1. How long does it take to run 100 miles? It depends how tough the course is. My fastest 100-miler was 21:07 on the very flat Rocky Raccoon 100 course. My slowest 100 miles was 39 hours in the Grand Canyon (lots of sight-seeing).
2. Do you sleep during the run? No, not on purpose. At times there is a bunch of sleep walking and weaving going on, but not on purpose. The clock is always ticking so stopping to sleep just affects your finishing time. There are multi-day stage races held where runners stop to sleep.
3. Do you walk? Yes, tons, but I try to do it very fast. On a flat course like the Pony Express 100, I can usually run most of the first 25 miles, and then take more frequent walking breaks. On mountain courses, I will walk most of the uphill sections and then run most of the flats and downhills.
4. Do you eat while you run? Yes, if I didn’t, I would get sick and stop by 20 miles. You have to learn how to run with a full stomach. During the Pony Express 100-mile run, I consumed: 1.2 gallons of water, 11 cans of Ensure, 2 liters of Gatorade, one six-pack of coke, three bean burritos, 8 mini-bagels with cream cheese and turkey, two thermoses of potato soup, half a can of potato chips and some Guacamole dip, a few Reeses cups, and about 12 Succeed Caps (electrolytes). Usually I will also consume Hammer Gel, but I did not during this run. I didn’t eat enough and probably lost about two pounds. I gain this weight back during the following week.
5. How do you carry all of your food? Most 100-mile races have “aid stations” between 4-10 miles apart. At each station you can fill your water bottles, eat and drink, and take food for the road. At many some of these stations will also be a personal “drop bag” that I arranged before the race to be delivered to that location. In that bag I can have extra socks, food, or anything I might need. When I started racing 100-milers, I used to carry a lot of stuff with me and have drop bags filled with junk at many locations. Now with experience, I travel very light. I usually only carry two hand-held water bottles and some gels in my pocket. I will put the things I need for night (warm clothes and a flashlight) in one of the drop bags at a strategic location.
6. Do you ever stop to rest? Yes, in most races I will stop at each aid station, about every five miles for a couple minutes to eat and refill water bottles. I usually don’t sit down until after mile 60. During the Pony Express 100 I sat down about four times for a total of ten minutes, including a bathroom break.
7. What about the bathroom? Well, let me put it this way: Ultrarunners quickly get over modesty, especially those who run near the front of the race. Both sexes run together. You learn to avert the eyes and move on. There just isn’t time to find secluded private spots. Ladies learn to take care of business about as fast as the men. If runners are hydrating themselves properly, these events occur often.
8. Aren’t you afraid running alone at night in the mountains? Sometimes it does get lonely as runners spread out and I won’t see another person for hours because we are running at the same pace. Most of these races allow you to have a “pacer” run with you to keep you company for the second half of the race. I usually don’t use pacers except for local races when I want to share the experience with running friends.
9. What about wild animals or serial killers? My wife is always worried that I’ll run into a serial killer, but so far, so good. I think I can outrun one anyway. I’ve almost run into deer, elk, moose, porcupines, rattle snakes, rabbits, bats, birds, and mice. One runner leading a race had a dangerous encounter with a moose. So far, any wild beasts I have seen run the other way when they smell me coming. Yes, I can wreak.
10. Do you ever get lost? Yes. Most races mark their courses well with little flags hanging on trees and bushes both at turns and along the way to give you confidence that you are heading in the right direction. However, when your mind gets tired, at times you do miss turns. Pacers can help to keep you on course. But everyone eventually experiences the panic of being off course. It is part of the sport. You finally convince yourself that you are on the wrong trail and turn back. For those who aren’t leading the race, looking for foot prints is a great help. We learn how to be very good in spotting fresh footprints. On one 50-mile race, I took a wrong turn with a half mile to go. What I feared most was the ridicule and jokes that would pile on me from my friends as they would see me coming in from the wrong direction. Sure enough, I’m still putting up with that.
11. Why do you like to run 100 miles? Several reasons. 1. I enjoy the intense challenge, to push myself to physical and mental endurance limits. 2. I enjoy being able to see very remote places with just one-day of effort. 3. I enjoy running at night. 100-mile runs for me always require night running. 4. Because it is possible 5. Because it teaches me a lot about myself. 6. Because it reduces day-to-day stress. 7. It motivates me to keep my fitness level high.
12. How long does it take you to recover? After my first 100-mile attempt in 2004, I could not run again for four weeks. Now, if I don’t get injured, I can usually start running again in five days. I can race again in two weeks.
13. What do you think about as you run? The time passes amazingly fast. I think about my pace, the sights I see, the pain I feel, and the people I meet. I strategize as I go, making plans on what I need at the next aid station stop. I enjoy listening to music as I run and I’m not shy about singing along as I go which my pacers usually hate.
