Wednesday, October 30, 2013

2013 Heartland 100 Race Report

The Decision and Training
I’m not exactly sure why I started thinking about running a 100 mile race this year, but on March 31st, 2013 I went for a run with Kyle Amos (one of the Heartland race directors) to talk with him about running 100 miles. I was full of questions and Kyle was full of answers. He made it sound possible. I asked for a “low mileage” training plan and he suggested getting up to 50 miles a week with back to back long runs. That sounded doable to me although I had only run over 50 miles in a week a few times. I generally run between 10 and 30 miles per week. I have done several marathons and a couple 40 mile runs in the past, but 100 miles seemed like a very big task.

I asked about what running would look like in the second 50 miles of the race because I was very concerned about having to walk too much. I wasn’t really interested in doing a 100 miler if I had to walk a lot of it. I wanted to run as much as possible. He didn’t have a great answer to that - probably because there isn’t one. I now think you run what you can, there are no guarantees out there in the 100 mile distance.

From that run I quickly ramped up from my then normal running of 10-20 miles a week. By May 1st I was at 50 miles a week. I remember at the start of training thinking how hard it was to run a 9 minute mile. I had just come off my marathon PR of 3:21 the past fall and felt good running 7:30-8:00 minutes per mile. Little did I know what lay ahead.

I had talked with Krista, my wife and Ellie, my daughter about training for this and they were on board. We all knew this would take a lot of time away as I would be putting a fair amount of time into training. What we didn’t know was just how much time it would take.

May consisted of a few 20 milers with not much back to back running. By now I had found a low mileage 100 mile training plan for beginners. I was already ahead of that schedule, so I was just getting in 50 miles per week however felt good. The training plan eventually built up to around 80 miles per week a few weeks out from the race, but I was a long way from that. I just kept getting in 50 miles per week.

There was a point in the summer when my body was getting worn down and I was physically and mentally exhausted. I just broke down. Krista and Ellie were fixing supper and I remember asking Krista to come upstairs with me barely holding back tears. By the time we got to our room I was crying. I was really doubting that I could keep doing this. It was mentally hard to imagine that after running just 4 hours Sunday morning and being tired at 6pm that it could be possible to finish 100 miles. We cried and talked. It was one of those times that while not fun, it was an amazing bonding experience.

It just so happens that the very same day Ellie was struggling with a decision to stop one of her activities. One that she wanted to do, but was also taking a toll on her body. I shared with her Romans 8:28 which says “and we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”. I shared with her that I was experiencing the same feelings and we had a really neat time of prayer. Again I would say one of our best bonding times.

In July, Krista and I went out to Scandia, KS to do the Lunar Trek night run. I did the 40 mile run that started at 11pm. I was going to take it easy and use it as a training run. I had started using Tailwind Nutrition (a powder mixed in water) as my only source of nutrition. Their slogan is, “ALL YOU NEED, ALL DAY, REALLY” and I was going to put it to the test. I ended up really enjoying that run and the Tailwind seemed to work. It’s all I used the rest of my training and eventually the race. I ended up running Lunar Trek in 6:27 and actually got first place (out of 6 runners).

After Lunar Trek I remember talking with Andy, a friend I work with, thinking I might not want to do a 100 mile race. I actually really enjoyed Lunar Trek and I ran most of it. I thought maybe I should just do the 50 since I really didn’t want to walk a ton and wasn’t convinced I wouldn’t have to in the 100. After thinking more about it though I decided to go for the 100.

My training remained pretty consistent. I maintained at least 50 miles per week except for the week after Lunar Trek when I was sick and the week we went to New Mexico on vacation. I don’t think the little time off I took hurt me in any way.

The rest of my training continued to take it’s toll. I had a lot of back to back long runs. My biggest weekend consisted of a half marathon on Friday night, a full marathon on Saturday morning and another full marathon on Sunday morning. My longest run besides Lunar Trek was a 30 mile run. I did do some long training runs on gravel roads with similar overall elevation gains as Heartland.

Table of training runs


SuMTWThFSaTotalTotal TimeAvg Pace

























































Graph of Training

As race day got closer, I started obsessing over the race, it’s all I could think about. I read every race report, watched every video and looked at every picture I could find about Heartland. I found one year that had time splits at the 25 and 75 mile marks and tried to figure out what running paces looked like. My brain could not stop thinking about what running would look like past 50 miles. At this point I felt very confident in the 50 mile distance. I had done Lunar Trek and another 10 seemed very doable. Somewhere I read or heard that the second 50 isn’t twice as hard, it’s more like 3 times as hard. Nothing I found was giving me much confidence.

