Posts Tagged ‘weymouth woods 100k’

Title of the post pretty much says it all. Finish line photo from Saturday’s Weymouth Woods 100k.

Maybe I should hold a caption contest…


By nature, running is a very numbers-oriented sport. With Saturday’s 100k consisting of 14 laps of the same course and super-accurate chip timing, it is rather easy to witness my rather-catastrophic slowdown in scientific terms now that split times for all runners have been posted. Fastest lap was lap two at 7:46/mile. Slowest lap was the final lap, which I powerwalked, at 15:33/mile. That’s a decline of 82 percent, by my calculations.

Interestingly, one of last year’s runners did a far more scientific look at the slowdown by all runners during the race. It’s a rather fascinating read.

Note: Thanks to everyone who shared photos from the race online. None of these photos are mine, they are all theirs. Photos came from these three Picasa web albums.

Official race results here. Race results with splits here.

Yesterday’s Weymouth Woods 100k featured 14 laps of a 4.47 mile loop, and it was on the seventh that I began to slow.

From the start, it was myself and two other guys in the front- one a thirty-something-year-old from Blacksburg, VA who I had a pleasant chat with, and the other a early-forties guy named Vladimir (I didn’t know his name until the finish though, so during the course of the race I referred to him as “Music” (he was listening to headphones), “The Man in Black” and “Black Magic” (he was wearing all black)).

The Weymouth Woods course is a marvelous trail with relatively few roots or other obstacles. And it also doesn’t have any of the killer uphills that the Vermont 50 course had. In other words, it’s completely runnable.

That’s a good thing. And a bad thing.

The three of us switched the lead for the first six laps or so. Eight minute pace felt effortless. The course was icy at first, the result of the snow/ice storm that swept up the East Coast earlier this week, but it was the type of thin ice that shattered when you stepped on it, as opposed to being slippery. After a few laps of 75 runners barreling over it, it was a non-issue.

At the aid station that began each lap, also known as “Mrs. Doom’s All-You-Can-Eat-Buffet,” I’d down a couple cups of Gatorade and some assorted foodstuffs. Toward the beginning of the race, I took in m&ms, oranges, coffee cake, a piece of pb&j, etc. I was cruising. Temps were comfortably in the mid-to-upper-40s, and I was outfitted comfortably in shorts and a short-sleeve t-shirt (I started in long-sleeves and gloves, but shed them after two laps). Given the aid station situation, I took the light-and-fast approach and ran without a hydration pack/belt or handheld bottles.

Nevertheless, at the end of the seventh things were catching up to me. With the exception of stopping and walking for a minute or so at the aid station at the start of each lap, I’d been running constantly for 31 miles. (In contrast, at the Vermont 50, fairly-regular walking breaks began at mile eight). So at the end of the seventh lap, Vladimir, who would go on to win, passed me (the other, I would later learn- dropped after the seventh lap- he had raced a 3:30 50k the weekend before and said he couldn’t keep anything in his stomach).

So the two of us went through the 50k mark essentially together. We were halfway done. Four hours and 17 minutes had passed. That’s approximately 8:13/mile.

I wasn’t expecting to keep that up, but I’ll admit that things went a little more downhill than I would have liked. Walking breaks quickly became quite frequent.

Things were about to get interesting.

At lap seven, I started counting down the laps I had left, as opposed to counting the ones I had completed (I was unsure if I would be able to trust myself with double-digits after fifty miles…). The laps went by a lot slower than they had been before.

The goal for the race was to run ten hours, but that was admittedly a completely random number that I’d picked because it sounded good. That would equal a 9:35/mile pace, or 42:50 for every 4.47 mile loop. I was obviously well ahead of that pace at the 50k mark, but I knew even then that I might need every minute of surplus that I’d built up.

At mile 40, I ate a hamburger (volunteers were making hamburgers, cheese quesadillas, soup, and brought in pizza every now and then). While I thought that might have been a questionable choice, I was running within a half a mile and definitely had some added pep out there on the course.

At the mid-point of the 4.47 mile loop, there was another small stop with water and Gatorade. During the entire latter half of the race, I’d grab a cup of Gatorade there and reward myself with a nice, extended walk break until I finished it.

This worked fairly well. I was nowhere (and I mean nowhere) near the pace I’d been sustaining before, but I was still passing people fairly regularly. It was hard to tell what lap other people were on, but as far as I knew the only person ahead of the was the guy who’d passed me at the 50k mark.

I hit the 50 mile mark in approx. 7 hours, 55 minutes, about half an hour faster than my finish in Vermont. Despite the fact that I had two hours to run 12 miles, I knew at that point that 10-minute miles was a bit of a stretch, and I’d probably be coming in a little over the 10 hour mark. This realization had little effect, as I’d long ago shifted from “competitive” mode to “control damages” mode.

At that point I had three laps left, so I finally felt like I was close to finishing. I had a cup of chicken noodle soup each lap, which hit the spot.

