52 Miles? | Delano Park 12-hour Race Report

The whole way up to Decatur, Alabama, I kept wondering if I could really handle it.

If the weather channel was right, it was going to rain, at varying intensities, from Friday ’til Tuesday, straight-through, nonstop.

Can I really run in 100% rain, with soaking wet clothes, for 12 hours straight?

one, two, …even three hours, no sweat; But twelve hours of nonstop rain-running?

I love ultrarunning, but that sounds like cement shoes, blisters, chaffing, and nipple rash to me.

I was a little worried…

Ended up having one of the best ultra experiences so far.

Up’air just’a ways

I’m not going to hate on the town of Decatur, AL because the people we met were as gracious and kind as possible; but, not a community where accurate navigation is of much importance.

Trying to find a restaurant:

Them: “O, you gotta try Logan’s Steakhouse if you want a good steak”

Us: “cool, how do you get there?”

Them: “You turn right up ‘ere {pointing vaguely north}, and go 4 red lights, turn right, then turn left, go down a  ways and it’s right there on the right, …er, left.”

Us: “ummmmmmm…”

After one hour, and four unsuccessful and further confusing phone calls to the restaurant, plus yet another helpful shopkeeper’s “directions”, we finally stumbled upon Logan’s Steakhouse where I enjoyed a 12 oz. fillet, mushrooms and three lobster tails as a monster pre-race feast.

The restaurant’s parking area was starting to flood, and it was impossible to get back to the car without dancing ankle deep in parking lot puddles

“Oh my God, what’s tomorrow going to be like?”

The three amigos, off to Walmart to buy rain gear, ponchos and a tarp.

12:00 a.m. 

still raining.

4:45 a.m. 

yep, still raining.

5:00 a.m.

Weather channel shows rain from that very moment clear through to tuesday.

nice…

6:00 a.m.

Those of us running the 12-hour race stand in the dark rainy Delano Park pavilion at 6:00 a.m. ready to physically, and even more so, mentally, tackle the one mile loop.

The Delano 12-hour race is a timed running event where runners circle a one mile, mostly flat course, in an attempt to collect as many miles as possible. For fifty miles, runners would endure a measly 500 feet of elevation gain, and 500 of elevation loss, making for stronger times than your average rugged trail ultramarathon.

5, 4, 3, 2, 1 – Go!

And like that, 54 runners hit the sloppy trails of Delano Park.

’bout 47 degrees, semi-hard rain, a bit of wind, and dark; and I loved it.

The Runners

Perhaps I’m just getting to know more people in our sport, but for me, the best part of the race was all the other runners. Some of whom I see at many races, and some new friends made along the way.

It’s always cool to run in the midst of the Huntsville Fleet Feet crew. They read my ramblings on the ultra email list. They know I’m half crazy with my intense desire to figure out this sport, but they always treat me with friendly respect and offer lots of support, knowledge and camaraderie. Props to the Fleet Feet gang for being such cool ambassadors of East Coast ultrarunning.


photo: Dink Taylor enjoys a post-race beverage after slaying 50 miles in 6:54!

Also at the race was Jamie Donaldson, 2008 Female winner of the Badwater 135-mile race, and a member of the 24-hour National Team. Being a sort of ultra-groupie, I was stoked to hear she was running the race, and I couldn’t wait to watch her. 

What stood out most? Her focus. 

Jamie has mad focus, yo.


photo: Jamie Donaldson finishes the 78th mile to win the Delano 12-hour

Ladies and Gentlemen, introducing Matt Kahrs

But, for us, the story of the day was our local boy Matt Kahrs. 

Matt is a brand new ultrarunner and is absolutely made for the sport. Besides being a phenomenal runner, he’s one of the most positive, bouncy, happy and stoked participants on the course. Anytime, anywhere.

Matt led the race for 85% of the day before finally giving up the lead to Jamie, but we did our best to keep him on the track so that he could blow his personal best outta the water. 

