It's 10:00pm on July 18th. For most runners awaiting their next race it would be time to start thinking about going to bed to get ready for the race the next day. Wrong! I was about to leave the motel with my son Andy to GO to the start of the race and start the Lunar Trek Ultra Run in Scandia, KS. The race was designed to benefit the Pike Valley High School Cross Country Team. There were several race distances that you could enter: 10K, 10 miles, 20 miles, 31 miles, or 40.4 miles.
The race starting time was 11:00pm and Andy and I were running a 50K (31 miles). There was a full moon that night after a day before that produced 1-2 inches of rain on the course. The full moon was intentional. The rain and mud the day before were not. But on this race night, the skies were partly cloudy, wind was calm, insects were ready, and the temperature was great. Berta had the support vehicle packed to the roof with all of the essentials that we would need for the night of running. All systems go! It was interesting convincing the body that it was about to embark on an adventure in the middle of the night that would take it down country roads for 31 miles. Andy and I did our best to prepare. We were all packed with the reflective supplies that were had to have. A vest and blinking red light along with our headlamps. We carried our hand-held bottles with our Hammer Nutrition products that included Perpetuem and Heed. I even sported new headgear for the first time. Thought it would help the headlamp rub. It did. Maybe a new look for me now.
We checked in with the race directors. What a tremendous job they did getting the race organized and supported with some of the best aid stations I have ever been to at a race. Many people gave up their entire night to staff the aid stations and make sure we had everything that we needed. They were always very supportive and willing to help us in any way. They did an awesome job. A very big thank you to them for all of the work that they put into the evening. We also met up with a great group of runners from Kansas City, The Kansas City Trail Nerds. What a fantastic group of runners! Below you will see a group picture of us before the start of the race.
It was great to be able to run with many of them and others from around the state during parts of the race. Having never run a race during the night, it was always fun and comforting to see a headlamp or red blinking light coming or going along the way on the out and back course. One of the biggest adjustments that I had to make was that it was just plain dark the whole way. I know, what did I expect in the middle of the night. But it was REAL dark out there on the roads. The full moon helped but it was still just about as dark as dark can get. It made for interesting running. The majority of the course was fantastic as far as the surface was concerned. Soft roads with small gravel. There were, however, challenging sections of mud and ruts in the roads that would suck the shoes right off your feet. I must say though that Andy and I did very well. I was really happy with the way we worked as a team to help each other out and to have great conversations along the way.
An extremely important part of running an ultra event is to be well-fueled and hydrated. Below, you will see the support vehicle that Berta used to keep us going throughout the race. She worked hard to have things ready as we approached and to also make instant changes in case we wanted to get off our plans that we had made and have something different.
I was very happy with the Hammer Nutrition products that I used. They again provided the essential nutrition that I needed to run a good endurance race. I still am impressed with Hammer's support for us as runners. My nutritional preparation included a bowl of granola with raisins, 2 scoops of soy protein, and soy milk three hours before the race. One and a half hours before the race I also took Race Caps Supreme, Mito Caps, and Anti-Fatigue Caps. Right before the race I had a partial bottle of Heed. Along the way about every hour or so I also added in Anti-Fatigue caps and Endurolytes. Prior to a race I organize all of the things that I will need, bag them up and label them to make sure I keep on schedule with what I need to have.
Somewhere along the road, Andy and I stopped long enough to get a picture. It was still dark. It was so great to be able to do this ultra with Andy. It was his first and it was great to be a part of it with him. He and I have run many races together at many distances, but this one was one of the best ever. He did a fantastic job we were able to give each other support along the way that was very important! The conversations never really came to any earth shattering conclusions but it was just good to be able to talk and discuss race strategies and other things. It seemed as though we ran at a faster pace the closer we got to the finish of the race. We felt really good except for a few ankle rolls that I did in some of the ruts, but I bounced back and kept the pace.
We finished strong and we were glad to have accomplished the completion of a great ultra.
After the race it's always good to find a place to stretch. This one happened to be reserved for me. I had just finished my Recoverite drink and needed some stretching time as the sun was starting to come up. What a night! It was just incredible. Again, a special thanks to all of those in Scandia, KS that helped make this race a fantastic experience. I am already looking forward to it for next year and might even stretch my goal to the 40 mile race.
Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!