This year at Pumpkin Holler I decided to try a new distance, the 100k. There were several reasons for this; I wanted to run a distance I had not tried and wanted a new PR, it would be a great training run for an upcoming event, but mostly I was hoping to convince my good friend and training partner to try it. One day it kind of slipped out that he was going to run it and then he was committed to doing it. My promise to him was that I was sticking with him the entire way.
Conditions were nearly ideal for the run. The temperature at the start was probably in the low 40′s and moved into the mid 70′s by late afternoon, dropping back into the 50′s overnight. The course is two 50k loops on mostly dirt and gravel roads around and through parts of a nature preserve. We were hoping for 16 hours best case, 19 hours if things went really bad.
8am the gun fired and we were off with about 200 other runners, many of them were already and more became friends during the run. The first 4 miles were chilly but scenic partially along the river and with a long grade up to the first aid station, Mad Dog. We were at about 15 minute miles which was fine since our plan was to walk at least part of the longest and steepest hills. Everyone was still feeling good and chatting it up as we headed down the hill towards the next AS. Shortly before getting there it was time to take off the long sleeves. From there we had a little out n back of about 3 miles total with a couple of rolling hills and more river views. It was here at about 9.5 miles that the first 100 mile runner passed us which was amazing since they had a 7 mile out n back to start the race that no one else had to run.
At the AS again we grabbed some eats and were on to the next leg which was very shaded rolling hills. Running some, walking some and visiting with others a lot we made the next aid station at 13.3 miles in about 2.5 hours, a little sooner than expected. The next leg was the longest between aid stations, about 5.5 mostly flat and in the open miles. Our spectators were the cows and horses. On training runs here we often saw deer but not today and while elk are in the area we have never seen them while running.
From the next AS we were on to Pumpkin Hollow Road which, while scenic, was seemingly endless rolling hills.
I finally refilled my hydration pack at the next AS. Unfortunately all the AS’s were using local well water which, while fine to drink, has a strong sulfur taste. Not really pleasant but it does no harm either. Then we were onto the roughly 3 mile stretch of blacktop where I proved dancing is still possible after 23 miles. After watching for snakes all morning I figured it had been warm long enough to no longer worry about them. WRONG. As I was looking around taking in the natural beauty of the area I only gave the road the occasional glance. On one such glance what do I see? A small snake about 3 inches in front of me; I think I could have won the Olympic high jump. My friends asked for an encore performance after they stopped laughing. The worst part? It was a really small snake, only about 12 inches long.
We made it through the next two AS’s and back to the start/finish in 6:57:42 for the first loop. A little restocking and it was time to head back out knowing this was going to be much slower as the warm temps had taken a toll. A little running, more walking but it was all enjoyable as the primary goal is always to finish. It was along this stretch we joined up with two super ladies, Brandie and Michele. We covered the majority of the second loop in their company. It was also here that were saw the largest snake of the day, a black snake about 3 feet long. For some reason he did not like me getting in front of him to take his picture without paying.
More walking, less running was the order of the day as we were trying to meet our goal of finishing the out n back before sunset. Success! Past the AS and on towards the next. Robert said he thought he was developing a blister. I offered to stop and use the duct tape but he want to wait until the next AS, maybe because there would be more light than just our headlamps. By the time we got there it was to late, a big blister had formed that made it very difficult and painful to run. We continued on walking some, running some with Robert just trying to find something that did not hurt. This would continue the rest of the run.
Meteor showers were forecast so we kept glancing up but had no luck spotting any. As we heard the coyotes howling in the distance of the peaceful, near perfect night, the four of us continued towards our goal. Through the next AS and onto the next. The goal of a midnight finish was slipping away but was really no big deal, simply something to try for. Onto the next AS then the blacktop where Robert could no longer run through the pain. We walked most of the way to the next AS but we were moving forward. Robert kept going, then started running. He found what I am sure is the one pace that would kill me so I would let him get 50 – 100 yards ahead then I would catch up, walk, repeat. The problem was he was now running the hills too. And increasing his pace. He had dug deep to find his inner runner. We ran several miles and then began alternating running and walking to the finish. We crossed the line at 16:25:58! An outstanding time for his first ever run longer than a 50k, and his only 50k was on this course the previous year.
I am already looking forward to doing it all over again next year!
The ICEdot Crash Sensor attaches to a helmet and notifies emergency contacts of a crash and your location. Be the first to own one. Sign up for our Crash Sensor newsletter and we'll email you when it's ready to purchase.