Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Jackpot Ultra Running Festival Race Report - 2019

My wife Mel has seen me run 100 milers. She has seen me barf on my feet. She has seen me sleepwalking from absolute exhaustion. She has seen my legs look like they need an exorcism as they twist into knots with cramps. She has seen me give birth to blisters the size of a Toyota Prius.

My wife is a smart person.

So I have no idea why, after everything she has seen me go through, she would willingly choose to register for a 100 miler. And then she suggested I could run it with her. The only logical explanation I have is that she must have been high on LSD or something when she came up with this idea. But I agreed that this could be a fun adventure, so we registered for the Jackpot Ultra Running Festival in Las Vegas.

We ran hundreds of miles together over the past few months to train for the race. Then this past weekend was time to race. The Jackpot course is a 2.5 mile loop around a wildlife preserve and we signed up for the 48 hour race hoping to complete 100 miles within that time frame. Our daughter Kylee came along to run the 48 hour race also.

From the very start of the race, the wind was kind of like that scene in Wizard of Oz where Dorothy's house gets picked up by a tornado. Thankfully no Terriers were on the course. Otherwise they would have been carried to a different time zone.

Around mile 20 I started to feel discouraged and frustrated. This is the first time I've tried racing since being diagnosed with Common Variable Immunodeficieny Disorder. (HERE is a blog post I wrote this little adventure.) A few days before the race, I had an immunoglobulin infusion in my leg and it was already acting up early in the race. I'll admit my eyes may have had a little moisture and I started feeling sorry for myself.

Thankfully my leg mellowed out after a few hours and wasn't quite as sore. I really wanted to be able to run every step of Mel's first 100 miler with her.

The course goes around a lake full of ducks and geese that honk incessantly. All day and night it sounds like someone is riding behind you on a bike repeatedly squeezing a bike horn. You can't help but laugh.

The wind advisory continued all day and into the night. It was windy as hell. I used to think of Hell as more of a fire and brimstone kind of place. But after this experience I'm convinced that in Hell, wind just howls relentlessly (while Celine Dion music plays over the loud speakers 24/7).

As the sun set, I could hear Mel humming some music. I asked what she was listening to. She said "I'm listening to a book on Audible, but I really need some music, so I'm humming 'Maneater'."

During the first night we decided to take a little break and sleep for an hour or so. We did end up laying down but neither of us were able to sleep. Why? Two reasons. 1) Our legs felt like they were being squeezed in vice grips. And 2) The hellish wind. I remember going to Universal Studios as a kid. On the studio tour, the bus went into a large building, then the lights went out and King Kong showed up and shook the tour bus back and forth. That's kind of how our camper felt as we tried to catch a bit of sleep.

Unfortunately Kylee was starting to develop some Toyota Prius blisters. We helped her take care of them the best we could, but it was clearly making the miles more challenging for her.

Sometime in the middle of the night we decided to get a picture together and try to make it look like we were having fun.

A few miles later Mel sat down to dump some rocks out of her shoes. Kylee immediately turned the cement into a bed and took advantage of the 1 minute of rest.

We hit mile 50 and Mel felt like she was in a boxing match with Mike Tyson. I tried to raise her spirits by doing a celebratory victory dance. You'll be shocked to learn that I have never had a single dance lesson in my entire life!

The night of ultramarathons is always so difficult. The exhaustion and fatigue always catch up to you. But if you can keep going until the sun comes up, you almost always start feeling better. Thankfully that was the case for us.

I couldn't help but stop to take a jumping picture at the 24 hour mark.

One of the things I love most about races is the people who I get to share miles with. I am particularly inspired by people who don't fit the stereotypical runner mold. I'm inspired by people who have to fight because the miles don't come easy. I love when people who are a little older, or a little heavier, or a little slower still take on the challenge to race. Take for example my friend Gene Defronzo. Gene is 83 YEARS OLD and ran his 745th LIFETIME MARATHON at Jackpot! The guy is a true legend. Who says age has to be a limitation in running!

On the other side of the spectrum, Jackpot also hosted the USATF 100 Mile National Championship so we got to see elite runners speeding around the loop. Altra runner (and one of the nicest humans on the planet) Mark Hammond won the USATF 100 miler in 12 hours 58 minutes, averaging 7:46 per mile. I can't run one mile at that pace. Simply, simply incredible.

