you run holding nothing back. There is nowhere else I’d rather be than right here, right now, blowing doors off and blowing gaskets. My heart jumps at me in protest and I have to throttle back in the knowledge that while I want to finish strong, I also want to finish to run another day. Wheedling the red line, great, great, great. After surmounting more hills than I can remember or count, I see the trail flatten out and hear cars on the road near the finish. It seemed interminably long, that last mile or so, but I’m running, dammit, and I will break 28 hours. Oh, deliverance. Up a little rise and I come to an undefined finish point where Timo emerges saying, “Just stop anywhere, this is it.” In a chair there I see a fellow who’s obviously also just finished. He looks me straight and deep in the eyes wanting to see again for himself what it’s like. I recognize him, my brother, and myself in him, as our eyes lock and broad smiles wash over us both. I did not do this alone. Thanks Timo, thanks Jason, and thanks to all the volunteers who worked tirelessly to help us fulfill our dreams. Most of all, thanks to you, Lila and Carly, for your wonderful support and inspiration. The Kettle’s filled now.

Alex Swenson

It wasn’t just that I had turned 40 a couple of weeks prior to the race.  I don’t particularly care about crossing that threshold.  Rather, I was begrudgingly coming to the conclusion that my body was acting old and lost its ability to withstand levels of abuse that it had once shrugged off.  Recently all sorts of injuries were asserting themselves, of types and severity that I had previously only read about.  I was starting to lack confidence in how to train and race.  It all had me spooked.

So I started the race quite unsure of how it would go.  Happily, the start was cool enough that I wore gloves.  Though it would soon warm up, the temperatures never spiked beyond the high 70s.  All in all it was a terrific day for running.  The nippy early morning conditions made it easy to start out fast.  I banked a few miles, but the exposed prairie section after Emma Carlin quickly knocked my pace to a more reasonable level.

Trail conditions were nearly perfect.  Most of the grassy areas had been recently groomed and the worst trail sections only had a bit of mud.  The bugs were bad every time I stopped to pee, but no bother while running.  Aid station folks were exceptional about getting my bottles filled fast, even with my special request for ½ SUCCEED, ½ water, and lots of ice.  I managed to stay on course due to the excellent ground markings, which I really appreciated.  I always get lost on courses marked with flags because I tend to focus on the ground.  Around mile 35 I was looking up the trail for oncoming runners, tripped on a rock, and went flying into the bushes.  Another runner pulled me out and located my gel flask.  I had a bloody scrape but no serious damage.

My mantra for the day was Drink, Pop, Swig.  Drink constantly, pop an electrolyte capsule every hour, and swig some gel every thirty minutes.  I skipped real food entirely, except for a few bites of banana and energy bar.  I’ve learned the hard way that I only tolerate real food in cold weather conditions.  This strategy also has the advantage of insuring fast transitions in the aid stations, as there’s no wavering over what to eat.

The 100K turnaround is both the best and worst feature of this race.  It gives a great sense of completion for those having a bad day, but makes it a lot tougher to head back out.  I came though in 10:05 and was still feeling great, so there was no thought of succumbing to the comforts of the aid station.  I changed into a pair of ultralight road trainers and was on my way.  Irrationally I skipped changing my socks because I didn’t want to see the sad state of my feet.  Better not to know.  The new shoes gave me a huge psychological lift, as I felt like I was running barefoot.

The trail back out to Bluff was the best part of the race, what with getting a chance to see everyone, exchange encouragement, and size up the competition.  It was surprising to see the 100 milers so spread out, with 20-60 minutes between each of the top few runners.   I was even more surprised to catch Kevin Setnes, who was struggling with a rebellious digestive system, a bit after Bluff.  Despite moving into first place, fatigue was hitting me hard.  I tried to focus on covering as much trail as I could while it was still daylight.

