"There's only one hard and fast rule in running: sometimes you have to run one hard and fast."

Friday, August 26, 2011

Two Thoughts on the Superior Sawtooth 100

It's two weeks out from the favorite local ultra and it seems to be on everyone's mind around here.


Running is not a spectator-friendly sport. The Superior 100 starts on a Friday, goes through woods on single-track and half of it happens in the dark. I plan to be in the area that day and will stop by an aid station or two to check in. I have an idea for anyone else who wants to watch the race.

1) Be at the Co. Rd 6 aid station (42.6 miles) from 3 PM to sunset (7:30). It's after what I think is the second-hardest section. The runners have separated enough that you'll get to see each one long enough for photos as they go through; because there's no crew allowed at the previous station, it's been 18 miles since the runners have seen their crews and they tend to stay an extra minute or two here.

2) Be at the Sugar Loaf aid station (71.6 miles) from sunrise (6:30) until 11:00 AM. Between this and the previous day's stop, you'll see every runner who'll finish. This is after the grueling Crosby-Manitou section. You'll see runners at their lowest point here and a number of them will drop out; you'll learn a lot about ultras from being there. You'll either decide you want to do the race some day or that nothing could make you do it.

That's 9 hours to watch a 38 hour race. Bring a chair.


If you're running the race, make sure you know why you're doing it. People don't drop out of 100's because they aren't prepared or because they're injured, but because they can't think of any reason they should keep going. The motivation doesn't have to psychologically healthy - and you don't have to tell anyone what it is - but you have to have a reason. I know a guy who does ultras because it's the only time he gets respect; the day before the race, he talks to people and, having finished the course before, he's an expert. I finished my first 100 because someone who I'd beat by 2.5 hours in a marathon had finished one and I hadn't... and that bothered me enough that I wasn't going to let that situation continue. I'm not proud of that, but it worked.


Anonymous said...

Sawtooth was my first Ultra I ever saw and watching it is what got me hooked...the people are great, the scenery is awesome and you'll see people pushing themselves to do things that you won't believe. The majority of the runners that make it to Sugarloaf enter the aid station looking like the walking dead. The section is brutal.

Stevie Q.-just a minor correction...those runners coming into County Road #6 will have seen their crew at Tettagouche, 8.9 miles back. Split Rock and Sonju Lake are the only stations with no crew access.

Bill P.

SteveQ said...

@Bill: I just looked at the race's aid station PDF and you're right - there's been a change since I last tried to run it.

Danged new management, making things easier...Grrr.

Scott said...

This is a great observation and piece of advice: "People don't drop out of 100's because they aren't prepared or because they're injured, but because they can't think of any reason they should keep going."

I have run Crosby-Manitou a few times, but never in the dark. This will be interesting; I remember how some of those 100-milers looked when I came through Sugarloaf during the 50.