Thursday, April 14, 2016

Zumbro 100 Miler: 2016 Race Report

The Zumbro 100 mile endurance run is a 16.7 mile loop course, repeated 6 times for a total of 100.2 miles. This is a low-key event in the middle of Southeastern Minnesota's river bluff country. It's in the middle of nowhere, accessible only by dirt road, and there is no cell service. In other words, it's a great place for a trail run. The course features 4 steep, but relatively short climbs per loop, and several smaller hills, along with several sections of flat, wide and runnable trails. The surface is a mix of dirt single track, often littered with rubbly rocks, low maintenance gravel roads, and even some sand. There are 3 races that take place as part of this event: The 100-mile race starts on Friday at 8 AM, the Midnight 50-mile starts on Saturday morning at 12:01 AM, and the 17-mile starts on Saturday morning at 9 AM.

If you look at the elevation profile on the website, you may think to yourself, as I did, "Oh, that's not too bad."

Elevation Chart from Zumbro Website

Unfortunately, when you put that back to back to back to back to back to back, you get this ridiculousness.

Elevation from Strava Activity

There's no real knockout punches here, but lots and lots of wicked body shots. In addition to the climbs, when you throw in 6 trips down Ant Hill (a steep descent with nothing but sharp, unstable large-fruit-sized loose rocks) and you've got yourself one hell of a challenging course. I completely underestimated how hard the course is, which is stupid, given the fact that I did the 50-mile race in 2015. I mistook the fact that since I underperformed in the 50-mile, took it easy and still had plenty of time to spare, that the course must not have been that hard. Not only did I underestimate the physical toll that this course takes, but also the mental toll. 3 loops for the 50-mile is not that bad, especially when you start the race at midnight, you don't really even get to see the full course until the third loop when the sun is up, which is a really neat experience. Now for the 100-mile race, you probably have had enough of the course and know every twist and turn by the time the sun goes down on Friday evening. The night provides some relief mentally, as you tend to focus more on each moment, and each step as you shuffle along through the dark on tired legs. You can't really see what lies ahead, and you may even forget what's coming, which makes things a little bit easier on a looped course, I think. Still, there is some dread in the back of your mind.

This race has become one of two "big" hundred mile events in Minnesota, the other being the legendary Superior 100-mile race which takes place along the North Shore of Lake Superior, from Gooseberry Falls State Park to Caribou Highlands in Lutsen. That course travels along the Superior Hiking Trail through several state parks and features notable landmarks all along the way, such as Bean and Bear Lake, the Manitou, Caribou, and Temperance rivers, Carlton Peak, Moose Mountain, and of course, Lake Superior. It is truly an epic adventure. As Scott Kummer said, "By mile 40 it feels like you're in Lord of the Rings."

By contrast, the Zumbro 100 takes place in the "Zumbro River Bottoms Management Unit" in a pretty compact area. The only civilization nearby is the tiny village of Theilman, population unknown. There are no landmarks on the course. Some parts of the course do have names, like Ant Hill and Sand Coulee. By the way, is Coulee pronounced "cool-ee" or "cool-yay" like Dave Coulier from Full House? This is one of the many things I discussed with Kevin Chem (aka Chevin, aka Young Grandpa, aka Chevinem) on loop 3. Don't get me wrong, this is a beautiful course and features some magical places and breathtaking views of its own, but the loops wear you down and burn you out. I am not aware of any names for the climbs, so I refer to them affectionately as FU-1, FU-2, FU-3, and FU-4.

The course starts off right away with the climb up FU-1, but honestly it's not too bad, even later on in the race. FU-2 and FU-3 are very steep, rocky, and pretty tough. FU-4 starts out ok, and then gets tougher by the end. However, with FU-4, you are rewarded with the opportunity to run along top of a beautiful ridge for a good amount of time.