For someone who’s never gone beyond 50K, he stoked the entire field by logging 75 miles, with a smile on his face, with almost no pacers, and came 3 miles from tying the course record!


photo: congratulations Matt, you did Georgia, GUTS, and all of us very proud.

And within all these great performances there were all the things that make ultra races so great. Trail conversations with the usual friends like Spurgeon, Jason, Victor, …and new friends Clinton, Debbi and Lynn (57 miles! – nice job ladies)

Picking up the pace

Around mile 46, I started doing the math and thinking that, even though I was fading, if I picked it up a little, I could get, what I thought was, 50 miles in under 10 hours. 

I pushed the pace hard for the last 4 miles, and finished my last lap in 9:56, opting to quit at my goal of 50 miles and save myself for more training and racing.

While I thought that last mile was my 50th – the race web site says 52 miles – good for 17th place in a field of 54 starters.

This would be a first for me since I’ve never done 50 miles in under 11 hours. …and also my first sub-six 50k, since I got my 31 miles in 5:30-ish.

Keep running, Christian

I am convinced that the more I run, the better runner I become.

My growing strategy, which seems to be opposite from what many others tell me I should do, is to run as much as I can. I ran 96% of this race, walking only near aid stations while I hydrated and fueled, and never walked a complete lap.

This is the how I want to train.

I took an email list beating from the walk-some / run-some crowd for my stubborn belief that more running will make me a better runner; but I just don’t care. I am watching the people whom most inspire me and the common denominator in them all is strong, hard running.

I’m nowhere near there yet, and I don’t have 1/4 of the skill of many of those elites that I watch and learn from, but dammit, I’m gonna try and see how close I can get.

Find my ceiling, if you will.

Like the saying goes, “strive for excellence, achieve good – strive for perfection, achieve excellence”

I just want to keep improving. As long as that continues, I know I’m on the right track.

—————–

Thanks to the RDs, a great group of guys and very attentive hosts. Thanks to the aid station ladies for all their support, lap after lap, and all the sugar-coated, marshmallow Easter chicks.

Thanks to my boys for putting up with me for four hours there and four hours back. The three amigos (that’s us) had a great trip, running good miles, and talking lotsa smack.

‘nother one down, boys. Another one down, and plenty mo’ to go.

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Comments

I just found your report tonight (7-Feb-11!) as I have signed up to do this event as my first “ultra”. Sounds like it was a great event and I’m glad I decided to do it.

Christian:

Hey, I didn’t realize you’d done the Delano run last year too! That makes the Mountain Mist the second Ultra we’ve both been in (without actually meeting). –heather

Almost two months afer the race, I ran across your blog. I had to LOL at the pics of the muddy shoes—yep; mine looked that way too!!! It was my first ultra and I suprised the hell out of myself by finishing 46 miles. :) See you next year? :) –heather

[...] it may not have been in my best interest to run this race after completing 52 miles just last weekend, I did it anyway, and had a great time, with some great [...]

@Susan

Thanks. So much support in our community, it’s hard not to get addicted.

People, please check out Susan’s running / motivational blog at http://www.susanruns100s.com/ — she’s an excellent writer and one of the most experienced ultramarathoners in the WORLD!

p.s. Susan, check your tweets before you send {wink}

Love your race report. Keep running fun and keep blogging it.

Great job! What about your mosh-pit dive in the mud hole? Cracked me up man. You just knew that grassy appendage to the course was going to end up like that. And the hard core runners ran it straight knowing that the ever expanding patch of hog heaven would be adding to the course distance. That did not even occur to me until Rob mentioned it. But that was shoe sucking mud! Wonder if Eric & John will get hit for a resodding bill. LOL!
Delano rocks. Uh,.. Go Dogs?

Hi Christian,

It was so great to meet you! Congrats on a fabulous finish! You rocked it!

