Twenty-four hours after finishing the Sulphur Springs 100, I am happy to report I successfully completed all 100 miles on foot, even if barely. Due to the numerous hills, nearly freezing to death at one point, having problems seeing where I was going at night even with a headlamp, foot blisters, utter fatigue, and getting lost with just 5.5 miles to go (and hence actually “running” 102.5 miles, total), I finished with just 20 minutes to spare in second-to-the-last place of all finishers… but of course I was just happy to finish. This was definitely the hardest one-day event I’ve ever done; a true suffer-fest.
Due to a time crunch, instead of posting a full report, here are some excerpts from an e-mail I wrote.
Anyhow, I finished the race! Though barely, with just 20 minutes to spare. That definitely was the hardest thing I’ve ever done; I’ve never suffered so much, particularly in the last 35 miles.
The first half actually went really well… despite all the hills, I finished the first 50 miles in 10:35—and my legs were still feeling remarkably fresh. This was no doubt due to walking every few minutes, since that’s when I’d encounter another uphill.
But on Lap #6 (out of 8 ) I did the dumbest thing, which was to not put on more clothes after I passed my car at the beginning of the lap. The first half of that lap I was fine, but after darkness set in, I nearly froze to death and my body was expending a ton of energy just trying to stay warm. I was breathing hard just standing in place.
After Lap #6, I went to the car to the car and spent about 20 minutes warming up, and also took a nap for an additional 20 minutes.
Then I ran wearing a thick wool coat for the next lap, but by that point darkness set in and I had problems seeing where I was going even with a headlamp. So I decided to walk almost all of Lap #7. In hindsight, I think the constant walking (as opposed to alternating jogging and walking like I did in the first half) contributed to fatigue, due to not giving the walking muscles a rest. Not to mention, I was a whole lot slower.
In truth, running at night while I was cold, sleepy, exhausted, and couldn’t really see plain sucked.
By Lap #8, there was daylight again, but by that time my normally indestructible feet were badly blistered and it was still hard to run. Nevertheless I forced myself to run, even though at some points I was suffering so badly I was moaning with virtually every step.
Then, with just 5.5 miles to go… I got lost!!! I missed a turn, and was in a near-panic since I had absolutely no idea where I was in the trail system, even after finding a trail map. If I wasn’t so tired I probably would have been completely distraught. So I backtracked and fortunately ran into the only person behind me. If I ran into him just three minutes later, I would have missed him completely (as he would have turned off at the turn I missed—it turns out the arrow indicating the turn was spun 150 degrees off, perhaps by an errant mountain biker), and likely would have gotten disqualified even if I did find my way back onto the course due to missing the time limit.
Getting off course meant I did about 2.5 extra miles and lost about 55 minutes. But I couldn’t have cared less about my total time; I just was happy to finish.
I would conclude this e-mail by saying “stop me if I ever think talk about running 100 miles again,” but let me tell you that after this race, I have absolutely no desire to try something like this ever again.
Note: Each lap was 12.5 miles.
Lap 1: 2:28:45
Lap 2: 2:39:12
Lap 3: 2:40:21
Lap 4: 2:45:23
First 50 miles: 10:33:40
Lap 5: 3:22:47
Lap 6: 4:09:49 (Was freezing)
Lap 7: 5:56:55 (Note: Spent ~20 minutes warming up + 20 minutes napping before this lap. Actual run time was 5:08:45 due to walking 95% of the way.)
Lap 8: 5:37:26 (Got lost!)
Second 50 miles: 19:06:55
Total time: 29:40:35
Overall: 31/49 starters (17 did not finish)