It was a huge relief to make it to Rice Lake, knowing that I was finally on the last leg.  Back through Highway 12 I picked up my flashlight and headed out.  Fifteen minutes later it was dark and my pace plunged.  From this point forward, there was a steady stream of oncoming runners.  All of us were tired, so there wasn’t a lot of talk.  Still, it was nice to know that I wasn’t all alone on the trail.  I kept up a steady jog in the dark and played a psychological game that I save for such dire times.  In this game I imagine myself running on one of those moving walkways found in airport terminals, just bouncing along effortlessly, except in this case dashing through the forest.  It always gives me a lift, especially on the spongy pine needle sections where the fantasy is easier to indulge.

The last 10 miles were brutal.  My legs were dead and all sorts of sharp pains were shooting from my feet.  As much as I loathed the section from Tamarack to Nordic, it sure helped to have run it three times already.  At that point the last thing I could deal was a surprise.  I kept pushing myself, just telling myself that the faster I ran, the sooner it would all stop.

I had deliberately avoided looking at my watch for the final few hours, so I was amazed to cross the finish line in 17:32.  My goal had been 18:15, and anything sub-19 would have been great.  It was a thrill to finish on the same day that I started, especially in my first race as a masters runner.

Nate Emerson

I expected my first 100 miler to hurt, but couldn’t have predicted this much soreness!  As each layer of pain fades away, new hot spots and sore spots emerge.

Even though I was pretty familiar with the Ice Age trail, some of the sections seemed that much harder on race day.  The prairie sections felt pretty hot for 75 degrees.  I ran out of water 20 minutes out of the last aid station before the prairie.  I was dry heaving and reduced to walking through a good portion of this, and I could feel my body temp climbing.  I decided to do a very slow run to each shaded spot, where I would stretch, walk, and try to bring my heart rate down.  I’m glad that you had the extra water station by the cemetery, or else I would have been done at 40.   I think that I drank two full bottles right there, and then filled up and finished one more by Emma Carlin.

I had a light in the last drop bag, thinking that I might need it at 77, but I decided I wouldn’t switch the light on until 15 minutes or so after the sun had gone down, so I decided to leave it in the bag and commit to ~1:20 for the round-trip to Rice Lake and back.  Trying to keep this pace up, I didn’t lift my foot high enough to clear a log on the last downhill before Rice Lake, and I took a sweet digger into the underbrush, getting in a good two or three rolls.  With just some scratches on my forearms and weeds in my hair, it was easy to laugh it off.  I got a gnarly blister right above my heel post just after dark.  Not that I didn’t have other blisters, but this one felt like a nail driven into my heel.  I ran on my toes for a few hundred feet, decided that fix was futile, and then frantically conjured up a solution.  I put a baggie inside my sock, which, combined with the wet skin, reduced the abrasion at that spot.  Later adding band-aids, it was enough to hobble in the last 14 miles.  I have heard that duct tape works even better.

I think the rollers in the middle of the Nordic loop are what really got to me.  I saw someone post something about PUDS (pointless ups and downs) and WUDS (worthless…), which I thought was pretty funny. My quads were screaming and just about giving out when I went over those rollers for the fourth time.  Is that part of the plan to make a Midwestern 100 mile that much more difficult?! In hindsight, I can see that incorrectly addressing some of those extra challenges could have easily ended my run.  I wish that other runners could have overcome the events that caused them to DNF.

Normally, I would call those experiences negative, but I think that there was something in me seeking pain that drove me to enter this event in the first place, and that something makes me appreciate those extra challenges.  I was secretly hoping that we would get a downpour after dark, just to really get my money’s worth of suffering. There were obviously some nice simple moments too.  I’m much more of a start/stop runner than a long continuous pace, so I really enjoyed cruising some of the rolling and slightly technical downhills in Scuppernong, near Emma Carlin connector trail, and those near the Lime Kiln and points south.  Carrying a nice stride on a gentle downhill on an awesome trail, it was easy to forget the soreness in the quads and the sharp pains in my hip flexors and shin. The atmosphere of this event was great.  My attitude had bounced between competitiveness and plain survival when first starting, but after coming through Margaretville (mile 93) I settled into a much more relaxed state.  I had a very positive experience at every aid station, and this had a huge effect on my attitude throughout the day.  Just thought I’d share my adventure.  I’m sure many runners went through much more than I did.  The first day after the event I thought I wouldn’t ever try another 100.  But the more I thought about the event, the more I realized that I enjoyed almost every minute of it.  Although, it was a huge pleasure to stop at the end and sit down.

