From the moment we entered the room where registration was happening for the Long Haul 100 I could tell that this would be a well organized event. From the preprinted drop back labels to the 8 or so different wrist bands used to keep track of runner progression I could see attention to detail. Jen Pearson may or may not be OCD but she certainly has a tremendous amount of energy and left nothing to chance.
There is an interesting story behind the race. Jen and her husband Tim were in the process of adopting two boys from Haiti and were about to go pick them up when the Earthquake happened. Luckily the boys were okay and they were able to complete the adoption but seeing what had happened in Haiti touched the Pearsons and Jen (the energizer bunny) said Hey, why don't we set up a nonprofit to help the people of Haiti and we could organize a 100 mile race to help fund it? Nevermind that neither of them had ever run a 100 miler! Well, it worked. They raised $10k last year and I haven't heard the tally this year but there were many more runners so I expect good things this year too. Thanks Jen and Tim!
The course consisted of 6 repeats of a 16.67 mile out and back. There were multiple sections of asphalt and some sections of nice smooth hard-packed sand/crushed coral but there was also a lot of grassy doubletrack, softish sand with a sprinkling of roots. The first lap or two felt really easy and I though that this would be a real easy cruiser run. But as the night wore on the trail got a bit softer in places and the uneveness of the grassy sections began to wear on one. I wouldn't say that it was really terribly hard but I didn't feel so much like I was cruising either. The course is a good one though a bit confusing the first couple of laps so you have to pay attention.
I ran controlled and easy the entire run thinking about the year to come and how I would hold up doing so many races including one stretch of 10 100 milers in 11 weeks. I often advise runners new to ultras to not think about the whole 100 miles but just focus on the next aid station or finishing a loop. After a while of thinking about our whole year I reminded myself of this bringing my focus back to something more manageable than 100 mile races week after week! I finished in 23:19 barely 10 hours behind the amazing Mike Morton who ran a phenomenal 13:18. What a pleasure to witness this talented runner! Liz finished in 24 hours even winning the women's race. We went to the car and napped for a couple of hours and then back to the finish line to see the last few finishers.
Sherry Meador and Jackie Ong had started their final lap a bit after I had finished my final lap and I was a bit skeptical that they would be able to beat the clock but Sherry ran a 3:30 lap and Jackie came in just minutes before the cutoff. Way to go, girls! Sherry had some early morning snafu's and started the race 1:15 late and when she came storming into the finish line we thought she was going to pass out. Talk about a strong finish.....
I have to say something about the support during the race. The volunteers were fantastic. There was always someone there to fill your bottle, get your drop bag, and in my case, help me change my nasty socks and shoes which had accumulated a bunch of grit and sand. Man, I didn't even want to touch those things! There was plenty of help even in the wee hours of the morning. And Jen Pearson seemed to be everywhere! "What do you need?" "How are you feeling?" "You're doing great!" She had a seemingly limitless supply of energy to give to all the runners.
|Jen, me and Liz at Awards Banquet.|
Recovery for me has gone well with very little post run swelling or stiffness. It really does make a difference no "racing" 100 miles. After the run we went to the Clearwater, FL where my mother lives and where Liz's grandmother lives, who happened to have celebrated her 98th birthday on Friday! On Monday we made our flight home to Atlanta without problems but ended up rushing home and right into work Monday night. We're both RN's who work night shift and the hospital was short staffed so we eagerly grabbed up the shifts, thinking ahead to the financial challenges to come. Staying awake all that night was not easy, but at least we didn't have to stay up all night AND run 100 miles.
Thank you again to Tim and Jen and all the fantastic volunteers at the Long Haul 100!