So the pandemic got you down? or you just want a new adventure? plan your own 100 mile event. Plan it as a solo run or go out with some friends. Where do you begin? at the beginning, what route to take. Some of these things are things you have to do in every 100. Some are things particular to a solo/self planned 100.
The first thing you want to do when planning a solo 100 is to choose your route. Things to keep in mind when choosing your route: (1) crew access or places you can stash needed items, think aid stations, (2) how much elevation do you want? (3) is the route fully exposed or covered? (4) how long will it take you to finish this run?
You are most likely going to need to resupply, unless you want to carry a huge amount of stuff from the beginning weighing you down, and likely slowing you down. You can’t possibly carry enough water for the entire run. You can stash items along the route, if you have animal proof containers. You’ll have to get it to the location a day or two before. Think nonperishables. As for water, you can carry a filter and plan your route where there are lakes, rivers, or springs to refill. For me, I just ask my husband and adult children to meet me along the way with things I will need. The aid stations need to be accessible by car or hiking while carrying everything you will be needing. In planning aid stations, keep in mind how long it will take you to get from one place to the next. If there is a lot of elevation, it’s going to take more time. If it’s 10 miles between each stop, you will need less stuff each time compared to 20 miles between refills.
I have found it is easiest to just pack drop bags, write the “aid station” on some tape and stick it to the bag. I load them all in the car the night before so no one else has to figure out what needs to be taken to which spot. It’s all just there. As for food, pack a cooler the night before and load it into the car. Have a open box with other food items that can be easily accessed to refill.
Plan to use food that you can usually tolerate throughout a 100. You will likely have fewer options at each stop, so make sure there are things you can use on a regular basis and don’t get sick of. Have other supplies packed the night before as well, such as a blister kit, a bag with supplies to treat stomach issues or other chronic issues that may crop up during the run.
Give your crew a list of the aid stations that has the location, miles of your run, the earliest time you could arrive and then the latest time you could arrive. You don’t want to wait and you need them to resupply. At a 100 mile event, you can fill up with the aid station fare even if your crew misses you, in most cases, and just push on to the next meeting point.
People involved: (1) Will you have a crew? (2) If so, who is going to crew?, (3) who can be cheer leaders, (4) who can pace? If you are not going to have a crew, you should still prepare a chart of where you expect to be at certain times and give that to someone, or a couple of people. In the event you need to be found, or you don’t arrive at the finish when expected, they will have an idea of where and when you should have been.
Choose people who have crewed before if you can. Crewing for a 100 can be a bit of a challenge the first few times. Crewing a solo is more challenging, because you are all that your runner has. You are their motivation when it wanes. You are their doctor when their body is rebelling. You are the force feeder when they are not eating or drinking enough. You are the problem solver when shit comes up, and it will. Meet with your crew before the run and go over the plan, what you may need, and how to handle the unexpected.
Because you don’t have the excitement of running with a bunch of other people or the indirect support of all those who are out there suffering along side you, it is useful to have Cheer Leaders. People who come out just to tell you that you are doing a good job, to keep going, that you look good. You can also have your phone and just phone a friend when you need to. Another option is to put motivational quotes or letters from family/friends in your drop bags. Practice using a mantra.
Pacing, this is about the same as in any 100 event. Find someone who is entertaining to run along side you, to keep you on pace, to keep you on your route, and to keep you safe when you are tired. This person should probably know the route incase you are unable to navigate for some reason. Depending on the route you choose, they may not have route markings/flags to rely on. You can also use virtual pacers, if you have cell service along the route. You can call these people at all hours of the night, for someone to talk with or they can just talk with you as you run.
Supplies: (1) what is the temperature? (3) what is the weather likely to be? (3) what food will you need? (4) water or other liquids (5) blister kit (6) medical kit
Temperature impacts a lot of things during a 100. It changes what you wear, how much water and electrolytes you need, and how much food and what types of food you can tolerate. Pack your bags accordingly and have a few things to cover the spectrum of possibilities. Weather and temperature are often linked but not always. It can be rainy and hot. It can be sunny and cold. This changes what you will bring.
I mentioned a blister kit before, but am listing it again here. You have to be able to take care of your feet because no one is going to do it for you. The medical kit may contain medication for stomach issues, GI track problems, pain relievers, icy hot, athletic tape or kensieo tape, a knee or ankle brace.
Other things to consider: (1) when are you going to start your run? (2) where will you be at certain times during the day? (3) How can you motivate yourself without the excitement of the race and cut off times? (4) how to stop yourself from getting in the car.
When you start your run dictates when you will finish and what time you will be at various places. You may want to change your start time so you are able to reach certain locations at certain times of the day. Perhaps there is a narrow trail with a cliff on one side, or a technical descent and you may not want to do those at 2 or 3 in the morning when you are the most tired. Change your start time so you are unlikely to hit those points, if you can’t and still want to take the route, make sure you have a pacer.
Motivation to push hard when there is no finish line and no one to chase makes running a solo 100 an extra special challenge. Your crew can help you here and so can those cheer leaders I spoke about. Having a reason why you are doing it and a mantra can be enough to get you through. Remember that during any 100 there are good times and bad times. The bad times are always followed by good times. It will get easier and good again, you just have to keep going to get there.
It is easier to drop out of a solo 100 than a race. You need to have a crew that will push you out there more than normal. You need to give them specifics about what to do in various situations that may come up. Are there questions to ask to help you realize you’re fine to continue such as Have you worked through similar feelings in a race? Can you take a few minutes extra at a stop to recuperate? Can they meet you at the next stop with something extra special? Can they meet you an extra time at an unofficial cheering station?
Running a solo 100 is hard work. Let me know what you have done to make yours successful.
Happy and healthy running.