VHTRC

Four members of the VHTRC successfully conquered the seventh running of the Kettle Moraine 100 Miler, overcoming a 93-degree, cloud-free day to pick up our commemorative copper kettle finisher awards.

Ed Schultze, John Dodds, Kerry Owens and I (Jaret Seiberg) traveled out to Wisconsin for this 100 Miler, which also has a 100 K option. John and Ed had both done MMT three weeks earlier so I thought they were nuts. Then Ed does a 50 mile training run the week before just because some friends wanted to run the entire Greenway trail out-and-back. That just reinforced my notion that he was crazy. Yet Ed appeared sane compared to Dodds, who still had a massive blister on his foot from MMT and who is signed up to do Laurel Highlands this weekend.

That meant Kerry and I were the only sane ones. This probably should be the time to mention that the prior weekend while cutting through a series of fields to cheer my wife on during her first 5K run that I got poison ivy all over both legs, both feet, both arms, both hands, my hips, and lower back. It was severe enough that the doctor put me on steroids. (No, not the kind that bulk up muscles.) Also, Kerry re-injured her ankle just a few days before the race, which resulted in much swelling and made it painful to walk

So as I was saying, Kerry and I were the only sane ones.

Ed and I meet up with John at noon Friday at the Milwaukee airport. Ed had a big duffel bag, I have medium duffel and a small backpack. John had three suitcases. Ed and I were quietly applauding ourselves for agreeing to the car upgrade when we saw all the luggage. Unfortunately we only had upgraded to a Dodge Neon, which has a trunk that barely fits one suit case let alone all the crap we brought with us. I can’t fathom what the other car would have been.

Whitewater, Wisc., is a very small place. Located about 45 minutes southwest of Milwaukee, the town is just big enough to have a college and very little else. The three of us met up with Kerry at the AmeriHost motel, which is where most of the runners stayed.

We wanted pasta and the motel clerk told us we were out of luck if we wanted to eat in Whitewater. Instead we needed to drive 15 miles to the next city, which we did so we could consume mass quantities of carbs.

On race morning, we leave the motel at 5:10 and are at the start by 5:30. The instructions from co-race directors Jason Dorgan and Tim Yanacheck were pretty simple. Follow the painted white arrows on the ground. Do not worry about marks on the trees. They also told us it would be very hot so the extra water stations would be added to the course.

With that, the crowd of 112 were off.

This course consists of two out-and-back loops, both of which share the first 7.5 miles. Those 7.5 miles are in the Nordic center and I will be happy if I never have to run another step there. VHTRC member Amy Bloom introduced me to the term PUDS – pointless ups and downs. Well the Nordic center has WUDS, wasted ups and downs. The loop consisted of roller coaster like ups and downs, many of which were too steep to run down.

Still it was gorgeous. We ran through groves of Pine trees and past all types of wild flowers. Question to our flora experts: Any idea of the name of a red and white flower that looks like a bell, with the red pedals the outside of the bell and the white the chine inside the bell? At night the flower closes up.

There was never a massive climb along the course. Rather you had many smaller climbs that gradually sapped the life out of your legs. Dodds took off early in the race, with Kerry close behind. I started a bit slower and Ed was anchoring our group.

After the mile 7.5 aid station, we left the Nordic center and entered the ice age trail en route to the Pine Woods camp ground and the turn around at mile 31. The ice age trail has great footing – very few rocks. And we enjoyed the shade as the temperature even at 8 a.m. had to be about 80 degrees.