One thing I did during my long training runs was visualize different parts of the course. I had seen pictures of various places along the course and had the course plotted on Google Earth. I would zoom in to ground level and look around to see what the vast expanses looked like. I knew every turn and most climbs. I would be at 20 miles in a 24 mile run and put myself at mile 46, or mile 96 and think about feeling like this and making it in. I think it turned out to be a powerful help during the race.

I did a lot of my training alone. Sometimes I would listen to music or books on tape. Later in the summer I did several long training runs with Andy O’Hara, a friend from work. He was ramping up so that he could pace me. He ramped up quickly and it was nice having him along on some of the longer training runs.

The Week Before
I started my taper 3 weeks prior to the race. It was a pretty aggressive taper, but I was ok with that, I was tired and I really wanted to start feeling strong again. I was very anxious to see what my “new” body would feel like. After spending all that time breaking it down, I just had to be a better, stronger, faster version of myself. Everything was great, I was still obsessing over the race until my second to last scheduled run on Tuesday before the race. I went out in the evening for an easy 5 miler. I ended up going out about 2.6 and turned around. Pretty soon after the turn I started feeling a knot in my left calf. Nothing out of the ordinary, I was running fairly slow just mentally putting myself in the race. After another mile my calf was hurting a little more and I started thinking if I was in the race I would definitely be wanting some Advil with this much pain, but still not a huge deal. I got to my neighborhood about a quarter mile from home, Krista passes in the car after picking up Ellie from cross country practice. A few more steps and bam - it feels like someone stabbed me in the back of the leg. I stopped and tried rubbing my calf, then I tried to run and couldn’t. I end up limping home thinking something is really wrong. What is happening…

The next day I couldn’t walk without a limp. I was very concerned, the pain hit so hard and sudden, I thought I did something really bad. I was completely freaked out.

The next morning it was better, but I couldn’t walk without a limp and it hurt. I got to work and decided to make a doctor’s appointment. So far I was handling everything pretty good, but on the phone with the lady making the appointment she asked what was wrong and I couldn’t speak - tears came and I just had to catch my breath. I finally told her and got the appointment made. I decided I needed help and sent out an email asking for prayer. At first I sent it to Cam, my pastor, and two good friends, Brent and Ken as they were very familiar with the training I was doing. As the day wore on I included a couple people at work and a few more folks. I almost hated asking for prayer for this thing that part of me thought was such a selfish thing anyway - running 100 miles. But I really wanted to run and I wanted people praying for me.

Up until this point I had thought a lot about the race. I had done a ton of preparation, but I had only prayed a little bit about it. This was my thing, not really God’s. I didn’t think I needed God, I had put the training in. Now, all of a sudden it was all about God. I remember Thursday night as I was driving to get our motorhome I was praying and I finally and completely turned the race over to God. I trusted Romans 8:28 and I believed that he was now in control of what was going to happen. I might run, I might not, either way I was letting him take over. I honestly had very little hope my leg would let me go 100 miles. But I trusted God either way.

After I got home that night Ellie handed me this note.

I was never mad at God. I really do believe Romans 8:28 and 1 Thes 5:16-18 which says “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”. I just rested in that.

Friday morning we packed everything into the motorhome and headed out around 1pm. The pre-race briefing was in Cassoday at 4:30. We arrived in Cassoday around 3:30 and I decided to try running for the first time across the RV campground. Every step I took hurt and I couldn’t walk without pain after running only about 30 steps. Things didn’t look good. I was nearly in tears. We headed over to the pre-race meeting and found seats and waited for the meeting to start. As I checked in I asked Kyle for advice. I don’t think he knew what to say. He talked about a time Tony started Leadville with problems in his leg - he didn’t mean for it to, but it made me feel like a wimp. I was really considering not even starting. As the meeting went on I was near tears several times thinking I wasn’t going to experience this. I so wanted to see the sunrise out on the course.

Finally I decided I would start the race, if I only made it 100 yards, so be it. We went to bed. I did not sleep good at all. I thought I wouldn’t be nervous as I wasn’t even sure I’d really be running, but sleep was difficult. I got up several times, each time trying to gauge how my leg felt, sometimes it was ok, others it wasn’t. Finally the alarms went off at 5AM - it was race day.

The Race
My calf was feeling pretty good, so I was hopeful at this point. I mixed up a bottle of Tailwind (200 calories) and drank it. We rounded things together and headed out to the race around 5:30. I got a text from my friend Ken asking how I was doing, I replied, “Not sure yet, going to start and see”. I thought, man he’s up early. We got a parking spot near the start/finish and I started thinking about what I needed. It really wasn’t much. I wasn’t originally planning on carrying my phone, but I had thought if I don’t make it far Krista could just wait for everyone to get past me and drive out on the course to pick me up. I also couldn’t decide about a headlamp, I eventually decided to take one.