14. How much do you have to train? Much less than you would think. I have discovered that once I have built up my mileage base, I really don’t have to run often to stay fit, as long as I keep doing very long runs. From Sept 8 – Oct 30, 2007 (over seven weeks), I only ventured outside eight times to go running. Three of those times were 100-mile runs, another was 83 miles. But usually I will run 5 days a week.
15. Aren’t you destroying your knees? I hope not. My knees have become very strong. I can run down steep hills for many miles without pain. I try to run very few miles on hard pavement. Dirt roads/trails are much softer and easier on your knees. I had knee surgery in 2003 before I started serious running. I was told by the surgeon to not run or hike anymore. Since then I lost nearly 60 pounds and have run nearly 14,000 miles. I think starting to run much later in life than most runners will make a difference in my running longevity. I’m very careful and listen to my body. If it needs rest, I rest and don’t feel guilty that I’m not exercising.
16. Do you run marathons? Only for fun or a training run. I don’t like running on pavement and am not motivated to chase faster marathon miles. In 2009 I did run three marathons and set a PR of 3:24:49, qualifying for Boston. I’ll run an occasional 10K race for some speed training. My best 10K was also in 2009, 43:08. In these shorter road races I can usually medal in my age group. But I don’t train to be fast on roads. But because of good endurance, I can perform well in these types of races.
17. Doesn’t it hurt? Yes, sometimes it is agony. Most of the time there is just minor pain and after a few miles the pain shifts to some other place, so I don’t have to worry about the first pain. But other times, even at mile 90, I feel no pain and can run very fast. There are wide swings from feeling good, feeling bad, and feeling good again. After all is said and done, the memory of the intense pain fades and I look forward to the next long run. Perhaps like childbirth, but to a lesser degree?
18. Do you get blisters? I used to, but I’ve learned to take care of my feet and also the feet seem to get tougher. When I get dehydrated, the feet are more susceptible to blistering. Now I rarely get serious blisters during a 100-miler. Usually I only get minor ones that I don’t notice until I clean my feet after a race.
19. What kind of shoes do you run in? I run in some trail shoes. (current shoe: La Sportiva Wildcat) My shoes must have good room in the toe box. If they fit right, I don’t get blisters. I do change out the insoles at times depending on the terrain, whether my feet will be wet, and other factors.
20. How often do you buy shoes? I usually put 400-500 miles on a pair of shoes. After that, they start breaking down, my feet hurt more, and I start getting hot spots. I usually buy two pair and alternate them. So, I will buy two pair of shoes about every four months. My sons fight over my old shoes. They like to wear them.
21. How many miles do you run in a year? 2002: 291, 2003: 566, 2004: 1,205, 2005: 2,109, 2006: 2,576, 2007: 2,600, 2008: 3,148. 2009: On pace for over 3,000.
22. Do you ever win? Ha, ha. No, and I never will. I’m not an elite runner and don’t have the runner genes. I’m a mid-pack runner that works hard, has a firm determination not to quit, and can usually finish in the top 25 percent, which is pretty good for my age. (Well actually I did win the 2008 Moab 100 out of 25 starters, and the Pony Express Trail 100).
23. Who pays you to do this? What do you get for finishing? The biggest award is just the satisfaction of reaching your goal and finishing. Each race usually has “cutoff” times. If you don’t reach locations on the course by a particular time, you must drop out. When I started racing 100-miles, I constantly worried about these cutoff times. Now I am fast enough to stay well ahead of them. If you finish a 100-mile race within the cutoff time, the award is usually a belt buckle. Yes, a big shiny belt buckle. The tradition finds its roots from horse endurance races. I now have a large collection of custom belt buckles.
24. What were your favorite runs? The runs that I have enjoyed the most have been adventure runs in the Grand Canyon and the Uintas in Utah. I get the most attention locally from my five consecutive summits of Mount Timpanogos. That was crazy. My favorite race so far was the Plain 100 where I finished 5th. It felt like a very tough adventure run. The race that I performed the best was 2007 Leadville 100 where I finished 60th out of 590 starters. I also performed very well at the 2009 Tahoe Rim 100, winning my age group. My toughest 100 race was 2006 Wasatch 100 where I was sick all night but finished.
25. How often do you run 100 miles? In 2007, I ran 100 miles seven times and finished all of them. In 2008 I finished eight, with one DNF. In 2009 finished seven.
|1||2005 Rocky Raccoon||26:53:00|
|4||2006 Tahoe Rim||28:04:49|
|7||2006 Pony Express||25:29:00|
|8||2007 Pony Express||23:26:00|
|14||2007 Pony Express||24:45:00|
|15||2008 Rocky Raccoon||25:38:55|
|18||2008 Tahoe Rim||25:54:00|
|21||2008 Pony Express||24:26:00|
|24||2009 Big Horn||33:21:00|
|25||2009 Tahoe Rim||25:43:00|
|28||2009 Pony Express||22:58:19|
|29||2009 Javelina Jundred||23:46:59|
|30||2010 Rocky Raccon||21:07:58|