Race Report – Superior 100 – 2014

After writing an extensive race report for the 2013 Superior 100 (my first 100 mile race) I was not sure I would write another for 2014 other than a short recap of my thoughts and experiences. But after a truly memorable weekend on the North Shore, I think it would be a huge mistake to not document it. All of the great photos that follow were taken by Steven P Kenny, Gary Hahn and Amber Hahn.

Jason & I made the trip north together, where we would meet up Jared & Tim (attempting their first 100!) and their crews. The rest of my crew (Steven, Madeline & Dave) would eventually meet us up there as well.

Me and jason

Me and jason

L to R - Me, Tim, Jared  Pre-race

L to R – Me, Tim, Jared Pre-race

The weather forecast was perfect for a trail race, and it proved to be accurate, we could not ask for better weather this weekend. The beginning of the race is pretty familiar territory for me and starts off with some of the easiest running that you will see all race, so the three of us started off running pretty much together and stayed together for roughly 31 miles. While we all were probably going a little faster than we anticipated, I felt as though we were pretty much taking what the early crowded trail would give us. Not pushing too hard, but still giving a pretty good effort.

Three of us arriving at Silver Bay together

Three of us arriving at Silver Bay together – Mile 25

Jason made everyone laugh at Silver Bay with his Kazoo skills

Jason made everyone laugh at Silver Bay with his Kazoo skills

The three of us left Silver Bay together. We saw Bean & Bear Lakes together, which on this beautiful clear day looked incredible. As people familiar with this spot know, it is one of the most beautiful spots on the trail, and today it lived up to it. We also arrived at the summit of Mount Trudee together. All three of us were feeling a little spent, and Tim & Jared decided to pause for a moment to get some solid food down while enjoying the stunning view (of which we could see nothing but fog when we were last here together over the summer on a training run). But I really felt like i needed to keep moving and didn’t want to stop. So I reluctantly went ahead and wished them well, hoping and expecting that they would soon be right back with me. I was really sorry to leave them, as running the first 31ish miles together was an enormous benefit to me. Unfortunately, after picking my way down some of the tougher Mount Trudee descents, I was able to speed up a bit and knew that we would likely not see each other for a while.

Arrival at Tettegouche State Park Aid Station

Arrival at Tettegouche State Park Aid Station – Mile 35

I was still feeling pretty good but knew that the section from Tettegouche to CR6 was a grueler (yeah, its totally a word). In 2013 this is also where night fell and I started to feel pretty low. Luckily for me I quickly met up with another runner and we stayed together all the way to CR6 (his name was Pete, from Ann Arbor, but originally the UK) we had great conversation and camaraderie and it made the section the fly by. i also slowly began to realize that we were going to make it to the CR6 aidstation in the daylight which provided a huge boost to my ego/confidence/whatever. It was also great to see Madeline & Dave for the first time at this aid station!

A more distinguished Jason ready to Pace at CR6

A more distinguished Jason ready to Pace at CR6

I also decided at CR6 that if you got it, flaunt it. or at least put a bandaid on your nipple.

I also decided at CR6 that if you got it, flaunt it. or at least put a bandaid on your nipple. – Mile 42

Jason would be my first pacer out of CR6 and would run roughly the next 20 miles with me. I was still feeling pretty good and we made pretty good time to Finland (and i was very excited to make it a few miles out of CR6 before needing to turn on my headlight). After some good warm veggie broth and curried rice at the Finland Aid station (51 miles) we started out on the sections where i was the lowest during 2013. As in 2013 we were not able to run much due to the technicality of the trail (especially at night) but i felt as though we kept things moving at a great pace. I was starting to get a bit fatigued but ultimately very happy with how we moved through these sections. Jason is a great pacer and friend. I was very happy with the state of my race when we arrived at Crosby Manitou.

This is the aid station where i spent by far the most time (too much time, though i probably needed it) in 2013 and i was determined not to let that happen again. I did sit for the first time to put some moleskin on the balls of my feet and change my socks (though i stuck with the same shoes). I tried to get as much food down as i could, but then Steven and i were on our way pretty quickly. My only mistake was not grabbing more replacement batteries for my headlight – i had already changed them once at Sonju Lake and i thought i could make it to sugarloaf without another change.

Steven and I started out moving pretty good and i was thrilled with how the race was going. There are some pretty tough climbs in this leg and i was excited to to get through them in the dark (i decided by this point that i was racing the sunrise to see how far i could get before it rose!). Eventually, however i started to feel very tired, almost as if i could fall asleep on my feet. Steven encouraged me to eat two Huma Gels at once and take some electrolyte pills. Also, my headlight was growing very dim making it very difficult to move quickly in the dark. Eventually, though, Steven was able to get a spare battery from another runner for his flashlight so he could see/move with just that and i carried his head light to help augment my dying headlamp, and as we did this, those Gels started to kick in and i started feeling much more awake and we were able to move a little more quickly and i arrived at Sugarloaf in much better spirits than i was in during the middle of the previous leg. Steven definitely saved me with his advice and flashlight!