I don’t remember what I was doing, but I remember out of the darkness seeing Cam (my pastor) and Ken - I really wasn’t expecting that. Ken had told me he wanted to come down for the race, but he had too much family stuff going on, so I really wasn’t expecting him. I think I was so nervous for the start and surprised to see them I’m not sure they understood how much I appreciated them being there. Time for the start was quickly approaching. Cam said a quick prayer and handed me a "LET GO & LET GOD" wristband to wear. I finished getting ready just in time to take a couple pictures and get to the starting line.

I don’t remember much between these pictures and the start of the race. I don’t remember hearing Tony talk (although I saw a picture of him announcing something before the race). I just remember walking through the crowd of people thinking I wanted to get a little closer to the front and realizing when someone said 15 seconds that my Garmin wasn’t on. I turned it on and hoped it could find the satellites quickly. About the time the gun went off, the Garmin locked on. I waited to push the button until I crossed the start line and started running. Every step I could feel my calf, but it wasn’t too bad. I could keep going.

110 runners started the race. I went out with faster runners and was probably in the top 20 within the first mile of the race. Within 2-3 miles I was doing ok and looking back was this long line of headlamps in the dark. It was an awesome sight. In the distance ahead of us, probably 100 miles away was a thunderstorm with flashes of lightning - it was all amazing and I was running. I couldn’t believe I was running.

I ran with several different people for the next several miles, we would talk a bit, mostly I just listened to people. I told the sob story of my hurt calf a couple times, people didn’t really care, we were all nervous and anxious and just running.

This view was something I had thought about for a long time. People that have done the race claim the sunrise and sunset are awesome, I really wanted to see this out on the course.

Somewhere around mile 5 I called Krista. I had taken my phone in case I didn’t make it far and had to have her come pick me up - see I wasn’t very confident I was going to make it. I let her know my calf hurt, but I was doing ok.

I ran the first 6.5 miles at an average pace of 9:22. Around that point George Myers came by and I sped up to run with him a bit. There were only about 6 runners ahead of us. I knew he would be one of the faster runners out there and I wanted to ask him about what the second 50 miles might look like as I knew he had done the run previously. We had a good chat as we sped down the hill into Battle Creek (mile 8.2). We both had to pee at some point along here so we stopped. According to my Garmin that stop took 30 seconds. Longer than I thought I needed to pee, but that’s what it says. As we were running along I was thinking I might not make it to Battle Creek and a porta-potty. I was ok stopping on the road to pee, but I much preferred a porta-potty for #2. Luckily I made it and put my water bottle and phone down outside and went in. I stepped out just as a bunch of other runners came in. I quickly filled my water bottle, dumped a packet of Tailwind in and headed out.

The next section from Battle Creek to Lapland is full of rolling hills. Nothing huge, but a bunch of them. They aren’t terribly steep, but a lot of them had a pretty steep section near the top. I ran a lot of the hills and power walked up the steepest parts of some. The sunrise was amazing and looking around was awesome. I was really enjoying being out there running. I had been passed by about 10 runners while at Battle Creek. I slowly started catching up to them and passing them. I caught up to Peggy Ward, who was walking up a hill, and decided to walk with her a little bit. I was telling her the story about my calf and she looked at me and told me to get all those negative thoughts out of my head. She said it in a way that made me want to do it. I called Krista and told her no more talking about my leg, if it took me out she would know about it… At this point I didn’t want to use it as an excuse. I was past that magic 5 mile mark where it blew up before, so I thought the entire run might be possible.

With permission from

Mile 10 was the first time I wasn’t running beside someone. This was the view, it was amazing. The road goes straight for 2.5 miles at this point, then turns to the right. These next couple miles were dedicated to Ken, Cam and everyone else that had been praying for me. I was so thankful to be out there running. It felt amazing and it was amazing. I prayed and thanked God, I thought about Ken and Cam driving down to see me. I thought about all the sacrifices that Krista and Ellie had endured during my training. It was amazing. If I had to stop right there I was happy, I felt truly blessed to be experiencing this and feeling like this is exactly where God wanted me to be at that moment.

As it turns out God was ok with me continuing.

I continued working my way through the hills until finally coming to the Lapland aid station (mile 16.8). Krista was right there to meet me with everything I would need. I dropped off my headlamp and jacket. She had pre-mixed Tailwind ready for me to dump into my bottle. I had her walk a little ways with me out of the aid station and I was off.

This section had some pretty good hills and it was fairly exposed. I was starting to feel the wind, but was moving pretty good. Once I got to the Thrall road aid station and turned north I could really feel the wind. It was very exposed and nothing was stopping the wind. The forecast was for 15mph winds out of the NorthEast and I believe it was all of that and maybe more. This was a tough section as there was a fairly long hill directly into the wind. I had someone pass me on this hill and I tried to keep up, but couldn’t quite hold his pace. I kept him in site, but he slowly pulled away.

