Antelope Island Buffalo Run 100 Miler Report

Anticipating my first run of 100 miles was exciting, daunting, and thought provoking. I now feel like I can share some of my personal thoughts leading up to race day. My number one concern was nutrition. I was especially worried about not keeping a balance between electrolyte drink and water. The secret for me was to start the drinking habit early! Starting at 20 minutes into the race I had already started drinking water from my 2 liter camelback. In between every aid station in the race (about 6-7 apart) I made sure to drink a hand held bottle of electrolyte drink. After sticking to this plan and refilling my camelback 4 times during the entire race I actually peed the entire race, can you believe it? Not only did I pee but my pee never turned dark yellow! Sweet! So, my biggest concern was not even a problem.

Where nutrition became a problem was mile 80. Yes, I felt pretty stinkin’ good until mile 80. However, at the Lower Frary Aide Station (mile 78) I ate a cheese quesadilla. What a mistake! Within about 5 minutes I was incredibly nauseous. I still do not know why I ate that much cheese in a race but I did, and I learned from it. Up until this eating mistake I was on track to finish under 25 hours, but I slowed down significantly from miles 80-94. I was fighting to hold it together and not puke. I thought puking at this point with the heat coming on would do me in. So, I slowed way down and ate about 10 tums. My pacers and crew could see I was fighting to hold on but stayed extremely positive. So many times the terrible thought of “I can just stop at Ranch Aide Station and be proud of the 84 mile effort” or “ I can stop at mile 90 and be proud of that effort.” Bull!!! I came to run 100 miles, not quit a race at 90! The thoughts continued to get deeper and deeper and I just kept one foot dragging in front of the other. I was feeling a lot of nausea and discomfort at about mile 88 and decided to sit on a rock. I told my pacers, “Okay we have 2 minutes then let’s go.” I quickly fell asleep and my sister woke me up and kept me moving. That 2 minutes of sleep was delightfully deceiving. By the time I got to mile 94 I was feeling much better and over the nausea. Thank goodness!

Another great concern I had was do I really have it what take physically to do this. I mean I thought I had trained well. I ran with other experienced runners and had a great mentor who introduced me ultra running. The thought that I may not be physically strong enough for the 100 miles was intimidating. I figured the only way to find out was to do it. Sitting here now I can tell you I was physically ready. Yes, I could have trained differently in some areas and improved my overall time but I was trained well enough to finish the 100 miles before cut off time! My IT bands and left foot were the only major physical issues. About mile 65 I stepped in a hole and it felt like something popped in my foot. I felt the pain the remaining 35 miles but did not really feel the pain until I took my shoe off after the race.  My foot was bruised and swollen but nothing more than taking a good hit.

Enough of some of my fears and what not, I want to talk a bit about the flow of the race. Miles 1-20 were a blast. It was somewhere around 3,300ish ft of climb and the same in descent. Elephant head was a point at about mile 9 where I got a beautiful view of the west side of theGreat Salt Lake. Sight seeing is a huge part of my passion for ultrarunning. It is like hiking on steroids. After Elephant Head I went down a long descent into the Canyons and then a few miles up the Switchbacks. I chose to power hike the Switchbacks. I spent a lot of time talking with a few other runners and one who runsAntelopeIsland weekly. I tried to pick his brain about the course and get tons of good advice. Talking and getting to know some of the other runners was great.

Miles 20-44 were flat and included lots of loose dirt. I was so happy to see my hot wife and family at mile 20 and then a couple times after that before dark. This was a great stretch!