Some people really hate the sand between AS 2 and 3 (Sand Coulee), but I just walk through most of it. When you have gaiters on, it's not that bad. After FU-3, you're at the half-way point of the loop, and things start to get easier. Knowing this is helpful. When I start each loop, I think to myself, all I have to do is make it to the half-way point, then I'm good for the rest of the loop.

Alright, let's get into it.

I arrived Thursday evening to pick up my packet, drop off my drop bags, and take part in the cookout. Big thanks to those who were there providing that! There really weren't too many people there. I sat down and ate with Wendi, Kevin, and Todd, and someone who I later learned was one of Kevin's classmates who just happened to be doing this race. I didn't stay too long and headed back over to my motel in Lake City so that I could have plenty of time to get my stuff ready. It was already pretty cold outside, with light rain.

Laying out most of the gear
Motel room view, worth the free upgrade

I went to bed around 9:30 and woke up at 5:00 AM, so I ended up getting a pretty good amount of sleep. Definitely more than I have ever got for any other ultra that I've done. In the morning, I had a bagel, some pop tarts, and a protein bar, along with the motel room coffee. After a quick shower and double-checking the gear, it was time to go.

It's only a 20-25 minute drive from Lake City to the start, and it went by quickly. I wasn't really feeling nervous at all, quite the opposite. In fact, I had been feeling the same as I had felt for about the last 2 weeks leading up to the race: ambivalent. I'm not quite sure why. It could be a little bit of burnout from trying to take on the full intensity of a 16-week training plan with only 12 weeks of solid training. Just before Christmas, I had a fairly complex surgical procedure (out for over 6 hours) to remove a rare type of malignant tumor from my parotid gland (just in front of the ear), along with several nearby lymph nodes in my neck for diagnostic evaluation. I first noticed this tumor just before Icebox 480 last November. It was just a small (less than 1cm) but firm and fixed lump, that I thought might have been some kind of bone spur on my upper jaw bone. I went to have it checked out the week after Icebox and within 6 weeks, I had seen several specialists and the thing was out of there.  It is one of those freaky rare salivary-gland cancers that they just don't know much about (MASC). Thankfully, it is low grade, stage 1, no metastasis, and the surgical margins are clear. This means no postoperative treatment, such as radiation or chemotherapy. Having it taken care of so quickly likely means that I am cured, with a very low chance of recurrence. However, since this is a rare type of cancer with little published research, I will be closely monitored, at least for a couple years.  I had my first round of follow ups just 3 days after Zumbro. So I joked that I'd go in and they'd see me looking like shit and think, "Oh my God, he's dying." I know it's wrong to joke about that sort of stuff, but what do you do? When life throws you into a pile of shit, you just have to take it for what it is, roll around in it sometimes and then clean yourself off as best as you can. I don't know how else to put it. And it's really the same sort of thing with an Ultra. It's going to suck, but when shit happens, and it will happen, you gotta roll with it, and if you do, you'll come out on the other side and you will finish. That was a long tangent, but it explains why I only had about 12 weeks to train. The first 2 weeks of my training plan, I was recovering from surgery. The third and fourth weeks were just slowly building up, starting with tiny 2 milers of a run/walk mix. And then in week 5, I finally started to feel "normal" again both mentally and physically and could actually start training for real. The training I put in was solid. I used Sage Canaday's 16-week advanced plan for middle distance ultras with the adaptations for 100-mile races, from The weekly mileage for this plan was a bit past my breaking point, so I intentionally fell short of the weekly mileage totals by at least a few miles. Still, it was more mileage than I had done for any other race. I hit a new personal best for both total vertical and total distance in March, and even cracked 70 miles one week. I think it did catch up with me though. I got a sinus infection and mild bronchitis a couple weeks before the race, just in time for the taper. So I got some antibiotics and took it really easy the 2 weeks before the race, with the exception of one hard tempo run in the hills at Murphy-Hanrehan. But again, I went into this race feeling neither excited nor anxious. I was certainly scared, but I really just wanted to get started and see what would happen.

