The Folly of the 32 Hour 100 Miler

The Folly of the 32 Hour 100 Miler

Hello Friends. I’d like to tell you a short cautionary tale about my recent ultramarathon distance race. I feel it best to do so in chronological order to hopefully bestow upon you the feelings that transpired from incredible optimistic lunacy to the ego crushing reality. Enjoy.

12-21-2007 – Registration for the Mohican Trail 100 Mile Run. Instagram post featuring ever so perfect combination of unassuming gauntlet throwing and folksy gusto. 80 likes.

End of December 2017 – Matt and I conspire to do the full Blarney, I begin to read Once a Runner.

January 5th 2018 – Last Horse Runners discover trepanning. Kind of unrelated.

January 2018 – Matt and I openly discuss going sub 24 like it is old hat. Trying now to determine placement spots in the top 10 to any race of our choosing.

Second week of January 2018 – Pull a hammy on my 3rd of 10 200s on the track when its 14 degrees out with ice. First two were 32s.

February 2018 – I commit to reading Once a Runner rather than studying for the week.

February 25, 2018 – I finish Once a Runner on an airplane ride to Dallas, tell Matt I’m going to go do something stupid. Instead of the intended easy training run on the schedule, I break my half marathon PR by 12 minutes on a Sunday. Epic Runfie on Instagram, 100 likes.

March 24th, 2018 – Matt places second at a frozen hilly death march (OPSF 50) in Indiana. Boners.

March 30th, 2018 – Matt has no feeling in toes

April 1st, 2018 – Kurt finishes LoVIT 100 course unassisted in 33 hours in Luna Sandals

April 4th, 2018 - Matt has no feeling in toes

April 8th, 2018 – I run GO! St.Louis Half marathon. Break newly established half marathon PR by 8 minutes. So ready to go sub 24.

April 11th – Sun comes out for the first time in what seems like years in Saint Louis. Lunch runs begin. Instagram Runfie post. Lackluster 61 likes.

April 20th, 2018 – I have to not do weekend runs because the end of my school is coming and the schoolwork is being a bitch. Matt has little feeling in his toes. Talk of sub 24 begins to decrease amongst friends.

May 1st, 2018 – @Ultrarunningmemes in established as an LLC in Delaware. LHR text group openly discusses the warrants of illegal offshore accounting.

May 9th, 2018 – I finish school. Full time double run days commence with a month to go before Mohican. Matt still not able to consistently run.

May 20th, 2018 – KP makes the wise decision to not Mohican and focus more on getting to Shannon’s 30th birthday party. FORESHADOWING!!

June 3rd, 2018 – Matt runs more than 20 miles for the first time since OPSF.

June 3rd through 8th – Much LHR group text discussion about Matt running Mohican. A common trope is the fact that the race has a cutoff of 32 hours, indicating that it could pretty much be walked.

June 8th 2018 – I take van into shop to have AC fixed so we can use it for Mohican. #vanlife

June 11th, 2018 – Matt registers for Mohican 100.

June 13th, 2018 – Extensive pace charts are made. Mine do not feature times beyond 28 hours. Matt and I talk strategy. I openly discuss going sub 24.

June 14th 2018 – Van is not ready for Mohican. I wait to the last moment to pack all my shit Thursday night so I am up until midnight and have to be on the road by 5.

June 15th 2018 – Enroute to Mohican, Matt’s van’s oil light comes on which requires immediate repair. After a harrowing experience in a sweet Columbus neighborhood the van is fixed and all is well. I see Incredibles 2 with my family.

June 15th 2018 – At camp, 10:45 PM. Not asleep, camp neighbors are playing what sounds to be a Hollister Store playlist (maybe this?) and making sounds too loud for people that are clearly in their thirties. My daughter complains she is having trouble sleeping. I yell “Shut the fuck up.” Music and yelling ends.

June 16th 2018 – 4:15AM Alarm sounds. Current Temp 78 degree. Matt takes two shits at camp. Impressive.

June 16th 2018 – 4:55AM Race briefing ends with a change in the weather report. Instead of lows in the mid-60s overnight there is now a 40% chance of thunderstorms. We laugh together in the face of adversity.

5:00 AM SHARP - Race Starts

5:15 AM – Required bitching that the first mile is on roads

5:20 AM – First largish hill. Feeling slightly Walmsley-espque. Decide to not pass on the uphill singletrack in the first 2 miles due to a feeling of proper etiquette.

6:09 AM – First aid station, hmmm peanut butter sandwiches, potato chips, banana, and watermelon.

8:00 AM – Moving great, Matt and I are 20 minutes up on sub 24. We’re singing show tunes.

9:35 AM – First request for ice at an aid station.

