08 October 2023

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After an amazing summer of massive challenges and adventures, I decided to try to make some more progress on my new goal of running a race of 100 miles or longer in every state of the US. The Hennepin Hundred was just a month after the 2023 Tor des Geants 330, so I hadn't done any training as I was still recovering from Tor. In fact, I still hadn't regained feeling in all of my toes and my feet were still shedding skin. 
I headed north to Colona, Illinois in my camper van. I had reserved a camping spot at an RV campground for the night before the race with plans to drive back home immediately following the race. I made the trek solo as I didn't expect to need any help. This race was very well organized with opnekltyful aid stations and the biggest challenge would be mental as the entire race course was flat along a canal toepath. There were zero excuses to walk, but my lack of training and sufficient recovery following the Tor des Geants meant that there would be more walking than I had hoped.
While I initially had hopes of setting a new PR (anything under 21:36 hours for the 100-mile distance), I had to let go of that expectation just after the 50-mile turnaround, where I seemed to fall a bit apart, both physically and mentally. Thankfully, I was joined at that point by Dan Williams, an ultra-running friend and fellow southeastern ultrarunner, who had traveled here to get a last-minute qualifier for the 2024 Western States lottery. He was having some hip issues and was happy to link up with me for a bit. As it turned out, he wouldn't be able to run at all for the remainder of the race and I was happy to stick with him. Misery loves company and I lacked any motivation to pick up my pace. In fact, I was struggling just to keep up with Dan's walking pace. 
As usual, I was hit by the sleepies really badly between 2 and 5AM and the usual zombie walk ensued, where I just tried to stay lucid enough to be able to follow Dan's lead. By the time day broke, we knew we would no longer run sub 24 hours, but we knew we'd still finish comfortably. In the end, I finished in 25 hours and 49 minutes. While this was not one of my better ultra performances, I was excited to collect one of the cooler finisher buckles in my collection and the nicest piece of finisher swag ever, a sweet Rabit flannel shirt with the Hennepin logo on the back.
Final comments about this race. If you are looking for your first 100 miler or are a seasoned ultrarunner looking to set a PR, this is your race. The organization of this event was top-notch, the course is completely runnable, with mostly packed gravel/dirt and some paved sections. Feel free to wear road shoes on this course, but trail shows work as well. The aid stations are plentiful along the course, enabling and encouraging everyone to cross the finish line. I highly recommend this event and hope to come back one year, properly trained and ready to crush that PR.




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US STATES WITH 100 MILE RACES COMPLETED (15)

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