I don’t remember much about the sugar loaf aid station (mile 72), but nonetheless Dave and I were on our way to to Cramer Road. While i was still “racing the sun” i was getting very excited for the sun to rise and warm things up. The night was pretty comfortable wile moving though you would very quickly get a chill when stopped. Dave and I had some good conversation and eventually the sun came up and we got a pretty good shuffle going. I was very happy with how we were moving and starting to feel very confident that i was going to have strong finish to my race. And we even got to Cramer Road ahead of the marathon start!

Arivving at Sugarloaf. All business. Mile 72

Arivving at Cramer Road. All business. Mile 78

Starting the section to Temperance River i was very excited and feeling good, we even got in about 2 miles before the marathon leaders came blowing by. Unfortunately, another low point began during this section. My right shin, not far above the ankle, was getting pretty sore and starting to make descents and running kind of painful. I started to feel a bit frustrated as this is a really beautiful section along the river and and some runable sections that i really wish we could’ve moved through more quickly. I also got stung by bees (4 or 5 times), though this really turned out to just be a nuisance more than anything.

The next section from Temperance River to Sawbill turned out to be extremely frustrating. The first few miles are very runable even over 85 miles into the race, but i simply could not run with my shin and we ended up walking almost all of one of the most runable sections of the entire race.

Beautiful, but feeling very frustrated on my way to Carlton Peak.

Beautiful, but feeling very frustrated on my way to Carlton Peak.

Jason and Steven did a great job of staying positive here and reminding me that i was doing great, but i was probably really grumpy and owe them an apology. Eventually, we made it to the tough climb to Carlton Peak. While this was certainly difficult and took a toll on me physically, mentally it was almost a relief to be hiking on a section meant to be hiked.

Climbing to Carlton Peak.

Climbing to Carlton Peak.

Nearly to the top of Carlton Peak.

Nearly to the top of Carlton Peak.

Eventually we made it to the gentle descent to Sawbill (mile 90) and i was able to do a bit of shuffling, but not much. I came into the aid station and not long behind me came Tim. He said he wanted to run together a bit, and i would have loved to, but i had to to tell him i was moving too slow and he was obviously gaining some momentum (at mile 90!!!). Steven, Dave and I left the aid station and a short while later Tim passed me as expected. It was kind of awe inspiring to see him nimbly hopping up the trail at such a late point in the race. I wish i could’ve kept up with him for a while, but at that point there was just no way. Shortly after that, I again started to get that “so tired i might fall asleep on my feet” feeling and again Steven had to advise me to eat. Of course it worked, and i have no idea how i would ever get through one of these races with out my crew. But then my shin really started to hurt worse than ever. It was an incredible shooting pain that really had me questioning if i was going to be able to limp to the finish line or not. Also, just as the last section, it was incredibly frustrating as this is a section that is meant to be RUN! I’ve been on this section many times and not being able to run it felt terrible.

My face pretty much says it all coming into the final aidstation: Oberg Mtn. - Mile 96

My face pretty much says it all coming into the final aidstation: Oberg Mtn. – Mile 96

Trying some ice on the shin at Oberg.

Trying some ice on the shin at Oberg.

Finally ready to tackle the final section.

Finally ready to tackle the final section.

As we were getting ready to leave the final aid station i was convinced i would need my headlamp but no matter how much i tried to convince everyone how slow i was moving they laughed and said i wouldn’t need it. So reluctantly Jason, Dave and I took off for the finish line without headlamps. After the brutal pain of the last 5 miles, it is almost shocking how smooth these final 7 miles went. The ice on my shin seemed to work just enough magic to get me through. Were weren’t exactly cruising, but we made good enough time through the final 7 miles that i would’ve been pleased with it even with no shin pain. Before i knew it we were at the paved section of the road and finishing up the race! And with the sun still high in the sky!!

Crossing the line. 103.3 miles in the bag.

Crossing the line. 103.3 miles in the bag.

All Smiles now.

All Smiles now.

3 buds, 3 finishers.

3 buds, 3 finishers.

The rest of the cabin was aghast, but i thought they looked pretty good.

The rest of the cabin was aghast, but i thought they looked pretty good.

Jason, Steven, Madeline, Dave. They were my crew and each of them were amazing in different ways. There is no way i would have made it through this race with the 4 of them. (Madeline didn’t pace this year because of injured foot, but was a rockstar at all of the aidstations!!) THANK YOU SO MUCH!! It was also incredibly lifting to see the crews of Tim and Jared at pretty much every aid station. It made it feel like everyone out there in the middle of the night was there to cheer me on! And i’m very thankful that Tim, Jared and I got to run the first 31 miles together, not only great fun to run with good buds, but an enormous benefit on my race as well!

