Monday, June 9, 2014

Hostess 100 Mile Race Report - I WON!

Writing a race report for a 100 miler is really difficult. It's pretty much impossible to put into words how those highest of highs and lowest of lows feel. I'll do my best to give you the scoop on the 100 miler I ran a few days ago.

Up to this point I'd completed nine 100 mile races (plus two more that I didn't get all the way to the end). I wanted to try something different and challenging so I decided to try running a solo 100 miler. I decided to call it the Hostess Hundred because 1) Hostess is delicious, 2) I didn't want to take myself too seriously with this stuff, and 3) Their raspberry filled powdered donuts are delivered straight from heaven on the wings of angels.

This isn't my first dabbling with Hostess. For a few years I had an underground race I called the Hostess Half Marathon. When I made it a real race I changed the name to the Baker's Dozen Half Marathon because I didn't want Hostess mad at me. (Dear Hostess: don't sue me, let's be BFFs.)

I planned out a route starting at the Utah state capitol building, running 50 miles of pavement mostly along State Street to Provo, Utah, and then turn around and come back. It was a beautiful morning at the capitol building.

I planned to do the run solo and then just stop at gas stations along the way when I needed to refill water or get food. In the days leading up to the race I caught wind that some other runners might join for sections along the way. At the start I was met by Becca and Robert. Becca suggested that an adventure like this needed to start with a jumping picture. I wasn't hard to convince.

Then within the first mile we were joined by two running legends: Matt Van Horn and Jennilyn Eaton. BOTH of them WON the Antelope Island Buffalo Run a few months ago. Plus you'd be more likely to see Sasquatch eating bacon and eggs at Denny's than see these guys running on a road instead of a trail. I was honored to have their company.

And as if the party couldn't get any better, we were joined by Renee (who is running her first 50 miler next weekend) and Cherri who WON both the Salt Flats 100 and the Grand Canyon 100 recently. Wow, these are some fast peeps!

I felt so humbled and thankful for their company. We were laughing the whole time and may have made a quick stop at 7-11 for Slurpees. They ran for many miles before leaving me to do some running on my own. It was scorching hot outside and I got a bit behind on electrolytes so my legs started cramping up but I knew it was something I could work through. I felt like a KFC chicken inside a rotisserie oven.

Suddenly I heard a car honking behind me. Then some cheering. It was my daughters and my amazing wife Mel who drove by to say hello.

I ran some more miles alone before being met by a new friend - Wan Kou who came out in the absolute worst heat of the day to run 10+ miles with me. I so much enjoyed his company and incredible stories. He was so kind and thoughtful bringing me a special treat. (That, amigo, is a 20 PACK of Twinkies!)

A bunch of people along the way said "Are those trail shoes you're wearing?" They were indeed trail shoes. The Altra Lone Peak shoes. Why did I wear trail shoes for 100 miles of pavement? Partly because I think they are the most comfortable shoe ever. But partly because of guilt. I didn't want trails to think I was having a secret love affair with roads. Don't worry trails. You are way cuter. I would never cheat on you.

Wan headed out and I stopped at 7-11 again to refill my hydration pack. As someone with a moderate aversion to germs it kind of sicked me out when the mouth piece of my pack accidentally rubbed against the gas station counter. Um, gross. Then, for no reason, I took a picture next to a big chicken.

My cousin Kody lives in the area and came out for a few miles. I don't get to see him as often as I'd like which is unfortunate because he is so awesome and funny. We are two nuts that have fallen from the same tree.

Evening had finally arrived and it started to cool off a bit. My body functions great in the cold. Not so great in the heat. So I was ecstatic that it wasn't quite as hot. I hadn't eaten much all day except pure junk: Hostess donuts, Swedish fish, a few Twinkies, and Dr. Pepper. I was starting to feel hungry for real food and decided to make a quick stop at Subway. They were SO busy and SOOOO slow! I honestly could have watched an entire episode of Golden Girls while I waited. But while there I met Steve and Adrienne Parsons who were following my Spot Tracker and wanted to say hello. They insisted on buying my sandwich. Seriously so nice. Thanks you guys!

After Kody left I had a two-wheeled companion for a bunch of miles. My friend Susette is about the nicest person you could hope to know. (A few months ago I got to run with her when she completed HER first 100 miler.) She rode her bike next to me for a while and was great to talk to.

Then there was a big owl. Since I had taken a picture with a big bird earlier I figured I'd go two for two in getting pictures with random oversized birds.

