This is a looped 2.14 mile course timed event. It takes place in Fort Snelling State Park along the MN river and is mostly shaded. But since it’s down by the river and in trees, there isn’t much wind and it’s quite humid. Especially this year since it rained/sprinkled on and off most of the day. The race website has quite a lot of information here. I was thinking of doing the 24 hour race but decided on the 12 hour in order to not cause too much damage to myself if I was to get into a more important race for me in September. The main goal with this race was to try out some new gear and to get used to an aid station every 2+ miles which Spartathlon has.
The other big thing with this race was it was my son’s first long race. He’s done a few 5k races and seems to like it. He’s also run some training runs with me. He did the 12 hour event as well and was the youngest one there at 5 years old.
We got there and set up a tent and chairs so that Alex had a place to go when he wasn’t out on the course and for our crew to hang out. Our crew was my wife and daughter.
The first loop here is longer than normal (3.87miles) since we run out to a point on the course and then run back before we run the complete loop. I did this entire first loop with Alex so we took it fairly slow. The trail is fairly wide so it wasn’t an issue with everyone in the 6, 12, 24 hour race starting at the same time. The turn around is a big upright log placed in the middle of the trail that you run around and go back. Everyone of course was interested in Alex and how he’d do. I warned him ahead of time that he’d hear how cute he was a bunch of times and that he’d just have to get used to it (he doesn’t like it when people call him cute). We also went over the amended rules as far as talking to strangers, etc compared to normal times.
We did pretty well and finished it in 41:22. He walked the next loop with mom and I started running my planned pace. Apparently he got tired of how slow they walked and started speed walking away from them. He can really move when he walks fast. I ended up catching up to him (lapping him) just as he finished his loop 2. He then took a break in the tent and waited for our crew to meet him there.
My splits were pretty consistent and I’d eat small amounts each lap with things that would be at Spartathlon, or I planned on bringing with. I ran with Alex on my lap 7 again. This is when drama happened. There is a steepish uneven part of the trail towards the end of the loop and Alex fell and got all scraped up. There were some tears but I was able to convince him it would hurt just as much to walk than to run. Luckily our crew was waiting at the lap counting tent so I handed him off to them and the medic. They didn’t really do anything to him since it wasn’t that bad, I think that was the only thing the medic had to do the entire race. I knew that would make him not want to run for awhile.
I then ran with Courtney Dewalter the next lap since we have a race we’re both running in October and I wanted to get to know her a little. Plus she’s famous. If you didn’t know, she has the American Women’s 24 hour record and the course record for this race and likely many other races. She grew up in MN so that’s kind of cool. She’s probably the best women’s long distance ultrarunner in the US. I tried to impress on my daughter how good she is and that she can kick her dad’s butt in an ultra. I think she was impressed.
I pretty much went into cruise mode for awhile. Nothing was really hurting. It wasn’t very hot and I wasn’t having any stomach issues. I’m not sure if it was because it wasn’t that hot (it only got to about 73 degrees but it was essentially 100% humidity in the valley) or if it was the omeprazole I was taking since there’s research from the Spartathlon race that it helps with GI issues. Either way, not much to report for most of the race.
Well I guess I forgot one interesting thing. There was what I believe was a snapping turtle laying her eggs right off the edge of the paved part of the path. She had just started at the beginning of the race and someone had put cones around her so that people wouldn’t run her over. It was fun to see her every 22 minutes having moved a little bit to lay more eggs. She finally finished up around 1pm if I remember correctly. I’m amazed she kept going like we weren’t a threat.
About 5 people asked about Alex and I told him his fans were expecting to see him on the course again. Jessie finally kicked him out of the tent in the afternoon and he speed walked 2 more laps. I mean he can really move when he walks fast. That got him to 12.4 miles. I was hoping he’d do 1 more or a couple of the short loops you can do the last hour of the race to get over the half marathon distance. Then he could brag he’s gone further than mom but that didn’t interest him so he just left it at 5 laps for the day. Still not bad and it was what I was expecting him to do. I think they just played outside by the lake for most of the rest of the day.
I changed socks and shoes at 42 miles. It had mostly quit sprinkling and I wanted to get into dry socks. The other issue was the trail part of this course isn’t dirt, it’s packed crushed rock. My wife couldn’t understand why everyone was complaining about the course, but hitting those rocks without a rock plate in your shoes hurt after awhile. I was running in Altra Escalante thinking that’s what I would use at Spartathlon. Nope, just not enough shoe. I switched to my Altra Olympus at that point.
I was hoping to get 50 miles in 8:45 but with the couple slower laps with Alex and the shoe change it ended up being 8:53. Still not too bad. I was mostly trying to go slow in the beginning and keep things under control. Finally around mile 55 I started a run/walk strategy since I was getting low on energy and needed a change in stride once and a while. It didn’t slow me down all that much, just 2 minutes a lap. Still under 12 minute miles.
I finished 29 full loops and I would’ve had time for 1 more full loop but decided to play it safe and start the short loops with 25 minutes left. Some people started the short loops as soon as possible and I could see why. It’s paved and fairly flat so even though you have to turn around every eighth mile, it seems faster. I went back and forth 9 times for 2.25 additional miles. Someone had a cone on his head at one end and you had to run around him. It seemed like a joke but I think it was done out of necessity. I suspect people kept kicking over the cone. Either way it was fun. I left about 9 seconds on the clock so not much wasted time at all. The total distance was 65.9 miles which was good for second place male!
I was sorer than I thought I’d be just doing a 12 hour race but then again I ran over 100k in that time so it makes sense. My coach had me running again a couple days later but I think that may have been too early.
Alex got to pick where to eat, so of course he picked a Chinese buffet. I found one on the phone and it wasn’t too bad. The awards ceremony was the next morning at the finish line and included a breakfast. I got my award plate and should get a special shirt for reaching 100k in 12 hours as well. Everyone got a race shirt and finishing medal. Even though it’s way too big for him, Alex wears that shirt all the time. He doesn’t really talk about it, but I think he’s pretty proud of himself and his accomplishment. That’s all I wanted for him by doing this race. To see the fruits of hard work and to be satisfied with a job well done.
I would do this race again if it ever works out. The timing of it interferes with a fair amount of races I’m interested in which is why I haven’t run it until this year. It also has a fairly high entry fee since its purpose is to raise money for scholarships for kids. Most timed races are half the cost but for me this race is so close that it’s really a wash cost wise. You can get pledges to pay for your entry which is a nice option too.