Race: Run Rabbit Run 100 Mile Race (Tortoise Division)
Runner: Coach Dandelion Dilluvio-Scott
Race Date: 09/15/2023
Location: Streamboat Springs, CO
Results: Overall: 90 Female:10 // 29:42:01
3 Bests – What aspects of the race did you like the most?
- RRR had some UTMB and Western States vibes! The crowds were not nearly as monumental as these larger events (to my relief). However, it was exciting to have spectators take the gondola to the top of Mount Werner to cheer on the passing runners. There were also lines of spectators at the Fish Creeks Falls TH and Olympian Hall.
- The course looks much easier on paper than it is in reality! I enjoyed the strategic calculation involved to complete this race.
- Several years ago my husband decided he wanted to run a 100 mile race. This was ultimately the catalyst that led to me to becoming an ultra-runner and, later, a coach. My absolute favorite thing about Run Rabbit Run 100 was watching him finally cross the finish line and earn his first 100-mile buckle after years of hard work.
Not so much – Aspects of the race that didn’t do it for you
I was kind of hoping for some interesting (aka: gnarly) mountain weather. Instead, it was “ideal” running weather conditions. Clearly this is a “me” problem!
Weird factor – What’s the weirdest thing about this race?
Nothing really weird, but RRR is absolutely unique! There are two divisions: Tortoises and Hares. The Hare division is comprised of the elite and speedy! They must complete the race within 30 hours and there is substantial prize money on the line. They cannot have pacers. The Hares start four hours after the Tortoises. Therefore, Hares experience picked over aid stations and running more nighttime hours which is usual for this swift group. Conversely, Tortoises have 36 hours to complete the course and may have pacers. However, if they finish before 30 hours the same gold buckle as the Hares can be earned (over 30hr is silver). There is no prize money for the Tortoise division.
Highlights of your race – What did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular?
Run Rabbit Run was my “B Race” for the season, but that didn’t make it any less important. My main goal was to learn what it was like to rally for two 100-mile races in a single summer season. I also had more miles on my legs for the year than at the start of any of my other 100 milers. I was curious how and if this would have an effect on my performance. Basically, the main purpose of this race was to learn as much as I could so I could apply the lessons to higher consequence events in the future. However, I still wanted to execute an efficient performance and place within the top 10 females.
Run Rabbit Run 100 is unique in that is high elevation mountain race that happens to be very “runnable.” When I registered, I knew the “runnability” of the route would present a challenge to me as a gnarly conditions specialist. I enjoy running courses that don’t highlight my strengths because these races encourage me to think strategically and present excellent learning opportunities! I am accustomed to harsher terrain where a great deal of time is spent hiking or running carefully. I could not depend on the environment to hold me back during this race! I decided to intentionally plan my pacing to a greater extend than usual and exercise restraint during the first half of the race. I feel like I stuck to this strategy. I power hiked at a high, but not max intensity to the top of Mount Werner and then proceeded through the rolling terrain at a playful pace. Around this time I began chatting with another runner. We reminded each other to take it easy down the long descent to Fish Creek Falls. After parting briefly at the aid station, we regrouped and continued on together. I stayed with him for about a marathon’s worth of running! Not only was he good company, but the conversation kept us at a sustainable, endurance pace.
Eventually we parted at an aid station and I headed out alone through the aspens. I joined a small train for a few miles, but followed very quietly paying close attention to my effort. It’s really easy to turn off and end up going too fast or even too slow when you join a group during a race. It was net downhill, but there were a few short little bumps here and there. The runner in front of me ran these bumps. I walked them at the same pace. If my running pace is similar to my walking pace I will always choose to walk to save myself the energy and jostling. It would have been very easy to get sucked into the cadence of the group and I am happy with my self-awareness during this section.
I’m one of those odd runners who looks forward to night. I love running in a headlamp bubble and, during an ultra, really relish the change of scenery… or limited scenery? However, night was a bit extra special for me during this race because of the surprise I received on my second pass through Olympian Hall Aid Station (Mile 64). I began this race without crew/pacers and was fully prepared to do everything on my own. However, my friend who represents UltrAspire, a race sponsor, was waiting for me at Olympian. He generously offered spontaneous crew assistance! The brief, but meaningful, interaction put me in very high spirits for the next 10 uphill miles!
I gritted out a good portion of miles 73-101 as you will read in the following sections. However, there was major bright spot that occurred during the final mile of the race (total distance is 101.8 miles). I was running down some switchbacks when I noticed a female runner just above me. I first identified her as a Hare because of her orange bib. Then I realized the runner was Sarah Ostrowski, winner of the 2023 edition of Cocodona 250: a race I have been working toward! I told Sarah to “crush it!” as she passed me and then, abruptly, felt amazing! I sprinted after her… or at least it felt like sprinting at the time! Sarah turned into a dot quickly, but chasing her provided me with energy I had thought long gone! I crossed the finish line about a minute after Sarah as 10th female (Tortoise division).