Right as Susette finished up I was joined by my friend Catherine. We stood on the sidewalk admiring the incredible sunset. I told them "That sky looks like it has been Photoshopped." It was simply beautiful.

Catherine and I go way back. We've run so many races together and have seen the best and worst of each other. We've had lots of experience getting each other through hard times. I am fortunate to have Catherine and her husband Kacey as my friends.

Literally one minute after Catherine left, a car pulled up and a few guys hopped out in running clothes. This was the most amazing part of the entire run. It was as if a bunch of friends had a secret meeting before this run and decided where each person would join me so that people wouldn't overlap and I'd have company for almost the whole run.

I planned to do this run solo. But it was FAR from solo. I got emotional thinking about all these amazing people who were coming out to support me. I didn't know why they were doing this, but I was so humbled and touched by everyone who came to run a few miles with me, or met me along the way to give me ice, or just to stop and say "Good job." It meant so much to me.

So the guys who hopped out of the car were Sam Jewkes and Jeff Davis. I've run many of the same races they have, but have never talked to them much because, well, they're fast, and we're never at the same part of the race course. I had a total blast talking with these guys and getting to know them better. They made those miles float by, which is saying something when you're like 55 miles into a run.

It was the middle of the night when they left and it was time to get more miles on my own. Around mile 60 is always when the demons start creeping in. Mel said sometimes my reports minimize some of the sections where things get ugly. In order to run 100 milers you need to get comfortable with doubt, fear, pain, and loneliness. Eventually things are going to get ugly and you start to wonder how you'll be able to take another step, let alone go 40 more miles. Everything, EVERYTHING hurts. It's a difficulty and doubt that I could never begin to truly understand until I was around mile 60 of my first 100 miler and I realized that this was harder than I had ever imagined. You must continue to put one foot in front of the other. Nobody can do it for you. It's all on you.

I try to stay positive and smile, even if it's difficult and it's the opposite of how I'm feeling. Because I refuse to let that darkness get any more grip on me then it already has. Negativity and whining makes nothing better. I appreciated those miles alone to work through the challenges.

It was still pitch black outside when I saw another car stop ahead of me. Two girls hopped out and came with me for many miles until finally a hint of light started to appear above the Wasatch mountains. The second sunrise of the day was coming. Those girls were Cherri and Renee from the first day who came out to do more miles. They are seriously amazing.

I worked on getting in as many miles as possible at night because I knew I'd be in for another hot day once the sun came up again. It was sure pretty to watch though.

After Cherri and Renee left I had another chunk of miles alone. (I'd estimate that over the entire 100 miles there were only maybe 30-35 that were by myself.) It felt like the heat came back quickly.

After a while I passed my high school: home of the Jordan High Beetdiggers. Nope, not a joke, and they're proud of it. I also realized that right at this moment I could have been sitting on my couch eating Ben & Jerry's and watching Price is Right.

I had some new companions join me as I was pushing toward the last stretch: Monte and London Riding. I first met them at the Jackpot Ultra Running Festival. I wished I could have run faster with them but my legs had other ideas.

As we crested a hill I got my first view of the state capitol building far in the distance. It seemed light years away. I worked on staying focused in the mile I was in instead of how far there still was to go, although I did get some pep in my step with about 10 miles left and I started smelling the barn.

Then something positively wonderful happened. Sam Jewkes who ran with me the night before is the band teacher at Hillcrest Middle School. As I neared that area I could see that a huge group of kids was standing at the front of the school playing their instruments and cheering. Sam had his whole band out there. I was speechless.

I was so touched. I gave them each a high five and thanked them for coming out. They were so awesome. It made my day.

Only a few more hot miles through downtown Salt Lake City...

I had some great support in the last few miles as I neared the capitol. Wan came back and ran a few miles in his work clothes, DJ Loertscher, Catherine, and Zac Marion from Altra. And finally, FINALLY I arrived at the state capitol 100 miles later! I'm so thankful for these guys.

God gave us bodies that can do some pretty amazing things. He helped me and protected me. I am indebted to all those running angels disguised as my friends who came out to support me. And finally I am thankful for my amazing family. My wife Mel is one of a kind. When I brought up trying something like this there was absolutely no doubt or hesitation, only complete support. I love her and the kids. She bought a special belt buckle for the end of this run.

Total time to finish all 100 miles was 27 hours and 52 minutes including approximately nine bajillion stops at stop lights along the way. The buckle was designed by Kali who also makes the buckles for the Zion 100, Bryce 100, and Grand Canyon 100. I will always treasure this buckle.