Meanwhile, Mel and I kept plugging along. Mel was going through a low point when my friend Robert Manon passed by. He talked to us for a bit and told Mel "It's crazy, you'll feel horrible, and then you'll get a second wind, and later a third wind, and later a fourth wind. Just keep going and you'll start feeling better." Once Robert left, Mel told me she thought he was psychotic. "A fourth wind? Yeah right." Sure enough, about a half hour later I was sprinting to keep up with Mel.

But what goes up must go down. Eventually another bonk came. Mel was stuck in a bonk for hours. This is the side of ultramarathons you don't see as often. For more than an hour quiet tears streamed down Melanie's face. We were around mile 70 and she said "I'm not sure I can do this." Around mile 70 is always the hardest part of a 100 miler for me. You've come so far, but you're so tired and spent that another 30 miles feels insurmountable. Emotions get fragile. Mel apologized for crying and said "You never cry during your races." I smiled and said "I wouldn't be so sure." This is the point when the race gets real. You dig deep and keep moving. And you discover that you're capable of more than you imagined.

For me the biggest challenge was keeping myself steady physically and mentally. I didn't want my low points to get in the way of Mel's progress. I didn't want to let her know when I was feeling good and when I was feeling bad because I didn't want to distract her focus. I tried to maintain a positive, encouraging, optimistic outlook the whole time. I think it was helpful to focus on helping someone else because I didn't have time to wallow in my low points.

The following picture has absolutely nothing to do with the flow of the story. Honestly I could take it out and it wouldn't matter one bit. But this duck looked so peaceful on the water that I told Mel "You keep running. I'm going to stop for a picture and I'll catch up to you." So here's the picture I took of the peaceful duck that has absolutely nothing to do with the flow of the store and that, honestly, I could take out and it wouldn't matter one bit.

Mel had the usual highs and lows. During one of her low points she said my favorite line of the race. "Your pep talks aren't working right now." There were a few more tears, but I knew she was pulling out of it when I heard her start humming. Maybe it was the song "Maneater" again.

Around mile 80, Mel came alive. She could smell the finish line and she started to push. And then at mile 90 she got that 4th (or 14th) life that Robert Manon had mentioned. She ran as hard as she did at the beginning of the race. It was such a beautiful thing to watch. I was both inspired, and panting from trying to keep up with her. And then a miracle happened. We reached mile 99! Mile 99!!!

And then....we made it to the finish line! MEL FINISHED A 100 MILER! We were overcome with happiness. I was so proud of Mel, not just for the accomplishment, but for everything she pushed through to get there. I truly can't fathom that this actually happened. I ran a 100 miler with my wife. It doesn't seem real.

At the finish line, RD Ken Rubeli handed me a belt buckle and said "Here. I think you should present this to her." I got down on one knee and gave her the medal. She said yes! Ken took these photos:

But that's not all. Kylee finished a remarkable 50 miles! Considering the challenges she had with blisters, I have no doubt that her miles toward the end were harder than ours. She is so determined and has learned early in life the strength that comes from overcoming adversity.

After 40 hours and 17 minutes, Mel became a 100 mile ultramarathon runner. I finished my 33rd 100 miler. And we became the proud owners of some belt buckles.

Ken and Stephanie Rubeli put on great races. Go check out their website HERE and run one of them. They are good people, and a huge asset to the running community. I'm so thankful for my sponsors St. George Running CenterAltra, Tailwind Nutrition, Injinji, and UltrAspire.

T.S. Eliot summarized our race - and running - perfectly: "Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go."

Will it be easy? No. Will it suck sometimes? You betcha. Will you pray for a visit from the merciful angel of death? Probably. Will it be worth it? Without a doubt.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Life Got A Little Messy

Our local grocery store sells some amazing homemade salsa. It’s so delicious that gas stations could sell it as a fountain drink. One night I was eating some tortilla chips with that amazing salsa, when suddenly I could feel a hair in my mouth. I fished it out of my mouth, and then did what any red-blooded American male would do: I pretended that never happened, and continued eating my salsa. 

Much to my dismay, a few bites later I strung another long hair through my teeth. Okay, this is starting to get a little ridiculous. Two long hairs in one container of salsa?!? It was frustrating. But being an ultra runner has taught me to be determined. I don’t give up when things get hard. So I set that second hair aside and continued eating. Just because it’s hairy salsa doesn’t make it any less delicious. And then catastrophy struck. A third hair.

