Race Report: North Face Endurance Challenge Marathon

I ran my first trail marathon last weekend, and it was pretty brutal. The race took place in the southern unit of Kettle Moraine State Forest – on some of the same trails we hiked on with my sisters last summer.

The marathon started at 9:00am, which meant that we’d be running into the early afternoon (highs in the mid to upper 70’s). The course was equipped with four aid stations, dividing the run into five “segments” of 6.3, 5.3, 5.6, 5.3, and 3.7 miles. The total elevation change was reported as 3,218 feet.

Course Map

Start to Ice Age Aid Station (6.3 miles): This segment mostly followed horse trails, providing us with plenty of passing room. This meant there was virtually no bottle-necking (a major problem at our last race) – but it also meant running through some sections of loose sand. And a few horse droppings. I sipped a few ounces of diluted Powerade from my Nathan vest every couple miles, and ate a GU gel around mile 3. I was feeling great when I hit the first aid station, so I blew straight through it. Average pace for segment #1 = 9:41 min/mile

Ice Age Aid Station to Wilton Aid Station (5.3 miles): Immediately after leaving the first aid station, the course turned onto the Ice Age trail. This meant firmer footing, but also a narrower and more rugged trail. I still felt terrific, so it was a real challenge not to get over-zealous with my pacing on this section. After a couple miles, the trail spilled out of the trees and into a sprawling prairie area, where we’d be running the next 12 miles or so in the baking sun (and yes, 76°F does feel like “baking” when you’re running long distances). I’d only eaten a few GU chomps on this stretch, so I decided to stop to choke down some steamed potatoes and Nuun when I arrived at the second aid station. Average pace for segment #2 = 9:37 min/mile

Wilton Aid Station

Wilton Aid Station to Hwy 67 Aid Station (5.6 miles): This was easily the hilliest section of the course, featuring about a two-mile stretch of constant up-down-up-down. I was still feeling relatively fresh, but decided to hold back on the hills and save my energy for the flat sections that I knew were still coming. The potatoes I’d eaten were definitely not sitting well, but I decided to eat another GU gel anyway. Average pace for segment #3 = 10:42 min/mile

Kettle Moraine

Hwy 67 Aid Station to Piper Aid Station (5.3 miles): This was where everything started to go rapidly downhill. Right as I stopped for a cup of water, there was a stabbing pain in my stomach. I spent the next five minutes puking my guts out, mentally berating myself for eating all those potatoes. I only had another nine miles ahead of me, but everything from this point on looked less like a *run* and more like a *drunken stagger*. So I don’t remember much from this section, except that I was really dizzy and really thirsty. My stomach, unfortunately, couldn’t handle more than the occasional sip of water. Average pace for segment #4 = 14:32 min/mile

Piper Aid Station to Finish (3.7 miles): I was feeling really dehydrated by this point, but the ol’ stomach just wasn’t accepting much of anything. I tried stopping for several minutes, but couldn’t get rid of the nausea. With one mile remaining, I once again stumbled into the woods and threw up. Then I threw up again…and again…and again. Then I gritted my teeth and forced myself to run the final mile to the finish line. Success! Average pace for segment #5 = 17:18 min/mile

So the race obviously didn’t go as smoothly as I’d hoped. Ah well. I still have that 50k to look forward to next month.

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Published in: on September 23, 2012 at 4:48 pm  Comments (1)  
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