And so this Hostess 100 miler, a solo run that was anything BUT solo, was complete. The run that started with a jump......also ended with a jump. If I could have scripted the perfect experience for my tenth 100 miler this would have been it. I am so blessed.


  1. I teared up a little when I read about the band. I can only imagine the lift it gave you. It doesn't surprise me at all that so many awesome people were out to support you. Your positive enthusiasm and welcoming attitude draw people to you.

    And while it's unlikely that I'll have a taste of what mile 60/100 feels like emotionally (or physically, for that matter), some of my long bike races and ARs have given me at least a passing acquaintance with how it feels. But getting to the other side of that is like watching the most beautiful sunrise. What an amazing feeling.

    Well done, my friend! So impressed by your accomplishments!

  2. I must say, the first time I saw that you were planning this craziness on the road, I thought to myself: fastCory is one crazy dude and I want no part in that. But as I drove home from work that day I found myself wanting to run with you, so Jeff and I made plans to join you and I also realized that if you were going to run right by my school I might as well give you a memorable finish. My school kids get to hear about my runs all the time so they were excited to cheer on one of my buddies. Nice work, man. Congrats. I hope to run with you again some day.

  3. I am interested to know what the hours and days are like for you AFTER a 100? Please write a blog post about it. What do you eat? How much do you sleep? Do you soak in a tub? Etc.

    1. Great suggestion. I haven't written on this before so I'll start doing some thinking and write something up.

    2. Fast Cory, How are you feeling these days??? How are the legs?? I also am curious about the after math of road running. Happy Fathers Day as well.

  4. This was such a great experience. I'm so proud of you! Thanks for letting me run and jump with you!

  5. The best way you could do a solo 100 is with a cast of 1000s. It is truly humbling to read about how supportive the running community is. Crazy dream? Yep, they'll help you achieve it.

  6. You have been and continue to be such an inspiration to me, even though I have never met you. Just when I started running longer distances, I discovered your blog and your crazy, fun attitude and dedication to running. I am starting to realize that digging deep and getting through the "pain cave" can be a journey of self-discovery. I'm so excited to be training for my first Marathon coming up in Saint George this Oct! Thank-you for sharing your running journey with me, along with so many other crazy runners! I love your positive attitude. Whenever the doubts creep in, I think of some of your more difficult races and think, "If Cory can run 100 miles, and end up jumping, I can surely do 26.2!

    1. I know the pain cave well. It's not very transcendent or enlightening while you're in there (which is a nice way of saying "It really sucks."). But that's where you see what you're really made of. Good luck at the marathon!

  7. Amazing work Cory! You definitely weren't alone in this for sure! I wish I could have joined you. I would be curious to know what of your 100 milers was the most rewarding to you. I am sure there are different memories for each, but this seems different and perhaps was more rewarding than the others.

  8. What a perfect way to wrap up your 10th 100. Congratulations, my continue to amaze me each and every day!

  9. Really awesome Cory, well done! I followed all the posts on FB and enjoyed your adventure.

  10. I am so proud of you. I totally wish I could have gotten a jumping picture with you, Robert Merriman and Becky! Great job my friend.

  11. Super awesome! Thanks for sharing!

  12. Cory, this was an amazing race report. I don't think you realize how many people you have touched through your amazing attitude, fantastic pictures and hilarious blog posts. As I've said, you inspired me to give the 100 a try and I appreciated all the tips you gave. I doubt I'll ever attempt as many as you, but you are my ultra hero :)

    What a cool run and WOW on the band. That is just awesome.

    Congrats on #10!

  13. This is so amazing! Truly an incredible accomplishment!

    1. Thanks Bridget! I assume you're talking about the fact that my stomach was able to keep down a pack of Hostess donuts at mile 62, right?

  14. What a great recap! Congrats! It's so cool how so many people came out to support and run with you. Again, love the hostess theme and yes, powdered, jelly filled donuts are too delish for words.

  15. its amazing what our minds can think up for our bodies to do. great work!

  16. Every mile we've run with you has been an honor and I hope we get to share many more. Congrats on your 10th!

  17. SO awesome and inspiring! I haven't checked into your blog in awhile, but when I heard about this story, I loved following along with you on your great journey! Congrats!

  18. I stopped reading at "I went to subway and bought a sandwich." I was under the impression that the entire run would be fueled on Hostess items. I'm very disappointed.

    1. I did consider myself a bit of a failure for resorting to eating some real food. (Although it's pretty generous of me to call Subway meat and that waxy lettuce "real".)