Oct 22, 2019

2019 Badger 100 - Southwest Wisconsin

The same group of folks that I joined in Chicago last year to run the World's Longest Turkey Trot are now full-fledged legit proper race directors, and I was happy to join them for their inaugural race, the Badger 100, held in Southwest Wisconsin.

This Wisconsin Race actually starts in Illinois

Race Director Scott has specifically asked me to write a report on the race, presumably because he think that since I've run a dozen 100s, I know what makes a race good and a race bad.

So I'm going to come right out and say that my easy-to-please ass has nothing critical to say about the race, which must be frustrating to a guy who is looking for areas to improve (I get it, man, I really do) but, unfortunately for Scott and his co-RD Adam, I have to blow them for putting on an outstanding race.

That's not to say there aren't petty annoyances that bothered me, some avoidable, most not. But from an organization and production standpoint the race had no issues, which is no small task for an inaugural race.

the course features a ¼-mile dark spooky railroad tunnel - which 100-milers pass through thrice

Me - on the other hand - I was totally fucked, and it's my own fault. I went out too fast. I didn't drink enough water. I was undertrained, I was overfat, I wasn't prepared for the heat, whatever.

It is interesting that I went out too fast, because even though I know I have nothing to prove, I still run as though I do. My strategy by the numbers wasn't irrational. It was a credible walk/run strategy. Kept it up for a full marathon. And the numbers were not too fast .. in the neighborhood of 12-13 minutes per mile. Yet I wasn't up for even those speeds due to training or heat or whatever, and I knew it.

Anyway, I paid dearly for my early enthusiasm. My finish time - north of 33 hours, is by far the slowest 100 I've ever finished. I walked the second half of the race. I was told I had the ultra-lean. My pace had dropped below 24 minutes per mile. I had to be "un-fucked" by Holly when I came into her aid station with apparent heat exhaustion. I was in bad enough shape that she said she'd not object to me requesting a drop - at mile 93. I had a similar sentiment from a different volunteer at mile 60 - where came in to the aid station so fucked up he assumed I was dropping, and seemed surprised when I got up to go back out on the course to what we both knew would essentially be a 40 mile death march.

Outside of the tunnel, the entire course is like this - railroad easement

Holly sufficiently unfucked me (thanks!) and I was able to continue and finish the race. Scott hugged me and gave me a buckle. I wasn't special, he gave hugs and buckles to everyone who finished. Yet in that moment the thing I appreciated most was Scott's friendship, not my own grit or tenacity. Then I sat down and talked with Joe P, who walked with me for about 25 miles overnight until I couldn't keep up with him anymore. Having just finished, the moment was all about me, but again what I really appreciated was the privilege of spending time with him.

Bringing this full circle, that might be the disappointing lesson of a dozen 100-mile ultra finishes. I don't think I'm any smarter or wiser. What is true is that with less experience I would have quit a lot sooner. Also, with less experience I might have found something about the race to complain about. It was too hot, too exposed, there was too long a gap before that one aid station. But I feel none of those thoughts, rather all I feel is that it was awesome that holly was there to unfuck me, and also the unnamed guy at mile 60, and rachel too at mile 67/74, and of course joe, scott, adam, juli, and everyone else including the stranger I encountered on the trail who said, "Are you Steve Tursi? I heard you are a total savage!" These people are the reason I love doing this.

I finish these things on my own two feet, but in no way am I alone. And while swag and awards are nice, what I really appreciate is a race with a strong and vibrant community of people - which is what the Badger offers.

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