Official Stuff:
Time: 33:02:03 (3hrs 43mins faster than last year)
Place: 54 out of 136 finishers out of 230 starters
Shoes: Saucony Peregrine 4 (one pair the entire race)
Headlamp: Coast HL7
2 20oz. handhelds with water in both (no pack)
Lots of Huma Gels, otherwise, a few cliff bars and lots of junk food, gatorade, and coke.

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I can’t wait to see what comes next

Here we are once again 2 weeks out from the Superior 100.  I’m registered and I’m excited.  I have to admit, however, that a part of me is a little suprised to be typing those words. 

When the calendar flipped over to 2014,  I was relatively out of shape:  I had gotten lazy after crossing the finish line in Lutsen last year.  My mileage was down, and my weight was up.  I really wasn’t sure what was in my running future.  Would I do another 100? Or even amother marathon? But just as I was wrapping up a Holiday visit with family in Pennsylvania, on one of my last days in town I had a great hike with my oldest friend Rich.  We had a great day, with great weather on the Rachel Carson Trail, though encountering more than a couple of hunters with rifles was slightly unsettling – but no real worries as i had my blaze-orangish jacket.  I think this hike really kickstarted my inspiration and my passion for running that had faltered in the early winter months.  I came back to Minnesota and restarted my mileage tracking (which i had not done much of in 2013), and this was a huge motivator for me as I love nerding out over the numbers.

I was running slow, but began to realize that I was logging more winter month miles than i ever had before.  I also started trying out cold weather biking, and purchased some running showshoes with my friend Tim.  These were a great way to mix things up and enjoy the outdoors while staying in shape.  Sneaking in some nighttime snowshoe laps in fresh powder on the mountain bike trails in Theo Wirth was some of the best fun i had all winter.  As we rolled into March my friend Jason started ramping up his training for the Zumbro 100, and it was really fun & inspiring getting to share some of that with him, as he posted some really impressive training feats in the weeks before the race.  I still brag about the back-to-back 20 milers we did in 20 below windchills one weekend.  And then getting to crew for him as he totally crushed his race (though he still frustratingly won’t admit it)  was more inspiring than i can describe.

Tim also convinced me to join the Mill City Running race team this spring.  I was very reluctant at first since I’ve never been a very fast runner, firmly in the middle of pack (and my slowwwwww winter miles this year seemed to indicate that i was only moving further back), but eventually i relented and its one of the best decisions i have made all year.   I started pushing to run faster at the MCR group runs, and signed up for my first road 5Ks  in years, and believe it or not, training faster made me race faster! In a whirlwind summer of racing, i tallied up two road marathon PR’s, a 50K PR, two 5K  PR’s (including a sub 20:00!),  ran half voyaguer over an hour faster than last year (though a different course),  and ran all of the Endless Summer events faster than last year.  All the credit for these goes to all the great people i’ve met at Mill City for inspiring me to try running faster!  And finally, i decided to volunteer at the Voyageur 50 Mile trail race this year, and seeing so many runners giving it everything they had on a brutally hot day was just incredible. If i don’t run Voyageur in 2015 i will definately be back to volunteer!

Finally, just this past weekend I participated in the Powderhorn 24 – a 24 hour bicycle endurance event around a 5ish mile loop with lots of bonus stops around the Powderhorn neighborhood that help give you a taste of the area has to offer (and it’s a lot!).  Me and my friends Bryan & Madeline rode pretty much the first 100 miles together.  We all had a great time, and i ended up logging around 200 miles!  As we were hanging around after the event ended, waiting for the podium anouncements I found myself thinking:  “Endurance events really are something special”.  Not only is there the feeling that you and the other participants are all in a kind of grand adventure together where everyone seems to root for each other, but for that little slice of time from the starting gun to the finish line, you can mostly forget all your anxieties, your problems, issues at work…. whatever troubles you, and focus on nothing but the task at hand:  i put in the work, now what can i accomplish today doing an activity i love.  I often joke that i love suffering in races, but it’s true, and the reason is because in that moment everything is simple.  You’ve got one problem in that moment, and you get to overcome it by running! Or biking! 

So yeah, i’m excited not only for Superior,  but for whatever events come next!  I can’t wait to see what can’t kind of nonsense i can get myself into!  Its only August, but already i am anticipating  the winter and 2015, looking forward to racing and volunteering in some new places i haven’t seen before!

Thanks for reading!

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Inspired by a Treadmill?

Today I had my first treadmill run since last winter… and the truth is it inspired me to write my first blog post since the race report.  Weird, I know, but please hear me out.