All seemed great and Kerry and I were wondering why the finishing percentage for this race is so low. (For this year, only 45% of those registered for the 100 miler finished.) A mile or two after the Emma Carlin park aid station at mile 16.5, we figured out what makes this race so tough. For about 10 miles in each direction you run through giant fields created by glaciers. There is no shade or shelter. That means on years when it is wet and windy, you are fully exposed for 20 miles. Or more pertinent to our endeavor, when it is 93 degrees without a cloud in the sky, you roast for 20 of the first 46 miles.

I was draining a full 70 ounce CamelBack between aid stations. Ed was experimenting with new 27 ounce bottles and he was entering aid stations with nothing left in them. Adding to the misery was the fact that parts of the fields were swampy, which jacked up the humidity levels.

At the turn around, John was about 15 minutes ahead of me. While I was in the aid station, Kerry arrived. She had two crew with her – John Haywood and Jean Marie – and they had her out of the aid station before I had even finished changing my socks. When I was ready to go, I grabbed my CamelBack that the aid station worker had filled and realized the bite valve was missing. It took about four minutes to find it. I was ready to give up and take one of John Haywood’s water bottles when John found it under a bench.

Three of us were on the return trip, with Ed about an hour behind though on track for his goal of a 28 hour finish.

I catch Kerry at the next aid station and we start complaining about the heat and how we are just going to walk through those oven-like fields. We both did walk – as did almost everyone else in the race. Around this time, the heat forced the runner in second place to drop out.

We go back through all the aid stations and re-enter the Nordic trail system and its WUDS and PUDS. Dodds is at the Mile 62 turn around point when I get in. John Haywood tells me that Kerry may call it a day with the 100 K option because the heat is bothering her a lot.

Dodds leaves the aid station at around the 13 hour mark to do the 7.5 mile trek to exit the Nordic center and this time get on the ice age trail heading south. I left about 10 minutes behind him and passed Kerry who was about 30 minutes outside of the turnaround.

Kerry called it a day after 100 K, her first effort at greater than 50 miles. When I passed her on the way out of Mile 62 aid station, Kerry said that 100 Milers may not be for her. That appeared to last for less than 12 hours. On Sunday – after she did a six mile run — she was talking about entering Vermont and she already is signed up for Leadville.

The greatest thing about leaving the Nordic center was the time of day. It was getting dark and the temperature was falling to a beautiful 60 degrees. I had dreamed of lower temps all day and we finally got them.

Going south on the ice age trail was more challenging. It had more rocks and longer ups-and-downs, without any of the fields that we could have flow through at night. That meant that everyone’s pace had slowed.

I reached the turn around at Mile 81 about 30 minutes behind Dodds. I enjoyed some soup, ate a sandwich and headed back out. This is where the run got away from me a bit. My stomach pretty much went south from Mile 83 to 95, requiring frequent stops behind large trees.

I encountered Ed on the out-and-back at about mile 87 for me and 75 for him. He said he was right on target for a 28 hour finish. He was powering along and seemed in very good spirits.

At about mile 91, the stomach issue had taken its toll on my energy level and I was in trouble. I recalled advice from Michele Burr about the need to just keep moving forward during the bad times in a 100 miler. So that is what I did. I stopped briefly at the 7.5 mile to go aid station before re-entering the dreaded Nordic trail system.

I finished in 24:37, which was good enough for third in my age group. After a few saltines and some Sprite, I felt good enough to drive so John and I decide to call Kerry’s motel room to see if we could use her shower. I call, get connected and then hear a phone slam down. This happens when I try again.

We bet that Kerry was not angry with us but rather thought this was an annoying pre-7 a.m. wake-up call from the front desk. We bang on the door after arriving and our suspicion proves correct. I shower than collapse on a bed for a short nap while John Dodds showers and Kerry, John Haywood and JM go out for their run.

