Tuesday, July 29, 2008

My take on the Burning River 100

Today I was looking over the Burning River 100 Mile Endurance Run roster of entrants (as of July 29) and noticed a number of very good runners in this year's race. Every one will have fun. The BR100 is a well-organized, point-to-point race through many beautiful areas of Northeast Ohio, making it an excellent experience for runners, pacers, crew members and volunteers alike.

Random photo: Yours truly at the Mohican 100. The red lettering on my arm proudly read NOAH. I didn't take many good photos at the BR100.

While the BR100 is a rewarding, accessible 100-miler for local runners because we spend so much time on the course and know it well (it was my first 100), it's by no means easy. Far from it. The August heat and humidity are factors. Based on my experience with last year's inaugural race, here are a few personal observations on the BR100:

1) It's important to run the first 9 miles, which are all on road, patiently and at a relaxed pace. Going too fast on the road will beat up your legs. When you enter the Polo Field from the road section, you have 92 more miles in front of you.

2) Try to get out of the very rocky, hilly, overall nasty Perkins Trail loop (81.6-85.7) before night fall (about 9 p.m.). The next several miles, except for a brief stretch in O'Neill Woods, are either flat road or towpath. If you enter the Perkins Trail loop in the dark, you're going to spend twice as much time on it as you would if it were light. (This same rule applies to the Mohican--get out of the red loop, which ends at mile 90/Rock Point, as quickly as possible because the rest is road. Granted, it's hilly road....)

3) The BR100 gives you flat, runnable sections when you most need them--namely from mile 86 to the finish--with a few exceptions such as O'Neill Woods, a brick road going up from Memorial Parkway, a few nasty sets of stairs late in the race and the technical Glens Trail along the gorge in Cuyahoga Falls that demands your careful attention when you may be struggling mentally.

4) The final stretch of the BR100 is awesome. From the very dark, somewhat technical Glens Trail, you come up on Front Street in downtown Cuyahoga Falls (via a spur) and the finish is about a mile in front of you. Running down Front Street with the finish line in sight, I took in the experience for all it was worth (whereas at Mohican I was half-dead when I crossed. Do you think I'm kidding? :) ).

One of the big pluses of the BR100, which you won't find at the Mohican 100, are civilized, running-water bathrooms. The BR100 course offers many bathrooms--both park and commercial facilities. Hell, there's a McDonald's about 20 feet from the towpath toward the end of the race. If you don't need the bathroom, maybe you need a Big Mac? Just kidding.

While I am sure I missed a few big names--and if so, I apologize--here are the names of which I took note, separated by men and women:

Biggest names:
Mark Godale (SERC member; 1st overall last year with a 16:07; American record holder for 24 hours at 162.4 miles)
Tim Clement (SERC member; 3rd overall last year; previous 100K and 100M national champion; in top shape right now)

Other names:
Rich Wisneski (fast; first 100)
Bob Pokorny (SERC member; very strong and experienced)
Randy Miller (1st overall at the Laurel-Highlands 70)
Chris Petit (2nd overall at the Laurel-Highlands 70)

Biggest name:
Connie Gardner (SERC member; has not yet registered; first woman at 2008 Mohican; potential outright-win contender; incredibly tough)

Other names:
Dawn Malone (SERC member; strong 2008 Mohican 100; last year's BR100 women's winner)
Kim Martin (experienced and tough)

Let me know if I overlooked any names.


  1. Great blog entry today, Wyatt. I am psyched for the race and I'm not even running it. I've been marking trails and I'll be working the aid station at Boston. Should be a great race.

  2. My pacer assignment, the fella who ran 2nd at Laurel Highlands in 13:40, should be a top 5 contender.