The Race

A few words of wisdom from RD John Storkamp and 75 of us were let loose, at 8:02 AM.

Loop 1
I don't remember too much from the first loop. We were pretty bunched up at the start, which is normal given that you start off right away with FU-1. I didn't mind. I chatted with a few people, but mostly just let myself start to enjoy the trail, soak in some of the beauty, and the task that lay before me. The weather wasn't too bad at the start. But the wind continued to build throughout the AM hours, and we even had some horizontal snow pelting us in the eyes, which kinda sucked. The effects of this are diminished in the cover of the trees though. It was the poor volunteers who had to really put up with some brutal cold and wind, and fight just to keep tents from collapsing or flying away. I finished the first loop in about 3:49, which is too fast, I thought. I only had some small stuff to take care of at the start/finish. One was to get rid of the duct tape that I had put around my big toes. I found that my shoes had enough room and there really wasn't any rubbing on those hotspots, and the tape was just kind of irritating me and I didn't want to put up with it for another 83+ miles. This took longer than I hoped, as I really had the tape on there a little too good. I should have just dug my fancy new pocket knife (a Benchmade Mini-Griptillian) out of my backpack and cut it off. That's what it's for. Instead, the only thing I used the knife for was to spread cream cheese onto a bagel that morning in the motel room. Since I had my socks off, I put some body glide on potential hotspots and then put new socks on, even though it wasn't really necessary. I did all this from the back of my tiny SUV, by the way. When I first arrived at the race, I had parked kinda far away. Then I saw Wendi and she showed me where she parked, which was closer to the course, so I moved closer to her. But then Griffin backed his damn car all the way up to the edge of the course just past the drop bags. So I got back in my car and did the same, as did Wendi, and many others followed suit. Anyway, this helped immensely, but it may have also cost me time. If I had just stuck with using my drop bag at the drop bag tent, I might have been more focused and avoided wasting time at my car doing other stuff, that maybe wasn't always necessary. Whatever the case, I ended up wasting a good 15 minutes at the start/finish, a pattern that would continue throughout the race. I had got in and out of all the other aid stations very quickly, but the start/finish was a totally different story. It wasn't as bad as last year at the 50-mile race, where I clocked some 40 minute miles, due to an insane amount of time wastage. But still, I had over 2 hours of non-moving time, according to Strava. That is a lot. To top it off, I left the start/finish to begin loop 2 without my sunglasses and then had to run back to get them, as the snow was just drilling me in the eyes. And now I was dealing with another problem. I had half my shit in my backpack at the drop bag tent, and the other half in my car. Big mistake. Just put it all in one location! Thankfully Tim was there volunteering and he helped me dig them out of my backpack and then put my stuff away for me so that I could get going. Thanks Tim!

Loop 1 - Too early to be a smartass... or not (Photo by Todd Rowe)

Loop 2 
The field had started to spread out now, which is what I was looking forward to. I'm not much of a talker. I'm just bad at it. I always pre-judge what I say, and often times end up not saying anything at all. I struggle to keep conversations flowing on our podcasts for Defeat the Stigma. Thankfully Kevin and Julio are great at it. I really don't start to open up until the runner's high hits, but that doesn't come until at least the 50K mark. It was a fairly fast loop again, when you consider the time I wasted at the start/finish, I was probably only a few minutes slower than I was on the first loop. This loop was fairly uneventful, and at the start/finish I ditched my sunglasses, and grabbed my headlamp. I changed base layers. I also tried to poop. It didn't happen. Another 15 minutes wasted at the start/finish. I saw Kevin come in before I left. I didn't want him to catch me, and I knew he'd dawdle at the start/finish too, so I took off.