All of my running pals (heck, probably anyone within earshot) knows that I love to be on the trails as much as possible.  There is nothing better than leaving the watch at home and hitting the trails and just enjoying all the beauty that nature has to offer.  Maybe you push yourself, and maybe you take it easy, but your feelings are the ones calling the shots, and most of the time that is pretty much the thesis of  “Why I Love Running” by Michael Bunda.  But also, it seems that my brain is wired such that I sometimes get supreme satisfaction out of totally geeking out over the numbers…. and this is where the treadmill comes in.

For some reason, i really don’t enjoy outdoor speed workouts and the like.  Fartleks, hill repeats… etc.  I mean i’ll do them, but there’s really no joy in it.  The bottom line is if i’m doing those things i’m already kind of nerding out over running, so if i’m going to nerd out I might as well hop on the treadmill and really have all  the numbers right in front of me whenever i want them.  Incline, current pace, overall pace, distance, time elapsed, i’ll even play little games in my head over “calories burned”.  Those little games are really where the satisfaction comes from i think….  how long can i keep this pace?  can i maintain this incline without dropping bellow a certain pace? how many miles can i hit in an hour?  Can i roll over another 100 calories before the next 10 minutes is up?   I totally understand why the treadmill gets so much flack, and even I only like it when i’m of a certain mood/mindset.  But i just wanted to put it out there that i don’t think you’re so bad, treadmill, and in fact sometimes you’re pretty cool.

Thanks for reading!

PS  My torture of choice is the rolling hill workout – level 5.  And right now, my ultimate end game is hitting 8 miles in 60 minutes on those settings (plus all the mini games it will take to get there!)


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Race Report: Superior 100 – 2013

As promised, here is my race report of the 2013 edition of the Superior 100 – run on the Rugged, Relentless, Remote Superior Hiking Trail. My first 100 mile race.   The trail was brutal and unforgiving, but i knew that going in.  The weather was…. well it was the weather.  And my crew was nothing short of amazing.  Here goes:

After 6 months of telling seemingly everyone that i met about this race, the time had finally come to make it a reality.  Time to put up or shut up as they say.  Since the race start was scheduled for Friday morning, the trip began Thursday with a drive to Duluth for some lunch at Burrito Union before my crew and I would make our way to Two Harbors for packet pickup and pasta feed.  Oddly, while at BU, we were constantly swarmed by bees looking for a taste of my root beer, hopefully this would not be a portent of things to come on Friday (after getting stung in the 50 mile last year, it was on my mind).  After grabbing my packet, stuffing my face with two helpings of pasta, and a speech by race director John Storkamp that detailed the history of this great race and covered the need-to-knows for race day, my crew and I were off to Lutsen to check into our condo at Caribou Highlands.


Crew member Jason re-enacting his multiple bee stings from the 2012 race

The morning of the race seemed a bit surreal, but I guess that is partly (or mostly) due to the fact that a day i had been looking forward to for at least 6 months was finally here.  Things seemed to tick away like clockwork…. 4:45AM the alarm goes off… eat my favorite long race breakfast: maple & brown sugar oatmeal, peanut butter and banana sandwich and a gatorade… get the pack & race outfit ready  and before i know whats happening the crew and i are piling into the cars to make the long drive to the race start at gooseberry falls.  Did i mention the drive was long? i mean how could someone possibly run that far, on gnarly trail, it seems impossible…. what?  Nervous? no i’m not nervous, why do you ask?  Well, soon enough we are pulling into the Gooseberry Falls State Park parking lot and everything is starting to get real.  Although in a way it just feels like a normal race.  The other runners all seem to be milling around like we’re just out for a quick 10 miler before we grab some brunch.  I think this calm atmosphere helped calm me, and other than being extra vigilant with the body glide and bug spray, i was ready to get running.


Before the race, perfect symbolism for the day with my crew carrying me.  L to R: Deb,Jaime,Steven,Madeline,Jason,Bryan & Elena (not pictured)


We all howled like wolves, and then were sent on our way.

Well, lets get to the tofu & potatoes part of this RR:

Gooseberry to Split Rock – 9.7 miles

In June I (and two of my crew members) had made a trip to the north shore to to train/scout this section and it was much as i remembered it: pretty runable, not terribly technical compared to the rest of the SHT and lots of wide trails in the beginning giving everyone ample time to spread out and breath a little.  For a time, i settled in with a group that was unofficially being lead by (as rumor had it) a wily veteran with many finishes under his belt.  It felt good, but eventually i decided the pace just wasn’t right for me and pulled ahead of the group.  For the rest of this leg i chatted a bit with another runner as we were together for a while but eventually we aslo split, and finished up running on my own (which would last pretty much until i would be allowed pacers later in the race.  The  aid station was a quick refill of the water bottles some PB&J and back on my way.