It wasn’t long before I was headed into Teterville aid station (mile 25). I thought I needed a stop in the porta-potty so I headed straight for it. Krista had planted her stuff just before the aid station so she had to make a mad dash after I came out to catch up to me. We got everything sorted out and I grabbed my hydration vest for this next section. It would be a long haul without seeing her again. I also got sunglasses and put on sunscreen. This stop took longer than it should have - I wasted time in the porta-potty, and I couldn’t even go. I was in 7th place leaving Teterville. I really didn’t care, or even know at the time. There was still a long way to run.

Leaving Teterville you run on the road that crews are coming in on. It was fun seeing people and waving. I talked to Krista just a bit as she was driving back to Cassoday to pick up her friends Megan and Amy who were coming to help her. Soon I turned north again and into the big hill up to the ridge that Texaco Hill aid station is on. I walked a lot of the hills here, but was still moving pretty good. I passed someone in this section and also got passed on a hill. I tried to keep up, but wasn’t interested in pushing that hard on the hills that early. After we made the turn to the west around mile 30 we were on the ridge and could see forever in places. The thought of the endless prairie hit me, but it turned out to be helpful for me. Instead of focusing on something and feeling like I wasn’t making any progress. I would spot a runner, remember where they were and check the time. I would run until I got to that spot and could see how far I was behind them, but also how far I had run. Often times it was a half mile or further. It was nice because I wasn’t thinking about distance or time until I got to that spot. Focusing on those shorter distances made the time fly on that ridge. Soon I was at Texaco Hill (mile 31.2) I saw Debbie Lantz, a friend and aid station worker, and got a big hug. She was very enthusiastic to see me - I’m sure she treated all the runners that way, but it made me feel good. She took my vest and got water in it for me. Another aid station worker asked if I wanted food, I said no. She asked if I had food at the last aid station, I said no. She seemed quite concerned and tried to convince me to eat. I tried to convince her that Tailwind was all I was using while dumping in my packet. I’m not sure she believed me, but I did and I was off. The rest of the way to Ridgeline I kept using my trick of spotting a runner and marking the time.

This is me entering Ridgeline (mile 36.5). I love this picture with the flag in it.

Here once again, Krista was there, this time with Amy and Megan. They were like a Nascar crew getting me what I needed and on my way. I do remember when I entered this aid station I said I was tired of hearing the crunching of the rocks. I never did listen to music or audio books. I don’t remember the sound annoying me any other time either.

Leaving Ridgeline was something that I had thought about many times on training runs. I had seen some pictures taken from Ridgeline looking north and it was awesome to leave the aid station and head down the hill, running. Somewhere around here my calf stopped hurting. It did hurt up until here, but between here and the turn around it completely stopped and never gave me any more trouble.

Somewhere between Ridgeline and Matfield Green I started feeling a little bit nauseous. It wasn’t really nausea, it was less than that, but it was something. It actually seemed worse when I walked than when I was running. I wasn’t loving the Tailwind at this point. I had way too much of the same flavor so far. I hadn’t thought about telling Krista to mix up the flavors and I didn’t really even think about it when I got into aid stations. It wasn’t a huge deal, but I will make note of it for next time. I just kept telling myself that it was working and that I had to keep putting it in. If things got worse I might have to adjust, but so far it was staying down and keeping the energy up.

This section had some wide open spaces, but again I could just focus on moving forward and I knew I was coming into Matfield Green (mile 42.5) ahead of my 20 hour goal pace - and I felt good. It was in this section that I passed 40 miles. I did it 2 minutes slower than I had run Lunar Trek, but I felt very strong and confident - much better than I felt when I finished Lunar Trek. I think that was partly because my brain just knew it had a long way to go, so I better still feel good.

This is what I look like after running 43 miles. I had a seat at the Matfield Green aid station to put some tape on a blister. I had been feeling it for a couple miles, but really just thought it was a hot spot. After I got my sock off and looked, it was a huge blister on the side of my toe. I’m not good at dealing with blisters as I rarely get them.

At this point a pacer can come in and run with you. I was so glad Krista decided to run this section with me. I had other people coming to do other parts, but this section was open.

This was my toughest stretch of the race. There was a long uphill and it was getting hotter. We were running pretty good, but it was a long stretch to get to the towers and the unmanned aid station. Here we did get to see a cool sight of some cows coming to have a look at us. Krista noticed them before I did. This was an area that had fences, so they didn’t get very close.