A four letter word probably popped out of my mouth. I grabbed the container of salsa and threw it in the garbage. I was livid. I mentioned this frustration to my wife later that night. While I was relating my story, my daughter piped up with a confession. She had been eating salsa earlier in the day and accidentally dropped the container of salsa onto the carpet. Not wanting to waste the salsa, she scooped it off the carpet and back into the container, then put it back in the fridge.

Needless to say, I didn’t need to floss my teeth that night.

Right now, my life is like that container of furry salsa. It is really great. Really great. But there are a few unexpected hairs in the mix. Those hairs are called Common Variable Immunodeficiency Disorder. A few months ago I found out that my body has a glitch. Basically my immune system works as well as a Close Door button in an elevator…which is to say: not at all.

This isn’t great news. My primary care doctor seemed genuinely concerned and sympathetic when these results showed up in my blood work. Apparently this sets me up for some potentially serious health issues including pneumonia, bronchitis, and pulmonary infections. Since then there has been more blood work. More doctor appointments. And a few visits with an immunologist. I don’t dig the kind of diagnosis that shows up on the National Institutes of Health list of Rare Diseases.

The only option for treatment is immunoglobulin infusions. The immunoglobulin is from people who have donated plasma, and this is supposed to help build up my immune system. The doctor said that these infusions will be needed for the rest of my life. The options I was given were to 1) Do subcutaneous infusions once a week at home, or 2) Do IV infusions at an infusion center once a month.

I selected option #1. Here’s the problem with all this nonsense: I’m terrified of needles. To me, needles are scarier than snakes, truck stop bathrooms, and Celine Dion music…combined! I have a bad reputation of passing out when I get my blood drawn. So the idea of needle sticks weekly for the rest of my life is super unawesome.

I had my first infusion two weeks ago. A nurse showed up, put three needles in my stomach, then an hour and a half later the infusion was done. The next day I tried to jog a mile, but couldn’t because my stomach hurt too bad. The day after that I tried to jog again. No go.

Last week Mel did the infusion. Three needles in my upper thigh. Ugh. 70 minutes later it was done. As Mel was taking the needles out, my world started getting fuzzy. As darkness started clouding my vision, I slapped my cheek trying to keep from passing out. Mel said “Hurry, let’s walk to the couch so you can lay down.” I knew I couldn’t make it that far. I was suddenly dripping sweat and ripped my shirt off. I barely made it to the dining room floor, clammy and sweating. But I didn’t completely pass out. WIN!

I tell you all this because I’ve been thinking about how life isn’t always 100% awesome. (Duh!) I tell you this because you can’t have a story of triumph without overcoming something. Here’s the thing: I don’t know if there even WILL be any overcoming! I want to run the Jackpot Ultra Marathon in two weeks with Mel who is going for her first 100 miler. I want to run every mile with her. I want to run the Zion 100 in April. I want to run the Vol State 500k in July. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have any doubts. These hairs in the salsa are making things a little trickier.

Of course the priority is to take care of myself. Don’t worry. I’ll do that. Health is more important than a buckle. Maybe ultra running has prepared me for this point in my life. Ultramarathons have taught me to be strong and brave and determined. And now I’m at this moment where I can utilize those tools in a real life setting. I’ve never been one to back down from a challenge. Now is the time to fight.

Monday, December 10, 2018

The Annual Reese Family Christmas Letter

Merry Christmas and happy holidays from the Reese family! I’m assuming 2018 has been exactly the same for you and your family as it has for us. Of course I’m referring to the fact that Despacito has been playing EVERY SINGLE TIME you have turned on the radio all year.

Aside from the unwelcome assault on our family from Despacito, here is a summary of 2018:

Kylee is in ninth grade. Her artistic talents have increased exponentially over the past year. She creates stunningly beautiful art and paintings. She is like a female Bob Ross. (Minus the dreamy bushy hairdo.) She is also a budding photographer, and is part of the middle school yearbook staff. Ky is attentive to details, compassionate, and a hard worker. These attributes have made her a coveted babysitter in the neighborhood, and she is quietly amassing a financial empire. In September, she came to Ohio with me and Mel when I ran the Donut Trail 100 miler. Since this was a solo run, she designed my own unique belt buckle to award me when I finished. Whenever I’ve had a rough day and need the soothing of a gas station fountain drink, Kylee is always willing to join me.

