Thursday, August 5, 2021

Badger 100


Waiting for the race start

Last Saturday, I was lucky enough to participate in theBadger 100 put on by Ten Junk Miles Racing.  This race began in Orangeville, Illinois, ran 30 something miles to Belleville, Wisconsin, back to Orangeville, then to Belleville for the finish.  It took place mostly on a rail trail - an old railroad track that was converted to a trail system once the railroad was no longer used.  The trail was mostly flat, except for a detour around a tunnel on the trail that has recently been condemned.  

After an informative and entertaining pre race briefing with the RD, Scott ("when in doubt, do like a train would do, go f'in straight"), we were off with temps in the high 50's (Nirvana for the south Louisiana folks).  

Fawn and I worked out that I would see her at every possible crew spot - every 10 miles or so. There were aid stations every 5 - 7 miles on the course, which is perfect, but not every one had crew access. Because I would be relying heavily on my own nutrition, and maybe snacking off of the aid stations, it was critical to either see Fawn, or arrange drop bags to be left on the course.

I broke the race down into three legs, mentally - Orangeville to Belleville,  Belleville to Orangeville, Orangeville to Belleville.  So when I refer to leg 1, 2 or 3, that is what I mean.

On the first leg, my plan was to run right past the non-crew aid stations and take advantage of the cooler temps, knowing the second leg would get hot and I would need to slow a bit.  As I would pull into the crew aid stations, where I would see Fawn, I would take the two bottles out of my pack, take the two pre-filled bottles that she had, then take off.  

Approaching mile 22, bottles in hand to exchange with fresh ones.

When I reached Fawn at mile 22, I knew a change of shoes was necessary soon.  I started the race in trail shoes which are firmer than road shoes and have more protection from roots, rocks, etc. This trail was fairly clear of things that bruise your feet, but it was surprisingly HARD - felt like cement hard.  My road shoes are pretty cushy since I have very dainty, wimpy feet, so I knew they would feel better, and I was right. What a relief.  So, after changing shoes, I headed out again.

On the first leg of this race, you run past the future finish line and continue on about 5 miles until you reach Dot's Tavern.  Dot's has been around since the railroad was in place. It was a spot where people could hop off of the train to get a quick beer before continuing on their journey.  It is in an old wooden house, and the tavern is in the basement.

I asked Fawn at mile 35ish to please have a beer waiting for me at Dot's. I didn't want a whole beer, but a little poured into a cup would be welcome.  I chose the New Glarus beer, Totally Naked, for this - great local beer to the area, and super light. It was a good choice.

So, I come off of the trail at Dot's to Fawn handing me my beer, then head down into the basement of Dot's for a "treat" we were supposed to show at the next aid station. Dot's is a popular hangout and clearly has it's regulars who enjoy riding their motorcycles more than running as one pointed out as I climbed the stairs back out with another runner - "I only like to ride my motorcycle 100 miles.  That's probably why you're skinny and I'm fat!"  

Descent into Dot's and a few minutes of air conditioning.

Back onto the trail I go, to see Fawn again at Belleville to restock my pack for leg 2.  

After Belleville (mile 40ish), I reloaded my nutrition in my pack and headed back out. This was another quick turnaround because I knew that leg 2 would be a mentally tough one because it is the nothing leg. Leg 1 everything is new and fun and leg 3, every step is one step closer to the finish line.  
There were so many beautiful farm views on this run! 

At about mile 49, I hit Hollywood aid station.  Hollywood is run by Holly Lindroth, a friend and fantastic human being. Her aid station shined during this race.  The energy was high, the volunteers were super enthusiastic and helpful, and the runner care was top notch.  This is the aid station where I added my headlamp to my pack and took off my right shoe to see what was happening there.  I could feel that I had some blister issues going on (evidently this race has a history of tearing people's feet up - especially my dainty, wimpy feet).  What I saw was a mess.  My big toe on my right foot had a blister under the nail causing it to lift up and hit the top of the shoe, which was becoming painful, so I taped the toe firmly to hold the nail down, knowing I would have to deal with it after the race.