I had my vest and had plenty of water left, but I had Krista stop and fill her water bottle at the towers. I kept going and she quickly caught up to me. We got to the top of the descent down into Lone Tree (mile 50 and the turnaround). I wasn’t sure how far we were to the turn around. We saw a few runners headed back towards us. I eventually figured out the lead runner had a 2 mile lead on me. This is one section I wasn’t able to find info on so I wasn’t exactly sure where the turnaround was. I knew we had passed 50 miles and still no turnaround, but it was in sight - further down the hill.

My favorite part of this aid station was the large BE EPIC sign they had put up. It was just another reminder of how EPIC this day was for anyone that would see that sign.

The actual aid station was a welcome sight, but not a welcome smell. The wind was out of the north and I got a whiff of grease. I knew they had a fryer here and I didn’t want any part of it. I got to the turn around, looked around a bit, handed my vest to Krista to have her refill it and I was on my way up the hill.

Krista got refilled and headed up the hill to catch me. Before she could I hit a flat section and started running. I looked back and saw her holding her water bottle in one hand and the vest in the other. I kept thinking, just put it on and you can run better. Eventually she did put it on and caught up to me. I asked her to keep it, she did. It was a pretty good climb back up to the towers, but this climb really wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be. It was fairly steep, but also short. We hit the ridge and actually started running pretty good. It seemed like a very quick trip back up to the towers and the unmanned aid station. I did walk just a bit here, but after that we were headed down hill, the long downhill back into Matfield Green. We walked just a couple little uphills on the way down, but ran pretty fast. It was a long stretch of running and eventually I got tired and we walked on level ground near the interstate. This was one of the first times I felt like I had to walk and I didn’t like it. Especially on flat ground. We made our way across the bridge and were soon headed back into Matfield Green (mile 57.5). Here I sat down again and took both shoes off to work on blisters. The one was fine, I just retaped it. I had a new one on my other foot. I popped it and taped it. I also had some ginger ale and my first 5 hour energy drink. I wanted some caffeine and this seemed to do the trick.

It was here that Andy was waiting for me. Looking back I think it’s kind of funny that this was my longest stop of the entire race. I was stopped for just over 5 minutes. I’m sure it was killing Andy as he had been there waiting for a while and I’m quite sure he was thinking I was taking way too long. We had previously discussed the race a lot and one of the primary goals was to be in and out of aid stations as quickly as possible. It turned out at mile 57, I wasn’t in a huge hurry at all…

From this point on, my pacers took over all of the carrying of stuff and most of the thinking. I just had to run. I told Andy I wanted to take it a little easy, again that 15 mile section out and back from Matfield Green was tough on me for some reason.

Shortly after leaving Matfield Green I got a side stitch. I think I put a little too much stuff in my gut and it didn’t like it. It bothered me off and on for about a mile, then was fine. This stretch I remembered well and knew where I was going to be walking. I also knew where the last of the small rolling hills were, then the long very runnable section back to the road Ridgeline was on. We ran a fair amount, but again I was starting to walk on some level ground - stretches where I certainly would have run earlier in the race. I knew I was way ahead of the 20 hour schedule though, so I was ok with just keeping up with my 20 hour pace. I would let myself slow down a bit here just conserving energy and making sure I could hold on to 20 hours.

With Andy here we started thinking about finish times and where I was in the race. I knew I was currently in 6th place, but I really wasn’t ready to think about that yet. I just kept thinking there is a lot of distance left - finishing still isn’t a sure thing.

This is Andy and I arriving at Ridgeline (mile 64).

Andy ran ahead of me to take care of things at the Ridgeline aid station (mile 64). I saw someone walking down the hill and made a comment about them carrying me up to the aid station. I didn’t realize it until after I said that but it was my friend Brent. We chatted a bit on the walk up, I don’t actually remember anything else that was said. I had just passed another runner so I was in 5th place coming into Ridgeline. I didn’t realize it, but there was another runner at Ridgeline that I passed so I left in 4th place.

After leaving Ridgeline I asked Andy if he had a flashlight. He didn’t and I freaked out a bit. I kept thinking there was no way we could get to Teterville in the daylight. The road is pretty nasty a few miles out of Teterville so I was quite concerned. About a half mile out of Ridgeline he asked if I wanted him to go back, but I said no. I figured we would make it somehow.

I kept working over the math in my head, but I’m not sure how clearly I was thinking. I did think the sun would set before we got to Teterville, but on we ran. We were making pretty good time and at this point we started pushing a little harder although I was still more focused on our 20 hour pace and maintaining it. With the cushion I had built up I knew if I could hold onto my planned pace from here on out I would be closer to 19 hours than 20. I was happy, but still worried about what could happen.

Soon we were about to the Texaco Hill aid station (mile 69). I thought I had told Andy it was just up ahead, but for some reason he stopped to refill my water bottle from the hydration vest. I went on and got to the aid station. Again I got a big hug from Debbie, who might have been surprised to see me this early. I felt good and got out of there quickly. I didn’t have anything to do, but pass through as Andy was taking care of everything.

