Christy ran the inaugural Run Rabbit Run 100 miler in Steamboat last weekend. It’s been a few years since she covered that distance– three to be exact– and when it was all done, she said she had forgotten just how hard 100 milers can be.
Obviously 100 milers are tough, but when you consider that only 47% of the overall field and only 34% of the elite division finished on this course, it’s pretty clear that this one was quite a bit harder than many of the 135 starters expected.
You can lump Christy in that group, she really had to “dig deep” out there. Kathy Fry and I crewed and paced for her, and we were excited to see the day start out great– she definitely has the fifty mile distance figured out. However, somewhere around the halfway point her stomach started causing problems. Unable to keep food and fluids down, she was soon exhausted physically and mentally, and never really recovered. When I started my pacing leg with her around mile 72, she was still unable to eat or drink. She had been going for 21 hours and was running on empty, literally, and the thought of having to go an additional 30 miles seemed almost impossible.
The easy thing to do would have been to quit. She could have dropped out at mile 72, or 80, as many others did. She would have spared herself the discomfort of being out on the trail through the heat of the 2nd day, and would have put an immediate stop to the suffering she was experiencing.
But she didn’t. Determined to stick with it, she told herself that being tired wasn’t an excuse. She knew that stopping offered immediate relief, but that it would have been short lived. Eventually the disappointment of quitting would set in, and that would be permanent. She crossed the finish in 31:38. Seventy-one people didn’t finish.
Way to see it through, your determination was beyond impressive.
As for thoughts on this new race?
Well, the Race Director wasn’t afraid to remind everyone over the course of the weekend that it was a first year event. I guess you could say that the fact it happened at all was in itself a measure of success. But as a spectator to it, and in a pure constructive criticism sense, a few things stuck out as needing improvement:
- Too many people got lost in too many different places. They need to fix that.
- There were the reports of the course being much longer than 100 miles. Christy’s GPS measured 44+ miles at Olympian Hall, which was supposed to be 39.4. Her battery died after that, but another friend had a GPS through it all and said it measured more than 110 miles.
- Steamboat is a beautiful part of the state, and the course shouldn’t have to revisit so many trails and aid stations more than once. From Rabbit Ears Pass to Hahn’s Peak, there must be a course that showcases more of the area. There were three different stops at the Steamboat High School and Long Lake, and there were two stops at many other locations (Summit Lake, Dry Lake, Mount Werner). The huge out-and-back from Summit Lake down to Steamboat High (for the 3rd visit) was a drag according to runners, as were the unnecessary Mount Werner out-and-backs (yes, plural). And sending the runners up the steep, overgrown ski runs at the start, and on Howelson Hill, was just cruel.
- They should ditch the category titles of Hares and Tortoises. To address any runner who has trained so hard for a race such as this as a tortoise, simply because they aren’t competing for prize money, is kind of rude. Besides, according to the finishing rate (34% Hares vs. 55% Tortoises), they actually showed more mettle than some of the front runner Hares. You can check results here.
- And I found this funny, but it also counts as something to fix next year– watch those bears. To those whose drop bags got ravaged or outright devoured at Summit Lake when they were left unattended, I hope that didn’t affect your race too much. I think that was preventable.
That said, in a state with so many passionate trail runners, it’s great to see new races on the calendar. Clearly there’s a demand for more ultra distance courses, and they should be commended for organizing one.
Having had time to really think about it all, and after witnessing Christy’s efforts, the larger lesson I took away had to do with what Christy said– that being tired really isn’t an excuse. Be it on this course or a different one, these races are always hard, without exception. You have to stick with it. If they were easy, everyone would finish them. Good job out there!