Completing one 100-mile race is truly an amazing accomplishment. Now, imagine doing two 100-mile races over the course of two back-to-back weekends! That is exactly what my partner, Brian, did this year when he completed Big Horn 100 in Wyoming and then Black Hills 100 in South Dakota the following weekend.
Needless to say, I had a lot of questions for him. I hope you enjoy reading about his experience! His recommendations for completing back-to-back races is helpful for all runners, whether you are wanting to complete back-to-back 5ks or something longer. Enjoy!
What was your favorite part of doing back-to-back 100-mile races?
Where to begin?! The challenge, the people, the beautiful trails, the 60 hours spent in the woods. There’s also no party greater than a 100-mile finish line, and being able to hang out at two in a row after finishing the races was so much fun.
What was the most challenging part of doing back-to-back 100-mile races?
It’s kind of funny how a person’s memory works. While both races obviously had their own challenges and difficult times, I can’t pinpoint one glaring challenge above everything else. But my feet definitely did take a pounding and there were many painful hours dealing with that. One thing I could see being a challenge is looking too far into the future when obstacles inevitably arise instead of staying in the moment. I did a great job managing this and didn’t think about Black Hills (the second race) for more than a second until the afternoon before the race when it was time to go to packet pickup.
What did your training look like to prepare for this challenge?
My training for this challenge was without question the best and most consistent block of training I’ve ever had in my life. I only had three months to recover from the Drift 100 in March and get myself prepared for Bighorn in mid-June, but it went near perfect. Aside from getting sick one week, it went exactly as I drew it up. I give a lot of credit to the strength training Jamie (Physical Therapy on the Run) set me up with. It kept everything feeling great and I showed up to Bighorn feeling as good as I could have hoped for.
What did you eat during the races?
Anything and everything! But as for specifics, my trail snacks typically include gels, bite-size Payday bars, Nature Valley almond butter biscuits, and turkey and cheese sandwiches if it’s not too hot out (ate a ton of sandwiches at Black Hills in the cool weather). Anytime I see my crew I drink a bottle of Ensure. The second half of the race is typically when I start hitting up the aid station tables. The things that stand out the most from the two races were McDonald’s breakfast burritos at Bighorn and an aid station at Black Hills that had Grandma’s huge homemade cookies (Grandma was also working the aid station) and breakfast sausage links. Sausage links might be the greatest mile-80 food there is. Prove me wrong.
What did you do to recover as much as possible between the races?
Eat all the food, drink all the fluids (beer included), and take all the naps! Also ‘motion is lotion’ as they say, so getting out and moving around every day is very important for recovery. I wish I had had something to soak my feet in during the week between races, but I was very fortunate that I woke up on Black Hills race morning and everything felt great! Just remember, pizza is medicine J
What was the biggest thing you learned about yourself during this challenge?
With the right mindset, most things are possible. I pride myself on simplifying and not overthinking these adventures. I was shocked by how my conservative ‘just finish’ approach at Black Hills actually yielded a much faster and more enjoyable result than the prior week, despite already having 100+ miles on my legs. I truly believe 100 milers really are a very realistic achievement for ANYONE with a modest amount of fitness and a cool demeanor.
HUGE congratulations to Brian and thank you for taking the time to share your story and advice!