|A cold and icy start prior to sunrise. Photo credit: David Potts.|
Of the 105 runners who started the 100 miler, only 39% would cross the finish line. Freezing temperatures overnight combined with rain in the morning hours of the race resulted in icy conditions everywhere. The second night saw welcomed yet bizarre weather, with temperatures rising into the 50s.
|Loop 1 done, and already tired. Photo Credit: David Potts|
The venue, Prince William Forest, provides a natural respite from sprawling D.C. suburbia featuring 16,000 acres and over 40 miles of running trails. Beyond its natural appeal, runners traversed some interesting history as well. The Devil Dog course weaves its way past a defunct pyrite mine, which earned workers a handsome $4.00 per day in the early 1900s. Three small towns once existed within the park boundaries, now all extinct. Finally, the Office of Strategic Services, the precursor to the modern day Central Intelligence Agency, once trained agents in the art of espionage here.
Having never run a looped race before, I wasn't sure what to expect and each loop had its own unique set of challenges. The freezing rain on loop 1 turned the course into a skating rink, forcing runners to tip-toe or crawl at times. I used a technique mimicking cross country skiing to cross the roads and walkways, holding 11th place after loop 1.
|Proudly finished, alongside my pacer Jake Kruse. Still feeling a bit dazed.|
Darkness set in by the time I picked up my pacer at the start of loop 4. This was a harsh reminder that with 14 hours of darkness, December nights are long. Not far into loop 4 something broke inside of me and I was reduced to a hobble. Rallying to a speed walk I trudged on, relying only on constant forward progress. Dizziness and nausea added to my stresses. Leaving the last aid station and with 6.5 miles left in the loop I was faced with the possibility of walking all of loop 5. The thought of spending the next 10 hours walking felt mentally defeating. I still had plenty of time before any cutoffs and I was committed to finishing, either by running, walking, or crawling. A few miles into loop 5 I experienced some ultra magic: I became less tired, the nausea dissipated, and a welcomed dose of pep returned to my legs. Now back to a mostly-running strategy, I patiently moved along. The mile 87 AS told me I was in 7th place. The final half-marathon just consisted of some steady walk-running, a quick stop at the final AS, and then a few last trying miles leading up to the finish area. Finally, I crossed the finish line at 7:25 a.m. in 25:25:10 total, good enough for 6th place, as I had unknowingly passed the aforementioned runner in front of me.
|My friend and training partner Samantha Pitts-Kiefer finishing strong.|
|Race swag, and the coveted belt buckle.|