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Friday, September 20, 2013

Midwest Grandslam Recap

So now that the Midwest Grandslam is complete I thought it would be a good time to reflect on how it all went what I thought was good and what was not so good.
Overall I thought the MWGS was an awesome event that surprisingly wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. I think I may have got lucky in that I had no difficulties during the races other than the expected fatigue etc.
All the races were different in their own respects. None of them “easy”, but none of them overly difficult either. Again I think I got rather lucky with the conditions, all of these races are usually run in extremely warm and humid conditions, but temperature was never a factor in any of them. The only race that had environmental conditions become a factor was Burning River, with the mud as a result of the rain.
My biggest concern going into the series was the two weeks between Kettle Moraine and Mohican. I had heard that Mohican was the toughest of the races and that worried me. As it turned out I had one of my best runs at Mohican finishing very strong and if anything having 6 weeks between Mohican and BR and between BR and Hallucination was too much time. Funny how you can say 6 weeks is too much time between 100 mile races!
Having completed only 2 100 mile races and DNF’d one before going into the series I had some experience, but think I learned a lot more from the DNF and built on that at Kettle Moraine.
I had a great team of crews and pacers for each race too which I believe was vital to me finishing both the races and the series.

Kettle Moraine was an out and back followed by another different out and back course with a varying amount of hills, but not hard. The second out and back being a lot more technical than the first, with some muddy conditions thrown in to make things a bit more difficult in the dark. I had Joan and Oliver crewing and pacing for this one and I think we all had a good time. At this point I didn’t get to know any of the other slammers.

Mohican was a bigger race and more technical terrain throughout. It was the first multi loop course with 2 x 27 miles followed by two shorter 23 mile loops. I don’t like loop courses, but keep finding myself in them. Conditions were good, except for some mud in and around the falls area, and the heavy downpour for the last 5 miles or so. The downpour got me going though, Again Joan was the chief crew member, although initially she wasn’t even supposed to be here for this one. Scott Garrett and Dave Morl provided excellent pacing too.

I went into Burning River with lots of confidence, also knowing that the weather was much more favourable than the last time I ran it. BR is a point to point course which is my most favoured course type. But the rain sort of backfired a bit as a few long sections of heavy, deep mud sapped a lot of energy and created some nice blisters that hampered my finish. Still a great event. Joan and Roger were the crew and pacers.

The final event was, let’s say interesting. Hallucination 100 was part of the Run Wood stock, hippy themed race weekend. By this race most of the slammers all knew each other and we had built up a good family like respect for each other and were very supportive of each and every one of us. Another multi loop course consisting of 6 x 16.7 mile loops this race started at 4pm on Friday, a first for me and I think this threw a lot of people off too as the finishing percentage was a little over 50% in ideal conditions. Although I had a personal best time here and felt good for the most part, I had a few beefs about this race. The aid stations had a pitiful selection of foods, mountain bikes on the course (single track) in the later stages of the race were a recipe for disaster. I found that there were too many races going on and not enough focus on fewer races. The event was great but….
Gary and Oliver were pacers for this race although Gary decided at the last minute to sign up for the race and so ran the whole thing with me. Joan crewed when she could as she was doing the 50 mile race too. It was also a POB for Gary too.

Again a great experience to do this series which I would recommend to anyone who has any experience with 100 milers. Made some great friends across the U.S. who I hope to keep in touch with run with again in races somewhere.
It's not very often someone can say they are the first to do accomplish something, but being the first Canadian to finish the slam fills me with a lot of pride. I can probably also say that I am the first Brit and Geordie to do it too.

A big thank you to Oliver, Scott, Dave, Gary, Roger and especially Joan.

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