3 days of peace, music and running says the website. The finishers medal is a peace sign that says "Finished it, man". There are multiple distance runs on Friday thru Sunday including a couple of night "natural" (read: naked) runs. What's not to like? The Hallucination 100 course was a 16.67 mile figure of 8 that we did 6 times. There were lots of other runners out there with all the other distances so it never got too lonely. The organizers, Running Fit, a Detroit shoe store organize a ton of races and have the execution dialed. It was a fun weekend.
After having driven the motorhome back to Georgia, we flew into Detroit where our friend Bill Hildenbrand picked us up at the airport, hosting us for the weekend in his motorhome. Bill is retired and lives permanently in his rig driving around the country running 100 milers and timed events. Just the week before he set a pending national age group record of 20:26:25 for 100 miles in the 65-69 age group. This beat the previous mark by 66 minutes and was run as a split at the Badgerland Striders 24 hour in Wisconsin. And he was signed up for the 100 again this weekend!
We arrived at the Hell Creek Ranch "Commune" well before the 4pm Friday start. The hordes of race volunteers got us situated in our parking spot just yards from the start/finish and we did our last minute preparations. We put together drop bags for the start/finish but decided not to make one for aid station at the far end of the course. There was a nice covered area for the aid station and drop bags. Everything was really well set up and organized.
We had heard some horror stories about the mud on this course and it looked like there was a good chance of rain so that had us a bit worried. And the rain did come with a vengeance after dark. It rained for most of the night but the trail was dry at the start and soaked up much of the rain. What we worried about was the start of the 50 mile, 50k, marathon and half marathon in the morning. (Only the 100 mile and the LSD 100k started Friday afternoon.) All those additional runners could really churn things up. It turned out though, that things dried out well enough that it never did turn into a slopfest like we had at Rocky Raccoon in February.
A nice surprise during the night was the appearance of Mike Dobies who lives in Michigan. Mike is a good friend from Hardrock and I wasn't sure that he was going to be able to make it. I also got a good chance to sit and chat and drink a few beers with him late on Saturday while waiting for Liz to finish. I finished in 24:35 and Liz in 29:03 after missing a turn and doing an extra 8 miles. I found out that Bill had dropped out after I think 3 loops with his legs more dead from his previous weeks run than he expected.
In my race, at about 5 miles, a guy runs up behind me and after running just behind me for a bit asked if I minded him just settling in behind me. I said it was no problem and we started talking. His name is Noah Wolfson and he's just in the process of finishing a doctorate in biochemical engineering at the University of Michigan in nearby Ann Arbor. Noah was attempting his first 100 mile with only one 50 mile race from 2 years ago. His training wasn't optimal either but he had a great attitude so I figured he had a chance to finish. We ended up running together all the way to about 80 miles where he pulled ahead as I struggled with sleepiness. I did catch him at the end of that 5th lap but he had a pacer for lap 6 so we didn't run together anymore.
Normally I don't try to run with anyone else but just do my own "steady effort" thing. But Noah was willing to match my pace and it was really great to run so far with him. We had interesting conversations about a bunch of stuff including academic stuff, life stuff, and of course running. He was a ready sponge for my ultrarunning knowledge and I think he learned a lot because he was willing to listen to the voice of experience. One thing he struggled with was stomach issues and I told him to back off on the food and keep emergency calories with him. He did this and his stomach settled down and he never did have any energy issues.
I've really come to believe that many runners doing ultras eat too much. You should shoot to eat the least amount of food possible during the event without getting bonky. Every bit of blood flow that needs to go to your stomach is blood flow that cannot go to your legs or brain. And if there isn't enough blood flow to go around then the stomach won't get it's share and you'll get sick. This is over-simplified but basically true. Train yourself to eat less during training and learn to listen to your body tell you just how much it needs during races. I think you'll find that less is better.
Noah ran well with me but was complaining of shin tightness which really slowed him on the final lap. He finished though, in a respectable 26:31. Congrats, Noah! I really love to see people finish their first 100 miler and I find it really fun to be a part of that experience. Just after the race he said he wasn't interested in doing another but in an email later in the week he said he was already looking for another. Ever heard that story before?
Thanks to the organizers, thanks to Bill, and to all the volunteers on the course. It was a really fun event and I recommend it for anyone looking for a 100 mile event that runs like a party. It would also be a great run to bring the whole family to. Despite the hippy theme and drug references it really would be a great event to bring anyone to. It had a real family feel.
Race count: Liz (24) Scott (17)