September 24, 2013 [email protected]

Lean Horse 100 Mile Ultra Marathon – Race Review

Our First 100 Mile Race

At the start of the year we set a goal to run a 100 mile race sometime during the season.  With work schedules, weddings, other races, it was difficult to find a 100 miler that fit into our schedules and wasn’t a million miles away.  Our search narrowed in on a race called the Lean Horse 100, held in Hot Springs, South Dakota.

ultra running athlete

On our 17 hour drive down there we were thinking how boring of a race it was going to be, while driving through Montana and Wyoming which are endlessly flat and unamuzing.  To our surprise  the scenery changed once we crossed into South Dakota.  There was rolling hills of greenery and rather nice rock formations (we talked about if there would be good rock climbing in the area actually!) throughout.  The town of Hot Springs is very nice.  Small town shops and local restaurants everywhere, there was lots to do on our pre race day of rest.

ultra marathon morning run4AM and the alarm clock sounds, Melissa and I both hardly slept.  We started packing down our pre race breakfast, gearing up for the long day ahead of us.  Both of our bodies felt top notch, and the weather was just warm enough we weren’t complaining yet nice and brisk for an early morning start.  We were bused about 10 miles outside the city to the start line and lineups grew quick at the start line washrooms.  6am the air horn blows, yet there doesn’t seem to be much of a rush to get started, this isn’t a sprint by any means.

The trail was easy to follow, the footing was light to moderate for huarache running, and the weather stayed cool for the first 30 miles or so.  We were rocking along, and it was time to ditch the packs and go with handheld water bottles.  As we entered the afternoon, the sun warmed up and went to work on us. Approximately 95% or more of the trail was out in the open so there was hardly any shade to help, and thats when we started to slow.  When Melissa started dozing off as I was holding cold bottles on her neck and pouring water down her back, I knew she was going into heat exhaustion.  It was a slippery slope for me to play at this point, on one side of things I love this girl and I should tell her to stop and rest, but on the other side of things we are athletes and I know exactly how she’ll feel if I let her quit.

The next 20-30 miles we took our time at aid stations, slowed the pace and just trying to make it through the afternoon heat which wouldn’t seem to let up.  Once the sun went down we felt a second wind (or by that time it could have been a third or fourth… who knows) but we were able to steady back into a pace again.

100 mile ultra marathon race

At mile 65 it had gotten dark and we felt it was a bit too risky to continue in our Xero shoes, as we could not see where we would be placing our foot down as we ran.  This turned out to be a bad mistake (live and learn I guess) as our feet and calves now began to ache badly and on many occasions my feet overheated so bad I was on the verge of pulling them right off my feet.

As the miles counted down 20…15…10 we mixed running with walking periods, after all it was still forward progression.  The one feeling I can still remember and can only now laugh at, was the overwhelming allure to laying down on the gravel road and just going to sleep.  For some reason after 24 hours of racing, your standards for comfort go down! haha.

The final 2 mile stretch of this ultramarathon was exactly where we had gone for a jog the day before the race, so we knew where we were and that the end was real close.  As we turned the last corner to see the finish line, it was an amazing sight.  Deep down inside of you screamed in joy, not only to be finally done, but because you just competed something that before that day you weren’t sure if you could.

25 hours and 40 minutes, it took the two of us to battle through running 100 miles, and be rewarded at the finish with a Lean Horse 100 Miler belt buckle.

Biggest takeaways from this 100 mile race:

ultra runner 100 milesUltra marathons are one of the greatest ways to break through mental limitations.  Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right!

– If you can run a 100 mile race with your spouse and still think she is the most gorgeous person in the world by the end, she’s a keeper!!


Big thank you to Xero Shoes for making such a great product and for supporting the two of us in our feats!!! And thank you as well to Rocktape Canada for their support, Melissa had battled with some knee discomfort earlier this season and it never even made an appearance with her knee taping on!!



Mel and Jon

Make sure to check out our Running Race Resume to see other races we’re done!

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