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Umstead 100 revisited: Living in the afterglow

A couple of weeks have passed and that gives an opportunity for thought and reflection. Here are a few more add-ons to my Umstead 100 report:
  • The 2014 overall winners, John Dennis and Liza Howard, completed Umstead in roughly 1/2 the time of us back-of-the-packers. That says a lot for them...and it says a lot for us.
  • I'm a big fan of Dr. Scholl's "Active Series" inserts. They contribute additional cushioning and it helps over the long haul. I used them inside my Brooks Cascadia 5's. I really enjoy that trail shoe, but I wonder how a low heel drop model like the Brooks Transcend would play out over 100 miles.
  • There's a great link on the Umstead 100 home page regarding blister prevention: I don't have 100 mile feet, never have, and deep blisters become excruciating. I got the bright idea to use some second-skin-like blister gel packs on the balls of my feet. Within a lap or so I felt them shift up and scrunch under my toes. I think the magic in 2014 was hydration. I usually run with one hand-held, but this year dusted off an old Nathan hydration pack. I was draining two bladders a lap during the hot day hours and one bladder a lap in darkness. I was urinating well most every hour. It's hard to believe that water in the mouth leads to more pliable feet, but now I'm buying on. I was walking across campus the following Monday and was mobile.
  • Umstead is wonderful regarding back-side service. I must have lost a piece of brain on the course because half of the things I had in my start/finish drop bag ended up outside the bag. I ID'ed the items and emailed race promoter Blake. He and new promoter Rhonda followed up with emails, found my items, and offered to ship them back. I offered to pay postage, but Rhonda told me Blake had set a policy about shipping items back. Class act.
  • My Umstead 100 certificate arrived in the mail, along with my personal results sheet, overall results sheet, and custom photos from the event. Class act another time.
  • When I looked down on leaves and sticks on the airport spur during the night hours, I would see them turn into large bats and other dangerous animals.
  • Interesting how high profile the Umstead 100 has become. I heard from several people that the race lit up Twitter feeds and it's becoming "the race to be at" in the spring of each year.
  • For me, "success" in ultras comes through residuals. For example, how hurt I am and how torched my feet are. I have done terrible things to finish past 100's and could not walk for several days. This time, my feet we tore up but at minimal levels. All manageable and for me, that's winning.
  • My favorite thing is to stay on the QT regarding 100 milers at university. I like to hide the fact that I finished the race. A student said "you're walking funny" and I replied my back was giving me trouble. Nonetheless, I succeeded at my game.
  • In my earlier life I was a writer and photographer for motorcycle racing. One of the greats in the early 1980's, Darrell Schultz, was frequently injured. One one occasion, his knee was completely blown and his lung had collapsed. They carried Darrell out and set him in his machine. He rode that moto and won the National Championship that year. Darrell told me one thing I have adhered to the past 35 years. He said, "you can't remember pain." It's so true. Your body may be screaming out during an ultra, but a day after the finish, the pain is barely a recollection. If you can take the pain in the moment, it won't hurt you as a memory.
  • I have to pay tribute and give a shout out to race promoter Blake Norwood. He's the man behind the vision, the smiling face riding the bike on the course. He's the creator of the mantra "eat before you're hungry, drink before you're thirsty and walk before you're tired." He's Mr. customer service. He's encourages all and has probably taken more first-time hundred mile runners to the finish than any other promoter. I realize it's time for change, time for a new, younger community to come into the sport. But that said, I like old school, and Blake retained that old school feel for Umstead. I know his season is now past and Rhonda Hampton is ready and capable to take command. I have come to believe race promoters create challenges, support runners to accomplish those challenges, then leave behind memories. The Umstead 100 does it all well, it's a purveyor of dreams.


  1. You're not kidding. Umstead 100 is a class act all the way around, as are Rhonda and Blake. I've known Rhonda for a few years now after doing other races with her, and she's always been top notch.

    and yes, I was tweeting about it during the race.


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