And now for something completely different.
And by completely different, I’m referring to my next race: The Olde 96er 100 mile. This is a point-to-point road race along route 45 in Ohio. While I have never done a road ultra, let alone 100, the truly unique thing about this race for me is that it’s largely self-supported. There’s one aid station somewhere around mile 50 and there may or may not be a couple minimal ones in the back half of the race, however runners are largely expected to take care of their own needs otherwise. This means jumping into convenience stores, fast food restaurants or hitting up the random vending machine along the route.
When I heard about this race last year, I knew immediately that I had to do it. It resonated with me in a way that’s difficult to explain. One of the reasons I love 100s so much is the sense of adventure I get from doing them. And for me, adventures are largely things I haven’t done before. Now you might be thinking that if you’ve run one hundred (or twelve), then you’ve run them all. But while my last two have been mountainous east coast races (Eastern States, Massanutten), the courses before that were a one mile gravel loop, a point-to-point trail/road combination, a mountainous one out west at elevation, and twenty repetitions of two 2.5 mile loops.
Each race format brings a different set of challenges. The logistics are more difficult for those that aren’t a loop format (i.e you better have your headlamp at the right aid station). The mental challenges are more difficult though when you pass your car (and the opportunity to go home) every 15 minutes to an hour. The logistical challenges for this race are much greater considering the lack of aid stations and I’ll have to “go heavy” by carrying more gear/food/fluids with me than I have in prior races.
The self supported nature of the run also reduces the margin of error. Things will go wrong during the race, however I won’t have volunteers or crew available 3-4 miles down the course to help me out. Luckily, I’ve done enough of these races to know what my issues are likely to be (nutrition, blisters) and can plan ahead a little bit.
The good news is the cutoff for this race is really generous at 36 hours or a 21.5 minute pace. Most flattish 100s give you 30 hours so I’ll have an extra 6 hours to play with along the way. Hopefully I won’t need it, but you never know.
And if things go really well, then maybe I’ll come back next year and double up by doing the 200 miler. That would certainly be different.