Split Rock to Beaver Bay – 10.3 miles  (20.1)

Again, some crew members and other friends made a trip earlier in the summer for a training run on this section.  And again it was as i remembered:  quite a lot of climbing and quite a bit more technical than the first leg.  In all i don’t recall much about this leg other than the temperature starting to heat up a bit, finishing off my water a little earlier than i would have liked, and by the end, the toll of back-to-back ~10 mile legs between aid stations was beginning to make itself known. but when i pulled into the aid station i was feeling great and got a huge boost from seeing my crew.  They quickly refilled my water bottles gave what ever food i wanted and sent me on my way.  I also got a huge kick out of their homemade crew tshirts that they made with fabric markers, what a great bunch of folks.

Beaver Bay to Silver Bay – 4.9 miles (25.0)

Finally, a nice “easy” one, only 4.9 miles, how hard could it be?  Well i guess that can be answered with a quote i heard from another runner during this leg “i guess this is why this one is only 5 miles”.   This leg starts off with a lot of easy running, but then there is quickly a lot of climbing, and some time on on exposed rock which was really starting to feel hot from the mid-day sun.  Though i approached the aid station still in great spirits and enjoying my day.


my first sit at Silver Bay before heading off to Tettegouche

Silver Bay to Tettegouche – 9.9 miles (34.9)

OK, now its time to get tough.  9.9 miles but it feels a lot longer.  Steep climbs and Step descents.  The course challenges with a tough climb to the overlook of Bean & Bear lakes, rewards you with the amazing view, but then plunges you back down.  some more climbing and descending before sending you back up Mount Trudee.  Woo, now were really doing some climbing, again a very challenging climb with a beautiful rewarding view at the top, but then you are forced to pick your way back down the steep decent.  Yipes, the legs starting to feel those steep descents a bit.  I make my way to the famed “Drainpipe”, a SUPER steep descent where each step is picked with care. ok, now the legs are definitely feeling these descents.   Still feeling really good about the race, pace is staying pretty consistent, but i am definitely glad to reach the aid station and take my first real “extended” rest, as i remember it.  Spent a bit of time in the chair, ate a lot (my great crew was right on the spot with everything i wanted or needed.  And changed my socks for the first time (but stuck with the same shoes).


Airing out the feets. I know i have a sad face in this pic, and i was definitely feeling the impact of the race at this point, but i don’t think my body or mind was as sad as that face looks!

Tettegouche to County Road 6 – 8.6 miles (43.5)

After quickly crossing the Baptism River, you do a bit of climbing and are rewarded with some really beautiful views.  The day of the race was the first time i had seen this section of trail and for the first half of it i was thinking wow, this is a really beautiful, runable section… i love it!!!  but then “a bit of climbing” turned into “a lot of climbing”.  And then we were teased…. as we ran along a high ridge we could see (and hear) the aid station waaaaaay down at the bottom of the valley when it felt like we should already be there (the Garmin was long dead at this point), and it turns out we were still maybe 30-40 mins away from it, with some steep descending (geez those are really starting to hurt) in our way.  The sun disappeared during this leg, and i approached the aid station and my crew with my headlight on.  I again spent quite a bit of time in the chair and my wonderful crew fed and watered me and gave me some delicious veggie broth from the aid station.  This leg i was really starting to feel tired, and maybe a bit lonely, so i was really glad it was time to start running with pacers. Not to mention my nervousness about running through an entire night after running all day!  My crew forced me up out of the chair and sent me on my way.


Arriving at County Road 6.

County Road 6 to Finland – 7.7 miles (51.2)

We check out of the aid station and are on our way.  My pacers are Bryan and Jaime.  Another section i had never seen before race day.  Thankfully i found this section very runable, and as i recall we did quite a bit of running, well for me it felt like running i’m sure it was lot more like shuffling.  Couple this with the fact that i was now running and conversing with two great friends i was really in high spirits during this section.  We were even catching and passing some other runners!  Only sour moment of this section was hitting a branch (or something) with my left quad. i muttered a curse (rhymes with mothertrucker) and moved on.  Luckily it didn’t really impact the race at all, though a couple days later it is a great, multi-hued bruise of glory.  We pull into the aid station and things are feeling good.


