Hello everyone! Been resting since trail race.
RR: Badlands trail race on the Maah Daah Hey trail: 50 miler, 50k, marathon, 16 miler, HM, 10k. August 12, 2017, Medora, ND
Aug 11, Friday: Met RB in Fargo, loaded her stuff in my car. Drove across ND, glad it was cloud cover the whole trip. Arrived in Medora, ND, set up tent in campground, had dinner in town. Walked around checking out small shops, lots of ice cream places. Our neighbor 'camper' overheard us talking about running, weather, hydration, etc. as we pack our race stuff. He's running the 50 miler, WOW!! We chatted while watching/wondering if the distant lightening/thunder/rain in the west will miss us or not. Radar shows it will be close.
About 1/2 hr after settling in tent for the night, wind picks up, start to sprinkle. Within hour, thunder/lightening and heavy rain which turns to HAIL!! After hail stopped, we grabbed our sleeping bag and running gear bag and get inside the car. It's raining alot. We didn't get the sleep we needed. 5 AM: we get ready, had coffee, 1/2 bagel w/ peanut butter. We are tired and moving slowly. Tent survived, no leakage, sleeping mat stayed dry, THANK YOU REI!! We all wondered if race will get cancelled and how trail will be due to storm. Bib pickup is on race morning. We drive 17 miles on dirt road, not too bad, to race location.
Picked up bib, 2 changes are mentioned. The ultras & marathon suppose to start at 7am but now ALL races will start at 8 am. Original trail course was "out and backs that will be completed on a 7.97 mile (total 15.9 miles) section" of the trail w/ 3 aid stations: at start/finish, at 3.3 miles, and 7.97 miles. Now, the out and backs will consist of a 3.3 mile section, turnaround at 1st aid station back to the aid station at start/finish, total 'loop' will be 6.6 miles. So I will be running 2 out and backs (or 'loops), then out again but turning around at a marked (painted red on ground) area back to finish for just over 16 miles. Doesn't sound too bad, right? RB has to run 4 out and back.
Runners are changing their hydration/eating strategy while we all wait for the 8am start. I switched from my new waist hydration Camelback to a smaller one that I wore at Afton in July. Took my 7 oz soft flask w/ water, salt tabs and sport beans. Can drink gatorade at aid stations. Left phone in car. Wore running skirt w/ GoPro in pocket, sleeveless razorback tech top, pink cap, compression calf sleeves, and right knee support. And off we went.
The first 1/4 mile is a gradual slope on single track, then turns steeper for about 1/2 mile. EACH out and back starts and ends with this hill which will feel steeper and longer every time. Was proud of myself that I jogged the whole way up on first 'loop,' passing many runners. After reaching ridge, it's mostly single track w/ nice rolling hills, then up/down steep hills till you get to a tree-lined shaded portion of a winding trail that goes up/down, very pretty and cool area of trail. Then you run through a few muddy areas and reach a gate that you have to lift/lower to pass. Then trail goes through some high grasses on each side, this portion is the most rutted so takes focus to not turn ankle or trip. RB and I high-fived each other as she has already made it to the turnaround and going back. It's muddy and narrow, then finally up a short hill to the aid station. That is a LONG 3.3 miles, WHEW!!
Just one volunteer at AS but it's organized and stocked w/ usual snacks of chips, pretzels, m&ms, etc, and cola, ginger ale, cold water and gatorade. Runners have to say their bib number at both AS. Drank some gatorade, ate some chips, then headed out. I picked up some good speed the 1/2 mile downhill to the start/finish AS. First 'loop' took about 1:10. Had some ginger ale, more chips, took a salt tab and started 2nd out/back. It's mostly sunny w/ scattered clouds by now.
Second climb took longer, jogged halfway, power-walked on steep portions, jogged/walked till I reached the ridge, then got into a good rhythm. My right knee is beginning to complain so I decided to slow down on the downhills. RB and I don't have the energy to high-five each other by this time, LOL!! Instead, it's "hey, looking good!" I feel like a zombie, body is exhausted but have to stay focus to avoid any falls. My fastest mile is at 9 miles, 10:28. I really don't remember, must have been on auto-pilot. Reached aid station, it's about 10 miles. Poured cold water on my head, refilled my flask, and decided to drink 1/2 cup of warm cola for the caffeine to get some energy. Around 12 miles, I feel like puking the cola!! What was I thinking? Don't have my gin-gins, darn it! Just tough it out. Reached the steep downhill to the start/finish AS. My right knee is not happy at all so I jogged but picked up speed the last 1/4 mile. Second 'loop' too about 1:25. Drank some cold water, another salt tab and chips. Headed out for 3rd time but need to remember to look out for the turnaround marker on ground.
Up the hill again, it hurts this time. Jogged some, power-walked the steeper sections. Hamstrings/calves are on the brink of cramping. This is my slowest mile, about 17 minutes. Feels better when I get to the ridge. Just one foot in front of the other. It feels endless, and I passed the turnaround marker!! My eyes noticed the fading red painted marker on the ground but it wasn't till some minutes later before I reached a small hill that my brain got the message. Turned around, hamstrings are screaming. Asked knees to hang in there for one last downhill. Last 1/4 mile, picked up speed and finished strong. RD tells me my time is 3:22:18. I'm 2nd of 6 females (1st female is 30, time 2:48:29). And, I'm 5th out of 11 overall. I'm the only 50-59 in AG. Oh, okay. I just want to lie down.
The dark clouds are moving in from SW. After RB finishes, cleaned up abit, ate, rested, the thunder/lightening are closing in. We leave and starts to rain midway on the drive back to campground. We wait in car till storm passes. Our neighbor, Jason, drives up, race is called off, he didn't finish 50 miles. After shower, we all had dinner in town. Got chilly but nice evening as we shared running stories, travels, family, etc. We slept better, awake before 6 am. We pack up. Jason leaves before we do, he lives southeast of Minneapolis. He is running the 100 miler at Voyageur where RB will be support for another friend whose DH is running in the same event. Small world.
This was definitely a minimalist trail event, which I prefer and enjoy. No huge banners, bands, crowds, off the beaten path for sure. It's in the more scenic part of ND IMO. Not much you can do about weather conditions. Things happen and we went w/ the flow. It's so refreshing to have this in common w/ another runner. The event is definitely not for high maintenance people, LOL!! I really enjoy camping and being outdoors, away from traffic/crowds so I was in my element. Really grateful for the experience, and glad race was not cancelled. The lack of sleep definitely affected my time and effort but I'm satisfied w/ the finish. The trail was very scenic so I didn't get bored but having to run the same short distance over and over for an ultra runner can get old, I'm assuming. It's not too technical but the single track had plenty of ups/downs to challenge you. The only annoyance was the one male runner who had his music on loud ; relieved that I was not in earshot unless he was going the opposite way. We made a new friend too. And, RB finished 1st female, 3rd overall in trail marathon, awesome!!
There is another ultra race on this trail that is held in late July. Starts on north end and finishes at trailhead in town. Put on by a different organization that maintains trail and all $$ goes towards helping preserve the area. I hope to run that in the future.