True excitement happened about 2 miles beforeLower Fraryaide station (mile 28-30ish). Coming around a little bend in the trail I saw 4 buffalo grazing about 40 yards from me. What a beautiful sight. I noticed that the trail kept bending to where it felt like I was running straight towards the buffalo. They all looked up and acknowledged me and got playful with one another. The trail turned a bit and I ran on past them. A few minutes later I hear some heavy footsteps and realize that the buffalo were now on the trail in my footsteps. Only 10 yards away was the road with two race volunteers outside of their vehicle watching the buffalo. I ran to their vehicle and we watched as the buffalo began to run, jump up and down, and head bang… SCARY!!! They turned towards us on the road and I asked if I would be DQ if I jumped in the car. They said no! The buffalo then took off up the hill and the very friendly park ranger went in front to keep the other buffalo off the trail. The big trick now was to not allow my wife to find out about this encounter until after the race, which was a success!

The remainder of this section up to mile 44 was gorgeous. The sunrise was pleasant and I was alone in the outdoors.

Miles 44-50 were dark. I had to bushwack through a field and head out on to a separate little peninsula by myself. I was accompanied by some friendly coyotes and crashing waves on the rocks. The trail was a little technical at this point and I fell a handful of times. No moon, alone on the backside of an island, and a headlamp made for a peaceful trot back to race headquarters.

Miles 50-70 was some nice fun. My sister Heidi, who happens to be a rockstar, picked me up and paced me the remainder of the race. These 20 miles were a repeat of miles 1-20, except in the dark. The night was so calm and tranquil. Watching the head lamps coming up and down the mountain was a fascinating sight. I knew that if I could make it through these 20 miles I would undoubtedly finish the race. We took our time and ate plenty hot ramen noodles along the way. Around 4am we saw a big dark shadow ahead on the trail. My sis and I were convinced we were now tasked with moving a buffalo of the trail in the pitch black. We got closer and were greeted with a big friendly rock on the side of the trail, haha! Needless to say, we were ready for daylight at this point.

Miles 70-100 was back to flat stuff. My great friend Joe picked us up for a 19 mile trek. He was incredibly supportive. The sunrise brought a new energy and breath of fresh air. I pretty much hit on what happened during most of this leg until mile 94. Pretty much it was Heidi, Joe, and my other rock star sister Steph giving me some serious pep. Each time the trail would come close to the road I was greeted with my hot wife and about 10 screaming children. You can’t go wrong with this kind of support!

Miles 94-100 were accompanied by Heidi, Steph, Brothers Bud and Nate, and Dad jumped in on the last two. What a fun way to finish up. Running with people who have taught me most of what I know about being an athlete. This stretch was slow but we kept moving until some awesome nephews and a niece jumped in for the last mile. It felt like I was looking at the finish line for about an hour. Finally, I turned the corner for the last 70 yards. I could see my family and heard people shouting that a 100 miler was coming in. Every applause was appreciated. Boom! It was over and I was quickly laying down celebrating! Hypothermia set it but not too bad. It never felt so nice to just lay there.

Where from here? Due to the nature of 100 miler and the training I will only run one more this year. However, it is the Steamboat 100. Yahooo! Some good challenging vertical. I am going to focus on more climbing over the summer. I will be running theNorth Fork50K in late June, which will be great training. I want to improve my ability to add some jogging up the inclines during the 100 vs. only power hiking up the inclines. Continuing to focus on nutrition will be important over the season, pretty much just not eating cheese in the middle of a race will be great improvement!

Overall, this was an awesome experience. I thoroughly enjoyed being with my family and feeling their support. The human potential is incredible. I hope to take the lessons learned from the race and be a better runner, but even more important I desire to take these lessons to be a better person, husband, and father.

Run well and enjoy!

2 Replies to “Antelope Island Buffalo Run 100 Miler Report”

  1. Excellent, Drew! Last I saw you you were looking strong so I knew you’d lock it down. And I can attest to your buffalo incident – I had a perfect view of it, from the relative safety and comfort of 5 minutes behind you on the trail. Those are quite the beasts.

  2. I really enjoyed your commentary. Sounds like it was life changing. It was great that being faced off by some buffalo you still were worried about being DQ’d. I cannot imagine what the last 70 yards must have felt like.

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