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Sulphur Springs 100

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.

The next time I decide to go that distance, I think I’ll ride my bike—or drive a car.

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.

Time Splits

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

Race Data

Total time: 29:40:35
Overall: 31/49 starters (17 did not finish)
Official results

The start/finish line of the Sulphur Springs 100 in Ancaster, ON.
[Mile 11] This climb on the Hilltop Trail was the steepest during the race.  Thank goodness, it still wasn't too long (just a few minutes).
[The next day] Thanks to all who stuck around to cheer me on when I finished after 29 hours, 40 minutes!  Big relief to be done!
I was joyous when Alan Murphy -- who, along with his pacer Mia, saved me when I got lost with 5.5 miles to go -- finished with minutes remaining.
There might have been just over five minutes remaining, but he finished.  17 others (out of 49 starters) did not.
Forgive me for not having the best sense of equilibrium in this photo -- I had just gone over 100+ miles on foot!
Moments before the race start: Aid Station #1 outside the Lions Club Outdoor Pool.
Director John gives a pre-race pep talk.
And we're off...
[Mile 0.5] One of the many short-but-steep hills during the race.
[Mile 1] Bridge.
[Mile ~4] The Sulphur Springs trail was wonderfully lush as was most of the course.
[Mile 7.8] Aid Station #4.
[Mile 9.1] Aid Stationi #5 was at the top of one of the longer steep hills (still not *too* long, though).
Cameron, Laurie, Theresa, Laurie's dad, and Charlotte at the pre-race dinner.