It didn’t take him long to catch up and we were coming up to a spot I had wanted to show him. At one point you can look to the southwest and see this huge valley (I guess you would call it that). It was an awesome view. And then we got to make the turn to the south towards Teterville, we were getting close and it was looking like we might make it during the day time, but the sun was getting low on the horizon.

Andy did an awesome job through here of keeping me moving. I had asked him to stay behind me as being in front of me didn’t make me run faster and actually had the effect of making me feel like I was running slow. He stayed behind me, but was always encouraging me to move.

Around a mile outside of Teterville (mile 75), going down a little hill I felt a pain in my left knee (my IT band). It wasn’t terrible, but scary because I didn’t know how quickly it might get worse. When we got to the aid station I asked for a rolling stick and rolled my leg for a bit. I don’t think it did anything for me, but it did feel good to sit in a chair for a few seconds.

Here I had my next pacer, Brent waiting for me. By now it was starting to get dark. It was great having Brent run with me for this next stretch. We had a good chat and I will always remember the super bright headlamp he had. It wasn’t long before he started seeing spiders on the road. He could see their eyes shining back at him. I didn’t see them (I didn’t have a light), but it was fun to listen to him as he spotted them along the way. This section we ran pretty good, but Brent was a little nicer than Andy and I felt like I was slowing down just a little bit. Brent wasn’t as “mean” as Andy and didn’t push when I slacked off a bit. I think it actually might have worked out for the best as it might have given me a bit of a break for the push to the finish.

As we came into Lapland aid station (mile 83) we passed the runner that was in second place. We chatted a bit and he asked where I was from. I think we were both thinking about the 1st Kansan trophy.

At Lapland aid station (mile 83), I taped a spot on my foot that felt like it might be ready to blister and retaped my other toe. It was a fairly quick stop.

Here it was Andy’s turn to step in again and get me the rest of the way in. He and I had trained a lot together and talked a ton about the race. Having him there for the final push to the finish was very important to me.

I found out that I was 20 minutes behind the first place runner. At this point I really didn’t think I had a chance of catching him, but I still had an outside chance at an 18 hour finish. My original goal had been 20 to 24 hours, so I was quite happy with this possibility. We left this aid station on a downhill running really good and I was feeling good, but wasn’t ready to pick up the pace to much with 17 miles still to go.

The next section was the hardest of the course. It was a lot of rolling hills and I was walking up the hills and painfully running down. My left knee was now causing a lot of pain. Andy did exactly what I needed him to do, which was pretty much ignore my complaints and kept me moving. It was dark and hard to see the hills, but my knee told me as soon as we started up. It was hurting going up the hills and I was afraid to let myself go running down, trying to slow myself going down the hills caused a lot of pain. I think I yelled a couple times, but again, Andy just ignored it and kept us moving. At this point I started to think we weren’t going to quite make 18 hours. I was a little upset, but I thought we would be close and we were going to be way ahead of 20 hours.

The next aid station was at Battle Creek (mile 92) and here again, because of Andy, I didn’t really stop. He took care of everything I needed and I could just keep moving. After he caught up to me he said we had gained 10 minutes on first place over the last 8 miles. We had 8 miles to go and were only 10 minutes back, which seemed to make it possible that I could catch him.

There was a big climb about a mile outside this aid station. As we got close to the hill we thought we could make out the headlamps of first place. We couldn’t gauge how far we were behind, but I’m sure it was still 10 minutes. I got annoyed by the glow sticks they had hung as there were several times I thought I saw first place, but it turned out it was the glow sticks. I would have sworn they were moving at times.

Once we got to the top of the hill there was about 6.5 miles to the finish. Andy suggested we turn our headlamps off. We didn’t want first place to see us and take off before we had a chance to make a push for first. There was a stretch of about 4 miles straight west and they could have seen us coming from a long way off. We started running at the top of the hill at around a 9:30 pace and held that for around 1.5 miles. I was getting tired and thought I needed to stop so we did. I could barely walk, my knee really hurt. I stopped to rub it, but that didn’t help. Walking really hurt. Andy got me running slowly again and it didn’t hurt too bad so I decided to try to run the rest of the way in. If I needed to slow down I would, but I wouldn’t stop unless I just couldn’t run any more.