With a bit of sleep in me, I drive back with John to the Nordic center to see Ed finish. He was supposed to be aiming for 28 hours. Instead he finished in just over 27 hours, causing us to miss him crossing the end line. Kerry’s shower becomes group property at this point as Ed uses it while John Dodds takes a nap in the lobby and I go looking for food.

We regroup at 11:15 and head back to the Milwaukee airport, return the car, and then prepare for a six-hour wait. At least for Ed and I. John Dodds was going to stay in the airport overnight for his 5 a.m. flight the next day. I’m still hungry so I leave Ed and John sleeping in the waiting area and go to the bar for a beer and some food. When I return, John decides it would be best to find a motel to sleep at for the night. He and Ed go off to do that I head to US Airways gate to find a place to lie down.

Ed shows up shortly thereafter, followed by Kerry. We crash at a different airport bar and celebrate with some drinks.

So why is the Kettle Moraine such a tough run? I am sure many will continue to argue that it is an easy course. Under the right weather conditions, they might be right. But the finishing rate is always very low which I think is because the Nordic section kills your legs while vast stretches of the rest of the course lure you into running more than you know you should.

Still, it is a beautiful course. More ultrarunners should take up its challenge.

Tough Time

Thanks for a most unforgettable experience.  I didn’t get back to Nordic for the 3rd time and a 100 mile finish, as I had hoped, but I pushed the envelope a little.

My first outing at KM100, in 98, resulted in a drop at 50 miles after taking a wrong turn and losing an hour exploring Wisconsin farmlands.

I returned last year, stayed on course, and felt fine, but couldn’t get past the 100k point due to the enforcement of the 9:30pm cutoff.

After that experience I had given up the hope of ever attempting KM100 again, until May 19–less than two weeks prior to the race–when I just happened to check out your website and discover that you had extended the 100k cutoff to midnight.  Wow!  A chance to FINISH this monster!  I overnighted my entry the same day.

All well…fate can be unkind.  Because of the heat I was popping Karl King’s S-Caps on an hourly basis and gulping cokes at every aid station.  During the night I took a NoDoz tablet and used caffeinated Hammer Gel to stay awake, which apparently didn’t do the trick because I was rudely awakened when my face bounced off the trail somewhere between
Nordic and Highway 12.  This was no wimpy “trip and roll” kind of thing but a real-for-sure FACE plant–no hands, no shoulders, just face, bouncing off the ground like a damn basketball.  THAT woke me up.

At some point I stopped to take a rock out of my shoe and noticed that my heart was racing.  Seemed kind of odd but then it had been a hard, hot day.  I missed the cutoffs at Highway 12 and Rice Lake, where I finally called it a day and headed back to the motel with my wife.

When we got up at 1 pm, my heart was still racing, so my wife (an RN) took me to the hospital in Fort Atkinson to have it checked out.  They put me in the ER immediately and rigged me up to monitors on one arm and three IVs on the other.  My heart rate was 150, which I can’t achieve on a treadmill with a full sprint.

By this time, I’d been tachycardic for maybe 30 hours straight, and the emergency room docs couldn’t get the rate down.  They tried two or three drugs with no results.  They finally eliminated the possibility of Atrial Fibrillation and concluded that I had a more serious condition, Atrial Flutter, in which the heart just quivers.  This is dangerous because it can wear the heart out and allow blood to pool and clot.

After several hours in the ER they gave me a drug that slowed the flutter from 150 to 70 beats a minute, although my heart still wasn’t functioning in a normal sinus rhythm.  Shortly later, as they were transferring me to the Intensive Care Unit, my heart “converted” to a normal pattern, pumping at my usual 46 pulse rate.

After monitoring the situation for a few more hours, they finally discharged me at 7:30 pm and the wife and I immediately headed to Randy’s for a delicious turkey dinner–our first meal since the day before.  This demonstrates the maxim that “all’s well that ends well” and in view of the alternatives, just being alive and well made up for not reaching the elusive 100 mile mark.

