The Mark Twain 100 was on Sept 15, located about 20 miles east of Steeleville, MO. I flew into St Louis, got my rental car and was off. Unfortunately, I did not let my GPS locate satellites before programing in race location. The GPS thought I was still in Calf, I did not realize this and followed the directions for an hour and half before realizing I was driving in the wrong direction. Yikes! Anyways, a little detour, but I managed to find Steeleville without too much difficulty. This was an inaugural event, a truly unique 100 mile venue in that it is on 99% single track trail. And I mean real single track trail, no jeep roads ATV trails, etc. I became injured at my last race the Hallucination 100, the prior weekend. In adapting to my new Hoka's the tongue on the left foot had irritated my tendon just in front of my ankle. I recommend not breaking in new shoes over a 100 mile race. (I had no choice, as the neuroma pain had gotten to great to bear in conventional running shoes, I had to have more cushioning.)
I found a great inexpensive room in Steeleville in a old remolded Grey Hound bus station. We started at 6 am in the dark, Unfortunately, We all took a wrong turn and climbed a mile before realizing our mistake. The rest of the course was extremely well marked, no getting lost here. The first 5 miles were very rocky and technical, my ankle felt fine, so I started really rolling on the downhills. (big mistake) by 6 miles I was beginning to have an altered gait, favoring my left ankle. Also, at about this time the rain started to fall. The temps were mild, so the weather was not an issue. The course is very rolling, climbs are not steep or long, but, they do not let up. There is 10,000 feet of climb on the course. However, if you are not injured and rested, the course is completely runnable.
There are several stream crossings, at which I was able to stop, negotiate and rock hop and stay relatively dry. However, as the day went on the mud grew slicker and thicker. The aid stations were top notch with hot food, and lots of it. They were all fully maned, with extremely attentive volunteers, most of which were Ultra runners themselves. The stations are located about every five miles, and the course is a 25 mile loop we would repeat 4 times. By the end of my first loop I knew I was in trouble....the pain in the tendon, ankle area was bad. By the start of the second loop, even shuffling downhills was impossible, I was having to "crab" walk the downhills, just as I had done in the latter miles of Hallucination 100. I could still climb strong, so I tried to make up for the slow downs this way. When there was a flat section I shuffled this. In fact , I discovered a new ultra running gait "the scuffle" not as fast as the shuffle, but more efficient than the power walk, which I was unable to perform because of the injury. Finishing lap 2, I was really feeling the effects of running injured, my right side, the uninjured side was beginning to tweak and bark. This was going to be hard..... I told my self..".Remember... there are no bad finishes, you have plenty of time" so, endure is what I did. By the third lap I was limping noticeably. Into the night the rain continued on and , my feet were wet and blistered. I had taped over blisters from last weekend. The pain in the ankle and tendon over rode the blister pain. I ran alone for all of the race, people would pass on occasion, otherwise it was a lonely time where hours upon hours of dealing with the pain was all consuming. During this 3rd lap, I stopped to retape my feet. I recall 4 or 5 runners in chairs all with the "I'm done 100 mile stare" As I pulled my socks off, wet, stuck to the tape which in turn was stuck to my skin....sometimes you just do what you have to do. Luckily for me it was late at night 3am, so, my sh*!t and other foul language was par for the course. A kind volunteer came over during all this, starting asking questions, "What can I get for you? what do you need? are you ok? " etc. I barked back loudly "NO more questions!!" I was left alone to deal with my foot pain and taping task. Soon up on my feet again, with a "new set of tires" I was off into the night. Eventually, the sun rose. I recall coming into an aid station, standing bewildered looking at the table and leaning forward grabbing on to the table with both hands exclaiming " I just had to stop the table from moving"....stated with the utmost sincerity. Very casually, the volunteer said "You are not the first person who has done that" I was Hallucinating badly!
As I approached the end of my 4 th loop, I felt the endorphins kick in and I shuffled, scuffled to the finish to break 31 hours (30:59) Post race was full of great food and stories from other runners. Only 4 runners went sub 24 and no females finished under 24.
This is not a easy race, certainly not difficult, but, I will place it in the challenging category. To run 100 miles on single track trail is truly a challenge to be met. 100 miles over single track in one day (24hours)....Now..that's something to talk about. If you are a lover of technical trail, single track and can handle rocks and roots and love a challenge...This is the race for you. the aid, support, and directors of this race, Tommy Doias and Travis Liles get a thumbs up A plus on a race well done.