Loop 3
It turned out that Kevin didn't dawdle too much at the start/finish after his second loop. Soon he was at the base of FU-1, only a little ways behind me. Again, the field had really spread out far and wide by now, so it was just us and one other person in the same vicinity for the next few miles. Kevin and I took turns yelling insults at each other and flipping each other off through the woods and on switchbacks, a standard pattern of interaction for us. Somewhere around mile 2, I was cruising along a flat stretch when I just barely caught the edge of a rock with my toe, and immediately went down face first and ate shit. Luckily, I was able to get my forearm out in front of me and the ground was pretty soft, with no rocks. No damage. I didn't even feel the impact of the rock on my toes, because my shoes are so damn big. A little too big, actually. As soon as I fell, I popped up and softly yelled, "Yes!" like Napoleon Dynamite. Thankfully, Kevin was still a ways back and he didn't see it. I kept moving. After the first aid station, I shuffled through the flat area after the bridge and started hiking when I got to the next hill. Kevin was not far behind and getting even closer. I finally turned around and said, "I give up! I'll let you run with me!" Soon he caught up to me and we ran the rest of loop 3 together. I think that was a good move for both of us. We kept each other company, pushed each other at times, and reminded ourselves to conserve our energy at other times. It was like we were pacing each other. Kevin said that he was feeling pretty good. I was kinda feeling shitty at around mile 40, but I knew I'd come around eventually. Running that loop with Kevin was probably more of a benefit for me than it was for him. I finally reached a little bit of a runner's high on that third loop. He kept laughing at me and calling me Ronaldo, because I seemed to kick every rock. We were both laughing pretty damn hard at times, especially when approaching the aid stations. We imagined ourselves coming into the aid stations and acting like elitist assholes, and just treating everyone like shit. It's so contrary to who we are, which made it even funnier. Sometimes I had tears in my eyes from laughing so hard. All you awesome volunteers know that we appreciate the hell out of you and that we would never do anything like that, but it was just funny to think of ourselves behaving that way. We ended up doing this loop at a more reasonable pace, probably around 4:30. I didn't feel too tired when we rolled back into the start/finish. First 50 miles done in about 12:50, which is an hour and 45 minutes faster than my finish time for the 50-mile race in 2015. So there was lots of time left, and we were both excited to have our pacers there waiting for us. It was going to get very cold overnight, so I put on my winter jacket, grabbed my thicker, warmer gloves, and hooked up the portable USB charger to my watch. I just fastened the watch band around one of the shoulder loops on my vest. After a little more dawdling, my pacer Julio and I were off.

Good times with Kevin

Loop 4
Kevin actually beat me out of the start/finish this time! But soon enough we caught up to him and his pacer, Jason at the base of FU-1. After a little trash-talking from Julio, and some other unpleasantries (again standard protocol for us), Kevin insisted that we go ahead of him. I think he wanted to just be alone. We respected his wishes and went ahead. Wendi and her pacer Todd were now just behind us. Now, I knew that Wendi went out faster than any of us, and she had maintained it. I was hoping she hadn't gone out too fast, but I also knew she had the fitness and sheer grit to be able to push and hold on. I was surprised to see her at the start/finish and then behind us. Alas, fueling problems and being unable to hold down any calories had crippled her, and she was forced to drop after the fourth loop. She still did an excellent job, and I know she will get her revenge. As for me, the 4th loop went better than expected. The darkness slowed us down a little bit, but we were still moving really well. I just wasn't bombing down some of the hills as fast as I had in the previous 3 loops. At one point, early on in the loop, I complained to Julio about a blister forming on my left foot, and we agreed to address it at the start/finish. It turns out that this problem would resolve itself before the end of the loop, meaning of course that it ruptured on its own. Julio was amazing. He synced up with my pace and capabilities right out of the gate. I never had to tell him to slow down, not even once. He just locked right onto me. It was really quite remarkable. There was only one time where I had to tell him to go a little bit faster down a hill. That was it. I was really fortunate to have him pace me, and for the entire last 50 miles! He knew when to push me a little bit, and when to back off and conserve energy. He kept me company, and we talked about a little bit of everything, wandering from one topic to the next. He is truly an exceptional pacer, and with him there, we had our entire DSP team out on the course. We finished this loop only a little slower than loop 3. I know it was under 5 hours, and that includes the dawdling at the start/finish. It was getting colder now, and I was having trouble with my Salomon soft flasks. They kept freezing up. I exchanged one of them for an Ultimate Direction bottle. I ditched my USB charging rig and put my watch back on my wrist. A little hot broth and a grilled cheese sandwich and we were off.

