MMT 100 Report

Massanutten Mountain Trails 100
May 8-9, 2004

by Mike Campbell

The most important thing in running Ultra’s is to learn from the past. After completing 60 miles or so of the Rocky Raccoon 100 last February, my focal point now was not only to finish, but to take care of the stomach problems that I have developed this past year while running these distances. First of all I want to thank our new Race Director “Stan Duboius” for all the support and great organization of yet another successful traditional MMT100. Also, I want to thank him for dumping that truckload of extra rocks on the trails this year! I know there weren’t that many last year, because I definitely hit them all!

The weather forecast called for rain earlier in the week and 60 to 70 degrees for race weekend. This was unlike last year, when it rained for the first day. So much for the prediction because the clouds came in during check in on Friday around 3. By the time our ritual pre-race briefing and carbo-loading meal ended, the sky opened and buckets came down.

This year I rented a cabin at Skyline Ranch Resort, which was the best idea. Got a great night sleep with only a five-minute walk to the clubhouse and the start of the race. Themar my crew man, still by my side after nine 100-mile races, is always there with the greatest sense of navigation.

Getting back to my stomach problem. With a lot of counseling from fellow Ultra-runners, and great advice from Derrick Carr, I decided to get on the “Ensure” crave at the Bull Run 50 miler about three weeks ago. For that entire race, I only drank two, eight ounce cans. I only ate a cut up Powerbar, six raisins, and a couple of cashews. Not much to eat, but I didn’t have any stomach problems, just a craving for a little something extra by the end, so didn’t think I could stick to that diet for a 100 miler.

So got up at 4 a.m., swallowed an Aleve, banana and a bagel, (forgot my Centrum Vitamin) and washed it down with 16oz of Gatorade. Checked in at the clubhouse and after a ritual prayer by Stan, we were off. I’d see Themar at Shawl Gap 8.7 miles. I think the temperature was around 50 at the start and could actually see a break in the clouds, maybe we would have a good day, but the trails were muddy from all the rain last night, you can’t have everything! Just a tank-top, coolmax t-shirt and shorts was all I needed, forgot my Penzo Flashlight, so wore my LED Headlight and borrowed Themar’s small flashlight.

I didn’t stop at the first aid station (only 2.4 miles into the run) and went by AS #2 (Shawl Gap Parking) in 1½ hours around a 10.3 pace. We cover the first 1300-foot climb, and then the dropped about 1500 feet, we had pretty steady trails and the markings were good. Swapped out my bottle of Gatorade, drank an 8oz can of V8, got rid of my t-shirt and on my way. A few miles later I pulled down my tank top instead of taking it off, so my bottle-belt wouldn’t rub my bare back to be left raw by the end of the race. At the next aid station (Veach Gap Parking) I got about 5 grapes while my bottle was being refreshed and was on my way. By the time I hit Milford Gap (16.9 miles) I was running on low. I popped in a strawberry and noticed some bottles of Ensure…brought a smile to my face, gulped that down and thanked Mike Bur for the lift.

We had a nice 7½ miles of down hill running to Habron Gap Parking, mile 24.7, at about 10.5 mile pace (this last section). Themar handed me a can of Ensure and got a second Gatorade bottle since we had a good 9 miles (about a 1600 foot climb and then another 1000 foot descend) before the next stop. By the time I reached Camp Roosevelt at mile 34.2, both bottles were empty, downed another bottle of Ensure, (chocolate), and took two new bottles of Gatorade. Note, I didn’t have to even go down to the aid/food station and after my number check, I started the next climb of only 5.6 miles but 1000 foot climb with 550 foot drop to Gap Creek/Jawbone #I. Just a Gatorade refuel was necessary because the other bottle was still almost full, and drank my 8oz of V8. I was feeling some cramps setting in so I took some Endurolytes I had in my pouch.

A couple of years ago I started using Succeed, but sopped because they gave me stomach cramps. I think that’s because they have about 400mg of sodium each, and if you take two, my system is max’ed out. I normally never use salt at the table or cooking so here I am kind of “OD”-ing on sodium, and taking too much is not a good thing. Likewise these Endurolytes have about ¼ of the sodium and after taking two within ½ an hour my cramps were gone for the day, so the other four pills were split up over the next 19 hours, which seemed to do the trick.

When I hit the Visitor Center, my tank was running low. So along with a can of Ensure, I took a piece of banana, hand full of raisins and nuts and I felt much better within the next 15 minutes of eating them on the way. This next section, I missed the first three leaders Sean, Peter and Barry all made it back down the pass on their way to 211 East before I started up the Bird Knob out, around and back trail (talk about smokin’) making my way up the steepest climb of the day (2900 feet). Made it up to the 52.1-mile aid station at 4:15 p.m. (11 hours and 15 minutes) into the run (12.9 mile pace). So far I’ve only tripped a couple of times and went down twice with just a couple of nicks on my knee and forearm. I got to see two rattlesnakes, one dead on the trail and the other was a few miles further up. I almost stepped on its tail…thank goodness it was heading in the other direction, but I could clearly see its colorful pattern on his back and diamond head, was only about three and a half feet long. Thank goodness I didn’t miss it along with rocks because your focal point is only about three feet in front of you at all times with stumps or whatever else is on the trail.