The doctors concluded that the electrical problem with my heart’s firing mechanism was caused by the high intake of electrolytes and caffeine combined with the heat and exertion.  So I wonder what the weather will be like NEXT year…

Thanks for a terrific race with unbelievable support and the nicest people I’ve ever met at aid stations.  Even with the detour to Fort Atkinson, we had a wonderful time in Wisconsin.

First 100 miler

This afternoon, as I drifted in and out of consciousness on the massage table while Igor (yes, really, he’s Russian) tried to work the soreness out of my tired old body, I thought a lot about how truly blessed I am.  Yesterday morning at 10:28 am – 28 hours, 28 minutes, and some number of seconds after I had started – I had crossed the finish line of the Kettle Moraine 100 mile trail run. My training partner and best buddy, Jeff Wold, who planted the “ultra” seed in my mind back in 1995, was at my side, just as he had been since mile 62. My devoted crew, Anna Belu and Kathy Casale, were there waiting and cheering, just as they had been at every “crew accessible” aid station. Anna was taking pictures and writing down the numbers. Kathy had a tear in her eye – yeah, I saw that, Kathy. Race Director Tim Yanacheck came out with a big smile, shook my hand, and handed me my finisher’s award, the coolest little copper kettle. Another friend and occasional training partner, Scott Wagner smiled at me from the chair into which he had collapsed three minutes earlier. And yet another good buddy and training partner, Larry Pederson, who had paced Scott for those last 38 miles, beamed at me, grinning from ear to ear. Yeah, blessed.

Anna, Kathy and I had left the Twin Cities around 10 am on Friday.  During the six hours or so that it took to reach LaGrange, Wisconsin, we talked, listened to tunes, ate a hearty lunch, took turns driving, and had a lot of fun. By about 5:30, we had checked into the motel, the “girls” had changed into running clothes, and I was sitting at a picnic table at packet pickup, comparing braids with local speedster and 100K entrant Christine Crawford. Christine’s braid was judged (by Christine) to be a tad longer than mine, but mine was hands down grayer. The evening was rather warm, and the two of us confided to each other that we are NOT very good hot weather runners. We chatted more as other familiar faces came and went, and I realized that I felt very relaxed and ready for my first attempt at a 100 mile trail run. The heat concerned me a bit, but I felt confident that I was very well trained for every other aspect of the event.

I slept rather fitfully, evidently more apprehensive about things than I had realized. I woke a number of times, but the upside of that was that I knew I was well hydrated. The downside was that I probably only slept for about 4 or 5 hours, total. When the alarm went off at 4:25, I got up immediately to get dressed and get my breakfast down. I tried to be as quiet as possible, and let my crew get as much sleep as possible. As soon as I was dressed, I stepped outside to check the temperature, and also to check for Jeff, who had planned to arrive around 5 am, and tumble into one of the beds we would be abandoning and get a good day’s sleep before assuming pacing duties at the 100K mark. Jeff was there, as expected. Within a few minutes, my crew and I were headed for the start, and Jeff was asleep in the room.

The temperature at the bank in Whitewater was 56 as we passed by around 5:15. The sky was cloudless, and it was apparent that the day would heat up quickly. My stomach was feeling queasy already, probably a combination of too little sleep, too much breakfast, and nerves. I figured the feeling would pass once the RD set us in motion. At 6:00 sharp, 83 hundred milers, 29 hundred Kers, and a couple of 100 mile relay runners headed off into the woods.

