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Race Report: 2016 Massanutten Mountain Trails 100

MMT, my friend.

MMT 100 map and elevation profile
The race map and profile. 102 miles and 17,834 ft of gain

Thank You

As usual, let me start off by thanking all the volunteers for making this race possible. One of the main reasons I came back to MMT this year was because of how awesome the aid stations are. Plus, the vibe put out by all the runners and spectators is truly exceptional.

Thank you Emily for pacing me (and also volunteering at Shawl). You put up with my flatulence and my crankiness (hopefully I wasn’t that bad). You kept me entertained with your stories and conversations. You were OK with silence when I didn’t feel like talking. You kept saying I didn’t need you. That I could do this race on mine. Maybe this is true. Maybe not. One thing is for certain. I am glad we met as I have now made a new friend for life. Oh, and your vertical jump after 40 miles is quite impressive!

Last, but of course not least, thank you to my wife and ride bride, Falling Angel. You don’t complain about my time consuming training. You have sacrificed every weekend for the past 6 months to join me running all over New England. You cook me dinner when I don’t have time (which is plenty), and you often cook me more than 1 dinner a night because I eat like a champ! But of course, thank you for crewing me. Staying up for 29 hours, driving around the dirt roads of Virginia cannot be easy. If you ever become as dumb as myself and decide to run 100 miles, you bet I will crew your ass. Hmm…that sounds a bit naughty…back to the story.

Training

If you have been following along with my blogs this year, you will know 2016 is the year of the HillyHynerNuttenRabbit.

In February I made the trip to Maryland for the Hashawha Hills 50km. It felt good to get away from the bitter cold in New England. Like all tune up races, I treated it like a training run. I was very happy with my 6th place overall finish.

Three weeks before MMT, I headed to Pennsylvania for the Hyner Trail Challenge 50km. This training run helped me assess my mountain legs for the notoriously famous ups and downs of MMT. I guess my mountain legs were doing good as I placed in the top 14% overall.

After Hyner I began the well-deserved taper. I cut back my miles and focused on MMT race planning. If you asked me how I felt with 10 days to go until MMT, I would have answered, “I have never felt more ready!!!” Then the shit hit the proverbial fan.

The Shit

Exactly 9 days before the race I suddenly get a sore throat. By suddenly, I mean just that. One minute I feel like king of the mountain. The next minute I dread swallowing. A few minutes later my head is congested, my nose starts to run and I begin to sneeze. A very sudden cold hits me like a ton of bricks.

Over the next few days, I take things very easy. I cut out any sort of running. I try to think of being sick as a positive for it really prevents me from saying, “Ah, I’m bored. I think I will go for a short 3 mile run.”

With 6 days to race day I am feeling about 80% myself. I decide to go for that short 3 mile run on boring old roads. My pace is pretty decent, but I have one heck of a cough and my chest is very much congested. Finishing my shortest run since November of 2015, I feel a tremendously tight left calf muscle. Welcome some more shit.

As race day approaches, my body decides to give up. I stay stuck around that 80% level. I have a cough and my head and chest are congested. My left calf even hurts when walking despite stretching and foam rolling multiple times a day. How could I take such a turn for the worse?

With only 2 days to go, I am pretty desperate. I take my chances with a sports massage. I have had a few in the past and none have ever really helped, but like I said, I was desperate. So I go to Essential Therapies, a day spa near me, and see Amy. She performed a sports massage with some sort of Thai stretching. It hurt like hell! Especially when she used the “torture device”, a cylinder shaped hot stone on my peroneal area. She is so lucky I did not kick her in the face! I really wanted to! Afterwards, my calf really didn’t feel much better. Typical massage experience for me!

A few hours later myself and Falling Angel hit the road. As we drove through New York, my stomach started to hurt. The pain kind of felt like hunger pains, but there was no way I was hungry. I was eating like a fiend all week! Let’s take a quick shit tally here. Sick, tight calf, hurting stomach. I’m beginning to question running MMT.

We stop for the night at a hotel. Before bed I notice that my left calf, the recipient of the torture device, is now black and blue. I can’t even touch my skin without yelping in pain. Let’s add this to the shit list.