Photo Op during a quick stop to fish a Bonk Breaker bar out of my pack.  i didn’t want to eat any more at this point but my crew did a great job of making me.  Also, not enough brain functionality left to figure out that i could’ve just turned the light off for the picture rather than covering it up with my hand…

Finland to Sonju Lake Road – 7.5 miles (58.7)

Leaving the aid station with crew chief Jason, my main long run training partner for the past year. Time to break new ground as last years 50 miler was my longest run ever.  During this leg is when i started to really have my first low period of the race.  Looking back i think it can be attributed to two things:  1.  this leg is 7.5 miles and it is the shortest of last 4 legs i have done,  so the long legs are starting to take a physical and mental toll.  2. this section felt WAY more technical than i remembered it.  Maybe that was attributable to it being dark and the middle of the night, and maybe it wasn’t – hard to say.  Jason was a great pacer and did all the right things.  Didn’t push me to go too fast, made me eat when i fought him about it.  Every once in a while we would try do do a little shuffling/jogging  but the trail was just so gnarly (rooty and rocky) that it felt like we hiked most of this section.  I was really thankful to reach the aid station (which was not crew accessible).  I plopped down in the chair and Jason filled my bottles and gave me the food i needed.  I say needed because i’m pretty sure i again fought him about it, i didn’t want to eat any more, but he smartly made me.  I also kept begging for another minute in the chair, but he got me up out of and we set off down the trail, thankfully for a short one.

Sonju Lake Road to Crosby Manitou – 4.2 miles (62.9)

I thought this would be short and easy, but it was more of what i experienced during the last leg.  Technical trails, darkness, Jason prodding me to eat and drink when i didn’t want to and would fight him about it, darkness,  did i mention darkness, i’m really getting sick of plodding along on these super technical trails in the dark. i must have asked Jason for reassurance at least 5 times that the sun would come up during the next leg.  At one point Jason and i both turn off our lights and under the tree cover it is literally can’t-see-your-hand-in-front-of-your-face dark.  We finally reach the aid station and i hit my lowest point of the race.  I haven’t mentioned yet that the weather at night was pretty odd…   while we were moving, if even at only a hike, it felt REALLY humid but not hot.  I suppose i can’t really complain about this, but when you stop at the aid station it immediately feels COLD until you start moving again.  so for the first time at an aid station i lay down, and because of the cold my crew gives me a blanket.  So here i am, lying down, under a blanket, at night, after two mentally tough sections… things are not looking good.  But my superhero-like crew worked their magic powers…. they helped my stretch my legs, rubbed my feet and massaged some body glide onto the large blisters forming on the balls of my feet, rub my shoulders and back, give me a scalp massage, make me eat, change my shirt, change my socks and shoes and somehow… defying all logic…  i am back on the trail.  Looking back, i have no idea how i got from being under that blanket to back on the trail.  I don’t think anyone knows for sure, but estimates are that i may have been at that aid station as long as 40 mins.


Finally back up and at ’em ready to leave crosby manitou

Crosby Manitou to Sugarloaf – 9.4 miles (72.3)

Madeline and I set off in a slow hike after my long break.  Another long leg, but i know the sun will come up during this leg so that gives me hope as we start off at a hike.  And we climb, and climb, and climb, lots of climbing, but then the sun comes and lights up the world, things start to look up… I MADE IT THROUGH THE NIGHT!  The second half of this leg my spirits start to rise, as Madeline and i hit some runable sections and really start to run for what feels like the first time in a long time.  the length of this leg takes a bit of a toll, but Madeline reminds me that this is the last really long leg and eventually  we make it to the aid station. Feeling a bit tired, but this race starts to feel within reach.


A little tired, but things looking up at Sugarloaf

Sugarloaf to Cramer Road – 5.6 miles (77.9)

Steven and I set off on a short section.  I am feeling positive.  A nice short section and we’ll be at ~75 miles (75!!!!!)  And then came my second low point of the race.  My mind tells me that we continually did really steep descents, at least 4 of them, but the elevation profile doesn’t really agree with this.  The buzz from the sun rising had worn off.  I can’t really put my finger on why but the legs really kind of suffered during this leg and i continually whined to Steven about it.  But he kept a good attitude and prodded me to eat when i didn’t want to (do you sense a theme here).  As we pull into the aid station i am a bit down again.  but the crew makes me eat A LOT and i am back on my way, with the added ego boost from the fact that by the the time i reach the next aid station i will be at 85 miles!!!


At Cramer Road (77.9 miles) The crew is looking positive, and i am looking… wait, what?

Cramer Road to Temperance River 7.1 miles (85.0)

With a full belly Bryan, Deb and I head off.  before long… i start feeling good.  you know what? eating is a good thing!! we start jogging, and we keep jogging, this is a really good leg.  there was a lot of really beautiful trail on this section and some beautiful rivers.  Bryan and Deb are great company and finishing this race really starts to feel like it may be a reality.  eventually we are hiking up a slight climb and my friend Tim Lupfer comes cruising up to us.  He is running the 50 miler, and while i had no doubt he was going to have a great race,  he looks so strong  that i get a big boost from knowing that he is really going to crush his race.  we continue hiking the climbs and doing quite a lot of running to the next aid station.


Almost 85 miles in and  I’M ON A BRIDGE!

Temperance to Sawbill – 5.7 miles (90.7)

My spirits are pretty high, but my crew made another critical decision.  At the Temperance aid station they don’t let me sit.  They fill my bottles, make me eat and drink and send me down the trail.  I start to get nervous that something was wrong, that i’m not going to make cut-offs, but really they were just right.  Sitting would have been bad, and i am back on the trail with Jaime and Madeline.  The first section of this leg is very flat and we running along at a nice pace, the mood is light, the girls are singing pop songs and sometimes i join in, things are going great.  In the back of my head i know the climb to Carlton Peak is coming, but bahhh its not that bad, we got this thing the bag. then we finally see carlton peak in front of us and we start climbing.  i’m no longer laughing and singing, but we continue the climb methodically. eventually we complete the long climb and start picking our way around the mountain, trying to deal with tired legs we finally make it to the gentle decent that takes us down to the Sawbill aid station.  i’m feeling the effects of the climb, but overall still in a good mood, i mean hey, we’re over 90 miles into this thing!!!   Again, no sitting allowed at the aid station,   I go through like a racecar through a pit stop and we’re back on the move.


The fun, laughing, singing, easy part before we climb to Carlton Peak

Sawbill to Oberg – 5.5 miles (96.2)

Steven, Elena and I are on the move.  Despite all assurances from my crew that we are good on time,  i am suddenly very nervous about the cutoffs.  mostly because i know first hand how the last 7 miles of this course can quickly turn to disaster, but also partly because rationality is not my strong suit at this point in the race.  So call it adrenaline, smelling the barn, or whatever you like, but the 3 of us are moving with a purpose.  we are running a lot, and when we aren’t running i am doing one of the most purposeful, quick hikes that i have done all race.  Steven and Elena are making great conversation,  i feel like i didn’t participate much, but found it really enjoyable to just listen and have something to occupy my mind.  This is a very runable section of trail and also quite beautiful. we make some really great time.  before i know it, we’ve passed all the familiar landmarks and we are approaching the aid station.   At this point, i’ve totally bought into the strategy of no more sitting.  I can not get out of this last aid station fast enough!!!  Lets go!!!!  Lets wrap this thing up and get that finisher sweatshirt i’ve been dreaming about since i saw the 2012 finishers wearing it a year ago!!!

Oberg to Finish!!!!!!!!!!! – 7.1 miles (103.3)

Jason, Jaime and i take off out of the aid station.  i am immediately jogging, and feeling great, can’t believe that finishing this race is within grasp.  I know we have three tough challenges:  1. the steep and long climb up moose mountain, 2. the steep decent down moose mtn, 3. the long gradual climb of Mystery Mtn.  First up is the Moose mtn climb.  the first time i ran the spring 50K in 2012 i experienced for the first time in my life “hitting the wall” on this hill,  just could not put one foot in front of the other.  Today i was too close to let that happen again and the three of us powered up the climb in a steady hike. 1 milestone down.  in short order we arrive at the steep descent.  it is slow, and hell on the legs, but really this one became a non issue.  2 milestones down.  time for the long slow switchback climb.  shortly into the climb we we switch on our headlamps and hike away.  this climb is long but really not that steep at any point so we work through it.  3rd and final milestone done!!!   Now, i’d like to tell you that we raced to finish line from here but really we had quite a way to go.  the footing was very rocky and we continued to do quite a bit of hiking for what what felt like a lonnnngggg time.  but finally, FINALLY we start to hear the rushing water that signals you are close to the resort, and we reach the end of the trail proper, we cross  the bridge, we do the slight climb to the road, and the end is in sight!  We start running it in on the pavement.   some random folks sitting on the side of the road start chanting “bunz bunz bunz”  a chant that my crew would often do at the aid station, i have no idea who these folks were but thank you!  at this point  i am literally all smiles and laughing, i high-five a 50 miler as she passes me with more energy than i have left.  i see Bryan and Elena cheering with glowsticks and and a few seconds later Jason, Jaime and I cross the finish line!!!  36 hours and 45 minutes after i started nearly 2 days earlier, and i could not be happier!!!!  WHAT A GREAT EXPERIENCE!!! I get hugs from all my crew, and my friend Tim who did indeed have a great race himself.


Approaching Moose Mountain


fighting the urge to stop at Papa Charlie’s for a celebratory drink BEFORE crossing the finishline


Mere seconds after finishing


one hell of a crew


Earned my finisher’s sweatshirt and first finisher’s star!!!!

