I had the honor and privilege to have run as a pacer in the Burning River 100 mile foot race this past weekend. I had no idea how much I would run of the 100 mile race. But I was to show up at the 65.7 mile aid station and just run however far I wanted to. When my runner (Dustin) came to the aid station around 9:20pm I was there and ready to run with him.
The race began 5:00am in the morning and Dustin wasn't sure how he would hold up for this run because he ran the Mohican 100 about 7 weeks before this race. He said his legs still didn't feel quite recovered from that race so he was going to run 50 miles and see how the legs felt.
I have to say when he came into the 65.7 mile aid station he looked strong. Compared to some of the other runners coming into the area he did not limp or have any noticeable pain. I was glad for him and told him that I would run with him all the way to the end.
I was so excited to be part of this race and to help pace him. I think the first 10 miles flew by and while we chatted up a storm we passed at least 10 people. When I started with him I think he was around 45th place overall. Every time we caught a runner we would say hello and encourage them to continue on strong. We were having fun.
The race course was mostly on hiking trails all through the Cuyahoga Valley. There were many miles of trails we ran on that I've never been on. Even though it was dark, while we ran into the wee hours of the night, I enjoyed the beautiful scenery. We each had head lamps on and carried flash lights so the trail was well lit enough to keep us from tripping over roots or rocks.
The volunteer support was the best. As we came to an aid station they would ask us if we needed anything, fill our water bottles, and then show us the great food they had for us to eat. They would speak encouraging words to us and wished us the best to complete the run.
Some of the things I learned from this magnitude of long running was that a runner benefits by having someone to pace with and that he needs to have a support crew. I'm sure many runners go without these but running 100 miles with a pacer and a crew makes for a more pleasant experience.
I would run behind Dustin for most of the time but I would also go up front at times leading him up some hills. I did not want to push him too much from behind or from the front because I did not want to burn him out either.
His wife was the support crew and I would communicate with her via cell phone letting her know our condition and whether we needed anything at an aid station that she would be waiting for us at. At one point after 80 some miles we were running with our bellies full and our legs moving fine we told her not to meet us at the 91.3 mile aid station but to get some rest and meet us at the finish line. I told her to get the camera ready and to take some good pictures of us sprinting to the finish with big smiles. We finished before 7:30am.
Congratulations Dustin on your 26:22:20 finish time! I am in awe of all those runners who completed the 100 mile race. This was a monumental task for me to run all through the night and to cover 35 miles with you. I will treasure the experience of running with you forever.