On Friday morning, I awake before Falling Angel and try to cross off something from the shit list. Nope, everything is still there. Then FA wakes up abruptly complaining that she is really hot and dizzy. We get her in the tub to cool off. She starts to panic, only making matters worse. Soon the notion of taking her to the nearest ER sets in. We get her in the car and off we go. Yet another shitty item to add to the list. Luckily, however, this issue passes as we get closer to the hospital. I joke that it was morning sickness. FA was not too pleased with my joke. Back to only 4 items on the shit list.

As we make our way back to the hotel I notice something. My left calf feels amazing! I mean it still is black and blue and hurts to the touch, but there is no tightness. Cross another item off the list! Thank you so much Amy! I will be back!

Friday in Virginia

With a stable, albeit long, shit list we make it to Virginia and partake in the usual pre-race festivities at Caroline Furnace. My ailments are not noticed as I catch up with old friends and listen to the pre-race briefing. Afterwards, we grab dinner and head back to the hotel. That night I got a whopping 2.5 hours of sleep before waking up for good at 1:30 AM on Saturday.

Pre-race photo under the MMT 100 banner
The last time I will be clean for awhile

Saturday Pre-race

This is it, one final time I am able to cross something off the shit list. Let’s start the assessment.

Chest cold? Yep, still there. Son of a bitch!
Calf still loose? Yep. Yay!
Calf sore to touch? Yep. Damn! Oh well, at least this doesn’t mean much while running.
Stomach pains? Nope. Yippie! Things are looking up!
Falling Angel not dizzy? As good as can be. Yay, I have a fully-functioning crew!

I won’t bore you with the rest of the usual details (i.e. eating, taping of feet, etc.). Let’s just conclude the pre-race with this vision. A group of 197 ultrarunners standing in a wet field with only the glow of their headlamps illuminating the race course ahead. I am standing somewhere in the middle of the pack. There is no time to get anxious or nervous as the race director quickly counts down to 0.

Start of the 2016 MMT 100
Off we go

Start (0.0) to Moreland Gap (4.1)

The entire 4.1 miles are predominately on a dirt road (a portion is paved). For most of the time, you are ascending gradually.

Like last year, I settled into an easy pace running alongside my friend Chris. Chris is also known as the Cookie Man by many runners as he brings custom cookies to the races. We caught up on life, training and the drive down. As we ran, I began to start coughing every now and again. My chest cold was starting to act up and I wasn’t even 1 mile into the race. I was starting to wonder how my day was going to play out.

Moreland Gap (4.1) to Edinburg Gap (12.1)

After 43 minutes I finally hit the first section of singletrack trail. For the first time I actually needed my headlamp. Prior to the race, I heard many comments about how much rain the area received the last few weeks. I was expecting my feet to get immediately soaked on this section of the trail. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the trail was actually kind of dry.

Shortly after entering the woods, the course begins the rocky ascent to the ridge of Short Mountain. I actually kind of enjoy this ascent, and this year would be no different. I set an easy pace up the rocks before making the sharp right turn that marks the end of the ascent and the beginning of a 3 mile stretch of rocks.

Like the previous year, I vowed to hike this rocky stretch. It is dark, and I have no desire to twist an ankle so early in the race. There is plenty of time left to pick up the pace. As I hike, many runners dart past me (including Chris). For the first time today, I am left in my comfort zone (alone on a trail). This gives me some time to assess myself. Physically I am doing fine, but I realize that I have an unfamiliar dizzy feeling. When I look ahead things start to spin. When I look down things are normal. I keep my eyes peeled on the rocks below my feet.

Just as the rocky section ends the sun begins to shine throughout the Virginia landscape. With an illuminated, smoother trail I begin a comfortable run through the woods. I begin to catch up with several of the runners who passed me early on the ridge. I meet Laura, a lady who grew up in Connecticut and who knows of some of the trails I run there. I also meet another lady who grew up near me in Pennsylvania. Small world as usual.

