Friday, October 27, 2017

Superior 100 Race Report

2017 Superior 100 

Pre race photo - Ian Corless
Me and the crew boss. Photo - Jen

Me: Any sections that are particularly difficult? Dan: No. It’s just relentless.

That was the abbreviated version of a text conversation I had a few weeks before the race with a friend who lives in MN and has run Superior. Not surprising given the motto of the race is ‘Rugged, Relentless and Remote’. More on this later, but needless to say it’s a spot on description of the race.

The photo below sums up my race day. Yes, it was indeed Rugged and Relentless!

The finish. Photo- Jen

The Superior 100 has been on my short list of races to run ever since I finished my first 100 (Wasatch) in 2010. Superior is often on the same weekend as Wasatch and a few weeks before the Bear, so it has always eluded my schedule.  It’s one of the original 100 mile trail races and sports some 21,000 feet of elevation gain almost entirely on single track. Check out photos here!

I purposely didn't race too much this summer so I wouldn't have a lot of post-race recovery time. I ran the Antelope Island 50k in March, Squaw Peak 50 mile in June, and the Mid Mountain Marathon in August. I had a really good time training through the spring and summer, getting quality workouts and long runs in. I knew that even with 21, 000 feet of elevation gain that there was going to be a lot of runnable terrain so the last few months I focused on sustained running workouts. I stayed healthy and by August I was mentally and physically ready for Superior.

Race day started out sunny and cool, but that quickly changed to warm and humid (at least for what I’m used to) as the sun got higher in the sky. I knew from reading about the course that there was going to be a lot of water and mud, but for the first 20 or so miles I was constantly stepping in sloppy mud puddles. I was soaked from sweat, mud, and water! Despite the humidity and wet feet, I rolled into the second aid station where I saw my crew (Jen, Mara, my dad, and Kirk) for the first time feeling completely at ease and in a great mood.
Feeling good early on

Pretending to run in front of the camera
It was after this section that I started to notice how rocky and full of roots the trail really was. We got a bit of a reprieve from all the mud and water, but now I was soaking wet with sweat, and unlike what I’m used to, I never dried out. My shirt was soaked and heavy and my feet felt like I stayed in the bathtub way too long.

I slowed down a bit from Silver Bay to Tettegouche knowing that I didn't want to push too hard in the heat. I felt ok making my way from Tettegouche to County Road 6, but on the steep descent to the aid station I started noticing that the bottoms of my feet were getting tender and I was moving really slow and cautious on the down hills. I got to Country Road 6 where I changed shirts, got refueled, and took off.

The next section to Finland was gorgeous and mentally I was feeling great, but all the running and constant up and down without any real sustained sections was wearing on me. That and my feet were really starting to bother me. I arrived at Finland and sat for a handful minutes and probably complained about my feet and the course having too much running. I got up and slowly made my way to Sonju Lake.

It started to cool off here and that always helps my running, but I thought that it was only 4.2 miles to the aid and it was actually 7.5. Not good for my mental state. I grabbed a light and some food from my drop bag and worked my way to Crosby Manitou aid station enjoying that it was finally getting dark.

I was feeling pretty beat up at this point and knew that I just had to keep moving. My feet were getting worse and any sort of downhill reduced me to a slow shuffle. I got a second wind running up to Sugarloaf where Kirk and Jen met me once again. Kirk decided to run with me to the next aid station. It was uplifting to have him along.

The next few sections were really hard – it was so difficult to run any sort of downhill even though I felt good mentally and was having no problems eating food. The only recurrent thought that I had was that I wished the race, some 20+ miles still, was all uphill to the finish. I slogged my way to the last aid station where Jen and Kirk were again waiting for me. Kirk asked if I wanted him to run with me to the finish and I was excited that he would join me. Having him along for that last section made me push the pace way faster that I would have if I was alone. Towards the end we saw a few people presumably hiking up to meet their runners and it started making me nervous that I was going to get caught. So once we passed over the Temperance River, I pushed it as hard as I could to the finish where Jen was waiting for us.
Coming into County Road 6. I don't think we look to upbeat!

At least I have a dry shirt on.

I finished in 23:42:45 – good for 6th place overall. The second slowest I’ve ever run a 100 (only Hardrock has been slower). This might have been one of the hardest times I've had during a 100 mile race, although my 2 Western States runs might be comparable! I knew going into the race that it was going to be hard – it definitely didn't play to my strengths, which are long ups and down, but I prepared well and felt like I could run a good race.

In hindsight there’s not too much I would have done differently. My training was good and I had no stomach (thanks Electro-Bites!) issues the entire day. The only thing I should have done was to change shoes at 2-3 times during the run. My feet were a major problem starting somewhere around mile 40. I failed to appreciate how hard it was on my feet to be wet for almost 24 hours straight without any chance to dry out. Wet feet combined with the constant technical (rocks and roots) nature of the trail ate up my feet and it was just something that I’m not used to living in Utah. Everything dries so fast here.   

Superior is an awesome race. The course is beyond spectacular – almost entirely all on single track through the woods. This is something that we just don’t get out west. John Storkamp and his crew put on one most well organized and supported race I've done. Thanks! People were super friendly, volunteers were amazing, and crew access is second to none. I’m so glad that I had the chance to run Superior. There aren't many 100s that want to run again, but Superior has quickly become one of my favorites. I will be putting my name in the lottery again for next year! I’d like to say that this is a hidden jewel of a race, but clearly Midwest/East coasters already know what I only recently discovered.

A special thanks to Jen, Mara, my dad, and Kirk for all their support before and during the race.

Thanks for Fuel 100 Electro-Bites for keeping me fueled during my training and racing. Andrea and Michelle are great and have a unique fueling alternative to sweet gus and gels. Thanks to Altra for continuing to make zero drop shoes.

All photos without a credit came from the Superior 100 website photos

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Summer Running

I've spent the summer mostly just running in the mountains and getting ready for the Superior 100 in September. Besides a few local bandit races, the only race I've done this summer was Squaw Peak 50. I put in a good effort there - I felt steady all day and managed to put down 3+ miles of 6:45ish pace at the end to finish in 3rd place.

Thanks to Fuel 100 Electro-Bites for an excellent alternative to sweet fueling options. Electro-Bites are my go to calorie source for both training and racing. They have 2 new flavors coming out - Zesty Ginger and Cocao. I've tried the Zesty Ginger and it has become my new favorite (along with Salty Vinegar). It's very similar to a slightly salty ginger snap. The ginger flavor is fairly mild and not overpowering. I can't say much about the  Cocao as chocolate doesn't agree with my palate.

Thanks to Altra for shoes. The new Timp has quickly become my favorite shoe.

Here are photos from the past few months: