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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!!
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!
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.