Leaving the woods, the course turns left on a dirt road that brings you to the first real aid station of the race at Edinburg Gap. This aid station has an awesome vibe to it. Spectators are parked on the side of the road as you approach. In return, you are greeted with boisterous cheers and motivational yelps for quite some time before actually arriving at the aid station.

With words of encouragement in my ears, I arrive at the aid station. I grabbed a few items from the table, and chatted with FA. I tell her about my coughing and dizzy spells. She told me I look fine. This reassured me, and motivated me to keep on moving down the trail. Later I found out she was just being nice. Apparently I looked like shit getting into the aid station.

 

Running into Edinburg Gap during the MMT 100
Coming into Edinburg Gap

Edinburg Gap (12.1) to Woodstock Tower (20.3)

Leaving Edinburg Gap, there is a long gradual ascent to the ridgeline. Much of it is very runnable, and I wanted to take advantage of that. However, I slowed my pace in hopes that the dizziness would diminish. As I climbed, I could not help but think back on last year’s race. At this time last year the temperatures were already in the upper 70’s. I was sweating profusely and was drinking like a fiend. This year, the weather was so much more tolerable. There was a fair amount of humidity, but nothing too crazy.

After the ascent, the course stays on the ridgeline well past the next aid station. The course is extremely runnable here. I settled into an easy 11 minute pace and cruised. I found myself in between bubbles at this point. I was generally running alone here. My dizziness also really started to bother me at this point. I was 100% fine when running. However, once again, when I would slow or take brief break from running I felt like I was going to fall over. I turned on my MP3 player for the first and only time at this point. The music helped me focus a bit less on the odd feelings I was having. It was also at this time that I was getting nervous enough to consider dropping out the next time I would see FA, mile 33.3 at Elizabeth Furnace.

Arriving at the aid station, I learned that I was averaging a 4.5 mph pace despite everything that was going on. I grabbed a few morsels of food and drank some Gatorade thinking that maybe my dizziness was caused by an electrolyte imbalance.

Woodstock Tower (20.3) to Powells Fort (25.8)

The next 5.5 miles to Powells Fort is pretty easy. The trail continues to remain on the ridge before making a steep descent to the aid station. I battled my dizziness the entire time. It was during this time that I really started plotting out what to try at the next aid station to maybe make things better. My plan?

Eat lots of food. I mean lots. To the point of feeling full.
Drink 3 cups of Gatorade. Get those electrolytes back up.
Drink 2 cups of soda. I rarely drink soda, but maybe the caffeine would do me good.

Other than strategizing, I don’t remember too much from this section. I was alone the entire time. Every once and awhile a caught a glimpse of a lady ahead of me. Later I would catch up to her and find out she grew up less than 20 miles from me in PA!

Powells Fort (25.8) to Elizabeth Furnace (33.3)

At the aid station, I followed my strategy to a T. Well sort of. I drank 3 cups of green Gatorade-like liquid. Yummy! Later I realized I drank Mountain Dew instead of Gatorade. Whoops! I drank my planned soda and ate chips, watermelon, cantaloupe and potatoes. Much to my delight the banana bread that I oh so loved at Woodstock Tower last year made its appearance here today. I ate 3 big slices and thanked the volunteer profusely for bringing it. Once again, it was my favorite snack of the entire race! Before leaving, I dumped a cup of ice into my hat. I would continue to do this until closer to nightfall. It really helped take away some of the heat effects.

The first couple miles out of Powells Fort are on a dirt road that has a gradual ascent. Last year I remember this was the low point of my race. The heat got to me. What should have been runnable terrain turned into a fast hike with me questioning why the hell I was out there. This year was the exact opposite. The dizziness I was experiencing for the first 25 miles seemed to suddenly vanish. I was finally feeling myself! This year I ran pretty much all of the road until the course turned left into the woods.

I caught the Cookie Man just as the ascent before Elizabeth Furnace began. This ascent is a bit exposed, and today I started feeling the true warmth of the sun. I can’t even remember this climb from last year. From here, it was a quick descent into the aid station. During this descent, I got excited knowing that I would get to see FA for the 2nd time today. The biggest excitement was knowing that I could tell her I was feeling better. I hate when she worries about me.