I ran conservatively, drawing on my experience of 30 or so previous ultras, including four 24-hour races. As expected, the temperature rose quickly, and I drank steadily from my CamelBak. But unexpectedly, my stomach continued to feel somewhat upset. The smiling faces of Kathy and Anna at mile 7.5 gave me a huge lift, and the concern on Anna’s faceaf ter I spent about 5 minutes in the porta-potty at that aid station touched me. These two friends had each taken a vacation day, and devoted an entire weekend to support me in my quest for 100 miles, and another had driven through the night in order to be there to kick my butt when it would most need that treatment. There was no way I could let these people down. I ate some of the crystallized ginger that I had brought along for battling stomach upset, and headed out on the long stretch to the 31-mile turnaround.

The first 16 miles is well-shaded, and the ginger seemed to be doing its job. This part of the course is quite runnable, and I had to force myself to take walking breaks. The ginger had calmed my stomach pretty well, and I was running strong and on pace to easily finish under the 30-hour limit. Shortly after mile 16, however, there are some long stretches of unshaded meadows. The trails are very runnable, but very exposed to the sun. Knowing my usual vulnerability to heat, I became even more diligent about forcing myself to walk periodically, and made an extra effort to keep my water as cold as possible. At the next aid station, I filled my hat with ice, as Kathy and Anna swabbed me down with sponges drenched in cold water, and then slathered me with sunblock. Meanwhile, an aid station volunteer honored my request to put as much ice as he had to spare into my 70-ounce Omega bladder, and top it up with water. I hugged my crew, thanked the volunteers, and was off again into the oven that these meadows had become. I was staying hydrated, taking a Succeed! electrolyte capsule every hour, consuming Balance Bars and aid station fare, and keeping the stomach discomfort in the tolerable range. But about 30 minutes out of that aid station, I sucked on my bite valve, and nothing happened. I reached around back, and I realized that my pack is so well insulated that the ice had not melted. I had about 50 ounces of ice, melting at a pace slower than I needed it. Uh oh. Just suck it up and trust that all will work out in the end.

But remember, I am blessed. Before I got into any serious trouble, I was able to add some water to the bladder. The downside was that about 10 minutes later, I realized that while I was adding the water, I had dropped my bandana, which I use constantly during long events, for many different purposes. Again, I refused to let myself get too distracted by this little bump in the road, and at the next aid station, another runner’s crew had my bandana for me. Wow. My own crew, my two “babes,” as the usual suspects (you know who you are, Pat, Brad, et al) were calling them, continued with their wonderful support, greeting me with smiles, hugs, food, drink, sponges, and inspiring words.

I ran for many hours through this stretch with Phil Oelkers from Illinois, and we talked a lot and took turns pulling each other along. As we returned from the 31 mile turnaround, where we had made the first enforced cutoff by about an hour, we discussed our pace, and the dreaded open meadows that lay between us and the next enforced cutoff at mile 62, back at the start/finish area. Around mile 50, I think, after some clouds had mercifully helped us through those meadows, my stomach finally started to feel good, and I picked up the pace a bit. Anna and Kathy had my lights ready for me just when I needed them, and Anna, a scientist by vocation, let me know that I had even managed a pace that put me further ahead of the upcoming 62 mile cutoff. When I did get there, Jeff was all ready to begin his role as pacer, and guide me through those last 38 miles. I was 1:25 ahead of the cutoff – it was 10:30 pm.

Jeff and I have run probably a few thousand miles together since I moved to MN in 1995. Perhaps the only person with whom I have run more miles is my wife, Chris Markham. Chris teaches 9th grade science, and had stayed at home to wrap up end of school stuff, and to cheer for our younger son, Ari, who was competing in the 1600 meter race at Section Championships on Saturday. As Jeff and I headed out into the darkness, he told me that he had just spoken to Chris, and that Ari had run a 4:36, good for a 4th place medal in his event. Yeah, man, that was some great news, and got me ever more stoked. We cruised along, just as we have so many times before, sharing our love of running and the outdoors. We talked a little, but said so much more. Every once in awhile, we turned off our headlamps and enjoyed the silence and the dark of night. We listened wordlessly to the coyotes and frogs, and the other sounds of the night. Every so often, Jeff would tell me how strong I was running, and where we stood in relation to the cutoffs. And at every aid station, Kathy and Anna were there to make sure we were eating and drinking well, that we were staying warm, and to tell us how awesome we looked. It was very dark out there.