Loop 5
This is where the sufferfest finally began. This is a course that really exposes my weaknesses, particularly the steep climbs. I was not able to move well at all up the steep stuff. I put my hands on my hips, and slowly inched my way up. It was pretty bad. At times, I would lose my balance and falter, sometimes in dangerous places. Julio reminded me to take smaller steps so that I could maintain my balance. This helped, and kept me moving in the right direction at least, rather than wavering from side to side. At the same time, I was able to mix in some death shuffling on the flats, and still able to run the downs. My quads were holding up well, though my feet and ankles were really sore, so I baby stepped down Ant Hill on this loop. By that time, there was only 20-some miles left, so it really became more about self-preservation and avoiding catastrophe. Overall, I was feeling "good enough", except once in a while, I'd get a sharp, stabbing pain in my lower right back. I, of course, went immediately to the darkest place, and thought it was rhabdo and that my race was over. Thankfully, the next time I peed, everything appeared to be normal. I'm sure it was just my back tightening up from horrible posture up those hills. During this loop we had a couple notable things happen. One, there was a dog on the loose running around the trail. Apparently this dog had been running around at the start/finish, humping all the other dogs. Anyway, he started following us, which was fine for a while, but then he started running back and forth on the trail and running into me. It's like 4 AM, and I'm having enough of a struggle as it is, I really didn't need the extra hazard of a dog running around. When we got to Aid Station 2/3. I asked the volunteers if someone could get a hold of the dog and tie him up, because he'd been "running into me and shit." I kinda felt bad about putting it bluntly, and made sure that I thanked them, because I know how tired they are too, and they're out there suffering so that we can all hopefully finish. After some nice quesadillas and a shot of slushy Coke, we were off. But 30 seconds later, we saw the dog run up the trail leading into the aid station, and then he cut back over to the trail we were on, and ran right up to me. And I couldn't take it. I shouted "Get out of here, go!" and he ran back to the aid station. Hopefully he made it back to his owner. Actually, I'm not sure if he was domesticated or not. I don't remember seeing a collar. Then again it was dark and I didn't look too closely. The other thing that happened was after we climbed up FU-4 and had finally started to shuffle along the top of the ridge. We were just starting to settle into a reasonable pace when this bird suddenly fluttered, flailed, and did a total spaz out of the nearby brush and darted right in front of me and out over the ridge. It scared the living shit out of me. I yelped and jumped back, and shouted, "Oh my God! Oh Jesus! What the fuck was that?!" This is really at a point in the race where I felt extra vulnerable and that anything could kill me. It freaked me the hell out. At least it got the heart rate up and gave us something to laugh about. Julio couldn't see what it was because he was behind me at the time. It was on a bit of a downhill, and I took the lead on most of the downs. So now in the middle of the night, I have to worry about fucking spastic birds and not just people in bear costumes. Anyway, we made it back to the start/finish safe and sound in about 6 hours this time. The sun had just started to come up while we were on the gravel road, so we were happy to ditch our headlamps and put on some lighter layers for the final loop, though it was still pretty freaking cold. I grabbed my sunglasses and threw my other Salomon soft flask into a waterproof bag in the back of my car. It was so frozen that I couldn't even unscrew the top anymore. The one UD bottle was good enough though, at the current level of effort I was giving. To be fair, my UD bottle was frozen too, but I could at least get the top off and still drink from it. Todd was there and he poured some warm water into my bottle and that melted the ice, which I was very grateful for. I think the water may have been from a thermos, because there was a bit of a coffee taste every time I drank, but I didn't give a shit. I was happy to just be able to drink! It was about 7:30 when we left the start/finish for the last time. The 17-milers would start in 90 minutes. It was time to get this done.

