Happy Easter to all who celebrate it. And it was a lovely weather day in Central Illinois. Today I took advantage to walk 10 miles (2:49) going down to the River trail, to the ball field, back around the gooseloop with an extra full gooseloop lap. Just lovely, and little traffic anywhere.
I decided to make a couple of encore posts about McNaughton Park and my adventures there. Note: at the time I did this 100 (early start), I had finished the 50K in 2003, the 50 mile in 2004, the 100 mile in 2005, DNF (at mile 50) in 2006, did a “drop out, come back and finish” 50 miler (31 hours!) in 2008 (injured in 2007). I might well post a summary at a later time.
Andy Weinberg, the long time race director of the McNaughton Park Trail Runs left the area to live in Vermont. However, true to his word, he kept the 2009 version of the race alive.
Before I say anything about my report, results etc., I’d like to give my heart-felt thanks to Andy, to all of those who so much trail maintenance (there were downed trees all over the place that had been cut up, for example). I’d also like to give a shout out to the aid station crews (Peoria Triathlon club, Buffalo runners) and a special shout out to the Buffalo ultra runners for a reason I’ll name later.
Short version: I took the “early start option” and finished my 100 mile walk in 47:45:16, which is by far my slowest 100 miler ever. But in one sense, it is one of the most satisfying ones too.
The raw data:
1st Loop – 10 Mile 10.000 3:03:18 18:20
2nd Loop – 20 Mile 20.000 6:29:08 19:27 10.00 3:25:50 20:35
3rd Loop – 30 Mile 30.000 14:27:07 28:54 10.00 7:57:59 47:48
4th Loop – 40 Mile 40.000 20:30:58 30:46 10.00 6:03:51 36:23
5th Loop – 50 Mile 50.000 24:18:09 29:10 10.00 3:47:11 22:43
6th Loop – 60 Mile 60.000 28:52:31 28:53 10.00 4:34:22 27:26
7th Loop – 70 Mile 70.000 35:00:02 30:00 10.00 6:07:31 36:45
8th Loop – 80 Mile 80.000 39:18:21 29:29 10.00 4:18:19 25:50
9th Loop – 90 Mile 90.000 43:29:45 29:00 10.00 4:11:24 25:08
10th Loop – 100 Mile 100.00 47:45:16 28:39 10.00 4:15:31 25:33
The course: I will update this with a link to another encore post; note that the course has changed characteristics over the years.
My detailed report
I did have some delusions of being able to go straight through and perhaps equaling or exceeding my previous course best of 34:16 but those delusions were drenched right out of me when the Friday morning weather came up rainy. In fact, it poured all morning long and was still raining when we started; the course was mostly a river of very slick mud (the shiny stuff).
McNaughton (10 mile loops) is tough enough on dry days because of its 13 uphills per loop (1600 feet of climbing). But in these conditions one was not only trying to climb but also trying not to slip back down; it was a complete mess. Part of the reason is that we had 7 extra inches of rain than normal (January-March) so the ground was already saturated.
I tried to keep the old ego in check and eased through the first loop in 3:02; this was my slowest start ever, but it was to be my fastest loop.
I didn’t eat; I figured that I could go 6 hours or so sans food and I wanted to spare my stomach the upset.
The second loop was a bit slower (3:26) but still featured mega slipping; in fact I’d say that the course had actually gotten worse.
The loop from hell This was loop number 3. It was 6:30 when I started it so it was starting to get dark. The course was drying IN SPOTS; basically we had tacky mud (ok), slick mud (sucks) and shoe sucking mud-holes (about a dozen of these per loop). But there were spots where one could get moving.
Still I was starting to feel miserable; I had ate after loop 2 and it just wasn’t agreeing with me. The nausea was back. I stopped at the totem pole aid station (2.5 miles) and rested for 10 minutes; that perked me a bit.
Then when I got to the first major stream crossing; I lost my balance. I didn’t fall all the way in as my arms held me up. Then when I left the creek my foot got tangled on a vine and I almost fell down.
The brutal stretch between the hills after the creek crossing until one hits the prairie all but finished me off. I fell twice on the last big uphill.
By the time I got to heaven’s gate I was spitting up, nauseated and shivering.
I sat by the fire and eyed the “first to DNF at Heaven’s Gate” plaque that someone was making from a slab of wood; he was burning the letters into it.
The volunteers (from the Buffalo Ultra Runners Club) gave me soup and persuaded me to do the 1.1 mile loop. I finished it and puked just a bit. I asked about getting a ride to the start; the 3 miles to finish the loop may have well have been 30.
But they told me that they had a tired runner’s tent with sleeping bags! What a life saver that was; I took a 2 hour rest there and was revived enough to get going afterward. I figured that I may as well get 30 miles.
It was now 14:27 and if I didn’t have the early start, I would have been doomed. But instead I ate a grilled cheese sandwich and then crawled into my car (wagon) to sleep (I had prepared for this).
I was down for about 2:20 prior to starting my next loop, which took 6:03 (3:43 actual walking time). I had started at 5 am and so by 4 miles, the first of the 50 mile field caught up to me. In fact, I was passed repeatedly on that loop by the new starters.
Loop 5 took 3:47 and was going smoothly. I was eating mashed potatoes and drinking soup, Ramen noodles and grapes. It seemed as if I could hold stuff down.
As far as trail conditions: they had gone from “atrocious” to an ordinary “lousy” condition; some of the surface slick mud had gone away put the huge mud puddles had gotten worse.
But then came loop 6; once again I was having trouble digesting my food. In fact I took advantage of the sunny day to lie down next to the trail for 10 minutes at a time. That loop took 4:34; I needed a longer rest.
So I went down for another 2-2.5 hours. I figured that I’d do another 2 loops, rest and do another 2. I knew that I had 25 hours to get in 4 loops. But I’d have to start at close to 7:30 pm.
So I did and the 2-3 night loops were interesting.
The frogs were chattering all over the place and one could hear the great bared owls just hooting their little hearts out.
I wasn’t going that fast (4:15’ish per lap pace) but I was going fast enough to get there but not fast enough to make me sick.
Loop 8 came at 39:18 (walked the end with Ulli, who was finishing his race) and felt good enough to go ahead and start loop 9. The sun lifted my spirits and I was able to chat with others here and there. But I was slowing.
When I got to 90 I told myself “do a 4 hour loop and get it over with” which is what I did.
1. I was hurt by my lack of training mileage; but that couldn’t be helped as I was rebuilding.
2. I was helped by being tapered and by bringing my gear.
3. A tired runner’s tent was a lifesaver!
4. Soup, mashed potatoes and grapes worked as food; my power ade zero and green tea worked fine as drinks.
5. I never blistered up (mud?) but my feet were very swollen.
Here is the data from the various races:
98 people finished the first loop of the 50, 85 finished the race.
74 people started the first loop of the 100, 27 finished the race, though 65 made it to 50 miles.
47 people started the first loop of the 150; 12 finished though 45 finished 50 and 27 finished 100 miles.