10:40 AM – We pop out of the woods feeling great needing to do just a quick mile around the campsite and pond before we get back to the start finish.

10:52 AM – Fuck this pond. Current temp 88 degrees.

11:40 AM – Matt leaves start and stop first, obviously killing it. Were 20 minutes up still on sub 24.

12:10 AM – I finally get back to the trail after having missed a turn because I am a dumbass.

Next 3 hours – I am somehow just 7 minutes in back of Matt for what seems like an eternity.

2:30 PM – Leave the last aid station before the start stop. Amazing selection of peanut butter sandwiches, potato chips, banana, and watermelon.  Someone says it’s only 6 miles to go. Asshole, its 6.9.

Looking hawt. (photo credit: Mark Imasa)

Looking hawt. (photo credit: Mark Imasa)

3:45 PM. – We openly discuss if the course has changed since we last ran this section. We are sub 30 minutes under sub 26 pace still. Optimistic on how we can make up time on the next two shorter loops.

5:30 PM – Seriously, I hate this pond.

6:10 PM – Pick up Mark as pacer. Spirits are high, sex appeal never been higher.

7:30 PM – At aid station. Selection is peanut butter sandwiches, potato chips, banana, and watermelon. Wait they now have otter pops!!! Me and the kids all get one. Somehow Matt finds and eats pizza.

9:38 PM – Remember that shorter section we were talking about? Well it’s a huge pain in the ass. Matt is beginning to be a competitor on America’s Got Talent for best belching.

10:15 PM – We see a dude on the side of the trail saying he needs just a few minutes to shut his eyes. Definite Everest vibes goin on.

11:05 PM – Pace is not looking great. We’re close to off my chart. Walking is the new running. Why the absolute fuck is it still 87 degrees out?

1:00 AM – Covered Bridge aid station none of my pace charts make sense right now, how could I have made an Excel mistake? I am an absolute boss at Excel. Shits on the resume. Wait no, my math is good (for you Kurt), we’re just slow as balls. Matt eats another slice of pizza.

Sometime after that – Matt needs to sit down on the trail. He tells me to go. I hesitate for 5 minutes. Partly because I think he can rally, partly because I selfishly don’t want to be alone for next 50k and I’m enjoying the conversation. After 5 minutes I bail because my legs feel good and I really don’t want to be chasing cutoffs.

1:30 AM – Last aid station before start stop, holy shit do you know what they have? Peanut butter sandwiches, potato chips, banana, and watermelon.

3:30 AM – Its dark as fuck and still 81 degrees. I still hate this part around the pond.

4:55 AM – Look at that I went sub 24. My only problem is I have 20 miles to go.

6:00 AM – I pound so much caffeine that I’m weirdly wired. It is so incredibly hot. At the aid station a second ago someone said there were 12 miles to go. There are 14, believe me I know. Why does this happen at every race? Do they think telling me there are fewer miles will get me there sooner? I just don’t understand the motivation when doing this?

6:30 AM – I haven’t seen anyone in forever, why the hell am I doing this, I don’t even remember this part of the course.

7:30 AM – Why is it 9000 degrees outside? Why?

7:50 AM – At aid station I wonder if they have any new food for me hmm looks like peanut butter sandwiches, potato chips, banana, and watermelon.  

9:30 AM – Mile 93 – I’m really not shitting I was thinking drop right there. The very idea of going around that pond in 7 miles makes me want to punch a child in the face, hard.

9:30 AM – 11:30 AM – Openly consider cutting the course to avoid the pond.

11:30 AM – I decide to not cut the course and I’ll go around the pond.

11:45 AM – Consider dropping at mile 100. The .5 around the pond is seriously not worth it.

12:06 PM – I finish the Mohican Trail 100 in 31:06:22.

12:07 PM – I commit to never going back there again.

In the end, my experience and I think I speak for Matt as well, was not a critique of the Mohican 100, other than the food at the aid stations, did I mention there were peanut butter sandwiches, potato chips, banana, and watermelon? The truth is we underestimated the difficulty of the race. I know I looked at the 32 hour cutoff and thought, no prob I got this. My training for all intents and purposes was satisfactory, and I was well prepared for a significant effort. The truth is though ultra’s are really, really hard. They are periods of time where there is no colorful tapestry of bullshit to weave to avoid just how terrible you feel and how dogshit you look. Running 100 miles is the great equalizer, you cannot bullshit the distance, it requires effort, time, and relentlessness. And that is a big reason I do them, to stay humble, and to understand that sometimes doin something you want involves doing something you really don’t like, like suffering in the heat for hours on end only to circle the dumbest pond in the world. So be warned, if you see 32 hour cutoffs, it isn’t an indication of a course's relative ease to finish but in truth a warning regarding the difficulty to do so.