Sunday morning, June 28 at 12:30 am I ran the Dark 2 Dawn 6 hour at Indian Camp Creek Park in St Charles County by Terrain Trail Runners. It was awesome having the choice to run an event even with COVID-19 protocols in place.
This year to spread out the runners there was a staggered start based on marathon time. I started in 1st wave and a lot of runners passed me that I passed again later. Conditions were far from ideal since it had rained earlier and temps in 70s and humidity in 90s. There were a few sections that were quite muddy, slippery and tacky where a lot of mud built up on my shoes making it difficult to move efficiently.
In order to go out on 5th loop we are supposed to be back in 4:30-40. 4:30 is 1:07:30 per loop so I made that my goal just in case I slowed later I could use the 10 minute buffer. It isn’t the way I’d normally pace 6 hours but adds to the challenge.
I ran loops 1 and 2 both around 1:06 each. I knew I couldn’t afford to waste much time at the aid station so had bottles ready in my cooler. I took 2 headlamps so I could switch after 3 loops and not waste time changing batteries. I drank Sword the first loop and had intended to have a gel or pack of Sports Beans every hour but only had 3. Before my 2nd loop I drank half bottle of Body Armor and filled bottle up with water. Felt a bit overhydrated so cut back. Another gel at 2 hours. I was feeling hungry but at same time didn’t feel like eating much. I didn’t see nearly as many people loop 2 where loop 1 had more passing back and forth than I anticipated.
Loop 3 dumped a bottle of mixed Sword into my handheld. I accidentally switched lids and it wasn’t quite the same. Most of it leaked before I could drink much and it was empty after a mile. Then around 14 miles I wiped out sliding sideways in the mud. Noticed a little twinge on inside front of right leg and eventually it decided to cramp. Massaged and walked. Still feeling crampy so I just gradually sped up, mentally willing it to stop and all was good. I also had an episode in loops 4 and 5 and followed the same protocol but cost me some time. Loop 3 was quite a bit slower at 1:14 with the issues.
I intended to drink Pickle Juice before loop 4 but forgot. I ate half a banana from the aid station to curb hunger. I didn’t think I’d make 4.5 hours but pushed so I’d at least hope to make 4:40. I fell once in the 4th loop and got a small cut on my arm. Loop 4 in 1:11 with 3 minutes to spare but felt like it about killed me.
I took a couple minutes before starting loop 5 but figured I had plenty of time to meet my 6 hour goal. I kind of needed a bathroom but started anyway and before half mile I had to quickly take care of business. Wet leaves are great as a TP substitute. It was getting light and I pressed on wanting to get it over. Last year I ran in 6 hr 20 seconds after running 16.5 miles the previous day. I really wanted to improve my time even with the challenging conditions and cramping in loops 3-5. I felt like that wasn’t too much to ask even though I was ready to be done.
I was lapped by a runner about 2 miles from end that ran 6 loops and set a new CR. I ran last loop in 1:18, a bit slower than I’d hoped but considering I was spent after 4 loops I’m not surprised. Overall time was 5:55. I placed 4th overall of 66 finishers. One runner with 6 loops and 3 runners with 5 loops. I placed same last year but hard effort in a different way. I guess I need to go back next year with fresh legs and hope for drier conditions.
I ended up using only 3 gels/sports beans, 1/2 banana and various drinks. 800 calories which is a bit low for 6 hours. Normally there is a post race breakfast but received FarmTruk granola bars and beef sticks to go.
Photos by Janzow Photography.