Today was the day of the Zumbro 100 Mile Endurance Run. First, let me clarify - I did not run the 100 or the 50 today (you people are crazy awesome!), but after completing this run I think I will have to put the 50 on my calendar for next year!! I ran 17 miles - but do not be fooled! This was not a frolicking run through the woods! This had to have been the most challenging and rewarding course that I have ever run!!!
The run was to begin at 9:00, but at 8:55 I was still sitting in the car with Spider trying to decide if we were really going to run this thing. It had been pouring for the past hour and Mother Nature threw a little hail in there just for fun (ugh, poor 100 and 50 milers out on the trail.) I already had it in my head that I was not going to run and was a little crabby when Spider finally made the call that we were going to haul our butts out there and do this! This would be the longest run ever for Spider and a comeback from an injury that sidelined for a month. Spider wanted to earn the shirt we already had in our hands and get that medal! I wanted to stay warm and cozy and dry inside the car. Just as we pinned our numbers to our shorts, the rain let up. I needed a visit to the porta-potty and as I was waiting I hear the starting bell ring. Dang it - we missed the start. We weren't worried because we had decided when we signed up to do this run, that it would be a training run for us, not a race (did anyone really race this today??) We found a couple of bathrooms with no line, did our thing, got some directions and started out.
Because of our late start, we were about 10 minutes behind everyone. Soon after our start we caught up with some of the runners. They were bottle-necked on a muddy ridge. One at a time, we made our way up and down and around the ridge, sloppy mud making our footing very slippery. A woman who had run this race before assured us this would be the worst of it. We ran on.
The rain came and brought along thunder and lightning. The downpour was just one of the many things that made the run so memorable. We ran through a "tunnel" of pine trees and I felt like I had entered a magical forest. We climbed and climbed...and climbed...and climbed ...(one more) and climbed to scenic vistas that I wish now that I would have paused to view. We slogged through mud and flooded trails. We picked over rocks and splashed through puddles. Oh, who am I kidding- we spent a lot of time in water and it was AWESOME!!! My feet were cold but my socks did the job - no blisters! I don't use the word EPIC very often but in this case I can not find a better word - the trails on the way down were like a giant Slip -n Slide made of mud. We slid more than we ran. Down we went, some on their feet, some on their backs, and some on their backsides. Spider had just been complimented by another runner on the great form being used before biffing it! I have never seen anyone bounce back up so fast and smiling also!!! I watched one woman man-handle that mud - she looked like she was snowboarding!!! And just like always, the trail gods reminded me how much fun trail running is and threw me down into the mud!
Although the trail was in rough shape from the rains and snow melt. there were areas that were easier. The sand trail actually felt great after the mud, and there were some gravel paths in which we finally felt flow and our pace picked up. We had no idea what our pace was or what mile we were on because in our hustle to get out of the car we had left the watches behind. We agreed that was actually a gift! I might have felt discouraged if I would have known our pace.
The aid stations were amazing - as always, the food spread is phenomenal! But even better are the volunteers - they are so encouraging and helpful. I read a comment today on FB that at one station volunteers gave the clothes off their backs to cold, wet runners. At the last station, one of the volunteers yelled out to us "Looking good." That perked us right up. As we made our way toward the finish line we were estimating about 1 1/2 miles left. A little further down the road a man told us there was only a quarter mile left! We rounded the bend and heard the crowd cheering and ringing bells. Spider and I fist-bumped, laughed, and made our way through the finish line. Amazing feeling!!
The race director knows how to put on a great run!!! Everything from the course to the volunteers to the shirts to the medals is top-notch!!!! I will return!!