Sitting down at Elizabeth Furnace during the MMT 100
Me at Elizabeth Furnace

Elizabeth Furnace (33.3) to Shawl Gap (38.0)

After a quick stop, I was back on my way. This section is fairly short. It starts with a long climb followed by an equal descent. I can keep the pace fairly quick here so I ditched my vest and just went out with one bottle. It sure felt nice running with nothing on my back. Maybe next year I will try this for the whole race?

Unfortunately, my dizziness started coming back on the way down to Shawl Gap. Soon enough, I was at the aid station. FA immediately picked up that I wasn’t feeling great. I grabbed a seat, zoned out for a bit and nibbled on some food. It was at this time I got to meet my pacer, Emily, for the first time. Emily was volunteering at Shawl Gap, and she was going to pace me for the final 40 miles. What a beast!

Running into Shawl Gap at the MMT 100
Coming into Shawl Gap

Shawl Gap (38.0) to Veach Gap (41.1)

The 3.1 miles to the next aid station is 100% rolling dirt road. Last year I walked a good portion of this stretch. This year, even with the dizziness, I ran everything but the steepest ups. Nearing the aid station, the wind picked up, and I started to feel a few drops of rain. As I rolled into Veach Gap, the rain started to pour. I couldn’t help but think that the thunderstorms last year started when I was at the exact same spot. However, this year, I was here more than 3 hours earlier.

Veach Gap (41.1) to Indian Grave Trailhead (50.1)

Many people consider the climb out of Veach Gap to be the toughest of the course. It is a long grind. To make matters worse, you can see that long ascent laid out ahead of you. It looks like there is no end in sight. My strategy here is to keep my eyes peeled on my feet, think of something to take my mind off the climb and just keeping putting one foot in front of the other. The strategy seemed to work this year as I was at the top before I knew it.

Somewhere around here I started to get really paranoid. The rain was driving down hard. I heard that we received a quarter inch of rain in an hour. The rain wasn’t the real problem though. I was still dizzy, and now both my left and right hands started to tingle. I couldn’t really move my fingers too well either. I guess the only comfort I had was knowing that both hands tingled. If it was only the left hand, I probably would have thought I was having a heart attack. I convinced myself that the hand issue was probably just from the cold rain and a salt deficiency. I popped 3 S-caps and wished for the rain to stop.

My wish was answered almost immediately. While on that runnable ridge, the rain stopped and the sun started to shine bright. It was also at this time that I caught up to the Cookie Man once again. We spent the descent to Indian Grave together and caught up on each other’s days. It was nice having somebody to talk to. Even better yet? My fingers felt normal and my dizziness was no longer lurking about.

Indian Grave Trailhead (50.1) to Habron Gap (54.0)

This is another section of 100% rolling dirt road. I ran most of this section this year which was a huge motivator for me. I was going to get into Habron by 5PM (54 miles in 13 hours)! The only bummer about this section was that my feet started to feel like they were getting blisters. I originally planned not to change my shoes until Gap Greek I at mile 69. However, it was during this time that I decided I really needed to make a change at Habron.

I have mixed feelings about my stop at Habron. A goal of mine for this race was to be more efficient at aid stations. So far, I was doing quite well with a maximum stop length of around 6 minutes. However, Habron had too many luxuries. First, I used the one and only bathroom on the course. Then I changed out of my wet clothes and put on new shoes. As this was going on, it started to rain again. I sat a bit longer underneath an umbrella in hopes of keeping my new clothes dry. Oh and the 3 McDonald’s cheeseburgers FA brought me certainly kept me sitting in the chair a bit longer than I wanted. When I finally did get out of the aid station almost 40 minutes elapsed. I kept telling myself that these 40 minutes were well worth it. I was packed full of calories, my feet were prepared for more miles and any additional chafing would be prevented. I was setting myself up for success.

I also bumped into Fred at this time. He would soon become a welcome sight for the rest of the race.

Habron Gap (54.0) to Camp Roosevelt (63.9)

As I made the long climb out of Habron, I was not in a very good mood. I was mad at losing so much time. People I passed a long time ago were now ahead of me. I was also mad at switching into compression shorts. They were much warmer than the mesh shorts I was wearing earlier. Lastly, the 3 cheeseburgers certainly didn’t feel awesome in my stomach.

