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Susitna 100, Part III: Good, Bad, Ugly, Surreal and FAQs

I jotted this “good, bad, ugly, surreal” list on the airplane out of Anchorage, pretty much the only thing I could do before my eyes wouldn’t stay open any more. The FAQ’s are the things people have asked me most since the race. It’s just a little teaser before I polish up the main race story.

Good

cycling overshoes & microspikes
rigid PVC pipe connection between me and the sled
chocolate covered espresso beans
good mantras
iPod with extra charger
self sufficiency
Alaska
dog sled teams
ice
birthday weekend
independent warrior woman
facing the unknown
stepping outta the comfort zone
sleeveless winter running in AK
sunrise on the snowy landscape
not puking
staying vertical
Coke
Alaskans
Huma gel
pre-taped feet
ultra people/new friends
hemoglobin
down mittens
small hydroflask with Hot Tang or Coke
Anchorage outdoor consignment stores
McDonalds hash browns
Anchorage restaurants
utter depletion – giving it all
supportive family
a wall tent in the middle of nowhere
long-standing community races
hydroflask bottles (vacuum insulated = no freeze)
long down coat
hot water
Delorme Inreach
crazy messages in the middle of nowhere
post race party
completing what you started

Bad

too heavy sled load
soft punchy snow
hills; sled on hills; any combo of sled and hills
GPS directions in Alaska

Ugly

heavy sled
calorie depletion
facing a second night
wool sock rash
dog poop on the trail
videos of myself after mile 80
being overtaken by one’s sled

Surreal

ordering food at 3:30AM, 63 miles down
seriously discussing reality TV at 4AM
smelling moose at 5AM

“LA Model” (for reference: facebook.com/ryyoungLA)

film crew conducting re-takes of ordering food at 4AM
utter confusion about trail markers at dawn (still confused about that)
headlamp, snowmachine, or train??
the speed of Shawn McTaggart when she’s awake

FAQ

How long was the race? 100 miles
Was it a stage race? Was it a relay? Did you run with anyone? Did you sleep? No
How long did it take you? 33 hours and 25 minutes
You ran all night? Yes, and walked and trudged and somehow generally ambulated in one non-stop effort
Did you see any animals? No. I saw tons of moose droppings and smelled the moose in the night. They were there but I never saw them.
Was the race in the mountains? No
It was flat, right? It was flat, except for the miles of parts that weren’t
Why did you pull a sled? The race required a minimum 15# of gear at the finish. Carrying my gear in a pack would have been way too hard. Using a sled is the way to go in these races.
What kind of sled did you use? A utility sled, like ice fishers use; most people used plastic kids toboggans
What was in your sled? I’ll post an entire discussion on gear in Part V
How much did your sled weigh? I’m not sure because I didn’t take a scale. Based on prior weighs, I’m guessing 35# with full water.
Was the course marked? Yes, with 3 foot wooden lath marked with reflectors and the race name, placed about a tenth of a mile apart.
What was the weather like? Mostly clear skies, sunny in the day, some overcast, no precipitation.
How cold was it? Not very. I never had to wear more than one lightweight puffy jacket over my long sleeve shirt. The RD says, “Saturday night temps on the river were in the low teens, daytime temps were almost 30 each day.”
What did you wear on your feet? Regular running shoes, covered with neoprene cycling overshoes and Kahtoola Microspikes. I did this for 100 miles and it was a GREAT system for warm feet with good traction, despite remaining nerve damage on the end of my big toe and bruising to the balls of my feet.
How many times did you change shoes? Never. 1 pair of shoes and 1 pair of socks for 100 miles. As usual.
What were the conditions? Mostly icy and firmly packed with just enough punchy and smooshy snow (was like running in sand) to be aggravating
What did you eat? Homemade (nut, seed, nut butter, coconut oil, cereal) bars, 3 cans of Coke, macaroni soup, spaghetti, pizza, rice, Huma gel, muffin, hot tang, black tea, oatmeal, espresso beans, can of Sprite, handful saltine crackers, and maybe a few other random things, but that’s all I can remember. I needed one third of the food on the sled that I carried.
Did you see the northern lights? Unfortunately, no. The myriad stars were a small consolation.
Why did you do this race? Always choose the thing that will push you. Always do the thing you don’t know  you can do. Repeat.
Did you win? Yes 🙂

9 thoughts on “Susitna 100, Part III: Good, Bad, Ugly, Surreal and FAQs”

    1. Yep! Those are the ones. You sacrifice weight for not having your water freeze. I wish there was some kind of soft system. You can get some OR bottle insulators, but I never found a better freeze proof system. I didn’t want to try and keep my bladder tube thawed for so many hours. I’ve done that before.

  1. Woohoo! Congrats. Even though I’m an Alaskan runner/biker, I can’t wait to read more about your trip, with photos, I hope. Great job!

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