Well, this weekend was the Burning River 100 from Willoughby Hills, OH to Cuyahoga Fall, OH. This was a race that I was really looking forward to. This was my chance to get my second 100 mile buckle. I know that one 100 mile buckle is a lot to ask for in a lifetime, but I had to try for my second.
We arrived in Cuyahoga Fall and picked up my race packet and then picked up Danny Mowers, my pacer from 54.6 to 100. Packet pick up went great and then we made the venture north to Willoughby Hills to get into our hotel.
Now at this point, this caravan in my car involves me, Rachelle, Morgan, Connor, and Danny. Needless to say, two kids after 4 hours is quite the treat. We arrived at the Motel 6 and things went south. Turns out that the police are looking for a guy staying in the hotel. Well, Rachelle heard the conversation at the counter, and passed the information on to me. So, while we were in the pool, guess who started looking around???
I determine that this large group of white and black males that are there are the ones they are looking for. A very large group of suspicious males. So, later in the night, I run into a police officer at the BP while I am getting gas and pass all of the information on to him.
In the morning, we get up ata 230am and get ready to race. I do my morning ritual and we head to the start. We are at Squires Castle by 350am. I go check in and get ready to run. At 450am, I get in line to race and at 5am we are off.
We started out on the Bridal Trail. This is a horse trail that is wide enough to drive a car down. As we are running down the Bridal Trail, I hear from a runner behind me "Don't worry, we will be turning onto the single track soon." Well, we turn onto the single track and I could drive an ATV down it. What is wrong with these Ohio people. I guess they have never run here.
We finish out the initial 6.2 mile loop and never hit single track. I finish this loop in 1:08:42 with a pace of 11:04 per mile.
From here, we go back down the bridal path to mile 9.2 which is an unmanned water station. After the water station we start out on a road. Yes, a road for a USATF 100 Mile Trail Championship. We hit an aid station at 12.4 miles and I am in at 2:09 with a pace of 10:24 per mile. From here, we run on more roads. We finally hit another aid station at 17.2 miles and get off of the roads. I am into this aid station at 3:00 with a pace of 10:35 per mile. After this aid station at the polo fields, we go onto, yes you guessed it, more Bridal Trail. We run to the next aid station at mile 23. I come into this aid station at 4:20 with a pace of 11:18 per mile.
Oh, I forgot. They forgot to tell us about the water crossing. The water crossing was around mile 20. That damn thing was up to my waist. Needless to say, I did not want to get that wet this early in a 100 mile race, but it had to be.
I left this aid station and proceeded on to the 26.2 mile aid station. I was starting to feel pretty bad at this point and had not peeed since 7am. I kept pushing on and finally made it to the aid station. I came into this AS looking for lots of food. All I got was my drop bag and some PB&J sandwiches. These were the typical 1/4 sandwiches. They also had some 1/2 bananas and lots of sweets. I sat down, took off some clothes, drank a Vespa, and refilled my pack and left. I hit this aid station in 5:00 and had a pace of 11:32
I hit the 31 mile aid station and was not feeling too well. They had a big bucket of ice, water, and sponges. I dipped my head into the bucket and then sponged myself off. WOW did that feel good. I got to the food table and the food fare was still the same. Damn It, I want a big old turkey sandwich. All they had was little PBJ and some very little turkey slices. I grabbed a handfull of turkey, ate it, got my refilled with water and left.
During the 31 mile station and the 35.4 station, things went south. Needless to say, we are still running Bridal Trails, blacktop bike paths, and roads. What kind of trail race does this to a runner? I was very frustrated with the course and the fact that we were not running single track. Come on race director, help me out here. I need some single track to take my mind off of things.
I finally stopped to pee around mile 32. This was the first that I had peed since 7am. This is almost 5 1/2 hours later. My pee was dark brown and my kidneys hurt. I ran into a woman that was racing as I came out of the trees and she was nice enough to walk with me for a few. She told me I looked like shit. I concurred with her. I pushed my way to the next aid station at 34.5 miles. I came into this AS at 7:50. That put me at a 13:16 pace for the race. I was well ahead of my 24 hour goal.
I walked into the aid station and the woman at the aid station confirmed that I looked like shit. She made me sit down and start drinking water again. After about 45 minutes, I drank 6 bottles of water and took 2 S-caps. I went to pee and it was still dark. I called Rachelle and Danny and told them that I was in bad shape. They were at the 46 mile AS waiting for me so, they came to where I was. Till they got there, I drank down 6 more bottles of water and had 4 more S-caps. I peed pretty clear before they got there. After some encouragement to let me go to the next aid station, they let me go on. Of Course, this was after the doctor told me to drop because I was in risk of damaging my kidneys. Well, us stubborn ultra runners just don't know when to quit.
With an hour to spare, I left the aid station and plugged on for 5 miles to the next aid station at 41 miles. I was passed by the course sweepers for the 1st leg and they told me I had plenty of time to finish. I knew that I still had over 18 hours to finish, but my body was not working. I had severe pain in my left kidney area and was having a hard time breathing. I ate more S-caps and drank more water, but I could not get things back to normal. I arrived at the 41 mile aid station shortly there after and pulled the pin.
The aid station workers tried to talk me into going on, but I told them that I sat at the last AS for 1:45 and was having a hard time peeing. One AS worker said "Sometimes you are the bug, and sometimes you are the windshield. Today you are the bug" And then I dropped.
We were able to get Danny to the 74 mile AS so he could pace the number 10 guy in. Danny had a great 26 miles with him. I wish those 26 miles could have been with me. I also had Jon lined up to do the last 7 with us, and had to have him bail. I felt bad about this also.
Burning River is not a very trail runner oriented course. From what I ran, the first 41 miles are either road, bridal trail, or some small sections of single track. This is a very road runner geared course. I had a hard time slowing myself down to keep my pace where I wanted it to be. I would say that this is great for a first timer or someone who really likes to be on Rails to Trails type trail/roads.
I was very disappointed with the food fare at the aid stations. The food selection sucked and from what I heard, didn't get better until around mile 80. Rachelle and Danny also complained that it was very hard to find each aid station and that the volunteers couldn't give good directions to any aid station.
I had hoped to go to Burning River and get my second buckle. Don't get me wrong, there are some beautiful parts of this race course, but I think that the RD and his/her crew needs to do a better job to make it a little more user friendly and to make sure that the runners have the food that they need. Get rid of the candy, cookies, and junk food and get some real food.
All in all, it was another good learning experience. I probably will never go back, but I would not deter any of you from doing it. Sometimes we need to take a leap to learn more things. Enjoy my friends and see you on the trails!!!