Another good one. I wanted to do this race but the schedule didn’t fit. I consoled myself with the thought that Christian will put up a great report that will fire me up for next year. I’m not disappointed.

Christian, I see you got to meet Mr. Winkles! Congrats on 50+ miles in <10 hours. Thanks for the link to Jamie’s blog. Now I’m gonna go read her story.

Hey Christian. I thought about you guys on Saturday during the steady rain. I can’t imagine humping it for 12 hours in the rain. Bravo. Enjoyed the report and the pictures as well. When do you publish your first book?

Great run Christian! It was a good event to see folks, that’s why I keep coming back to Delano. I’m a mountain runner at heart but there is just something about this venue that I like. You can really appreciate the effort everybody is putting in lap after lap. And this year was even more exceptional as the conditions were horrible! I ran more in the mud for 12 hours than I think I ever have in any “trail” race! The only thing missing was ducks floating in all the standing pools! Great job and see you around! BTW, I’m also a strong proponent of running as much as you can; however it is still good to know when to throw in a break. If you try to run until you HAVE to walk then you’re in trouble.

The dirty brown clouds scraped the top of the giant water tank at the North end park. Erich’s headquarters in the pavilion next to the Pepsi trailer, reminded me of a scene from the final night at Jones town. Especially when Eric started the race with the megaphone and every one disappeared into the rainy, soggy darkness. When daylight broke I was half expecting to see 80 bodies lying prone in the grass.
This was my first ultra. Prince and I were in the second wave that started at 7:00 am. By 10 pm a small white poodle wandered across the street from one of the big mansions at the North West corner of the park. I am sure he watched us and thought that he had seen dogs chase their tail but never Humans, and certainly not for 12 hours strait.
The more it rained the more we cussed. When we let up cussing the rain stopped. But as we wore down, we started cussing again and it started raining; so we stopped cussing altogether. Then when Prince finished his last extra lap we went for a brew and we started up some exalted cussing; just for the fun of it. We lost the bottle opener, could not find it anywhere. So we stopped cussing and the bottle opener showed up under Prices socks.
When we headed back to Birmingham Price bought a honey bun that I swear was the size of a cow paddy.

@Ray – Thanks Ray, as I’m sure you know, you are one of those whom I admire and who’s training logic makes the most sense to me these days.

Whether more walking is a better strategy, or not, for faster times – I’m in this sport to be a better RUNNER. It’s a personal preference, not a prejudice, and nothing would make me happier than to someday shimmy up mountains like Byron, Satterfield, Devon Helms …on and on…

Thanks for your support.

@Clinton – I really think you should run Chattooga – it’s a good one.

Out-n-back, tough, lotsa water for cooling off…

and FREE

See ya there.

“I am convinced that the more I run, the better runner I become.

My growing strategy, which seems to be opposite from what many others tell me I should do, is to run as much as I can. I ran 96% of this race, walking only near aid stations while I hydrated and fueled, and never walked a complete lap.”

———————–

I was so glad to read that. So few ultra runners seem to “get it” these days.

Congratulations on toughing the elements and having a great run.

Really great RR. Sounds like an awesome 12 hour event. I was hoping to find a similar event later in the year, as I think the idea of breaking into ultra running on a well managed short course would be great.

Good job.

[...] Maureen posted a noteworthy aricle today onHere’s a small snippetPosted by Christian. March 15, 2009. The whole way up to Decatur, Alabama, I kept wondering if I could really handle it. If the weather channel was right, it was going to rain, at varying intensities, from Friday ’til Tuesday, straight- through, nonstop. Can I really run in 100% rain, … Matt led the race for 85% of the day before finally giving up the lead to Jamie, but we did our best to keep him on the track so that he could blow his personal best outta the water. … [...]

CHRISTIAN!

It was definitely fun running with you some at this race! Great job out there on Saturday! Congrats at the new pr’s! and once again, excellent report. I might see you at Chattooga if I don’t find something else to do haha.

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