Dances with Dirt 100k relay was Saturday. Here are the important parts in summary:
- When I ran, it was sunny. When I had to stand and wait, it rained.
- I would rather it rained during my run. Standing in the rain sucks.
- Our first runner twisted an ankle.
- My legs were of 6.1, 2.55, and 7.1 miles (nicknamed Potto, Bad Out of Hell, and Vertigo respectively.)
- I did not get a river or mud pit crossing. They stuck me with the long distances involving lots of technical trail/hill running on a single track path through the woods.
- No blood (for me anyways).
- No puke.
- One beer.
- We started at 7:30 am and finished around 6:30 pm.
- We were not the fastest team….by far.
- Our vehicle smelled like dysentery anus by the end.
Dances with Dirt has been around for a number of years. It takes place in the appropriately named Hell, Michigan. If you live where I do, you know about it. If you don’t live where I do, you should learn about it. There’s a 100k team relay as well as 50 mile and 50k ultra trail runs. But this isn’t running on flat surfaces or even pleasantly packed dirt trails. It’s log jumping, trail twisting, knee buckling, hill climbing, hill descending, mud bog traversing, river crossing fun. It’s stupidity for the stupid. My shoes are caked in cow shit.
I was invited to join an existing team and that’s about the only way to get in on the team relay. If you want to do the 100k, you can’t simply form a team and sign-up. If you ran the previous year, you get auto-entry for the next year. And, guess what? No one gives up their entry. So there are never any open spots (well, maybe not never – but it’s hard to come by, for sure.) I was asked to join each of the last two years but declined. I wasn’t going to decline again when the call came this year.
Despite my first and third legs involving over 600+ feet of ascents and descents within each foresty leg, the toughest had to be Bad Out of Hell and its seemingly “easy” 2.55 miles. Maybe because of the distance I was fooled into thinking I’d sprint right through it. Instead, I was switching back and forth and up and down tightly packed trails. There were long stretches where I couldn’t see anyone else. But then I’d discover someone was only a few feet in front of me. You can’t lift your eyes off the trail or risk a horrendous face plant so you just kinda come up the back of someone as they enter your peripheral vision. This was severe technical trail running at its finest. I finished slightly humbled which, if you know me, is a hard thing to do.
With the concentration required to maintain balance, I quickly decided during my first leg to distract myself by counting the runners passed along the trail. Passing is not an easy proposition since the trail is single track and the sides are often scooped from the beaten down path and covered in brush, poison ivy, rocks, mud, or all of the above. A few kind souls stepped off to allow me to pass. Others stayed the course so I was forced to jump in the brush and bound past.
My leg totals for passed runners was:
Potto = 65
Bad Out of Hell = 22
Vertigo = 46
I was not passed. Some huffy puffy runner was coming up my ass during the final mile of Vertigo but I managed to hold him off. With the completion of my last leg, our next team member held a beer aloft as a prize. Mmmmmm, despite it being a Labatt’s Blue Light, it tasted pretty darn good at that point. But I believe I could have even savored a Blatz after all that hard work.
A great event and, if I’m invited, it’ll be hard to say no to next year. I ended up taking the longest 7.1 mile leg for our ankle injured runner, which was his final leg originally, so I completed the day with 15.5 miles (roughly) instead of the 12.5 I had been planning. Drained. Exhausted. But not defeated.
A great group of guys, a great day, a smelly vehicle but this was not much of a “rest” week for NYC training. I'll call it...quality "hill work" for those NY concrete jungle bridges.
If you have a chance, I suggest you enter a nice trail relay. The harder the better. (Yeah, I know, twss.)
Now, I sit back and wait for the poison ivy to start itching.
Happy trails. (Yes, they were.)
An announcement of an exciting new venue for entertainment coming soon. Stay tuned!