I did get a big boost though once I reached the top of the climb. Last year, I had to put on my headlamp at this point in the race. This year I still had plenty of sunlight left. For the remainder of this section I made a little goal for myself. I wanted to get in and out of Camp Roosevelt before sunset. This helped me push a bit harder as I had little margin for error.

I arrived at Camp Roo at 8:05 PM. Temperatures were starting to drop so I put on my long sleeve. I also put on my headlamp and picked up my pacer, Emily, for the final 40 mile push.

Sitting at Camp Roosevelt during the MMT 100
Getting ready for the night

Lo and behold, Fred came wandering in. We exchanged a few words and grunts before I set off again.

Camp Roosevelt (63.9) to Gap Creek I (69.6)

Leaving Camp Roo I was excited to have achieved my mini-goal. I did not need my headlamp yet!

The climb out of Camp Roo was nothing but a river this year. My feet were immediately soaked. The time flew by as me and Emily got to know each other. I often like to keep quiet on the trail, but I think we talked this entire section. I immediately knew we had a good vibe going, and that everything would be fine and dandy over the remaining hours of the race. I also knew at this point that I was going to finish the race. Heck, I could walk it in from here if need be.

Crossing the lighted bridge into the aid station, I was upbeat. I took time here to change into my 3rd and final pair of shoes and socks. I also ate whatever pierogis and pizza I could get my hands on. Yummy! This was certainly my second favorite food of the race.

Bridge at Gap Creek for the MMT 100
A welcomed sight in the dark

Fred was also there to keep me company.

Gap Creek I (69.6) to Visitor Center (78.1)

This next section is my least favorite of the race. The initial climb isn’t so bad, but the rolling terrain at the top with the addition of unrelenting rocks just slows me down so much. It isn’t a physically demanding section for me. It is however mentally demanding. At this point in the race I just want things to be over, but the rocks make sure to keep me on the course longer than I want.

For much of the rocks I stayed at the tail end of a group of runners. I wasn’t in a talkative mood at this point so I just listened to the conversations surrounding me. In my head all I kept thinking about was Q’s View. I knew that the rocks diminished at this point, and the trail became runnable once again.

Last year, clouds prevented any views. This year, Q’s View was awesome. The lights below provided a bit of comfort. Maybe I wasn’t so far away from civilization? Better yet, it was now time to run. Emily and I scooted past the group of runners and ran the remainder of the trail out to the 3 mile long dirt road leading to Visitor Center. I was ecstatic to find that I was able to run the entire road section. My body was holding up well and the dizziness from earlier seemed to disappear.

At Visitor Center, I sat next to Fred once again. We chatted for a bit as we looked for food. Both of us, by this point, did not really find gels and Clif bars appetizing. We were craving warm food. Unfortunately, there was not much to choose from here in terms of hot food. I remember Fred’s wife, giving him a cup of oatmeal which he refused to eat. I eagerly accepted that cup and gobbled down the gooey mess. I don’t remember what it tasted like, but it was something that would get me to the next aid station.

Eating otameal at the MMT 100
Thanks for the oatmeal

Visitor Center (78.1) to Bird Knob (81.6)

The climb to Bird Knob is another one of those climbs that runners bitch about. I personally don’t find this one too bad. It is steep, but short. I made quick work of the climb and was happy for the very gradual up to the aid station.

I was feeling good here, but I decided to walk the entire ridge. I still had over 20 miles left in the race, and I didn’t want the last bit to feel like a death march. So I walked…with a purpose of course.

Nearing the aid station, the wind really picked up. For the first time during the night I was starting to feel a bit chilled. Temperatures were dropping to the 30’s and the wind certainly added a bit of a chill factor. I was originally planning to eat a bunch of warm food at the aid station, but the wind was too much. I grabbed a few tater tots and pierogies before quickly heading on in I hopes of staying warm.

And yes, Fred was there once again.

