RECAP: My goal is to to run 100 miles at the Eastern States 100 in August of next year. To prepare I volunteered at this year’s race. After some emailing and coordinating, I was assigned to an aid station at 25.6 miles into the 102 total miles.
WHAT I LEARNED:
The name of the game is preparation. Obviously there is a physical and mental component, but there is also a bigger gear/equipment/nourishment component. There are a couple ways you can do this.
This specific race has 17 aid stations over the 100 miles. That means every 8ish miles you have at least water refills available. Most stations have some sort of food or energy bars as well. At our station, many of the runners were passing through around lunch, so we had sandwiches and hotdogs and tons of watermelon, bananas and oranges.
2. Drop Bags
At several of the locations you can have a “drop bag”. These bags can hold anything you might need out on the trail. You drop them off before the race and the race staff and volunteers take them to their respective locations.
Again, at several locations, you can have your crew follow you in a car. They would wish you off at one station and then drive ahead to the next station and meet you there. They can carry whatever you may need.
Dry socks – It had rained the night before, there are several stream crossings and it rained during the race. Many runners had drop bags with socks or carried them with them.
Multiple pairs of shoes – It seemed like good practice to have three pairs available. Start with one pair, another around 25-30 miles, and another between 60 & 70 miles.
Tailwind – This was an extremely popular drink that I am honestly not familiar with. It is a powdered substance that mixes with water. Apparently it is packed with nutrients to help you stay energized, hydrated, and feeling good.
Extra shirts – I’m not sure if this is necessary, but many runners had extra shirts to change into every couple aid stations. I guess it would prevent chaffing because the dry shirt wouldn’t rub the same ways.
Duct Tape – One runner’s shoes started to fall apart at our station. His drop bag with extra shoes wasn’t for another 12 miles. He duct taped his shoes back together and made it work!
Hiking Poles – In this specific race, you gain and lose over 20,000 feet of elevation. Most runners hike some of the intense uphill climbs. It saves energy and impact over the 24+ hours you are on the course.
Water Bottles – Most runners had at least three water bottles they were carrying. If not, they had a bladder in their bags that carried water. In the 7-9 miles between aid stations, this water would be consumed and need to be refilled.
Toilet Paper – In a race of this length and time, you never know when the urge is going to strike. Be prepared.
100 miles is a long way. Several runners dropped out at our aid station after their first “marathon”. The remaining runners had three more marathons to go. Out of nearly 200 runners last year, 66 finished. This race is tough.
I feel confident in where I’m at for now. I have a bunch of running and preparation to do in a year’s time, but I feel the time table is in my favor. Seeing it happen this year gives me a great idea for what it’s like. I have several stepping stones before this race next year, but I’m excited to get after each step in the journey.
People have asked “why?” To be honest, I’m not really sure. I know that I want to challenge myself to do something I didn’t think I could do. I want to do something that causes me to “stretch”. I think this is a good choice!