While idly tapping my toes, chewing my nails, and plucking overly-long stray eyebrows (my go-to nervous habits) I decided to write a race preview for the pending Prairie Spirit 50/100. For me, as with most ultrarunners I know, training is easier than tapering – particularly the final 10 days or so. I have an annoying tendency to hyper-focus and obsess over the tiniest of details from weather forecasts to Tums vs. Rolaids in my drop boxes. Being one of only a few ultrarunners – especially 100 milers – from the area of Southeast Kansas I live, I don’t have too many people to lament with over the challenge and rewards of running this distance. I am sure my coworkers’ biggest wish is that I would just shut the hell up. If it wasn’t for interacting with other whackos using social media, I would probably implode and get some black market Xanax just to shut my brain off. But I digress. I figured writing a race preview blog would help curb (or maybe fuel) my race countdown obsession at the same time possibly helping or even being useful to those that didn’t have the pleasure of running in last years’ blizzard. My 2013 Race Report
Epic Ultras puts on the best events in the Midwest and very possibly the entire nation. A motivational presentation from one of the FOUNDING FATHERS of modern ultra-distance running, Dr. David Horton! ARE YOU KIDDING ME!? From the Official Runners Information Packet (study it, the answers to your questions are there) to outstanding pre and post race grub – and everything in-between. I challenge you to debate otherwise. Great events put on by ultrarunners for ultrarunners. A high quality event will draw high quality participants. Take the time to chat with other runners and forge relationships that will last as long as your memory of crossing under the Epic Ultras arch and earning your buckle.
Yes it is that flat. There are a couple minuscule rolling hills, but nothing that you will really have to huff and puff to get up. The steepest is probably the couple of spots where you dip UNDER a major highway. But mostly, it is as flat as a runway model without implants. I would suggest doing a little stretching at the hips, waist, and knees early and often, nothing steep enough to do it for you. Another thing that stands out in my head is how the fine, gravelly surface, while great for late mile shuffling, gets down in your shoes. Stopping when I am really moving good to extract a bunch of baby boulders from of my shoes pisses me off to no end. Gaiters might be a good idea – especially if you are not the kind that changes shoes a bunch.
The manned aid stations run from 6.5 to 10 miles apart, and while they will have just about everything you might need and more (this is an EPIC ULTRAS event after all), but make sure you carry enough nutrition to get your weary, tired, hungry ass to the next aid station. Remember; Ten miles at 15 minutes per mile pace is two and a half hours. You will probably want to eat more than every two hours… you know, assuming you want a buckle. Unmanned water stations are strategically placed close enough that it should make carrying a single bottle plenty for most people – given a NORMAL March day.
Expect the unexpected. For those of you travelling to Ottawa Kansas from parts unknown, be aware that our weather is somewhat volatile. Maybe schizophrenic is a better characterization… Plan for just about everything from ice to heat – and pack accordingly. They say in Kansas; if you don’t like the weather, wait 15 minutes – it will change. It is true, our local weather forecasters are little more than glorified Magic 8-balls.
I am not going to breakdown any possible winners, course records being broken, or % of finishers likely to find success like a lot of race previews do. I am going to say that for every single finisher, this race will be a life-changing experience. From that perspective, everyone will be getting something far more valuable than any first place plaque or mention as course record holder. Or maybe I am just making that shit up; since my ass will NEVER hold a course record… so take it for what it’s worth!
Joking aside, I sincerely look forward to seeing all my ultrarunning pals (current and future), and to make sure I don’t scare anyone’s children at the pre-race dinner, I’ll try not to pull out all my damn eyebrows while waiting for race day. Good luck to all runners! May whatever higher or inner power you draw strength from pile it on in massive quantities!