I think my system has finally managed to digest (or at least excrete) the overdose of Epicness that I consumed on April 27th and 28th at the inaugural Flatrock 101K. Thirty-seven ultrarunner BADASSES representing NINE STATES – including ALASKA- showed up for what would undoubtedly be one of the hardest 100K trail run in the Midwest, and maybe the entire country – given muddy and wet trail conditions. Everyone has already heard about the drizzly rain, steep climbs, jagged rocks, soul-sucking mud, and beautiful scenery. You all know how challenging this course was after dark (at least for all of us mere mortals who aren’t as fast as winner Brian Ortell from Iowa or female co-champs Candi Paulin and Grace Lin). All of these things I will remember without a doubt… BUT… As the destroyed leg muscles rebuild themselves and the pain fades, the memory of the overall experience is permanently imprinted in my heart and mind. The difference is Epic Ultra’s goal of co-creating the experience of a lifetime for ALL ultrarunners participating in their events. This isn’t some shitty hyped up sales pitch to grab a bunch of wannabes’ money in exchange for a Facebook photo shoot. These so-called ‘Tough’ Mudder, Warrior Dash, or some other bullshit money grab Cornstalk and Confetti Glitter Glider Mile are in the business of making money NOT making epic ultrarunners… whatever. Don’t even get me started on that shit. Epic Ultras’ primary goal is to inspire you to, “Co-create the experience of a lifetime.” Boy did we. In the simplest terms, the Inaugural Flatrock 101K was an event put on by ultrarunners for ultrarunners in a way that gave every single competitor the opportunity to Be Epic, which is Epic Ultras primary mission…and GUESS WHAT?? You bet your sweet ass that they totally nailed it.. again! Beginning with the information packet and and concluding with Warren’s cooked-to-order hot breakfast at 2:50 a.m., this was the most well executed event I have ever participated in. From the minute I got to the pre-race dinner, I felt like I was being treated as if I was picked to win the race – and I felt like I did win the race when the air horn blasted, the cowbells rang, and I crossed the finish line in the middle of the damn night. That’s a badass feeling for a middle-to-the-back of the pack guy like me.
I am less than 5 years into my ultrarunning career and I have rarely (if ever) seen a “pre-race dinner”. My guess is that it is a giant pain in the ass for race directors, especially considering it takes place as they are trying to put out all the last minute fires… you know, like barbed wire being stretched across the trail. I loved it. In a race with 37 runners I think there were at least 40 people (not including the Epic Brigade) eating from a mountain of spaghetti and damn good meatballs. Keep in mind, this was a night when the weather was mostly cold and rainy. This should happen at every event, as it gives runners a chance to get to know each other and talk. For me, a big reason I do what I do is the people I meet along the way. I took advantage and talked with all the runners I already knew, and introduced myself to a few more. Nervous chatter and ultra energy buzzed tangibly in the air. It was awesome. Eric gave a nice welcome, pre-race briefing and introduced and recognized several folks who greatly deserved it. After most runners finished eating and headed off to rest, I hung around and watched the EU Brigade in action. Eric, Polly, Warren and Harrison and crew were buzzing around getting shit done despite me hanging around distracting them. Talk about a well oiled machine! The Epic Ultra Brigade deployed a mixed strategy of work and play and I was sincerely impressed at how efficiently they were getting shit done. Eric was leading by example and would not hesitate to jump in the “heavy lifting” involved in getting things ready for the runners. I was glad I got to see some of the behind the scenes stuff as it really gave me an even greater appreciation for the event. The Epic “Brigade” is a fitting name, as they did have this thing down to a near military precision – while still having enough time to converse and drink a couple beers with me.
Anecdotal evidence concludes that the average internet reader has the attention span of a flea, so I will cut it off here for now. There is just too much to say in one post, and I don’t want to leave any of it out. Next post will go into excruciating detail of how many ounces of water I took in, my fuel plan, detailed pace strategies, and tons more fun stuff. Nah, just kidding, its more about me hanging out with my new friends and just surviving to finish this awesome race.
Tune in next week for, “Seen My Rubber Boots?” or “Move Over Yeti, This is Sasquatch Territory”…