All this while, I’d been surprised that the frontrunner hadn’t lapped me- I’d fallen far off pace and he had seemed to be in I-could-do-this-all-day mode at the 50k mark. I finally saw him at the tail end of my 13th lap; he was finishing his final lap. He came in at 9:23. I congratulated him, had a final cup of soup, and headed out for lap 14.

It was getting dark by this point, but I elected not to grab my headlamp because I’m young and like to make occasional irrational decisions. Within a quarter-mile in, I decided that I was just power-walking the lap, as my legs were pretty much spent. I eventually teamed up with a 70-something year-old guy and another man who were also power-walking at essentially the same speed. As total darkness set in, it occurred to me that I’d essentially run from sunrise to sunset. Quite the feeling.

The older gentlemen (he referred to himself as “elderly,” to which I responded “I don’t think you can call yourself ‘elderly’ if you run 100ks”) had a headlamp, so I walked and chatted with the two of them (the other guy happened to be the supervisor at the preserve where the race was held) for the final miles. It’s cliché, but I hope I’m doing 100ks when I’m old. The two of them were finishing their ninth lap and were hoping to finish by midnight (this was about 6:15 pm). It was a whole different deal being out on the course at night – I give a lot of credit to everyone who had to cover a substantial distance at night (the race had a 20 hour time limit – which meant the race officially ended at 4 a.m.).

And so I crossed the finish line for the 14th – and final – time. I got congratulations from the race director, my finisher’s award (a shallow bowl-shaped piece of pottery – got to love races that give you something unique), and a little awe for being a 20-year-old in an old man’s sport.

I was the second-place finisher. The last lap had taken me a little over an hour. Ten minutes later, the third-place finisher – and first woman – would cross the line. I threw on some warm clothes, grabbed a couple handfuls of peanut m&ms, and headed inside to try and suppress my uncontrollable shivering.

10 hours, 34 minutes, and 25.75 seconds. 10:08/mile. All in all, there were 47 finishers out of 77 starters. I was the youngest finisher by five years.

100k. Check.

My unofficial time for yesterday’s Weymouth Woods 100k in Southern Pines, NC is 10:34:27. Race report coming later today, but first, here’s what your Garmin data looks like after the Weymouth Woods 100k (click for much-improved views):

Elevation data: Honestly, it’s a little harder to tell that there were 14 laps of the same course than I’d expect

Pace data: The spikes are when I’d walk through/stop at the aid station at the start of each lap. You might notice that I got (quite) a bit slower over time, which is further demonstrated by the…

Speed data: Quite the downward trend!

The forecast

Posted: January 12, 2011 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

Looks to be ideal running weather this Saturday. Personally, I would have asked for highs a little closer to 40 than 50, but I’m not complaining. The weather gods have smiled on the Weymouth Woods 100k.

After I finished the Vermont 50 in September, I was looking for a 50 miler in the vicinity of Virginia to do over winter break, with the hopes of going after a PR for the distance.

However, there weren’t really any 50 milers to choose from, and rather than step down a notch to the 50k I decided to step up one to the 100k distance (approx. 62 miles). As a result, this Saturday, I’m heading to the Weymouth Woods 100k in Southern Pines, North Carolina. It starts at 8 am, with a 20 hour time limit.

In stark contrast to the Vermont 50, which was one ginormous 50-mile loop, the Weymouth Woods 100k all takes place in one relatively-small nature preserve. You run a 4.47 mile loop. Then you do it 13 more times.

No word yet on how many people die of boredom.

No seriously, there are lots of different types of ultras out there and I’m excited to try a new one. Plus, there are definite advantages from repeating a single loop. Particularly, having the aid stations at the same spots on each loop should help in planning nutrition for the race, which could definitely be an advantage for the longer distance.

This is just the second year of the 100k, so the blogosphere is somewhat sparse on Weymouth (I really want to refer to it as WW100k, but apparently the “Where’s Waldo 100k” has already called that…). Nevertheless, here is what I’ve learned:

“At 7:58 AM all the runners are told to lineup at the start and the race director, Marie Lewis gives us some final instructions.  As usual I only heard a few words.  They sounded something like, ‘I’m not coming to look for you in the swamp…'” [Running the Carolinas]

“Weymouth Woods 100K provided an interesting opportunity to analyze split times in an ultra. This is an exercise in intellectual curiosity, which I found fascinating even if it did not provide any revelations.” [Fellrnr Blog]

“The main aid station, also known as Mrs. Doom’s all you can eat buffet, was located at the park headquarters at the end of each lap…Food included salty chips, sweet candies, fruits, burgers, excellent grilled cheese sandwiches, birthday cake, pizza and other goodies. Runners had plenty of fueling choices. After it began to cool at night, three kinds of delicious homemade soup both hydrated and warmed tired runners.” [Paul Heckert on Suite101]

“The course is 14 loops 4.47 miles long and is tough because the trail is infinitely covered in roots, with some sections fairly sandy…My Sunnto Altimeter read a total of 3,691 feet of net gain and loss on all 14 loops or approximately 263 feet of gain per loop.” [Sultonic]