15 January 2023


I spent some time over the holidays while being sick with COVID once more about my running plans for 2023 and beyond. One of my overarching goals is to run an official 100 mile or longer distance event in every state of the United States. Once I established that goal, I started searching the internet for races in various states I had not raced the 100 mile distance in to date. When I searched various calendars for 100 milers in the month of January, I came across the Shippey 100 Mile Endurance Run just 30 minutes west of St. Louis in Missouri. As it happened, the next day its race director Jake Grossbauer offered his fellow UltrAspire teammates a registration discount for this fairly new event. I took that as a sign to add this race to my 2023 calendar and to register right away.
The Shippey Endurance Runs offer multiple race distances from 20 to 100 miles both as solo and relay events. The course consists of five small 3-5 mile loops that are arranged like pedals on a flower around two centrally located aid stations that pay less than a half mile apart from each other. These five smaller loops formed the large 20 mile loop that we 100 mile runners had to complete a total of five times. We would experience nearly 17,000' of vertical elevation gain in the process. While I am generally not a fan of multi loop courses, I could appreciate the easy access to the two aid stations and the drop bags runners were able to place at each one of them. I was also able to park my camper van near the start/finish aid station, which would allow me quick and easy access to any backup nutrition or gear, if the need arose.
Speaking of easy access to my camper van, the race was hosted at the Beaumont Scout Reservation, which provided ample camping space both for tent and vehicle camping between the start/finish aid station and the Emerson Center, the race headquarters. This allowed me to set up my van for the night just a few steps from the start line after arriving Friday evening. I picked up my race packet and got a few instructions around the race setup before heading back to the van to head up some food for my pre-race meal and laying out my gear for the next morning. By 9PM, I had turned in for the night hoping to get some quality sleep before the long race day that lay ahead.
I had set my alarm for 4:30AM giving me 90 minutes before the race start to make my morning coffee and get ready for the race. It was to be a frigid race start with temperatures in the low teens and never surpassing the low 40s throughout the race. I probably went a little light on the layers with just a pair of shorts, a long sleeve base layer and a Patagonia Houdini windbreaker along with some gloves and hand warmers. A rolled up buff would keep my ears and head warm while still allowing air to escape through the top. I figured I would warm up quickly once we started moving and I was right. Keeping my hands toasty was key and the hand warmers took care of that.
As soon as we started the first climb just two tenths of a mile from the start, I settled into a stretched line of runners along this single track trail section. I had very low expectations regarding my race pace as I had just barely recovered from another Covid infection that had done another number on my lungs. My goal was to cover the 100 miles in under 30 hours and I planned my nutrition accordingly. I had created a number of zip lock bags with my nutrition in each of the two drop bags that were placed at the two aid stations. Each ziplock bag contained 2-4 Spring Energy gels (my favorite natural fuel in a pouch) as well as 2-4 drink mixes and some Nuun electrolyte tabs. This would give me around 250+ calories per hour which I deemed sufficient. Some runners consume as much as 350 calories, but that would be on the very high end for me and create a severe risk for bloating and general discomfort. I would supplement this with aid station foods (bland foods like mashed potatoes preferred) as well as Base Salt (Sodium/Potassium supplement) as needed. I usually consume a lot of that particular supplement (or SCaps!) being a heavy sweater, but the cold temps nearly completely eliminated the need for this.
I decided to run much of the first loop to see my time and then hike all of the hills on the second loop to see the time difference. This strategy worked and gave me something to work towards and keep my mind occupied.
I recorded a sub 4 hour first 20 mile loop and a 4:30 hour second 20 mile loop. Things were off to a great start and I was running way below my expected pace for the day. I was feeling great and running comfortably without pushing. I rolled into mile 50 in 11 hours 18 minutes, essentially on perfect sub 24 hour pace. Then things changed.
When I made it to mile 60, nearly 6 hours had elapsed over the course of the third 20 mile loop and things had become quite challenging. I felt fine physically in regards to my legs, but my energy levels were completely depleted. I was struggling to stay warm now that the sun had gone down and struggled to regulate my body temperature. I would swap out wet layers for dry layers only to change into a heavier coat because I was still cold. Then I would sweat and get cold again. Eventually I opted for a single base layer plus an ultralight puffy jacket to stay warm. As I sweated through the baselayer the down jacket would continued to keep me warm even as it started to pick up some of the sweat. One of the nice properties of down. 
I tried to slow enough and to pile on some calories as low energy (which I had) and the desire to quit (which I didn't have) are usually related to that. I grabbed vegan burgers and some pancakes as I made my way from aid station to aid station, but the energy levels never came back. As a result, my pace continued to slow and I made peace with the fact that I would be out here for a while. Once I accepted that, it made me even slower, which was not ideal. Sometimes, you just have to take what the day gives you.
As I completed one small loop after another and I got closer to 100 miles, I got excited for another 100 mile finisher buckle. I knew I would get this done. Even the relay runners passing me in the blink of an eye did not distract me from that. When I finally rounded the corner to cross under the finish line arch, there was RD Jake waiting for me with the Shippey 100 mile finisher buckle. I had completed the race in 28 hours and 54 minutes, elated to be done. I was able to take a hot shower before crawling back into my van for a nap before returning home.
One final note about this race. It is both beginner and veteran friendly all at once. The course is very runnable with a few short steep climbs. The aid stations and the volunteers were absolutely first class. I received one on one attention every time I rolled into an aid station and the food choices were a plenty. From meat burgers to plant based burgers to mashed potatoes, broth, ramen and pancakes in the morning, runners were well take care of. The finisher buckles are beautiful and the race swag was top notch in both quality and design. Congrats to all that toed the line and to the entire race crew for putting on a top event!

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