I ran/walked 100 miles and it wasn't easy. Hard lessons were learned last year and so I started out slow and made sure to eat more, much more. The first 42 miles went pretty well. Knowing the course helped and I made it to County Road 6 much earlier than last year.
Once it got dark I started walking a lot more than running which was a mistake. The course from CR 6 to Finland and on to Crosby-Manitou was the most runnable part of the trail.
At the halfway point in Finland I slept for 30-45 minutes and spent too much time drying my socks by the fire. It would have been nice to have had a drop bag with dry socks and shirt. Thanks to Dallas Sigurdur I left Finland with a dry, if not completely clean shirt.
I chatted with Jason Buffington at the Sonju Lake Road aid station in the middle of the night. It's always good to see folks you know.
By Crosby-Manitou aid station (mile 63) I was falling asleep walking and really needed a nap, but there was just no way I could stop and still finish. The sky was beginning to lighten.
From Crosby-Manitou to Sugarloaf was the most trying section of the trail. I almost dropped out. I had to take a nap on a rock (only about 5 minutes, but it really helped). It started raining and kept raining. Combined with the cool temperatures I was starting to get to a really bad place. Luckily my Arrowhead instincts cut in and I stopped, made a raincoat out of a garbage bag I was carrying (thanks to Lynn Saari), and was able to continue if slowly and unfashionably.
By the time I arrived at Sugarloaf I was a wreck. My feet were wet and blistered, I was cold, and in a foul mood. Kurt Neuberger and his wife (whose name I should really know) nursed me back to health with some warm soup (squash, very good), ibuprofen, and clean dry socks!
From there I started to feel better and move faster. I started to pace off of some of the 50 mile runners and that along with some conversation made the miles pass. Climbing Carleton Peak I was stung by a wasp which was painful but took my mind off of the rest of my pain and the ~20 miles I had left.
At the Sawbill aid station I found that I was dangerously close to the cutoff. I would really have to book it if I wanted to finish. I ran like an old man, but I ran pretty much the whole way to Oberg. I was stung by a wasp once again and by happenstance met another runner from Ames. I arrived at Oberg with 15 minutes to spare. I would have 3 hours to run 7 miles. That was a cushion I could deal with.
I mostly fast hiked the last stretch with a small group. Two 50 mile runners and two 100 mile runners. The "Stairway to Heaven" section of Moose Mountain was a welcome sight (I am good at uphills) and soon enough the lights of Lutsen were in sight. My right ankle was screaming at me on every downhill. More than once I had to stop for a second and collect myself.
Breaking out of the rocky, rooty trails and on to a paved road felt strange on my feet. Like standing on solid ground after a day on a boat. I crossed the finish line in 37:36:42. Less than 24 minutes before the cutoff, but I finished.
Roberto Marron, the author, and Dallas Sigurdur early in the race.
photo: Londell Pease