There was a lovely half to 3/4 moon that broke free of a cloud about 1:00 am. The temperature was now about 60, and I was finally very comfortable in my singlet. Virtually all the volunteers and crews, and many other runners, were now clad in jackets. But Jeff and I were moving very well, and were generating plenty of heat to keep ourselves warm. We were almost two full hours ahead of the cutoffs when we hit the four mile stretch to the 81-mile turnaround, and after stumbling over roots and rocks, decided that it was a good time to do a lot of walking. We power walked most of the way out and back, and still were 1:30 ahead of the final aid station cutoff “back” at mile 85. Our headlamps had been extinguished at 4:59 am, as we witnessed a lovely sunrise from some more of the open meadows that decorate the trail.

We had fifteen miles to go, and six and a quarter hours to get there. And we were still taking frequent running breaks from our awesome walking. All we had to do now was stay strong, and avoid doing anything stupid. Our excitement rose, as did Anna’s and Kathy’s. Their smiles got bigger at each aid station, and even in the daylight, they continued to tell us how good we looked. The volunteers at the last aid station, 5 miles from the finish, had promised pancakes upon our return when we had last seen them at mile 67. And they had then ready for us now! It was doubtless the longest aid station stop of the run for me, but I gobbled down a couple of pancakes with syrup, while Jeff more daringly devoured some breakfast sausage. We headed out of there well-fueled, and with plenty of time to walk it in if we had to.

My stomach problems had never completely gone away, however, so putting so much food in there all at once had a pretty quick effect on me. For the fourth time of the event, I had found a nice quiet spot to squat in the woods. Squatting after 95 miles has all sorts of interesting effects of the body. But I survived, and returned quickly to Jeff’s side, shaking the cramps out of my quads as we powered up and down the hilly cross-country ski trails that would take us home. The sun was up now, and the temperature had risen a bit, but it was still quite comfortable.  But I was finally starting to feel weary, and we were doing almost 100% walking. We were still about an hour and a quarter to an hour and a half ahead of the cutoff pace, so it was just a matter of maintaining forward motion for another hour and a quarter or so. It was about this time that we encountered an elderly couple walking together on the trail. They asked if we were participating in the 100 mile race, and when Jeff replied that I was, and that he was pacing me, the woman asked me, “What do you do with your mind when you’re running a hundred miles?” Without hesitation, I replied, “Ignore it.” About 10 seconds later, Jeff turned to me, laughing like crazy, and said that he might have a new favorite ultra quotation.

We finished strong, running the last mile or so, but still managing to get passed by a resurrected Scott, who had nearly dropped at mile 62, and had looked like a “Night of the Living Dead” cast member at mile 81. Another runner also passed us, but I couldn’t have cared less. As we came into sight of the finish, people were hollering, Anna was snapping photos, Kathy was brushing away a tear, and I was pumping my fist. I had completed my first attempt at 100 miles on trails, and I was proud and grateful. Upon learning a few minutes ago that I was one of only 38 of the 83 starters to complete the 100 miles, I felt even more blessed.

I can’t say enough thanks to Jeff, Anna, and Kathy for their support out there. I don’t want to even think about what it would have been like without them out there, inspiring me and taking such good care of me. Thanks to Tim Yanacheck, Jason Dorgan, and their volunteers for putting on an awesome race. Thanks to all my training buddies for their patience and support along the way. Thanks to Christine Crawford for the cute little flower hair thingie that she gave me for luck as we gathered for the start – I wore it all day, and it is permanently attached now to my race bib. And finally, thanks to my wife and son for inspiring me to run as strong as they both do, and for sending me off with love and confidence.

On the website (http://www.kettle100.com/), my name is listed as a “100 mile solo” entrant. Not the way I see it.