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Friday, October 21, 2022

100-Mile Ghost Train Rail Trail Race (Ultra Marathon)

    About a month ago, my pal Dane Holloway asked me to register for the Ghost Train Rail Trail Race to support him on his first 50k (31-miles) - I emphatically said yes! I had planned to run only the 50k until I noticed there was a 100-mile ultra marathon option. Oh my! I had always wanted to run a big boy race like that but had never run more than 31-miles in one go. I thought... could I run an additional 69 untrained miles with only a month to prepare? Why not. So I signed up with the intention of running alongside Dane and then continuing on past 31-miles if I felt up to it. That month for training I did one large Pemigewasset Wilderness loop in the White Mountains (31-miles and 9,000 ft in elevation gain), a half-marathon once per week, and a 100-mile bike ride the week before the race. Typically training for a 100-mile race would require much more but I also had the advantage of being injury-free with fresh legs. On race day, I was feeling great. Dane and I stuck together for the first 50k as planned and I continued on running into the night. I was struck by the level of community and positivity along the trail, with scores of helpful volunteers handing out food and drink. I've never consumed so much pickle juice, sugar water and bananas! 

    After Dane had finished, it was understood that he and his wife, Sarah, would leave to go home. But at 9:00pm while I was on trail, I got a text saying they would camp throughout the night to make sure I was well taken care of. To be honest, I chocked up a bit. Words can't express the level of physical and emotional challenges a person faces when they run non-stop into the cold night alone for 100-miles. Although I was prepared to go to battle alone, their support lifted me up in a big way. Dane and Sarah had provisions ready for me at every check-in. Their support lifted my spirits long enough for the sun to come up, which lifted me up even more! By 10am, I was around 90-miles in when I texted Dane and Sarah to hike the final 10-miles with me. Together, we crossed the finish line at around the 28-hour mark. I couldn't have done it without their support!

    Some may think ultra-marathon's are crazy - they're not wrong. Then why do them? There's no other experience I've come across that tests your mental and physical fortitude in such an extreme but healthy way. Picture having your back against the wall in a stressful situation while in excruciating pain for hours. You are constantly reminded of easy ways out all along the way and you're left with two options: stop or go. This experience made me much stronger upstairs, which I know will pay dividends in my life going forward. I'm so grateful for the experience, the resilience built and the support from good friends.

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