Danica is in tenth grade, and this is her first year at the high school. To the best of my knowledge, she hasn’t been stuffed into any lockers. (Yet.) She is on the high school swim team and lives at the pool. I swear the kid has gills. She has competed in swim meets all across southern Utah and finished in first place in many of the events she raced. Dani recently completed her Driver’s Education training. She has become experienced at driving around the church parking lot. We’ll now be transitioning to city streets. Pray for me and Mel. A few months ago we took her to a big checkup at Primary Children’s Hospital to follow up on her rheumatic fever from years ago. Thankfully the cardiologist gave her heart a grade of A+. Her highlight was seeing the Michael Jackson Cirque du Soleil show in Vegas.

Jackson is a senior in high school. He remains the piano player in the school Jazz Band and plays Billy Joel songs so beautifully that it could make you cry. This year the band even went to Holy Land of churros and long lines. That’s right: Disneyland. Jackson is like Rain Man when it comes to sports trivia. We’ve gone to three Utah Jazz games this year. Typically our seats are so high that they include a complementary bottle of oxygen. Jackson loves to play racquetball, pickle ball, and tennis. He was on the high school tennis team again this year, and relishes every time I go play with him. These outings usually result in me getting mouthy, then telling him I’m going to destroy him, then making bets, then losing bets, then owing him money. In September he ranked #1 for the Top 10 Most Active People for the month at the local gym.

Melanie got a new job this year that she loves. She works as a nurse practitioner seeing patients in rehab and assisted living facilities. She is so smart, and is so good at what she does. She is personable, caring, and her patients love her. Earlier in the year she went to a U2 concert with Jackson. We saw the play Hamilton. (Aaaamazing.) She has been doing a lot of running, including running the Baker’s Dozen Half Marathon this month. She has a big goal to run 100 miles at a race coming up in February. We celebrated our 20 year wedding anniversary with an epic trip to Banff, Canada. While there, we hiked some of the most beautiful trails on the planet, laughed until it hurt, and exceeded the Surgeon General’s recommendation on human pizza consumption.

I continue working as a medical social worker. I released my second book called “Into The Furnace” about Badwater, the 135 mile race across Death Valley. I also managed to run five 100 milers, including the legendary Western States 100 where I finished a comfortable (cough, cough) four minutes before the cutoff. I’m still a columnist for UltraRunning Magazine which I love. I got some bad news a few months ago with the diagnosis of Common Variable Immunodeficiency Disorder. (Say that ten times fast!) Basically my immune system works as poorly as a “Close Door” button in an elevator. This also resulted in one of my crappiest days of the year. That’s right. I’m now a member of the Colonoscopy Club. Soon I’ll be starting weekly plasma infusions which will continue for the rest of my life. I don’t plan on letting this slow me down. (At least any slower than I already am.)

Our Great Dane, Little Debbie, and our poodle, Aunt Jackie continue to rain down destruction and chaos in our house. Debbie chewed a hole in our wall, just because she was bored. She stole my rack of ribs off the table when I turned my head. They slobber. They wake us up early. They eat Mel’s ear plugs. If we have running clothes on, they won’t let us walk out the door without them. We mostly still love them.

We’ve always tried to place priority on experiences instead of things. Instead of buying stuff, we want to buy memories. We want to live for the moments you can’t put into words. This year, we’ve had some pretty awesome family adventures.

In February we all ran the 48 hour Jackpot Ultra Running Festival. The course is a 2 mile loop and you basically run as many miles as you can within 48 hours. In the end, I finished the race with 130 miles, Mel finished with 52.5, Jackson finished with 65, Dani finished with 40, and Kylee finished with 50 miles. I’m not sure I’ve ever been so proud of them for their hard work and perseverance. What they each accomplished is truly remarkable. I hope this is an experience they will carry with them for the rest of their lives, and fall back on it when times get tough. I hope it reminds them how strong they are, and that they can do anything they put their minds to.

In March, we saw one of our favorite musicians Mat Kearney in concert. In April, we went on a California Coast cruise, checking out San Francisco, Alcatraz, San Diego, Ensenada, and Monterey. Our time together walking through the redwoods of Muir Woods is a moment I’ll never forget. I decided to be adventurous (“adventurous” is just another word for “foolish”) and ran a 100 miler on the deck of a cruise ship which took 1,600 loops and almost 28 hours to complete. That helped justify all the soft serve ice cream I ate.