Loop 6
As I said before, this loop was more about self-preservation than anything. Just avoid catastrophe and the finish is in the bag. I was still struggling on the climbs, though maybe not quite as much. The daylight and eventual warmth were a nice boost. We were able to get rid of our jackets by the second aid station. I started to realize that we were actually going to get this thing done, and began to soak in some of these moments. I got to meet Elizabeth for the first time, our part-time DSP podcast co-host who has helped us out a number of times now. It was great to finally meet her in person. She is super cool. Mid-way through the last loop, the 17-milers were whizzing by. Julio and I laughed as we imagined Kevin complaining about every 17-miler that passed him (it turns out that that didn't happen).  It was great hearing all the words of encouragement from them, getting pats on the back, and all of that. It's funny to hear people say stuff like, "You're incredible!", "You're amazing!", "Unbelievable!",  "I'm jealous of you!", "Hundo, you're a god!" Of course, I've said the same sorts of things at Zumbro last year and at the Superior 50-mile last September. It was just really interesting, and immensely rewarding, to be on the other side of that now. One runner came up from behind and said, "Awesome job Hundo, is this your last loop?" to which I replied "yes." Then he held up his hand for a high-five and said, "Enjoy the shit out of this!" and I raised my hand up to high-five him, and he hit my hand with such enthusiasm that I almost fell over. I thoroughly enjoyed that moment though. There was another time when some female 17-milers passed and asked if I would stop and take a picture with them, because they wanted pictures with all the male 100-milers. I happily obliged. Julio took the opportunity of daylight to run up ahead of me on several hills and take pictures. I was still really suffering on the climbs, but it was nice to capture some memories. Along with kudos from unfamiliar faces, I got to see a lot of people that I do know during this final loop. On the climb up out of AS 3, on FU-4, I was passed by Brian and Kate who were doing the 17-miler, and then fellow 100-miler Erik and his pacer Kari caught up to us. I'm still wondering how I ever got in front of him. He was still power hiking up the steep slopes with ease. This was amazing to watch and made me wonder even more. How the hell did I get up in front of this guy? On the way down Ant Hill, I was again baby walking, Dawn passed me, and she was having a great time and really enjoying that descent. Then on the gravel road, Meredith passed me. This was a great moment, because I had passed Meredith during the last few hours of her first 100-mile finish at Superior in September. Now I was about to finish my first hundred, and she was out there passing me. It was sweet. I don't think the sun coming up or the fact that it was the last loop made it any easier, but these little interactions with people that I knew or didn't know, and all the love I got from everyone, that definitely made things easier and made this loop genuinely feel like a victory lap. That and we also got an extra special boost from Theresa's Banana-Chocolate Chip muffins and Maria's cookies. I cannot thank all of the aid station workers and volunteers enough. One of the last interactions we had with other runners was after the final aid station, just as we had gone into the single track in woods, we heard shouts from two women behind us, "Hey! Excuse me! Can you carry us on your backs?!" I laughed, but before I had a chance to respond, her friend said, "Those are hundred milers!" and she quickly said, "Oh, sorry! Maybe we could carry you on our backs?" to which I replied, "Please do!" We meandered along through the rest of the woods, and then came out to the long path leading up to the horse campground where there would be one last "sprint" to the finish.

