Well, it's official. I finished my first 100 mile race. I'm not much of a writer, so my report will be short.
I signed up for the Mohican 100 because of it's reputation for being a great race and that it's not the hardest and not the easiest on the east coast. This was my first attempt at this distance. The course was modified this year (now 102 miles). The Start/Finish area was moved to The Mohican Adventures grounds. This helped accommodate the expected increase in participants, crew and family members. The weather forcast called for 90 degrees and humid (great)! I'm not sure it hit 90. It was humid. But there was cloud cover most of the time. The race starts at Mohican Adventures and runs along RT 3 on a bike path to help seed everyone as much as possible. Luckily I made my way up to the first 25% of the crowd because the single track bottlenecked the race by mile 1. By mile 2, I was moving at my expected pace, but arrived 3 minutes late at AS1, The Covered Bridge (due to the earlier congestion). The Covered Bridge Aid Station will be passed through 5 times during the race. I built an hour and 15 minutes into loop 2 (purple loop - done once). Although it's only 4 miles long, previous years showed the average time to be an hour and 10 minutes. There is a hand over hand climb beside a water fall. Roots and rocks are your ladder. This is a beautiful section of the race. I finished the loop in 49 minutes! Now 20 minutes ahead of time I head to the red loop (11 miles) Nice single track, bridle path, minimal pavement, but 3 water crossings. On to the yellow loop. This is 22 miles of mostly dirt and paved roads. I changed my shoes at my crew stop (my wonderful wife) and took off feeling great. This loop has many climbs. By the end of the loop I had lost nearly all of my "banked" time. I miss judged the return from crew station area to the start of the green loop (only 2.5 miles). I lost another 5 minutes. The green loop in my opinion is the hardest. Only one water crossing (mid-thigh deep) but so many climbs and descends. And the terrain is the worst. After you return to the Covered Bridge, you do the top portion of the orange loop (12 miles). The first mile and a half is a major climb with switchbacks. But after that, most of the balance of the loop is runable. I experienced something for the first time in this section. I didn't have the energy to run down hill. I made the wise decision to stop at the next aid station (mile 60), and sit and eat. I forced the food down, nothing was appealing, and sat there for 15 minutes. I left very stiff, but after a half mile of walking, I was shuffling again. I made it to Mohican Adventures (mile 65) in 15 hours. 1 1/2 hours behind schedule. The main goal was to finish and my pacer was there to make it happen.
Side Bar about my pacer. I probably have the best pacer around (for me anyway). His name is Andrew Colburn (only 23, but an accomplished ultra runner). Not only will he stay with me for the next 37 miles. But he wants to, he insists. He says the right things without annoying me (easily done in my condition) and takes care of everything at the aid stations (food, water, spong, ect.). Thanks again Brother.
We shuffle away to start 1st part of the orange loop. At mile 2 (67), we see a runner laying backwards, down hill with his head on a fallen tree. His pacer is standing above him. He says he's ok, he just needs to rest. We complete that portion of orange, move on to red. I see my crew (wife) for the last time until the finish (I hope) and continue on red. I knew I had blisters. But they reminded me they were in charge at 1 mile before the start of the green loop. I could almost not walk. We made it to the AS and asked about blister care. They had the first aid. I lanced them and the wonderful volunteer dressed them. Although we were there for nearly 15 minutes, it was worth it. I started getting the chills and started to move or I'd be in trouble. Luckily I was able to move enough to warm-up. 1 more water crossing and then a change of socks and shoes at mile 88 (fire tower). Raman Noodles saved my race. It was the only thing that appealed to me. It tasted like heaven! And it gave me what I needed. Finished the green and now the final portion. The top of the orange loop (12 miles). The Raman Noodles did it again for me and we were on our way. 2 miles before the last aid station, we saw lights below us (in front of us). I was catching people! Two runners and 2 pacers to be exact. What an awesome feeling to run past runners late in the race! But wait, what is this? Someone is catching me now! It's the runner who was laying down hill on the tree at the start of the second part of the race. He looked like he was doing a 9 minute pace! I told him at the next aid station that he was a superball. Because I've never seen anyone bounce back like that! He and his pacer left. We hurried though too. Before I left, I asked "Am I really in 23rd or 24th place?" The race official said "No, you're 20th". What! As we left excited another runner entered the station. I'm holding on to this spot for dear life. We were moving great. The sun was coming up. Within a mile we see another runner walking. We say hi, he says good luck. He said his race was over at 91. He's walking in. 19th place! Are you kidding me? I have never been so motivated in my life. We turned our head lamps off (stealth). I knew a series of switchbacks were coming in the last 3 miles of the race. I'd be able to see who's in front of me, and who might be catching me. I thought I heard voices once in a while, but no one was there. The trail is marked with mile markers for the mountain bikers. The numbers are counting down (perfect). We hit mile 2 and just kept on our pace. I am with in eye shot of mile marker one and Andrew says "look!". Where did he come from! No way! I would have seen him in the switchbacks! But it doesn't matter. There's only one thing I can do. RUN. And run I did. There was no way I was giving up. If he can pass me at the speed I'm going, then he deserves it and I'll shake his hand. I made it to the camp ground. Turned around. Nothing. Ran down to the road. No one yet. Made it with in 200 yards of the finish line. One last look. Nothing! Wow! We "jogged it in" to the finish line. High Five's, giant smiles. I finished 19th out of 150 starters in 26:15:54.
This was by far the hardest thing I've ever done. Amnesia hasn't set in quite yet to allow me to enter the next one (100 mile race). There will be many more. I will just relish the pain and the joy of my finish for now.
Well, it was longer than a thought. I can't recommend this race enough. The organization and volunteers were great. The pre and post races meals were awesome. The shirt and THE BUCKLE are wonderful.
Thanks for reading,