Fawn and I with the Lindroths.  Wonderful ladies, right here.

A few more tweaks and a Porta potty visit and I was on my way.  By the time I saw Fawn again at mile 60, the blisters were taking their toll, and I told Fawn to expect me to slow down a bit from that point.  Until then, I was right on my pace goal of sub 24 hours, but running was becoming more and more painful, so I knew there would be more walking from there on.  

Sometime in this section - between mile 60 - 70, the sun set.

Not long after, it was fully dark, and I was treated to new critters from what I am used to here in Louisiana. 

It was seriously dark - no moonlight made its way to the trail.  Beautiful time to be out there.

During this section, I saw the glowing eyes of what I assume were raccoons up in the trees, and alongside the trail, and I also saw something black / grey flying right in front of my face going after the bugs that my headlamp was attracting. It took me a minute to realize they were bats!  I had to laugh and I thanked the bats for getting rid of some of the bugs for me.  That was pretty cool.

I saw Fawn at mile 70 or so, back at Orangeville - the original starting point.  I took a minute there to change out of my wet shirt in anticipation of cooler night temps, exchange my race vest for a handheld bottle, re-lubed, visited the Porta potty, then headed out for the next 10 miles until I picked Fawn up to pace me at mile 80.

Leaving the mile 80 aid station with Fawn, pulled chicken sandwich in hand (it was delicious!).

When I picked Fawn up at 80, I had to break the news to her that we would be walking most, if not all of the next 20 miles.  My legs were holding up fine, but my feet made it way too painful to run for long.  But, she is a trooper and she has enough experience to roll with whatever the miles would bring, so we set off into the dark.

And we quickly missed a turn, and added two miles to the race - lol!  That is what happens when two nature lovers are ogling the beautiful orange crescent moon and miss the trail markings.  But, we got back on course and headed in the right direction.  The benefit of having doing a few of these is that you know there is very little difference between 100 and 104 miles (the final distance covered). 

During the nighttime hours of 100 milers, I have often felt a heavy sleepy feeling - I remember thinking during one of my 100's that if I fell, at least I could lay down for a bit.  During Badger, I did hit one spot where I was super drowsy, but it didn't last long, then I went back to just plain old tired.

Not long after the sun rose, we reached the Hollywood aid station for the last time. Holly brought me ramen with broth in it and it was so good. I also sat for a few minutes - also good.  Then Fawn made me leave to do the last ten miles - lol! 

Off we went to knock out the last 10 miles which included the tunnel detour which gave me the only elevation gain of the race.  It is a paved section with a fair amount of climbing, but with some really pretty views, so it was worth it.  After the tunnel section, we hit the last aid station which meant we had only 3.8 miles to the finish. I stopped briefly for some salted watermelon which tasted so good for the whole race, then we were headed to the finish.  

About a mile before the finish line you pull into the town of Belleville which was a welcome site, and head to the park where the finish line and festivities were waiting.  As we approached the finish Fawn ran ahead (showoff) to get a picture and I stayed on the course.  Once I got off of the pavement onto the grass, I "ran" it in to the finish line to get my buckle and hug from race director, Scott Kummer.

Rene Villalobos, Scott Kummer, Me

All in all this is a great race!  There are distances from half marathon to 100 miler.  It was a great experience getting to run this trail on an old railroad path, and see the beautiful countryside of Wisconsin and Illinois.  I love different, meaningful races, and this one was both.  Tons of history, nature and good people.  All around great combination.

Now to tend to the damage done to my feet so I can pick up where I left off with my training for Arkansas Traveler 100 in October!

Happy running!

Other race pics:
Leaving Monroe Aid Station

Race swag.  Coffee tastes better from this when you finish the race.

When your feet are torn up but you have to fly home.