Slow grind up an FU

With our DSP podcast guest host Elizabeth 

Still faring pretty well on the downs

Erik shows us how it's done

Taking a break with Kari and Erik, the last time up FU-4

Coming out of the last aid station, less than 3 miles to go! (Photo by Kelly Doyle)

The Finish
When we got back to the campground, Julio ran up ahead of me so that he could take a video of me finishing. I ran as hard as I could all the way in. As I heard the cheers from all sides, I didn't know what to feel. Mostly I was thinking to myself, "My God, this is so stupid. I'm so glad this is over. I can't wait to lie down in my car with the heat on full blast." I wasn't really that excited when I came into the finish area. I didn't feel this huge sense of accomplishment. Again, I was feeling sort of ambivalent about it all. Now, my plan was to sleep in my car for a few hours, reclaim my drop bags, and then drive home. I didn't want my family to bother with coming down, because I knew it would be cold and this is a race where you can't really spectate. You can only see runners when they come into the start/finish. I figured they'd just be bored and cold, so I told them not to come down. As I was approaching the finish line those last hundred meters, to my shock, amidst the cheers I picked out my mom's voice, and I turned and saw her face, and then my wife, and kids, who were holding up special signs that they made for me. It absolutely blew my mind and melted my heart. I crossed the finish line. John Storkamp handed me my finisher's medal and belt buckle, telling me that, "I picked this medal out especially for you, because you're an extra-special kinda guy." I thanked him for putting on such a great race and gave him a hug, and then quickly found my family there. I hugged my wife and two daughters tightly and the waterworks were unleashed. I gave my mom a big hug too, tears flowing. The emotions had been there all along, I had just been suppressing them. Maybe I was scared that if I allowed myself to feel those emotions, that I might not finish. In any case, I was overcome with some of the most eruptive feelings of love and joy that I have ever felt in my life. Even now, just writing about that moment, tears are rolling down my face. My plan to drive home was stupid, and I'm glad my wife saw it as such. Apparently, she only played along with my pleas for them to say home so that they could surprise me, and so that I wouldn't have to drive home. Best surprise ever. Bar none. I then found Julio and gave him a big hug and thanked him for everything that he did. There is seriously no telling what would have happened to me without him there. As soon as we started running together, I didn't have to worry about a single thing. I will be forever grateful to him for that, and many other things. I crossed the line in 29:18:03, more than 40-minutes ahead of my A goal for the race. I really had no idea what to expect, but I made the estimate that based on last year's 50-mile time, and a couple thousand more miles on my legs, that under 30 hours seemed like a reasonable A goal. B was to just finish. C was don't die.
Ace of Pace, Julio Salazar
Gotta love this sign
And this one, which I checked off at the finish

Hanging with moms, just after finishing

Post Finish
After I sat down in a camping chair and put my feet up, I quickly got really cold. I was very happy to get congratulated by so many people, but after 10 or 15 minutes, I needed to get warmed-up, and fast. So, I did get to try out my post race sleep setup after all. My wife started my car and turned the heat on full blast. I climbed into my "bed" after she fetched me a couple more pillows for extra comfort. With my shoes off and the blanket over me I just enjoyed the warmth, being completely sheltered from the elements. The wind had picked up again and it was pretty cold in the start/finish area. I lay there for maybe an hour or so, thinking maybe Kevin would be coming in to finish soon. I put on some dry clothes and got out of the car, still wrapped in a blanket. Even after being in the car, I was having a very hard time staying warm. My kids ran around the campground, finding things to do and stuff to play on. It turns out that they weren't bored after all, and they were actually having a lot of fun. We pulled our chairs up to the side just in front of the finish line, so we could watch everyone come in. It was great to see so many friends finish the other distances. By this time, almost all of the 17-milers were done, but there were some more 100-milers and 50-milers finishing, many of them getting their first 50 or 100 finish. One of the 100-mile finishers was Kevin's classmate. He was leaning heavily on two sticks. He pulled his groin during loop 5 and just hobbled the entire way from there. We had passed him with 5 miles to go, so he seriously must have been averaging close to 1MPH. That takes some serious guts and grit! Wendi had come back to the finish to wait for Kevin. She gave me a big hug while I was in the chair and congratulated me. Erik and Kari were still there in the finish area. Many finishers from all distances were still hanging out. And I'm pretty sure we were all there waiting for one person: Kevin. I kept telling my kids to look for 2 people in all black. Every time someone came into the campground, they'd run down to look, then come back and say, "No. Not all black." And finally, it happened, Kevin and Jason emerged. Drake was blasting from the PA (thanks Wendi), and the crowd started going wild. It was amazing to see him finish. When we last saw each other at the beginning of the 4th loop, I knew he would finish, and I figured it would take a while, but I always knew he would do it. In fact, knowing that he would finish provided some extra motivation for me late in the race. I wasn't going to let him down by not finishing. I just wanted Team DSP to finish. And we did.

