When Michael Wade updated his blog asking for pacers for his first 100 mile race, I responded to his request and said I'd be happy to help out. There were a few reasons that pacing someone through the woods at night interested me. He was raising money for Progeria research, a genetic disorder that affects young people with symptoms that resemble accelerated aging, and specifically running in memory of Sam Berns with miles that he put in for the race. Another reason, was that the Ghost Train Race was the race that I first ran the 100 mile distance and it holds a special place in my heart for that reason and I wanted to see it under different circumstances. A third reason is that prior to the race, I had met Michael once at the Bear Brook Marathon this year, and I find him an inspiration through reading his blog about his adventures up in the White Mountains.
The weeks leading up to the pacing I received emails with his pace plan and time that I would need to be there by to start my 15 mile segment from Camp Tevya to the Milford DPW and back. I was planning on getting there around an hour before my time slot to get ready to run for a few hours in the dark. I was looking forward to checking out the trail as an observer and not a participant in the race and see the improvements that had been made. The time that I ran the 100 mile was painful for me after mile 45 or so and it must have been a struggle for my pacer Justin Contois to try to get me to the finish. His plan that year was to pace me for the final 40 miles (pacers were allowed after mile 60 that year, it has since been changed to pacers allowed after mile 30) and get me to the finish no matter what. You can read his report about the day here.
I arrived and found Michael's friends Kurt and Theresa who were there waiting for their turns to pace from miles 67.5 to 90, my 15 mile segment was from 52.5 to 67.5. We chatted for a bit and then Michael ran by looking strong and about an hour before his pace chart for 22 hours showed. I was ready with my pack and headlamp to head out into the night for a few miles and Scott, who was running with him for the previous 7.5 miles, headed back to Milford with us. We discussed our shared career, Architecture, and other races and runs that we had done in previous years. I tried to give advice that helped me on the race specifics and how I felt I went out too hard, running 5 hours 30 minutes for my first 30 miles and really suffered for the last half. This is probably some information that would be good either after or well before a race, but is maybe not good right in the middle of the race. Especially if it is right around the mile that I started suffering that Michael was running at.
We were running at about a 12 to 12.5 min/mile pace and everything was going very well. To be 52 miles into a race and looking/moving as strong as he was, meant to me that he was well trained for the run and by all accounts it looked like he would finish strong. The first 7.5 miles out to the DPW went by quickly and Mike prepared himself a bit at his drop box getting ready to head back out on my last stretch where Kurt would pick him up and lead him out into the night just as I had a few hours earlier. We got back to the midway point aid station and Mike grabbed some food that didn't sit well with his stomach. This ended up in him evacuating the contents of his stomach to massive proportions. Thankfully we stopped right in an area that the echo from his puking noises seemed to carry for miles. After getting rid of that, he started to feel better a few minutes later and began running again. We made our way back to the last aid station in what seemed like a fast loop and Mike was still right on target for a good 22 hour finish. My work was done and I "handed the torch" to Kurt to take over for the next leg. You can read about Michael's 100 miler experience here.
I had a great time at the race and was happy to help out Michael on his first 100 mile finish. He ended up finishing in 22:13:03 for an awesome 7th place overall! Running alongside a 100 mile finisher during the race rekindled some thoughts on my end about entering another 100 mile race sometime next year. I hope to someday run Hardrock, so I am thinking about entering Grindstone 100 in Virginia to get a qualifying race to put my name in the lottery. I ended up calling off the Midstate Traverse attempt this year in favor of resting after a hard year of racing and mountain runs. I am still thinking about running the Midstate, but will wait until April 2015. It is a 95 mile effort that I just didn't feel well trained for this fall and have put all my training into the TARC Fells Ultra 40 Miler at Middlesex Fells December 6th instead. I'm hoping to finish this race this year and it will be good to see a few friends out there that are running it as well.