Pete says: I’ve been a recreational runner for 20 years. Over time, I’ve learned how best to milk my limited athletic ability into middle-of-the-pack finishes in running races of all types, from 5Ks to marathons. More recently, I’ve taken to trail running, as it provides inspiration, variety, and peacefulness. Along the way, I’ve met many new friends, some amazing stories of perseverance and determination, and a terrific culture of togetherness that is unique to the running community.
For some time, I’ve been intrigued about new boundaries to explore, including longer distances and challenging terrain. While looking on line several years ago, I came across the Superior 100 mile race, which is held in mid-September along the north shores of Lake Superior. This race was one of the first 100 mile challenges in the US and is known both for its history and its difficulty. In reading the description, I felt that this race was likely at the limit of my capability, and an event that would require me dedicating all my physical energy and mental focus. Here are some descriptions from the website:
“climbs to near 2000′ peaks with breath-taking vistas of the lake and inland forests”
“crosses countless whitewater rivers and serene streams and meanders through mystic Boreal forests”
Those descriptions sounded fantastic! But these quotes from some runners who attempted the race sounded downright scary:
“the steep painful downhills on Moose Mountain demoralized me“
“this is a sadistic obstacle course of rocks, boulders, 3+-foot steps and drops, and roots worse than the ropes that NFL running backs train through“
“Sawtooth isn’t a race, it’s a survival contest“
Here is the course profile:
As you can see, there is very little flat trail, and there are quite a few substantial climbs. There are 141 registered 100 mile races in the US; only 20 have more elevation gain (20,000 feet, or 20 flights of stairs EVERY MILE!), and only 11 have a longer amount of time allowed to finish the race (38 hours). To give you an idea of this, running 4 Boston marathons back-to-back would equal about 3000 feet of gain
Can I do it? I’m no longer the youngest guy in the world, and the time I have available to train is pretty limited. I’m not very fast or strong, though I do have world-class stubbornness. While I’ve successfully completed two prior 100 mile races–Pinhoti in Alabama, and the Philadelphia 100, these were far less daunting in terrain and also (potentially due to heat and humidity) weather. I’m much less confident about this one, but I’m determined to give it my best shot. The rocky course, constant stepping, and invariable muscle tightness that results are very similar to what CP kids like Jason face every day. So in that sense, this is the perfect race to try!