In May, we enjoyed an amazing road trip to Capitol Reef National Park. We continued our 4th of July tradition of inviting the whole extended family over to our house to watch fireworks from our front lawn while eating ice cream sandwiches. The past few years we’ve brought a huge speaker out to the porch to blast music during the fireworks. This year’s musical selections included “Party In The USA”, then “Thunderstruck”, then Neil Diamond’s “Coming To America” on repeat over and over again. Because nothing screams patriotism more than fireworks, ice cream sandwiches, and Neil Diamond on repeat. In September, we made a spontaneous decision to jump in the car, drive to Los Angeles, and go to a NeedToBreathe concert.

The greatest experience of the year was probably a few weeks ago when we took the kids bowling. We found out that $10 will buy 17 songs on the bowling alley juke box. So we bought 11 plays in a row of Toto’s song “Africa”. Then, just for the fun of it, one play of “9 to 5” by Dolly Parton. Then 5 more Africas. After 8 Africas, an employee pushed something on the machine and skipped Africa. Then they skipped Africa again. They must have thought they fixed the juke box glitch when the sweet sound of Dolly Parton filled the air. Much to everyone’s chagrin, Dolly was immediately followed by the rhythmic drum beats of Africa. This earned a prompt skip from the employee. Then another skip. Then another skip. And we decided that this was the best $10 we’ve spent in a long, long time. I will NEVER hear the song “Africa” again without thinking of bowling with my family. We are thankful for the love and support from you, our amazing friends and family. May you slip a $10 bill into every juke box you come across in 2019!

Love, Cory, Mel, Jackson, Dani, and Kylee

Monday, October 8, 2018

How To Run 100 Miles Fueled By Donuts

If you want the Reader's Digest version of how to run 100 miles fueled by donuts, allow me to consolidate everything into five easy steps: 1) Go to Ohio. 2) Start running. 3) Begin shoveling donuts into your mouth like a toddler who has just tasted sugar for the first time. 4) Ignore the gag reflex when your stomach tries to tell you that it's already full of donuts and there is no more room at the inn. 5) Stop when your Garmin beeps at 100 miles. (Here's an insider pro tip: any time you burp for the next 30 hours, it will taste like a raspberry fritter.)

A few months ago THIS video was released on Facebook about an 80 mile route in Ohio that hits 12 gourmet donut shops along the way. I had so many people send the video to me saying "You should totally run this! You love donuts more than your children! Okay, many not more than your children. But definitely more than your dogs. So you should totally run this!" (The video has more than 11 million views.)

Then over the next few months I began working with Amanda Ensinger and the Butler County Visitors Bureau who provided a gracious invitation to come and run the Donut Trail. I can't thank them enough for their hospitality.

So a week ago, Mel, my daughter Kylee, and I headed to Ohio for the sugar-filled adventure. We started at Holtman's Donuts on Saturday morning. The sweet smell of donuts filled me with happiness.

The shops had a huge variety of donuts, including s'mores, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, cookies and cream, lemon meringue, Lucky Charms, and pink frosted donuts that looked like they had been delivered right from a Simpson's episode.

One of my favorites was this little morsel of heaven: a cheesecake donut. Let's just say, hypothetically speaking, that Publisher's Clearing House showed up on my porch with a human-sized check for one million dollars. I would promptly get on an airplane, go to Ohio, and purchase one million dollars worth of cheesecake donuts.

Some donut shops were nearby, within a few miles of each other. Some were more spread out, ten or eleven miles apart. I was really digging the small town vibe as I ran from town to town.

Almost all the donut shops had long lines. They start making donuts early in the morning, then when they sell out, they close for the day.

In the afternoon I was starting to get a little jittery from all the donuts. (Shocker!) I was ready for some real food. So Mel stopped and bought some mid-run pizza. Because if an ultramarathon fueled by donuts is good, an ultramarathon fueled by donuts and pizza is better.

When drinking alcohol, people try to walk a straight line to determine their blood alcohol level. When people are pounding donuts, they try to walk a straight line to determine their blood frosting level. I determined that my blood stream was now 60% frosting.

After running for many hours, I saw this big vulture or buzzard on the side of the road. Maybe it was just a coincidence, or maybe I was looking like I was about to drop dead.

Mel and Kylee were such an amazing support. They helped me with directions on the route, and they would drive ahead a few miles at a time, then wait for me to arrive where I could refill my water.