Coming off Bird Knob, I meet Gary Kipling and then Kerry Owens, wishing them the best and a few more runners making their way up to the halfway point. Made my way down to 211 East right around 6 p.m., mile 58, and picked up my teammate Prasad. Refilled the bottles, downed another can of Ensure, and we were off. I think last year it was almost dark when I hit this station, so a bit ahead this time.

Chatting with Prasad and getting his encouragement was what I needed. He said he may try MMT100 in the future, I said, “just wait” before you say “I do” since the second part of this course is harder than the first. We rolled into Gap Creek/Jawbone II, mile 64.9, around 13.3 mile pace. Got a 8oz can of V8 and full bottle only 2.8 miles to Moreland Gap, but climb was about 600ft pretty strait up and then drop about 400. Here I definitely got two bottles, since the famous Short Mountain was next, which is about 8.2 miles of nothing except solid rock (it seems). Also got my main headlamp, which had four “C” batteries that strap on to your belt and last around nine hours. This section is about the slowest yet today that took about 2 hours and 48 minutes. Over the next mile I had a can of Ensure, full bottles, a packet of mixed nuts and sesame seeds.

We arrived at Edinburg Gap at 11:14 p.m., mile 75.9, still about 45 minutes ahead of last year. Another can of Ensure and full bottles…and we were off for another 8.2 miles to Woodstock Tower. I decided my trail shoes have had it when I felt a blister coming on the bottom of my left foot. Swapped out my Dietz Vista Montrails for my North Faces. Since I have been wearing orthodics for the past 30 years, I took them out with the shoes and put on a clean pair of socks. As I started running, my shoes felt a little wobbly and were turning my ankles, but I thought there we just too loose. At the next opportunity I pulled all the laces up tighter and then got sort of used to the way they were feeling. We finally pulled into Woodstock Tower at 2:55 a.m., mile 84.1, and I drank my last can of V8 and ate a packet of mix nuts and seeds. My knees were feeling weak, so decided to put on my kneepads for support.

I was doing a lot of walking here with my knee steadily getting worse. I tried to keep up a decent pace with a little jogging here and there on the downhills. Got to Powells Fort at 3:54 a.m., mile 89.3, and even at a slower pace no one was passing us. Prasad and I still had our shirts off, temps in the 50’s and a little cooler, which wasn’t bad. I was definitely peeing every couple of miles now, maybe not sweating as much but still drinking as much as I could of Gatorade. Got a bottle on Ensure (chocolate) just for a change, and it still went down without a problem.

Time was really dragging on and I’d changed to survival mode now, just to finish. We got to Elizabeth Furnace at 6:28 a.m., mile 96.8, with five miles to go! I drank my last can of Ensure, filled both bottles and thank goodness this was our last aid station. I always look forward to this one with the final climb of 900 feet to which we'd drop the same before the finish. As we hit the Shawl Gap Trail Head, Randy Dietz passed me and I said go get them since my knees were toast. Prasad was pointing at his watch and asked if I knew what time it was, I said yeah its over 28 hours, and he said no, it only 27 hours. That sort of put a spark in my side and I started to jog again, picking it up as we wound down to the field within site of the SRR Club House. We crossed the line at 27 hours and 8 minutes, 101.8 miles. I almost caught Randy, didn’t even think about the fact that we were in the same age group, but what the hay, we finished to see all the smiling VHTRC faces.

Pictures followed the cheers with congratulation. I didn’t win the Senior Division by 20 seconds, yes I did say 20 seconds :>((( but I am satisfied with my finish half an hour faster than last year. I called my wife Aleka to let her know I was ok. Here is the ironic thing about the changing of my shoes around mile 80 and the fact that my feet were not feeling great. When I took them off, I discovered that I actually had two pairs of Orthodics in them?? You see three weeks ago, when I ran the Bull Run 50 miler, I took a spare pair of trail shoes and put in my old pair of orthodics. I didn’t want to loose too much time if I did need to change shoes (which I didn’t end up doing anyways). So I forgot to take them out and since it was dark when I put them on, I overlooked the fact that there was a pair there already especially because I wear them under the insoles. Well duh, not the first stupid thing that I have done in my life, well, ok close?? My feet took a beating the last 20 miles and the tread on my first pair of shoes was almost stripped completely, you see I really didn’t miss many rocks!!

Well, after nine cans/bottles of Ensure, about five falls (not complete wipeouts) and I saved the “nose” this year, it’s done. Yes, it was worth it again, but will I come back next year?? For my MMT100 number three? …The jury is still out. Stomach feels great with no leg cramps. Now, I’ll shower and get home to pack for my business trip in the morning to New Orleans which will NOT include any running clothes for the next week. :>)))

I want to thank Themar, my crew chief, for all the great support. He always kept me updated on the stats from last year as well as keeping me on track all day. Even though I was down at times, he always picked me up knowing just what to say to get me going. To my old pal Prasad (we’ve been teammates at JFK and Bull Run for the past five or so years) and for the last 42 miles that he gave me, along with his ear, I'd still be out there without him. Also to my loyal training partners, my wonderful wife Aleka and best friend Pat, and great children that keep me on the go. Of course love goes to my mother, who called on Sunday, to see how and when I finished, and to make sure the candles she had glowing in the church worked their magic again, Happy Mothers Day!

Until next time--see you on the trails. (What's next? Angeles Crest in Writewood California, September 17th 2004)

….thks Mike

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