Lean Horse Hundred Mile Run
Hot Springs, SD
August 26-27, 2006
“A lean horse runs a long race.”
The race director “ is quite open about the fact that this is NOT a tough course. “I wanted to create an opportunity for ultra runners who are thinking of ‘giving this 100 mile thing a try,’ to have only the distance as their challenge... not thousands of feet of elevation change; not being concerned about whether they’re still on the course; not wondering how long it will be before they see their crew again... but just an awesomely beautiful course where all you have to think about is what a stud you are for being out there doin’ it. Oh, by the way, for those seasoned, speedy ultra runners... this course is flat-out fast... come check it out... a guaranteed PR.”
The Lean Horse is "lean", because it's pretty hard despite what the race director says! I did complete it, but it was not necessarily redemption for my DNF at the Bighorn Mountains 100 Mile Run last June. I was all set for about a 23 hour run, but a 28-hour run was the result. I started exactly as I had planned. Early on in the run, I had one slow period of about 10-12 miles where I lost my focus, but I followed with a really strong, positive run from 40-65 miles where I made up everything I had lost earlier. At about mile 80, I started to have low back/hip spasms, which increased in intensity to the point I had to stretch (ineffectively) every few minutes. This was new to me and I slowly realized the reason: I stubbornly had decided to run with my big camelback since I like to carry stuff, lots of fluid and my favorite food, etc. I was use to carrying a heavy pack in some of my self-supported runs, I found out a 100-mile run was too far for me to carry lots of weight. Unfortunately, I found out ¾’s way into the race.
Everyone was expecting hot weather as the high two days before was 102, plus heat was the issue on the inaugural run last year. So we started at 6:00 AM with weather in the mid 50’s with light, steady rain, which lasted until about 2 PM. It never got hot and in the evening dipped into the 40’s at higher elevations. The rain started again at midnight, coming down continuously until intensifying at 9:00 AM with strong wind and in the low 50’s when I finished.
The course is an all gravel path (non-technical=no big rocks), converted from an old railway. So all climbs can be easily run (no more than 3% grade), although they are quite long. The RD does a great job with organization and the aid workers were always upbeat, enthusiastic, and insisted that they do everything for you when you arrived at the aid station.
Right now as I write, I am still sleep-deprived and in a haze having finished less than 12 hours ago. I’ve gotten over my “never again…blah, blah, blah” stuff. As usual, lessons were learned, (especially about camelbacks.) I find that there are always lessons to be learned…in ultraruns, you just have plenty of time to think about them.