Team DSP gets it done. (Yes, I know how stupid I look. Kevin made us wait a really long time before we could take this photo. J/K Kev, congrats on a great race!)

A huge, huge thank you from the bottom of my heart to all the incredible volunteers who make this event possible. Some of you were out there for 4 days straight, which is just amazing! I will surely forget someone if I start name dropping, so I just wanted to thank all of you. Also thanks to John and Cheri Storkamp and Rocksteady Running for putting on this great event. Thanks to all of the runners who made this race as great as it was. Thank you to all of the Break Defeat the Stigma Project supporters who were out there as well, and there were a lot of you! Thank you for your continued support and helping to raise awareness for mental health. Thank you Julio for your incredible pacing services and friendship. Thank you to Kevin for your friendship, not dying, getting that money and bringing home that Team DSP finish. Thank you to all of my friends, runner or not, your support means a lot. Thank you to my mom, my wife Erin, my two daughters, and my entire family for all of your love and support. I cannot do any of this without you!

Enjoying recovery

Dweeb Stats

Official race info from

6 x 16.7 mile loop = 100 miles
Elevation Gain 18,588 FT
Elevation Loss 18,588 FT
NET Elevation Change 37,176 FT
30 Aid Stations
34 hour time limit

Official finish time: 29:18:03
Moving time: 26:56:00 (as calculated by Strava)
Place: 25 (out of 75)


  • Loop 1: 3:49
  • 50K: 7:26
  • Loop 2: 8:04
  • Loop 3 / 50-mile: 12:50 
  • 100K: 16:15 
  • Loop 4: 17:47
  • Loop 5: 23:13
  • Loop 6: 29:18

PRP: 1
MRP: 2
MRP Attempts: 3
MRU: 5

Shoe Changes: 0
Sock Changes: 1


Dweeb Gear
Shoes: Hoka One One Bondi 4 (2E width)
Gaiters: Altra
Socks: DryMax Lite Trail (1/4 crew)
Tights: Craft PR WP Stretch
Undies: Under Armour compression shorts
Base layers: Nike Pro long-sleeve, The North Face long-sleeve zip
Middle layers: Nordic Track long-sleeve, Under Armour Heat Gear tees, Hoka One One tech tee
Outer layers: Patagonia Houdini jacket, Pearl Izumi Fly jacket
Gloves: Champion C9 running gloves, Asics liner gloves, unknown brand from Target with outer windproof material lined with 40M Thinsulate (my cross country ski gloves)
Hat: Adidas Climacool knit cap with modified Break Defeat the Stigma logo (this hat is freaking amazing)
Buff: Rocksteady Running Wrap - Zumbro 2015 edition
Hydration vest: Salomon Advanced Skin 5L with 2 Salomon soft flasks (till loop 5)
Backup water bottle: Ultimate Direction 20 oz. (loop 5 till finish)
Watch: Suunto Ambit3 Peak
Headlamp: Zebralight H600Fc III High CRI
Portable USB Charger: Photive BOLT

Dweeb Nutrition
Grilled Cheese
Chicken Broth
PBJ Quarters
Salted Oranges
Frozen Bananas
Potato Chips
Honey-Stinger Waffles (only 4 the whole race)
Saltstick caps and Endurolytes
Banana-Chocolate Chip Muffins
Coke (every AS after mile 53)