Shortly after running again we thought we saw a light ahead of us. We think it was first place at the unmanned aid station looking around. Wherever it was we couldn’t tell how far ahead they were, but we knew we were getting closer. When we got to the unmanned aid station, Andy stopped to refill our water and I kept running. I think I was at between an 8:30 and 9:00 minute pace through here. For some reason I sped up while Andy was stopped. It took him about 2 miles to catch me and when he did, he said, “Dude, they are right there”. I said, “I know” wanting him to be quiet. I had spotted them about a half mile back and was slowly gaining on them. At this point we were less than 2.5 miles from the finish and I was definitely gaining on them. They were only about 50 yards ahead and I didn’t think they saw us. I thought about slowing down a little to rest, but I didn’t. I just charged ahead. As I came up on them I tried running faster. If you would have asked me at the time I would have said I had to be running a 7 minute mile - it turns out I was probably running about an 8:30, I might have topped out at an 8 minute mile as I passed. I wanted him to know I was running. Unfortunately he wasn’t going to give up that easy. He stayed right with me for at least a quarter mile. As I could hear his footsteps behind me I was thinking, great, he’s going to hang back there and pass me at the end. At least I was in first place for a little while is all I could think. I was going to give it all I had though, I kept running - and asking Andy if he was falling back. Finally after making a turn he did start to fall back a little. I kept asking Andy, who kept telling me he was falling back, but I either couldn’t understand or couldn’t believe it so I kept running as hard as I could. A car was coming with their headlights on bright and it really ticked me off, I didn't want the bright lights in my eyes. Finally they got passed us and Andy got a good view of the runner falling back further. I made another turn to the west and just kept running as hard as I could. I knew I was 1.25 miles from the finish, but I was still scared of getting passed. That mile before the final turn onto the pavement did seem to take forever. I still didn’t have a light on and couldn’t see how far I was from the highway and the last turn. I kept looking for the water tower but couldn’t see it. All of a sudden I could see both, the water tower and the stop sign and made the turn onto the highway with just a little way left.

During this mile Andy told me he didn’t think he could keep up to me. He had to run hard to catch me after he stopped at the aid station, and he had run almost 34 miles (without nearly as much training as I had). I told him if he fell back to let me know if the other runner caught up to him so I could speed up. I really don’t think that would have been possible, but it sounded like a great plan. In the last half mile he did fall back just a little, but was always within 50 yards of me.

As I made the turn Andy yelled to turn my light on so people would see me coming. I did and kept running. At some point Andy yelled, “Way to go Rich” and I was looking for the cones leading me into the finish line. I was still running as fast as I could and kept thinking I didn’t want to crash getting through the ditch and on the grass. I somehow made it and crossed the finish line - it was all a blur. I couldn’t believe I had won and I came in at 17:55:31.

If you would have asked me how I felt, I felt fine. Looking at every picture taken of me after the race that night - I was not fine. My wife said I acted drunk. There is a picture of me slobbering. Brent had to peel an orange for me and give it to me piece by piece. I was a mess, but I was so happy. I remember asking Kyle if I really won, I just couldn’t believe it.

After the Race
I'm not sure what time we headed back to the motorhome, but we ended up sitting around chatting with everyone that had come down to see the finish until around 2AM. Andy had a sleeping bag and slept outside somewhere. I tried to sleep, but really didn't feel like it. I did sleep off and on. We got up around 7:30AM as Andy was leaving. Krista and I got ready and headed back out to the finish line to watch people come in. I was surprised to see several people finish when we got there, I thought it would be much more spread out. We hung out off and on all morning, we did leave at some point to get breakfast at the gas station in town. It was a lot of fun watching all the other runners finish. I got asked by someone if I paced someone during the race, my response was "I won". I hope I didn't sound like a jerk, it just kind of came out. Still, over two weeks later I've walked into Andy's office and said, "Can you believe I won a 100 mile race?". We're still both in shock.

Special Thanks
Thanks to Ken and Cam for driving 4 hours to see me for 20 minutes at the start. It gave me a good boost to get going.

There is no way I could have done this without my crew. Krista did awesome at the first 2 stops by herself. Then Amy and Megan came along and helped make every stop perfect. Thanks to Brent and Peter for driving out. I wish I could have run with Peter, but we ran out of miles. Having Krista jump in and run 15 miles with me was awesome, especially given that it was a tough 15 miles for me. Having Brent and Andy push me through all the miles late in the race made winning possible. I don’t think there was any chance of winning without Andy pushing the walking pace between Lapland and Battle Creek.

I would also like to thank Kyle Amos and Tony Clark, the race directors. They put on an awesome very well run event. I’d especially like to thank them for making the last 6.5 miles downhill.

Gear Review
I bought a pair of Hoka One One Bondi B 2 shoes based on a recommendation from Ben Holmes. I put about 50 miles on them before the race in a couple different long runs. They turned out to be perfect for this course. The rocks were never really an issue with these shoes.