Bird Knob (81.6) to Picnic Area (87.9)

The course from Bird Knob to Picnic Area has a bit of everything. A runnable downhill, a short steep up, a steep down, a gradual down that is followed by a gradual up with a few stream crossings thrown in. This section always seems so long to me.

Like the ridge leading to Bird Knob, I decided to hike the gradual down and up nearing the aid station. I was really worried about my legs blowing up so late in the race.

The biggest thing I remember about this section was that I started to get hungry. The minimal amount of food I had at the last 2 aid stations was not enough. I was really hoping to eat like a fiend at Picnic Area. Sadly, there was not much in the way of hot food here either. I knew I needed calories, but not much was appetizing at this point.

The only good thing was that I achieved another mini-goal of mine. I left Picnic Area before sunrise. 16 miles to go and it was still dark out!

Picnic Area (87.9) to Gap Creek II (96.8)

The high of being so far into the course without sunrise lasted only so long. Soon my hunger really started taking over. I forced myself to eat “runner food”. First some Bloks. Then a gel. Then another gel. As the sun came up I was making my way up the second to last climb of the course. I was also in a pretty bad mood. I stopped talking altogether. I just wanted to get to the top. Things would be better at the top. I also ate another gel.

The sugars finally started to kick in near the top of the climb. My mood started to pick up once again. I was excited to know that the remainder of the miles to the aid station were basically a dirt road with varying degrees of descent. I dug deep and pushed the pace a little bit. I started to realize that my legs were not going to blow up. I also started to realize at this point that a sub 30 hour finish was quite possible. That was my original goal entering the race so I was very motivated at this point.

Entering the last aid station I realized I had almost 3 hours to go the final 6+ miles and still finish in less than 30 hours. I sat down and spent time chowing down on donuts and fruit. A lady next to me was warming a Chick-fil-a sandwich by the fire. I made some sort of comment about it, and to my surprise she offered it to me. I guess I wasn’t that hungry because I actually turned it down!

This stop was quick. I was soon headed out for the final section. I was on cloud 9 knowing that I would finish in sub 30. I was however a bit disappointed as I left before Fred got in. I was really hoping all was OK with him.

Running out of Gap Creek II at the MMT 100
Leaving the last aid station

Gap Creek II (96.8) to Finish (103.7)

I ran out of Gap Greek II and realized I had a shot at a sub-29 hour finish. It wasn’t going to be easy. I had about an hour and 40 minutes to go another 6.9 miles. This included one last climb up Jawbone and a lengthy section of rocky terrain before hitting the final 4-ish miles of dirt road down to the finish line.

For me, this last climb seems to fly by. I had 2 bottles for this stretch so I was feeling a bit lighter without the vest. I climbed with purpose and felt like I was actually moving faster this time up Jawbone than at mile 70. Looking back at my times, I actually completed this climb almost 4 minutes faster compared to at mile 70. How about that! I always feel like I am a more efficient climber without a vest on my back or poles in my hands.

The next stretch of trail before reaching the dirt road is probably my second least favorite section of the course. After 100 miles I am tired of rocks. There are plenty here. I just want to take it easy. The rocks don’t help with this. I won’t to move fast and get the race over with. The rocks slow me down. This mile just seems to drag on and on. Nearing the end of the rocks I know I will finish. I start to get a little bit more chatty.

At the end of the rock field, I spot a runner ahead of me. He is moving slowly. I know we can catch up and move up one place. We reach him at the road and begin the long descent. Last year, I had to walk portions of this road. My knees were shot and my ankles ached. Today I found myself falling into a comfortable 10 minute pace. This is when I looked at my watch. Hmmm…I need to average just better than 10 minute miles to go sub 29. The thought of running any faster was daunting.

The runner we caught up to was running step for step with me. This irked me a little bit. I wanted to gain a spot without working for it. “Screw it!” I said to myself. If this guy wants to run with me I am going to make him work for it! I asked Emily what was left in her legs. She said, “Marathon pace” and took off running. I followed suit. We bolted down the road. The pace felt surprisingly comfortable. We were nearing 8 minute miles after having run 100+ miles and gaining 18,000 ft of elevation. I did not know how long I could keep up this pace, but I wanted to find out.

