Wy’east Howl 100k Race Report – Frank Fisher

Race: Wy’ East Howl 100k

Runner: Frank Fisher

Race Date: 7/31/2021

Location: Mt. Hood, Oregon

Results: 14:51:29, 40th place

Strava Activity Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/5718982585/overview

Photo: Steven Mortinson (stevenmortinson.com)

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

  1. The course was beautiful!
  2. The aid stations were awesome!
  3. The course was challenging but still runnable.

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

I can’t think of anything, pretty much liked everything about this race. The only thing that kinda bummed me out was not getting a Western States qualifier. This race needed 100 finishers to do that, and only 76 finished.

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

Not weird, but kind of funny to me was running around the finish area for the last 6-7 miles. You could see it down the hill a ways, but you also still have several miles to go before you actually get there. You can hear the excitement of the finish line for most of it. It was like calling the horses to the barn for me personally, but some others out on the course didn’t seem to enjoy it as much. Also funny, we all took the same selfie at the same waterfall.

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

I paced it well from the start being cautious for quite a while since it was my first shot at the distance and I really wanted to finish. I felt like I trained and prepared well for what my scheduled allowed, and my legs were surprisingly strong all the way through the race. I was able to problem solve the few issues I had successfully (missed my crew at the 30 mile aid, and a pre-existing ankle issue), had to improvise nutrition a bit but was on point with it and kept my stomach in check for the most part. Mentally, I kept my mind in a positive space and grew more confident as the race went on. I was able to finish really strong and felt like the last 24 or so miles were the best part of the race for me.

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

Get on your pace early on, and by that I mean know what that long ultra pace feels like because it will pay huge dividends at the end of the day. Practice being patient in your training, get your power hiking strong and know the course and the aid stations. Know your body and be prepared to improvise and problem solve because nothing ever goes totally as planned in these things. Have your mindset right and visualize prior to race day how you want your day to go. I didn’t feel great at the start, it took about 15-20 miles for me to get going, which was kind of worrisome, but once it started clicking I got more and more confident.

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

For me personally, every time I felt like stopping I ran instead which made hiking seem like a break. I got really efficient at the aid stations, kept my body fueled, and I’m finally getting good at managing my stomach which has previously held me back performance wise. I also found I can push the downhills harder than I would’ve thought throughout the whole race. I changed some things up in training that also made a big difference for me, kind of went outside the box with that and it paid off.

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

The first couple miles of this race are steep and slow, take your time. You also need be cognizant of the last climb coming out of the mile 51 aid station. It can be a butt kicker, especially at that point in the race. It’s fairly steep and it goes on for a long time. I’d say most of this race is runnable. Other things to watch out for would be the middle 17-18 miles, there’s only one aid station from mile 21 to mile 39 so make sure you’re topped off and fueled up going out of the mile 21 aid and the mile 30 aid. Also, make sure your crew knows how long it takes to get to the mile 30 aid station. I almost brought a back-up drop just in case I came in fast (which I did), but then decided not to since I figured my crew would be there ( they were not… ). Several crews mentioned it took a lot longer than they thought to get up there, GPS/phone signal not working great in that area either, so just be sure to know the way up.

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

Oh man, this was one of the most beautiful courses I’ve ever done! Views all over the place from Mt. Hood Meadows to the ridges, and even the Forest Service roads. This race should grow in popularity on this factor alone.

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

Yes, tough but not brutal. I thought it was a great challenge but didn’t feel like a sufferfest. It does not let up a whole lot though, you gotta work from start to finish on this one. 22 of 98 starters dropped.

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

Daybreak did a fantastic job! I feel like these folks keep getting better at each race. The aid stations were fantastic! They did a great job managing COVID precautions while providing excellent assistance to all the athletes, really engaging fun people at each station too. They certainly made the race more enjoyable. I’m always grateful to the aid station crews at every race, but I thought these were exceptionally done.

Competition – Is there a strong field?

Yep. Quite a few fast people out there for a small field in the 100k. Local boys held it down hard.

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 did not fill up, very easy to get into. It was only the second running of the 100k, but I think it will get bigger as it’s such a good race. The 50k race had a much bigger field.

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

As mentioned, the aid stations were great. Standard fair though, COVID has certainly changed what we can expect at most races, but I think these guys did a fantastic job. The large field of the 50k went through a bunch of the food and water, so the 100k racers on their way back didn’t have a totally full spread, but it was plenty. A couple of us got some PB&J sandwiches without any PB&J… it was kinda funny.

Weather and typical race conditions

This is probably very subjective, but I thought it was perfect. It was warm in the morning, right around 70 degrees. It rained periodically, which made for a warmer very muggy afternoon. Overall, a cool PNW summer day. It was a great relief from the 90’s that were forecast. Pretty smokey though. Air quality was fine, but it hung pretty heavy throughout the day.

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

Nothing special, but you need your headlamp for the morning. It’s required gear if you’re leaving the mile 51 aid station after 5pm.

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

Sort of… the start/finish area at the ski resort is very spectator friendly and you can get up to the Timberline aid station if you wanted. There were quite a few people at the Surveyor’s ridge station and Elk Meadows was a good place for family and friends too. My family had a good time out there, and my kids didn’t want to leave the playground after the race.

How’s the Swag?

Everyone got some nice socks, a beer glass, and a post race meal ticket. You could also purchase some other things form Territory Run Co., I got a really nice t-shirt.

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

5 out of 5 stars for sure! I think both the 50k and 100k are cool races, the course is fantastic with tons of views and an excellent challenge. Most everyone I spoke with afterwards loved it.

Frank Fisher is a coach with Team RunRun. To learn more about him or to work with Coach Frank, check out his coaching page.