05 February 2023


The Forgotten Florida 100. I was registered to run this race last year, but then I got injured. The resulting lack of training had me drop to the 40 mile distance. Further thought had me withdraw from the event entirely to try another year. Enter 2023 and I was ready to give it a go, not well prepared, but well enough to finish, or so I hoped. Please click here for a full race video along with comments on gear and nutrition I used.

After short flight to Orlando, Florida and a struggle to pick up my rental car at the airport, I finally arrived at the Tosohatchee WMA to pick up my race packet with time to spare. The race packet included a cool trucker hat, a commemorative pint glass and a race sticker. Hey, I'm a sucker for a good race sticker;-) Runners also received free pre race bib photos. I posed for my free pic and jumped into my rental car to make the 45 minute drive to Orlando to find my AirBnB before getting a proper preface meal.
After dinner at a local plant based restaurant I headed back to my AirBnB before packing my race pack and laying out my running kit for the next day. It would be an early morning with a race shuttle to the start and I wanted to get as much sleep as possible.

My alarm was scheduled to go off at 4AM, but by 3:30AM I was up and getting ready to go with enough time to stop for a cup of coffee along the way. RD Sean Blanton had arranged for 3 travel coaches to pick us up at the 100/50 mile finish line and to shuttle us to the race start at a trailhead at Little Big Econ State Forest.

Runners gathered at a large clearing at the trailhead and RD Sean shared last minute instructions before sending us off with a short countdown and leading us across the field and onto single track trail. The race had officially begun.
On the shuttle ride to the start, I sat next to Jason Brock and we reminisced about the Shippey 100 Miler in Missouri we had just run 3 weeks earlier. We both didn't quite have the performances we had wished for, so we decided to take it easy early on in the Forgotten Florida 100 to ensure we'd have some legs left for a push later in the race. The Forgotten Florida 100 is a nearly pancake flat course, so it is imperative to insert regular walk breaks to preserve your energy. Jason and I ended up running and suffering the entire race together. This was only the second time ever I had managed to run an entire 100 mile distance with another runner. The first time was the 2011 Rocky Raccoon 100, my first 100 mile finish, where my buddy Richard Trice was nice enough top drag my battered body around the remaining two 20 mile loops after a furious first 60 miles. I would eventually learn to start slower, well, sometimes anyway.
As we covered the first few miles of the race, I was struck by the unusual terrain. Palm trees and lush green forests all around us. Lots of palm trees...and weeping willows. It was magical. Being used to do mostly mountain ultras, this was an entirely new experience. 
But it wasn't all rainbows and sunshine. There were some water crossings and mud, lots of shoe sucking mud. Aptly named sections like "Devil's Swamp" made progress particularly slow and difficult in some places. For the most part, however, the terrain was both stunning and runnable. 
The first 50 miles consisted of a point to point course that did feature a couple of loops and an out & back section before taking runners to the halfway point and finish line for the 50 milers. The second half of the course was an out & back with a small lollipop loop on the out section.
Jason and I stuck to our plan to start slow. This definitely preserved my energy levels, but unfortunately, it did not prevent my "demise". While Jason struggled a bit with the unexpected heat of the day, I fared a bit better, until nightfall, that is. My feet had begun to deteriorate after mile 40, causing me to make a shoe, sock and gaiter change at mile 50. While that alleviated the issues, it did not eliminate them. After a couple more water crossings, the trench foot caused by my constantly wet feet had created severe hotspots under both feet. In fact, they were so bad I was certain they were full blown blisters. This caused me to walk a lot more than intended, a whole lot more. Unfortunately, these excessive walk stretches caused other issues. Eventually, I came to the realization that running hurt less than walking, so when the new day finally broke, I had some renewed energy to finish out this adventure.  
The expected sub 24 hour finish had long gone out the window, but Jason and I agreed that we should at least attempt to limit our time "out there" as much as possible. So we decided to get to the finish in under 27 hours. We had over 80 miles under our belt and after barely running what was clearly runnable terrain during the night, it was time for me to get my @$$ moving. The night section contained a very runnable 15 mile section where I could barely muster a shuffle. When I say runnable, I mean a packed down dirt road that was so even and flat in fact that we were able to turn off our headlamps and run my the full moonlight alone.
As Jason and I covered the final 15 miles to the finish, it became clear that we would make it. The stoke level was high, but the energy levels were low:-) One final turn off the single track trail and onto the double track WMA dirt road and we had just a short 1.5 miles to go, giving us time to reminisce about the race that was. We crossed the finish line in 26 hours 47 minutes and 57 seconds. After a couple of high fives and collecting my buckle, it as time to leave for a hot shower and a nap. 
Thanks to RD Sean for creating such a scenic course and thanks to the crew of volunteers that provided all the support a runner could wish for, especially us solo runners without crew. Thank you!

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