Well, let me tell you about the Iron Horse Ultra, I run a strong race, kept with the lead group until the end, gave them a run for their money, oh wait, that was my dream the night before the race, what really happened was that i survived my first 100 mile race
I finish the race at a little after 10am, around the 28 hour mark. I felt great to get it done. The weather was fantastic if a bit cold at around 3am. of the 12 runners that run the race 11 finished, rare for such distance ,where usually the finish rate is much lower. It was nice to see familiar faces, i run the first stage with most of the group, except for the top 3 guys who eventually finished the race at around 19 hours, they took off strong from the beginning and I never saw them again.
On the second leg I got lost for about 45 minutes, I was busy trying to decide between a Stinger Energy Bar or Sharkies and missed my turn. By the time I figure out I was on the wrong path I had to back tracked for a while, since the race is long enough without adding more distance I decide to focus hard on the markers and concentrated on following the fluorescent orange ribbons that where on the course, so much that at one point I found myself standing on a farmers backyard on a sandbox, I had to blink several times to figure out that the fluorescent orange I had followed was a kids shovel!
By the end of this stage I had fall back behind so much that I was the last runner on the course, I was OK since i was still hitting my times so it wasn't likely to time out and be disqualified, since the Yukon race I learned a valuable lesson, being last is never bad, my focus was on finishing the race this time.
By the third stage I started to catch up to the group of runners, although I was enjoying having the sweepers behind me, the sweepers are the people who are checking on the last runner on the course and also picking up garbage left behind as well as taking the markers down, I could hear them behind me and it was kind of nice to know they where there.
by the end of the five stage, I had ended up catching up Selena, I know her from last years races so it was a great break to run together, Selena ended up falling behind and eventually dropping out of the race unfortunately but just before she stopped she did tell me she was happy since she had made it pass 100K, farther than she had ever gone before, I loved the attitude.
on stage six I back tracked to ask Selena or the sweepers if I was going the right way since i didn't see any markers on the course,being so dark out made it even more difficult to find any markers on the road anyway, after an hour of back and forth I found Don running backwards like me to find help.Don and I decided to stay together for the the rest of stage six. we where confuse that it was not marked just like other stages,there where no orange ribbons on the course, the only thing we saw once in a while was wooden sticks with red tape on top, Don joked that maybe we where following the sticks that the farmers use to remind them where the ditch is. It's a terrible feeling when you find yourself running the wrong direction. We decided to trust that this was the right way since we couldn't keep running back to ask for help anymore and kept moving forward instead, by the time we made it to the end of this stage and found out that we where going the right direction for sure it was 6am. I was cold and hungry, I hadn't plan on stopping since we only had 17K to go but I decided to stop for a half hour and warm up and Don caught a quick nap too.
On the last stage, Don told me to go ahead if I wanted to since there was light out now but i decided to finish the race with Don, we had stuck together though the night so it was the right thing to do, he couldn't run anymore so we power walked, Don is a tall man so he can power walk very fast,and after running for so long my running was resembling more a new born baby giraffe, so walking felt really good, it was at the edge of town when his wife joined us that we run the last two kilometres to the finish line. when we finally made it to the finish line,there were only a few people left since Don and I where the last to finish, the race organizers where there, Anna and her brothers and their 70 year old something mom! she was incredible cheering us on and manning some of the aid stations and instead of finishing medals we received an engraved bracelet
During the night when we had hit the hardest part of the race, we where hungry, tired and cold, this is where Don and I wondered why we do what we do, why run this type of races at all? we couldn't really put it into words, it was the way you felt when you finally did it, chasing something so hard and accomplishing it, it's rebelling against the self doubts in your mind that tell you that you can't do this or that, it's like Henry Ford said, weather you think you can or can't you are right.