MMT veterans know there are 6 bridge crossings before reaching the turn into Caroline Furnace and the finish line. I started counting them down. One. Two. Runner ahead. Let’s get him! Pass the runner. Three. Another runner ahead. Pass the runner. Four. Five. Another runner ahead. Pass the runner. Six! The last few miles of the race were my fastest. I felt really motivated.

Making the turn into Caroline Furnace, I looked at my watch. 28 hours and 40 minutes. I was going to pull off a sub 29 hour finish! I walked a bit of the last hill before finally sucking it up and running the rest. I ran through the woods, across the questionable bridge and into the field for my final sprint. Emily veered off to meet me at the finish.

As Emily went left, I went right. Underneath a few trees, through some swampy spots in the field and finally curving left into the finisher chute. I could see Emily jumping (surprisingly high) and hollering. Kevin, the R&D, was on the megaphone announcing my presence. I have no clue what he was saying. My wife stood off to the right side in hopes of grabbing some pictures.

Jumping for joy at the MMT 100
Look at that vert

The chute was over way too soon. I guess I ran too fast. I wanted to bask in the glory of cheers a bit longer. But as the old saying goes, all good things must come to end. I crossed the finish line, shook Kevin’s hand (the official end), grabbed my finisher hat and got the customary finisher pictures taken before grabbing a seat. Surprisingly I was not exhausted.

Finishing my second straight MMT 100
Completing my second MMT in a row

Post-Race

As I sat on my camp chair, wrapped in a blanket, eating breakfast sandwiches and some sort of soup I couldn’t help but think about my accomplishment. At mile 5, I thought I would never finish. I preserved through spells of unusual dizziness and tingling fingers. But that was the bad stuff. The rest is what made me smile.

I was able to run when I wanted throughout the course of 103.7 miles. That means my legs were much stronger than last year when I couldn’t do anything else but walk.

I remember so much more from the race. I guess without suffering comes the benefit of being sound minded.

I ran an 8:30 pace even after 100 miles.

I finished in 28 hours and 48 minutes. That means I shaved off 5 hours and 4 minutes from my time last year. I finished in 46th place (top 22% overall and top 20 in my age group). Even better yet, I know I could have run this race faster if it wasn’t for the dizziness early on.

Snapping out of my reflection, I got to see my new friend, Fred, cross the finish line. Just like the past 13 hours, he sat down next to me. We grunted in exhaustion.

In the aftermath, Fred and I exchanged some words on Facebook. His response to my comment of nice meeting him:

“A real treat for sure. I think I’ll remember your perma grin for a long time. You were in the zone. Good to see a friendly face each AS where not many words needed to be said. Course was a bit cruel but we weathered through. Great effort and finish.”

Fred’s comment is quite fitting. This is not the first time somebody commented on my smile. I get this time and time again. I am always surprised because I never realize I am smiling. At work, I rarely smile. On the trail, even during the toughest conditions, I am like a kid in a candy store. Running is the candy that puts a smile on my face. Not many people believe me when I say I enjoy running 100 miles. But it really is the truth.

Despite the limited words shared and having just met, it felt like Fred and I were long lost pals. We never ran together on the trail, but the few minutes at each aid station were comforting. It always amazes me how 2 people going through the same struggles can form a bond or friendship so quickly. I look forward to joining you in Canada for a few trail miles my friend!

Lastly, MMT is a cruel course. The ups and downs are relentless. The rocks are never ending. The weather seems to be unpredictable. Bugs can be ferocious. Despite this, the people make this event truly spectacular. Go get some for yourself!

For more photos, check out our Facebook page.

Strava data can be found here.

4 Comments

  1. Fred Fred

    This is entirely why I run trails. Aside from the finish, which provides the personal satisfaction regardless of the suffering, it’s the friendships that are borne from shared experience. Stay strong and run long my friend.

    • I couldn’t agree more. Show those trails whose boss! I hope to join you in your neck of the woods some time.

  2. Cody Knepp Cody Knepp

    Great read, really enjoyed your journey. I put this 100 on my bucket list. Maybe I will see you if you run it again.

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