Sunday, December 25, 2016

Devil Dog Ultras 100 miler

Devil Dog Ultras.

41 finishers out of 109 starters. 

We had freezing rain just before the start and into the beginning of the race which covered the dirt roads, single tracks, bridges with a sheet of ice.  The start quickly goes into a single track trail which crosses over a bridge so that took 20 mins to get that far. I thought the single track would be in better shape but that was the same, I could get some traction on the leaves at the very side. I saw a number of people fall that first lap, some people where bush whacking at the side of the trail on some really bad stretches. I don’t think anyone thought we would need yaktrax because no one had them. .  The volunteers were amazing, great to Allison Holko, at the farm to forest loop. She does a ton of volunteering for the club and I was worried she would be stuck for a few hours there as the runners crossed the road on a sheet of ice.
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The first 20 miles (or 6hrs) were all icy, you would find yourself skating yourself over the bridges. Then the sun popped out then and it very quickly melted. After a start in the low 20’s the day would end up getting very warm to almost 60 degrees.

There was no cut off times till mile 81 but I knew I was on 32hr pace for the first 2 laps, so I knew I had no time to waste and keep the pace steady.  The food was amazing, pizza bites, soup, bacon, breakfast sandwiches, what a spread! 

It was a great time coming into each aid station, the cheers, support and encouragement is the best of any race.

I picked up Doug Campbell on Loop 3 (mile 40) Temps where rising quickly into the 50’s and it got warmer overnight! We had 15 degree temperature drops though as we would get closer to the creeks. Keith Knipling passed us on his 4th loop, I was able to keep up until we hit a hill.  The dirt roads were making my quads feel quite sore and after oak ridge there is maybe 2.5 miles of dirt road. I was at 50 miles now and still a long way to go, I still kept it conservative, but still managing to pass a number of runners. Doug told me I was moving well even though I still felt some time constraints. I was picking up a little time but not a lot.  A friend from work met me at Camp Toofy and brought me some starbucks sandwich and hot chocolate. I knew when he started to quiz me at work on what food I like during an ultra was for a reason J

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Doug and I made our way back to Remi just a little after 11pm, in better time than I thought. I picked up my 2nd pacer Amanda, her first time pacing. I wasn’t willing to follow thru on chasing other runners and running stretches I wasn’t willing too as she wanted me too. I felt I was disappointing her because I know how bad she wants to run. But south valley right out of Remi has a lot of roots and is more technical than other stretches of the loop, so I walk most of it. We were soon moving along Oak Ridge trail, told Amanda my quads were feeling pretty sore. Amanda offered to massage my legs at Gunny and it felt great, even if I was stubborn to get moving, it was well worth it! North Valley trail (our regular weekday trail run section) we passed a number of people and Amanda was taken back by how sluggish some of the runners were moving. Welcome to Mile 70.

We were moving really well. After leaving Toofy, Amanda started to drift behind, catch up and drift behind again.  She was behind me a good while until her light started to drift back more I thought she would catch up once again but next thing I know I turn around and didn’t see any light. Knowing she knew the way and hopping she would have yelled out if there was trouble I carried on and I was flying down the trail and into Remi now feeling like the race is underway. Ready for Harry to pace me, I made it in a little before 5am. I had picked up more time! I got to see Amanda come in before I left and gave her a big hug!  Harry told me about all the bad accidents that morning and I was thankful he made it to the race and back home safely that morning.  He had seen someone come into camp Remi with what he thought was a Christmas hat on which turned out to be a pretty bloody head.

 2 hrs later we had daylight then the sleepiness hit. Still moving well, a bit slower but still thankful I could still run.  After getting into Toofy again I knew I would make it back before noon now.  Grabbed a breakfast sandwhich and dropped my pack and took a handheld bottle. Always feels good to take that off. Amanda was at Toofy now volunteering and was so helpful and got me out of there quickly.  After leaving Toofy I was still running but after the bridge my pace dropped off considerably, I told Harry it was looking like a walk in.  I could shuffle run but it was no faster than walking. 

Harry then told me I could sub 29 and I said ‘no way, I’m just happy to finish’… But as we kept getting closer and I was clock watching. I saw it was going to happen. After High meadows turn off onto south valley the trails have less roots and I found myself running again and feeling great! I knew I would make sub 29 now. Last switchback and a few last unwelcome climbs, thru the rhododendrons, I knew those last turns well! Then there was the Camp Remi arrow - I let out some cheers for myself..!!

Hoping we were headed up the right way to the finish (I remember a finishing loop sign from earlier but that was for 100kers).  Amanda was there and I was able to run a good stretch to the finish, putting me at 28:40:31

And a 3rd place female finisher! Quite a surprise.
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Thank you to Toni Aurilio, Team Gaylord, all the volunteers and my pacers for a great run.

I maybe back next year.

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