I hope you all enjoyed reading.  This was an unforgettable experience for me, and will be with me for the rest of my life.  I tried to make it obvious in this race report,  but my crew was truly amazing and i could never have done it without them.  They kept me company, made me eat when i didn’t want to eat, RAN to get whatever i asked them for at every aid station, made me get out of the chair when i didn’t want to get out of the chair, rubbed my gross feet, massaged my sweaty smelly shoulders and legs,  and boosted my spirits everytime i saw them or heard the “bunz bunz bunz” chant.  All the thanks in the world to them.

The details:

178 people started the race, 88 finished. i finished 69th.

Shoes:  New Balance 910 for first 63 miles.  New Balance 1210 for remainder

Shorts: 2 pairs of CW-X compression shorts

REI pack (no bladder) 2 handheld bottles w/ water in both

Food: lots of Bonk Breaker Bars, Diced Peach Fruit cups,  Endurolyte capsuls,  and from the aid stations: PB&J, pretzels, bananas, oranges, veggie broth….  It was my first 100 and luckily i had zero stomach issues.  i honestly have no idea if that was because of anything i did, or just dumb luck.

Thanks again for reading! If you have any questions please send me a message and i will happily answer it!


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The End is Nigh!

Well, it is Wednesday.  That means one last day of work and tomorrow my fantastic crew  and I make our way to the North Shore.  Looking forward to a delicious Vegan Socialist Burrito from Burrito Union, and meeting some of the other crazies at the spaghetti dinner in Two Harbors.

I will keep this short… Of course, i am very nervous.  Struggled to get sleep just a little last night as i found my mind racing. But ultimately I have the feeling in the back of my head that this is achievable, and i have it in me to meet my goal of finishing.   It is hard to believe that it is here.  Suddenly everything feels very real.  Packing, food plans, driving plans, picking out my race clothes…  Let’s do this!

Thanks for reading, and I hope you check back next week for my race report.

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Calmness *or* In the Eye of the Storm

Everything feels calm right now.

My runs this week have been nothing earth shattering (hey, i’m tapering, lay off) but they have felt really good.  You know the kind… not out there killing myself, but a decent run in which i feel like i could go forever.  Also, the heat and humidity of the MN dog days of summer have caused me to sweat A LOT during these outings, which is something i’ve always loved.  I love finishing a workout dripping.  In short, i’ve been having the type of runs this week that remind me why i love running.  Pure and enjoyable.

This gives me a calmness that does wonders for my confidence.  But don’t worry about me becoming overly so… i can still sense that swirling vortex of nervousness off in the distance.  But for now, the calmness wins out and i’m just going to enjoy it.

Lastly, its not all running all the time.  Last night i saw a band that i love.  They played an amazing set from start to finish, i went home with a sore throat, sweat drenched clothes, and ringing ears. If you know me, you know how much i love music.  In a way, it’s everything.  There is no discounting how much going to a show like that is responsible for my current positive outlook.

Thanks for reading.

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Two weeks away…

My name is Michael Bunda (Bunz to some close to me) and this is my new blog.  I do not believe myself to be a particularly eloquent or engaging writer, but in the months leading up to my first attempt at 100 miles I have gained a lot of comfort and inspiration from what others have written about their race experiences (both good and bad).  I decided that would like to have my own corner of the interweb where I can document my experience, and maybe someone will gain some small amount of insight like I did.  OK, enough introduction, lets get on with the meat (or meat substitute) of this thing….

I am just under two weeks away from my race:  The Superior 100 Mile (formerly known as the Sawtooth 100).  It is a 103.3 mile trail race, all of which is on the beautiful Superior Hiking Trail (SHT) in Northern Minnesota.  This is my first attempt at 100, though since 2011 I have run a 50 mile race (second half of the hundred), Six 50K’s (all trail races) Four Marathons (3 road, 1 trail) and a handful of other shorter races and Ragnar Relays.

As I stated above, the race is all on the SHT, which if you have had the opportunity to hike/run/shuffle on, lives up to the race’s motto of “Rugged, Relentless, Remote”.   I have had the great pleasure of running a few races on different parts of the trail, as well as being lucky enough to have some masochist friends that were willing to do a few training runs this summer on the trail with me.   While this has given a lot of confidence in my ability to cope with what this trail relentlessly throws at you, my emotions with two weeks to go are an intense mix of supreme confidence and extreme nervousness.  And while I often joke with my running friends that “I’ll taper when I’m dead”,  I have to admit that i am looking forward to taking it relatively easy for the next 11 days  and going into this thing with some fresh legs!  In any event, despite any nervousness I still feel, I am very much looking forward the race!

I’m not sure how much I will post prior to the race, but I will be sure to check in with any thoughts, emotions, mood swings, nervous breakdowns, or confident moments that feel significant.  I will most definitely post a race report whether I meat my goals, or completely crash & burn… or somewhere in between.

Thank you for reading.

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