Race: Burning River 100
Runner: Ted Bross
Race Date: 07/30/2022
Location: Akron, OH
Strava Activity Link: https://www.strava.com/athletes/19070752
3 Bests – What aspects of the race did you like the most?
- I started with my friend Chad and was able to run step-for-step with him the entire race; we crossed the line hand-in-hand. The company made the race feel much shorter than I expected and it was kind of over before I realized it!
- The course was in my home state of Ohio and offered a scenic tour around Cuyahoga National Park
- Not only did I run with my friend, but I had one of my best buds in the race, my family crewed with my girlfriend and there were lots of familiar faces! It was a great way to come back to Ohio and run a great race
Not so much – Aspects of the race that didn’t do it for you
I am a mountain runner and this was not a mountain race; however, there were several nostalgic moments for me that felt like I was either just doing a long run out the back door or racing through backyards like I did when I was a kid. The “not-so-much” may actually have been a nice change of pace!
Weird factor – What’s the weirdest thing about this race?
From a guy now used to running long stretches of mountain trails, there were so many logistical connecting trails! I couldn’t believe the number of parks we went through or farms we skirted. The route also ran along towpath and bike path trails, mixing up the dirt trails. We saw lots of people, like groups of runners and bikers out for their Saturday jog. This could be a nuisance if in the wrong mindset, but I was enjoying saying hi to people and soaking up the encouragement from people who were blown away at a couple guys running all day.
Highlights of your race – What did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular?
Honestly, everything went well. The weather was great, kind of unexpectedly great. A bit hot and humid still, but we didn’t get a drop of rain so the trails stayed perfect all day. I ate like a champ, consumed 1 gel every 20 minutes from start to finish, didn’t miss a single timer. In addition to the gels, I had bites of burritos at aid stations and consumed Skratch in my water bottles. My crew was dialed. They had ice bandannas for me and my friend as soon as the temps started to rise and I kept my core body temp even all day, which is probably why eating went so well! The pace felt just below what I could do on the day, so honestly it was probably just right haha. The ultimate highlight is who I shared the race with: friends, family, does it get any better?
Lessons for others – Share your pro-tips on the race to help the next runner
- Get good weather! The trails here can get super sloppy when the rains come in which likely would have slowed progress. Ask Arlen how he feels about that because I bet he could do sub-14 hours on a good-weather day here!
- The uphills never last long, they are steep but you could run many of them if you’re up for it and going for a fast time. I walked many of the uphills on the back-50 but this was to stay with my friend and likely could have dropped the time significantly.
- There is a lot of flat path that is super fast. You might think the miles will just click by here, but although my faster miles, these were some of my longer mental miles. Prepare yourself for some monotonous running on these stretches and just find a groove!
- The course was incredibly well-marked! Even with all the trail changes and farm crossings and road running, I never had trouble finding my way.
- Start early with the anti-chafe creams. I used them all them time when I called Ohio home but totally forgot until I was several miles in and chaffing had already started. The humidity is relentless!
- More on the humidity since I trained in the dry climate in Colorado. I was downing fluids all day! I used Skratch (conveniently sponsoring the race) and drank it from start to finish without any cramping and I was sweating A TON. I couldn’t believe how much more I was sweating than my friends who live and train in Ohio but it was significant. I did sauna heat training and was well adapted but even with that, I still needed more and more liquids. Dry climate runners almost always cramp hard when going fast in the midwest because the humidity gets you!
Lessons you learned that will help you next time around
My legs had more to give and I ran the entire race. It gave me confidence in my legs, that they have the ability to take me deep in a hundred and push hard at the end. I think I am learning lots about myself and my body these last couple years. Well just add that to the bank!
Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race
- Lots of trail changes, but know they are well-marked
- Find a good running groove on the towpath and bike path sections
- If it rains, the farm sections will be heinous mud pits of despair
- The aid stations are short distances but I still carried two bottles to make sure I was drinking plenty, you could get away with one handheld all day though
- On a hot day, the trees provide shade on a lot of the trail, but it also socks in the humidity; still felt like win on a sunny day
- If it’s the out-and-back course, the bike path section coming into the 50 mile turn-around is totally exposed and that sun is going to get you (if it’s out)
Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?
It is Ohio pretty so there are no vista views but lots of gorgeous trees. Chad and I laughed all day about the “Green Tunnel” (aka the Appalachian Trail) as it felt like we ran in a green tunnel most of the day.
Difficulty – Is it a tough course?
Na, the course felt easy breezy to me. Just a couple sections that were hot, others could get swampy if it rains.
Organized and well run – Did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?
It was great! The aid stations were exceptional and the course was well-marked. The race was exceptional by my standards.
Competition – Is there a strong field?
Every year there are a few guys around 16 or 17 hours, but it isn’t bringing even the best talent out of the region every year. The guys who run at the front though usually stay consistent as long as they have some experience because aid is close together and course is straight forward.
Logistics – Does it require a special handshake, registration a year in advance, hotels all booked? Give us the low down on the nuts and bolts of making the race happen.
Sign up when registration opens. I believe they did sell out this year, but you could probably get in all the up to within a week or two of race day.
Aid Stations – Standard fare or anything special to know about the aid stations in terms of what’s available or when?
Standard aid station fare. They were sponsored by Skratch this year which was great for me because that is what I train on; per usual, potency will vary. The aid stations are all within about 5 miles of each others, with many around 3-4 miles apart.
Weather and typical race conditions
Always hot and humid. Usually rain. Although, no rain this year baby!
Gear – Did you need anything special or is there anything you’d recommend for the next runner?
I ran with a Naked belt and UD race vest. I hadn’t run a single mile in either of them before the race haha. My usual race vest broke and my Naked shipment was kind of a surprise as it came in stock right before I left. I felt comfortable using these items just with my history of previous products and running lots of miles in gear. As soon as I put them on, they felt right. That being said, I think had I spent more time with these, I would have ditched the vest and ran with one handheld bottle and another bottle in my belt. The vest was nice to add ice to in the hotter portions of the race though.
Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?
Super friendly! There are so many spots to see crew and the course is open so honestly, you could see people at any time of day. They make crewing fun as well by having a “front 50” and a “back 50” so your pacer can sign-up for the “back 50” and get a 50 mile finish (if they go the entire way). There are also a lot of places to switch out your pacer if you want to break it up!
How’s the Swag?
It good I guess. This doesn’t really matter to me because I have too many race shirts and pullovers and buffs…etc.
The Overall Score – How many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it?
I would give it a high score, maybe 8/10 for good organization, fast course and spectator friendly. Missing points for competition and views but, like I said, the beauty is found in many different ways!
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