By the afternoon, I was in a pretty rural part of Ohio. Sometimes I'd go quite a while without seeing another person. The scenery was stunning.

The Donut Trail isn't actually a dirt trail. It's all on roads. The route isn't really designed for runners. Nobody had ever run the whole route before. Most of the roads had a pretty small shoulder so it would be tough to make this into a formal race.

I was very lucky to have nearly perfect weather for the run. I loved the simple beauty of the places I was running.

I wasn't feeling too great for the first 15 miles. My energy felt drained and my legs were stiff. I was apprehensive about how the rest of the run would go. Thankfully I loosened up after 15 miles, and felt pretty good for the rest of the run.

Because we knew we'd be hitting some donut shops in the evening or night after they were closed, we kept an extra surplus of donuts in the car for me to eat at the closed shops. In the evening my stomach was less enthusiastic about eating more donuts. Toward the end, I could only handle a few bites of each donut.

Around 6:00pm I was nearing a town. Mel had driven up ahead and called to ask if I wanted some ribs at the grocery store. I told her I'd pass, but then called her back and told her that actually, some real food sounded pretty good. When I caught up to her, she had ribs, mashed potatoes, and steamed vegetables. I ate every bite. Because if an ultramarathon fueled by donuts is good, and an ultramarathon fueled by donuts and pizza is better, then an ultramarathon fueled by donuts and pizza and ribs is best.

A few miles later, I was swallowed by a sky of pink, and purple, and yellow, and orange as a sunset lit the sky on fire.

I heard my Garmin beep when I hit mile 54 of the Donut Trail 100 in Ohio. I was in the middle of nowhere. I could see my breath by the light of my headlamp. And I'd see a porch light from the occasional houses I passed. Suddenly I heard someone yell "Hey!" I stopped as I saw the shadow of a man walking toward the road where I was standing. He asked me what my name was, and what I was doing. I explained that I was trying to run 100 miles. Then he said "Come here." I protested and said I needed to keep running. I told him I still had at least twelve more hours to go. (Not to mention the fact that I didn't want to be murdered by a stranger in rural Ohio.) He insisted. "I want to introduce you to my family!" I looked past him to the garage and saw a few people inside. They didn't look like ritualistic murderers so I agreed to go say hello. When I got to the garage, everyone was so intrigued and excited to hear about the run. They said they were so impressed. And they offered me a beer and a ride up the road. I politely declined. Then they gave me a hug and said "Keep going. Good luck! You can do this!" Their kindness and enthusiasm was just the boost I needed to keep moving forward.

In the middle of the night, the cold air bit my face and I saw each breath evaporate in a cloud of steam. I was in a remote part of the state where I rarely saw a passing car. By 2:00 am I had perfected the art of sleep walking, so I found a perfect patch of grass fifteen feet off the side of the road for a quick power nap. I had been laying down for less than one minute when a truck drove down the road. And then the driver slammed on the brakes. And then he threw the truck in reverse. And then he rolled the window down. And the driver asked if I was okay. I was embarrassed, and sheepishly explained that I was trying to run through the night but got tired so I stopped to take a little nap. I got up and decided I didn't want to risk scaring anyone else by taking a power nap. I carried a big stick with me just in case one of the occasional dogs I passed decided to eat my donut-filled body for dinner.

By Sunday morning I completed the official Donut Trail. I decided that since I had already covered a bunch of miles, I'd keep going until I hit 100 miles. My friend Matt Garrod lives in Cincinnati and came over to run the last nine miles with me. I was laughing the whole time and he was a great distraction from the pain cave.

And after 29 hours 20 minutes I finished the Donut Trail 100! (Here's the route from my Garmin: https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/3072620582 )The Donut Trail has passports available that can be stamped at each donut shop. For the shops that were closed, Mel made a note of what time we arrived.

If you hit all the donut shops, you get one of the official Donut Trail shirts:

Kylee drew me this awesome belt buckle. Of all the buckles I've collected over the years, this is one of my favorites. We had an absolute blast in Ohio. I'm praying that Publisher's Clearing House shows up with a huge check so I can go back and buy a million dollars worth of cheesecake donuts.

Huge thanks to Mel and Kylee for coming to crew this adventure. Thank you Amanda Ensinger, Butler County Visitors Bureau, and UltraRunning Magazine for making this all possible, as well as my amazing sponsors Altra Running, Injinji, St. George Running Center, Tailwind Nutrition, and UltrAspire.