run rabbit run 100 race report
Photo: Jeff Urbanski

Race: Run Rabbit Run 100 Mile

Runner: Teddy B

Race Date: 09/14/2018

Location: Steamboat Springs, CO

Results: https://ultrasignup.com/results_event.aspx?did=60025#id487737

3 Bests – What aspects of the race did you like the most?

  1. Scenery and location were incredible. Set in Steamboat Springs in the fall made for such an amazing traverse through the gold and green mountains since the aspens were in full swing!
  2. This was a tough run with some big climbs. The shear difficulty of the course was appealing to me and perhaps played to some of my strengths as a running with the large climbs.
  3. Followed my race plan for the most part and ran the majority of the race. I understand this is personal, but I had many doubts and questions at the starting line and didn’t have a great buildup for this race, so it felt great to get out there and execute well. Initial pace was set for 20h, but we transitioned to my 24h pace about 40 miles in. I ran at the front of the race, but wasn’t tempted to push things beyond my comfort level too early, making for a satisfying finish.

Not so much – Aspects of the race that didn’t do it for you

There weren’t a ton, but the race course changed the week of the race. This made for a bit of confusion for me since we had the old course on the pace-chart and I was expecting different distances during one long stretch of the race. I understand adjustments often need to be made according to fire warnings or dangerous weather, but this course change was made late in the game simply to switch onto a different (and admittedly gorgeous and scenic) trail. Seemed unnecessary, but minimal. Just wish the change had been announced earlier in the process.

Weird factor – What’s the weirdest thing about this race?

It’s different having the elite runners in a different race. The separation of the tortoises and hares made it more exciting for me as a runner since I was running at the front of the pack all day. It also is crazy to have Jason Schlarb run with you for 15 minutes at mile 85! Another minimal oddity, but also awesome factor is running the ski slope up the first hill – it was greater than 45 deg for the majority of this uphill – tough way to start a 100 mile run haha. In retrospect, this did change my run since my psoas muscles were working overtime even when my pace felt incredibly relaxed, which showed later on with psoas muscle cramping starting around mile 40.

Highlights of your race – What did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular?

I ran well for a good majority of the race, running in first place through mile 65 and then out-pacing another strong Teddy for my best finish (3rd place!) in a 100 mile race. I also ran well despite a difficult and far from ideal race build-up including many setbacks from my residency schedule and my ankle surgery in January. I stuck to my nutrition plan from mile 1 to mile 105, eating Spring Energy gels the entire time and drinking their electrolyte mix (ginger-apple, delicious). I also purposefully started salty food early in the race, eating pringles and salted watermelon starting at mile 17. Finally, I kept myself cool early in the race when things started to get hot. I was lying down in the streams and even went for a swim right after leaving the Long Lake aid station.

Lessons for others – Share your pro-tips on the race to help the next runner

This was 100 mile number 8 (9 if you count my treadmill run), and there is always a new dilemma. So my biggest lesson is always expect something will test you; you cannot train for every scenario. You will be forced to make decisions during these moments when you are exhausted, hurting and mentally derailed – you do not know how you will react in these moments until you are there. It may even be an old decision complicated by new variables, but it will occur under the most unideal conditions.

Afterwards, analyze these decisions. Which are you proud of? Which do you now wish you had chosen differently? There are several moments in every race that I am not proud of, decisions made in haste, frustration or pain that in retrospect seem so out of character or misaligned with my race goals. These are the memories that keep me coming back to mile 80, mile 90, mile 100; because I want another opportunity to react differently and to train my mind as much as my body.

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

I am a salty sweater and the earlier I can get salty food in my system, the better. Electrolyte drinks don’t seem to cut it. I started with salty watermelon and Pringles by mile 17 and I think this had positive impact on my race. Additionally, I left almost every aid station feeling pretty full. This was purposeful as I wanted to get in calories when my HR was lower. Again, I think this worked well! It kept me fueled and I didn’t have any stomach issues this race.

I wasn’t exactly racing competitively after mile 65. I was feeling pain in my surgery ankle and kept trying to focus on my own needs, not worrying about runners gaining on me or even running a specific time. I think if I had gone into this race with a different mindset, the later miles may have been a little different. However, a big takeaway for me was that I didn’t feel as mentally strong in this race. I relied heavily on my pacers especially between miles 65 and 85 because I didn’t feel collected and had no desire to push the pace. During training, I stopped meditating because my schedule was so hectic with residency and it showed. The mental struggle weighed on me. There was internal dissonance that isn’t usually present, I wasn’t dialed in. Little things disrupted my focus. I think back to the mental work I had done leading up to my treadmill run, and my mental willpower was so much stronger. I will make this a priority before my next 100 mile run, and I am confident it will prove to be beneficial.

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

The first climb is as tough as it looks, very steep and you can’t take it slow enough; clearly in my case, since I was very comfortable (albeit climbing at the front of the pack). Even with an easy, even effort, I still felt like this affected my later miles.

