"Why would anyone want to run all day & all night around a 1.5 mile loop?" Those were my thoughts a couple of years ago when I heard about the Hinson Lake 24 Hour Race put on by the prolific Mangum Track Club. I really enjoyed it though. You hear that? It was actually fun. I never thought something that long would be fun. Rewarding yes, but not fun. Having done one 24 hour race, one 12 hour race, 12 hours of a 24 hour relay & numerous fixed distance ultras including a 100 miler, I really love the fixed time races. No pressure. If you do 30 miles, OK, great. If you do 130, OK, great. You're not a loser if you don't complete a certain distance.
I had few expectations coming into this one. I wanted to get in 70 at least. Some recent injuries made me back off that goal a little, so I really went in expecting to do... whatever. In a way, that's what made my race. Didn't psyche myself out.
I completed 90.0 miles. This was on some pre-existing sciatic nerve problems & foot issues that caused me not to run all week. I kept upping the bar throughout the race. Said I'd quit at marathon, 50K, 40 miles, 50, 60, 100K, 70 & then I was DONE at 75. Packed my stuff up and started walking to the car. Was talked into running 5 more miles. Then at 80, was told I was in 9th place. I had no intention of making the leader board so I had to defend that. At about 60 miles, I passed the guy who was in 10th place but then went to the car for a short rest & never actually made the leader board of top 10 at that time. Late in the race, I was doing some math in my head, predicting what the people behind me could do. I stopped at 23:20 with 90 miles when I knew I had 7th place locked up. There were over 200 starters.
Early in the race, dealing with pain, it was harder & harder to pass by the car every 1.5 miles! The course was an easy, smooth loop around a lake. A bit monotonous doing it so many times, but really a beautiful location. The first half of the loop was perfectly flat and the north side of the lake was gently rolling. Fans of Umstead would feel right at home.
I had just told someone I was doing 1 more lap at 30 to make it 50K. I waited at the aid station for my buddy Konrad to tell him I was leaving & run my last lap with him, but I ended up running the next 20 miles with him! He saved my race. During all of those miles, I felt like a pacer- like I wasn't really in the race- just getting him through it. I'd let him get ahead of me at the aid station & then run hard to catch up. I didn't realize he was getting me through the race. Konrad fell victim to the tent at 100K & didn't run anymore after that. When I saw his shoes outside his tent, I knew he was done for the night. Still, a solid effort. Getting my mind off of the pain with Big K was incredibly helpful. We got separated at 50 miles & I really felt great from 50-65. Best I felt all race. No one passed or lapped me this whole 15 mile section. I flew past people & they asked if I was the leader. Not quite. The leader (Jonathan Savage) ended up with a staggering 131.5 miles I believe. I walked one hill & the aid station each loop all day & stuck to that. I did walk a little more in the last 3-4 laps but not much & walked almost the whole last lap as sort of a "victory lap."
I could've gotten 100 in I'm sure. With a 1.5 mile loop, the tendency is to not carry anything with you & just use that aid station each time, but with 60 laps & spending 2:00 each time, it really adds up! That's 2 hours spend just in the aid station! Also, I laid down in the car 3 times for 15 minutes each time. That's a total of 3 hours of down time. I don't regret not getting in 100 at all though. I'd like to do this race again & next time, I'll bring a bottle & a gel or two with me so I can just stock up every 3-4 loops instead of stopping every 1.5 miles.
I met & ran 3 hours with race director Tom Gabell at a race last spring. He & his crew were great. Most of them were out there all 24 hours. Standard ultra fare was served. No gels. I didn't eat much & certainly didn't stick to any fueling plan. I brought a big bag of stuff but barely used it. I consumed less than 200 calories an hour & most of it was liquid. I'd say 50% of my calories for this race came from the Powerbar Endurance drink served on the course. 25% was from Mt. Dew, Coke & ginger ale. 15% was from solid food like salted potatoes & trail mix. 10% was from Gu Chomps & Roctane. Also had one thing of EAS protein drink. Most people would say that's not enough & not the right types of food, but it worked for me.
High of 81 & low of 66. Warm for my tastes. Most of the course is in the shade but I packed a hat with ice during the day. A lot of people had issues with the heat. I really enjoyed the night hours because it was cooler & just fun. The race cleared out quickly when it got dark. Many quit for good & others came back after the sun came back up for a few more laps.
Feel sore & a little groggy now, but much better than after Rocky Raccoon. I spent the whole day in a dark hotel room barely able get across the room to make it to the bathroom then.
What's next on the agenda? I haven't looked much past this race. It was a good one! Click here for a video of the race. It's not great, but it's all I filmed.