Lessons for others – Share your pro-tips on the race to help the next runner
Do not underestimate this race! You can easily burn out in the first 20 miles if you don’t practice restraint! The bulk of this course goes straight up or straight down. There isn’t a great deal of rolling or flat terrain. If you take too many risks in the first 65 miles the final big climb back up to Werner will be horrific and your quads will scream on the final descent. Patience is imperative on this course!
Lessons you learned that will help you next time around
Downhill running is something I’ve always naturally been good at. In fact, I had never once experienced any quad problems in five years of trail running… until Run Rabbit Run 100! Around mile 80 I was shocked to discover that any step down resulted in a not so delightful stabbing sensation. I felt frustrated and confused when this happened. I very consciously exercised caution and used good technique on all the descents prior as a preventative measure for this exact thing! I gritted it out to the finish wondering how I managed to blow them out. After some intense discussion and evaluation following the race, the culprit was identified. My quad issue was likely not due to my approach to earlier descents. Instead, it is very probable that I had an electrolyte imbalance. Upon reflection, I began to despise anything sweet and crave salt in the ladder part of the race. I kept stuffing Ritz crackers down my throat and drinking broth. How did I not catch on?! I probably messed up the balance earlier in the day and making up for it was impossible at that point. Lesson learned: more salt and fluid!
I am the type of racer who prefers to not know my place in the pack. This ensures that I run my own race. My goal was to place somewhere in the top 10 females. For some reason or another, I began to doubt myself when the race became more of a grind around mile 73. Somehow, I was convinced that I was in 20-30th place. This, plus the frustration of my quads, caused me to stop fighting. Within three miles of the finish two women passed me. Normally, I am extremely competitive and would give chase in that situation. A negative mindset caused me to conclude that chasing was pointless. As it turns out, I crossed the finish line as tenth female. I learned from this experience to never assume my place and that it is always worth fighting (even in the back of the pack!).
Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race
A great deal of this course is at or above 10,000ft. It is absolutely at altitude race! If you don’t live/train at high elevation I suggest arriving two weeks early or train to be crazy fit for this race! There are lots of exposed areas at high (and low) elevation. This means the sun is extremely powerful even if the temperature is cool. Sun protection is a must on this course. Conversely, the night temperature can drip to below freezing. There was frost everywhere along the course this year after dark. Bring appropriate clothing to stay warm after sunset.
Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?
Absolutely! This course features the amazing and rugged beauty of the Rockies
Difficulty – Is it a tough course?
The terrain is technical at times, but almost all of the course is runnable. I would not call it tough. The challenge lies in the format of the ups and downs. Note that I live and train at high altitude. If I were a flat-lander I might rank the course as more strenuous.
Organized and well run – Did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?
This course was ridiculously well put together! Most pre-race meetings are dull, but the RDs give an enlightening and entertaining pep talk the night before the race. The fun vibe continued throughout he weekend with volunteers wearing bunny ears! Speaking of which, all the volunteers were extremely helpful and knew the course exceedingly well. When looking at the map, I was very concerned about making a wrong turn. However, this is the most well marked course I have ever been on!
Competition – Is there a strong field?
The Hare division is crazy competitive! The Tortoise field may not be elite, but the times posted were certainly nothing to slouch about. I suspect much of the front of the Tortoise pack will someday compete as a Hare.
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.
This race fills quickly and I would register early. I camped so I can’t speak for the hotels. However, being that the race is very much a huge town event I suspect it’s wise to book accommodations early.
Aid Stations – Standard fare or anything special to know about the aid stations in terms of what’s available or when?
The aid stations were all well stocked. Honey Stinger and Tailwind are race sponsors so there was plenty of those items available. The aid stations also had an assortment of fruit, chips, quesadillas, crackers and soft drinks. Billy’s Rabbit Hole had pizza which was a surprise being that that aid station is considered “limited”.
Weather and typical race conditions
This is tricky! Anything goes in the Rockies, especially in September. Historically the race weather tends to be mild or overly sunny during the day and cold at night. This was the case in 2023. However, hail, snow, rain and/or electric storms have occurred during the event. In fact, hail and sun can occur within the same hour! Basically, it’s high elevation mountain weather.
Gear – Did you need anything special or is there anything you’d recommend for the next runner?
I brought a standard 100-mile mountain kit. Nothing really stood out as unique for me. The biggest note is to be ready for the nighttime cold. I never needed a puffy, but I was an exception. Almost everyone else on the course seemed to have one on at some point.
Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?
YES! Spectators can view the course from the Start/Finish, top of Mount Werner, Fish Creek TH and Olympian Hall. Excellent livestream coverage was a new addition to the race this year as well, so spectators could watch from far away in the comfort of their home.
How’s the Swag?
Swag included a t-shirt and Smartwool socks. There were also additional hats, shirts and hoodies available for purchase. Finishers receive a buckle (gold for under 30 hours and silver for over 30 hours) and a glass mug.
The Overall Score – How many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it?
10/10! I would absolutely repeat this course… maybe a as Hare!
Dandelion is a coach with Team RunRun. To learn more about her or to work with her, check out her coach profile.