Keys100 Ultramarathon Races - 2022
Saturday, May 21, 2022 I ran the Keys100 50K (31 mi) ultramarathon from Big Pine Key to Key West.
My 2019 race experience, and a good background to the weekend’s events is here
Note that buried in there is
“So I don’t think i’ll do another one of these; um, erm…..”
And then we started on the pond…, and then COVID…
I ran the 2021 A1A marathon and it was my worst effort ever.
Sometime after that race, my running began to suffer..badly.
I took some inspiration from my good friend and running buddy Klys and tried run/walking. If you can’t run fast, run long. If you can’t run long, run longer with walk breaks. The definition of an ultra, for us duffers.
Things turned around and seemed…possible again.
So I trained for the February 2022 A1A marathon as a test of whether I could still manage that kind of distance. You can read about that here.
Now a second stab at this ultra was conceivable, but why?
After 2019, I swore I’d only do it again with a proper support crew. Since COVID, they took away the race sponsored pit stops and all 50k runners had to have their own crew. An omen.
I asked MrsDM if she would crew me and she said yes. It was going to be just us two. Then I asked The Franacle (you remember her from some other stories I’ve posted) to keep MrsDM company and she said yes. And then Klys said she wouldn’t miss it and would fly in from the west coast and bring MrKlys too. I hadn’t seen her since the Dopey. Now I had a proper crew and it was gonna be a party. Maybe I’d do some racing.
I know how and why I got here.
I know why I run 31 miles, in Florida, in May heat.
So I trained a lot. Flogging the weekly mileage up a bit at a time. With MrsDM acting as pit crew, we moved the very long runs to Saturdays at noon, so I could slog the hottest part of the day for 3, 4, or even 5 hours.
As Klys so well observed one week out:
We have a solid plan. This is about a celebration of all the work you’ve put in. about the crew you’ve got there to cheer you on in this goal. And you’re going to nail it.
She knew it. And we did it.
it was over 90 degrees the whole time. The real feel was well over 100.
Thanks to her coaching and guidance, I tempered my pace. Alone, I would have tried to fight the heat, and no doubt would have tanked the whole thing miserably.
Instead we celebrated:
Sixth male, eighth overall.
For the 50K race, 51 started, 45 finished.
After the first, second and third place male finishers, and the male master (first finisher over 40 years old), then came the oldest racer, a 65 year old man, and 7 minutes later, me; the second oldest racer.
Eighth overall, yes, two women came in ahead of me. They were definitely fast. Judging by how far ahead they were, they were probably loose too.
The average finish time was 7:50. I managed 6:21.
The average age was 46. Did I mention I was the 2nd oldest runner?
As for the other races, here is a quote from the race director:
The finishing percentage in the 100-mile individual race, our usual bellwether, was 51.9%—the lowest percentage in race history. Perhaps it was higher than normal humidity. Maybe it was the Saharan sand dust hovering in the atmosphere affecting the combined impact of temperature, humidity and intensity of the sun. Whatever it was, the effort by everyone, on or along the course or at the finish line, was quite extraordinary
Our team consisted of:
Danger - the runner
MrsDM - crew chief, driver, hydration, nutrition
The Franacle - navigator, ice packs and water for cooling, team chef (also best man at our wedding)
Klys - timekeeper, coach, pacer, spirit guide
MrKlys - photographer and 2nd vehicle driver for crew support and supplies
Here’s the team at our condo on Duck Key:
The Franacle, me, MrsDM, Klys
Before the start, last minute org, jitters, trying to stay calm
Come on already…
Finally, we’re off!
First pit stop, change water bottle, ice pack in hat, ice pack around neck, food bag, headband, etc. All the while as we keep moving forward.
The only photo of me and the crew car - on the left, leapfrogging me all the way to Higgs Beach.
Early times, still frisky
The loneliness of the long distance runner
With 8 miles to go, Klys came in to pace me down to 5 miles. I’ve just finished about marathon distance and have no idea how she got me to smile.
Alone again at about 4 miles to go. Klys will pick me up again 2 miles out.
First time running direct into strong easterly headwind. 2.5 miles to go. Dont let my
beaming demeanor fool you. Here i am officially toast.
Last pit stop. Change everything including into Team Danger hat for the finish. Pick up Klys to push me / drag me these last 2 miles.
Find those last few reserves for us to run across the finish line:
Obligatory hands up
Team Danger at the finish!
There is absolutely no way I could have done this, let alone this well, without my crew. They were great, doing everything I asked and tolerating my every obsessive demand or quirk.
I saw no eye-rolls. They hid them well.
Awards ceremony the next day.
Me, the 65 y/o winner, Bob, the race director, and I think the 55-59 y/o winner.
I’m gonna say it again because people hear 31 miles and that’s enough for them.
I think they may hear the rest but don’t quite comprehend the enormity that we know it is:
- 6.5 hours of running
- in 90+ degrees
- by someone about to apply for medicare
- who finished sixth / eighth
It was 5 degrees hotter than 2019 and I beat my time by 5 minutes, 5 places overall, and 4 in gender.
While truly the accomplishment is finishing 31.0686 miles, thanks to my terrific crew I finish well; with grace and poise.
In the top 10 overall was just icing on our victory pizza.
A great finish means having a great story to tell.
And I am; over and over to absolutely anyone new I can corner.