I happened upon Tailwind Nutrition early this summer. I was thinking if I could get some calories in my drink it would help. At that point I was still planning on eating something during the race. The more I trained and read about Tailwind, the more I believed I could do the race with nothing else. I got to the point where I liked the company so much I wanted to help prove how good it was. I ended up eating nothing during the race, but exclusively used Tailwind for nutrition and electrolytes. My plan was 20 ounces of water and 200 calories (2 scoops) of Tailwind per hour. I stuck to that very closely until the last hour or so. I think it worked perfectly and I highly recommend it. For me it limited the risk of digestive problems and enabled me to get in and out of aid stations quickly.

Additional Details
I ran the first 4.7 miles at a 9:31 pace, I ran that same distance at the end of the race at an 8:48 pace. It felt much faster :) I picked that distance because from there to the finish I never stopped.

I did the first 50 miles in 8:24, the second 50 in 9:31.

Here’s a breakdown of each aid station stop and time/pace between aid stations. I stopped for about a minute total at 2 unmanned aid stations. I also stopped to pee 7 times. In all I was stopped for 35:40.




Aid StationTime InTime OutStoppedDistanceTimeDistanceTimePace




Battle Creek7:16:397:20:040:03:258.31:16:348.31:16:3409:13






Texaco Hill11:01:0511:02:350:01:3031.355:01:006.10:59:5009:53




Matfield Green13:01:1513:04:350:03:2042.947:01:106.21:03:0610:10


Lone Tree14:23:4814:24:240:00:3650.318:23:437.41:19:1310:44


Matfield Green15:44:0315:49:160:05:1357.669:43:587.41:19:3910:50




Texaco Hill18:00:2918:01:290:01:0069.312:00:245.40:58:0710:42






Battle Creek22:30:2022:31:200:01:0092.3816:30:158.71:42:0411:46





Another chart showing the distance I travelled at each speed (in mph).

From the above graph you can see that there is a pretty good gap between what I would call walking and running. I figured anything slower than 4.8 mph which is a 12:30 minute/mile was walking. Based on that I walked approximately 16 miles of the 100. The peak of the walking pace is at 3.7 mph (16:12 min/mile), the peak of running was at 6.4 mph (9:22 min/mile)

The following chart is a bit messy, but it shows a breakdown of each mile, my overall pace and the pace I walked and ran that mile along with the total distance I walked. It shows that I might have walked a 17:00 mile pace, but I only walked it for 0.05 miles, so it didn't affect my overall pace much. I think this shows that while I walked more later in the race, my pace while running didn't change too much - my question was finally answered about running late in the race. I'm also very happy that there was no walking the last 4.8 miles.

The first 50 I walked around 5 miles, the second 50 I walked around 11 miles. I really didn’t feel like I was walking that much, but I don’t believe the Garmin is lying.

Here's a table of Heartland's finish rate. I had to guess at the start count for 2011, but I think it's close. I also counted how many people had run faster than a 17:55:31. I realize each year may have drastically different conditions, but I wondered how my time stacked up against previous years. I will note that the course record is an amazing 14:26:43 which is an 8:40 pace.


Year# FasterFinishersStartedFinish Rate































Final Thoughts
Since this is my first hundred, I have no way to compare this to anything else. I fully realize Heartland is a relatively “easy” 100, so I wouldn’t expect to be able to run as much or as fast at other races. I also realize I had a perfect day. I couldn’t have asked for things to go better. The weather was around 50 degrees at the start with a high around 75. The wind was also fairly calm for the middle of Kansas. I had a perfect crew and perfect pacers. Everything went great. I got to discover for myself what running in the second 50 was like and it turned out to be much better than I expected. I never really hit a wall or bonked.

I’ve been asked several times, what next? Several people have said I could cross that off my bucket list. I don’t really have a bucket list - in many ways this race was more than a bucket list item for me. It was an incredible experience that I will never forget. I loved every part of it. Even now I’m thankful for the injury prior to the race. While it upset things pre-race it just added to the overall experience.

The Heartland Spirit of the Prairie made October 12, 2013 one of the best days of my life. A day I will never forget, it was EPIC.

A few more pictures

My crew. Krista, Megan and Amy

Looking west out of Teterville aid station as the sun sets

Sunset at Teterville aid station

I really thought I felt better than this

First place trophy


  1. Great race, great report. I love the all the data. And as for the course record, Paul DeWitt has it, and Eric Clifton held it before him. Both guys are legends, with numerous other course records across the country to their name. Getting your name next to theirs as a winner is simply awesome. No other way to put it. But again, great plan, execution, and result. All the best in deciding what's next, and then pursuing that.

    1. Alex, Thanks for the comment. I put a lot of that data in there because it was stuff I would like to have found in other race reports I read before the race. Hopefully people can make sense of it.

  2. Awesome report, Richard! I'll have to give that Tailwind a try. Thanks again for letting me shower in your RV after the race--everyone I saw that morning thanks you. Good luck with whatever is next!


  3. Great race report, Rich! See you in Haiti in January!