The big climbs all have very steep sections. While many races the “feet/mile” average gives you a good build-up, these mountain races require steep trail running. I don’t think I did enough high grade running later in my training, and my psoas muscle (the main hip flexor) started cramping and spasming, not to mention became exhausted early in the race (mile 45). It is difficult to tell if it was simply an incomplete/rushed training cycle or if we could have done more to prepare my big climbing muscles. Regardless, the downhills are long and the grades are much steeper than 200 ft/mi; thus, I would make an additional recommendation that the hills you do run be at least 400-600 ft/mi, and the longer the better. Most of the climbs were steeper than 400 ft/mi with some as steep as 800 ft/mi late in the race. It was hard with my ankle injuries, but had things been more idea, I would have gone after more frequent, steep climbs in my training in addition to the big fourteeners I ran on long run days.

The new “downhill” from Flash of Gold to Dry Lake is all on mountain bike trails…10 miles of switch-backing trail. The grade was nearly flat and the mileage more than doubled for this distance from the trail that covered this section in previous years. It was a long haul that was much slower than expected. If I had been expecting it, this would have been a great section to further distance my lead; instead, I think it allowed runners behind me to get back in the race. I couldn’t get in a rhythm with the switchbacks and because you can see the next section of trail 3-4 ft parallel to you, it got very demoralizing for me. It was beautiful and while I should have been relishing easy miles, I spent this time frustrated at the seeming lack of downhill progress I was making.

The hill out of Olympian Hall felt like it went on much longer than 1500 ft. The miles following before getting back were also tough miles. Difficult to tell if this was simply because of where it falls in the race or if they were actually difficult terrain. The back end was all mountain bike trails with some winding terrain making it tough to find a rhythm.

The climb from Dry Lake to Flash of Gold is no joke. Late in the race, I told Jeff it felt like we had just done 3,000 ft of climbing…it was close, about 2,100 ft, but I had also done 1,500 more ft of climbing from Olympian Hall to Dry Lake. So it was actually about 3,500 ft and I felt every inch of it. The climb goes over several rocky crags with tough footing and once you get to Flash of Gold, you’re not done yet. Up and up to Summit Lake you go! This section was easily forgotten with the big climb before it, especially for me while I was running.

Two final points: the section between Long Lake and Mt Werner aid station IS uphill (which I forgot) and the final downhill is absolutely murder on tired quads (and surgical ankles).

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

Steamboat Springs in September: WHOA. The aspens were incredibly beautiful, golden hues contrasting against the blue sky and pine covered peaks. This race is gorgeous.

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

I thought I was moving fairly well through this course, but it just kept coming and my time started racking up. I was surprised to run over 24h at this race, but to be fair, only about 20ish runners made it under a day to combine the tortoise and hares. I think the race felt harder than Leadville. I can’t exactly put my finger on why that is, perhaps the extra miles, but it ranks up there regardless. Starting off with such a brutal climb certainly makes the rest of the race more difficult, and the final miles from 85 on slowed me down much more than expected.

Organized and well run – Did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?

Pre-race meeting was all over the place. To summarize: “There is a big hill to start. Give away swag. Tell bad joke. Give away swag. Follow red/pink ribbons. Give away swag…etc”. The actual race organization was pretty spot on though, and I was impressed with the aid stations in the later miles – probably helps to be the third person through them.

Competition – Is there a strong field?

Hares had an exceptionally strong field as should be expected for a prize of $12,500. The tortoise field was okay, there were some well experienced runners, but the majority of the competition was in the field of Hares. I may throw my hat in that ring in the next few years…we shall see.

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.

Nothing too difficult. Race didn’t fill until a month before, and you can transfer between tortoise and hare up until about a month before the race.

Aid Stations – Standard fare or anything special to know about the aid stations in terms of what’s available or when?

All aid stations were well stocked except for the lone aid station between Olympia pit stops. This aid station basically had water and potato chips – no ginger ale, coca cola, pretzels, fruit…just candy and chips and water.

Weather and typical race conditions

I heard this race can be exceptionally COLD overnight given the late fall date and the elevation in mountains. However, it turned out to be quite warm the entire race this year with sunny skies for the duration.

Gear – Did you need anything special or is there anything you’d recommend for the next guy?

Nothing special.

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

It’s a great race to crew! Very easy to get to aid stations. According to my crew chief, one more aid station in the last 30 miles would have been nice, and I agree. In my opinion, they could open Summit Lake aid station which would make the course very ideal for runners and crew – although this would be a more difficult aid station to travel to, it could also be optional. Aside from this, all other aid stations that allow crew members are very accessible and my crew said they had plenty of time between.

How’s the Swag?

I would say average (t-shirt and finisher buckle), but I also didn’t get drawn for one of the 50 pre-race prizes which were pretty incredible: UD race vests, altra shoes, honey stinger nutrition packages, black diamond polls and headlamps…etc. If you’re looking to win some cash though, you should run here, biggest prize money pot of any ultra race in the world.

The Overall Score – How many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it?

5 stars because of the course (beautiful), competition (hares make it exceptional), and prize money. It is also very laid back and is organized by a group of fun-loving people. They like to keep it simple while also setting you up for one hell of a run. Enjoy!