My first “real” ultra race, the Silver City 100K in the beautiful ghost town of Silver City, Idaho. I’ve done marathons and a few 50Ks, so this was doubling the distance of the longest race I had ever done, though I felt prepared. I had done a few 40-45 mile runs by myself so I felt that with other runners around, great aid stations and the adventure of seeing a new area I’d manage the new distance!
We started at 5:37 AM (kind of a random time!) and it was a cool 45 degrees or so, which felt great. The dawn was clear enough to see so I didn’t need a headlamp. It is so different not just taking off right at the start; in fact I was walking within the first quarter of a mile! That is one thing I like (but also dislike) about ultras – you get to walk the uphills!!! I have always been a strong hill climber and don’t want to lose that, but it is simply a necessity to not waste energy and muscle power on hills during a longer event. It stayed relatively cool throughout the first half of the race (into early afternoon), which was nice because there was a loooong climb between mile 18 and 27, summiting Mt. Hayden at 8,400 ft. I brought light-weight trekking poles and used these for the sustained climbing and some steeper sections towards the end, which I felt was very helpful, though kind of cumbersome taking in and out of my pack, but overall worth the hassle. The first half of the course was quite hilly and I was hopeful that the second half could be a little faster (more running, less hiking). Unfortunately this was not the case! The second half was just as hilly, though steeper and shorter. In total, it was about 14,000 ft of climbing throughout the race!
At mile 46 (really starting to feel the miles now) there was an aid station where I changed shoes and got my drop bag where I had a protein drink waiting. Just after the aid station I was heading up a 1200 ft climb over one mile – very steep! To make up for it there was a wonderful view of the surrounding mountainous land once I was at the top! The distance between the last two aid stations was nine miles… the longest nine miles I think I’ve run (well, walked….). At this point it was survival mode – run when it is flat or downhill only, otherwise the pain of trying to run was not worth the effort since hiking was faster. There were some good sections of downhill which helped me get through it. After the last aid station there were 3.5 miles left. It was now a race against the setting sun! I was able to finish (I even ran the last mile) just before the sun was completely gone, just before 10:00 PM with an overall time of 16 hours 10 min and 59 seconds.
Overall, this was a very new running experience for me! I am pretty competitive, so was fortunate to have people around me majority of the race to help keep pushing me, though by the end didn’t really care who was passing me or what place I’d end up in. Overall my initial goal was to gain experience at a new distance and learn what my body needs and how it feels going that long. I was pleasantly surprised at how well my body did. I had no stomach issues, I could refuel with pretty much anything. I really liked sweet fruit (strawberries) and salt (chips, quesadillas, etc) at the aid stations and gels/electrolyte tablets in between. Physically my body held up as expected, aerobically I could have gone on for ages, though joint pain definitely was the limiting factor. By the end my knees and arches of my feet were very sore (feeling arthritic at age 27!). Though this is expected! Overall, this was a beautiful race, great atmosphere with other dedicated ultra runners! I’m excited to have this experience and now go explore new territories and see what my potential may be! Thanks the UR Sportswear and the UR Tribe for the support along the way!