100-Miles in 24 hours – Ultra Marathon Frequently Asked Questions

100-Miles in 24 hours – Frequently Asked Questions

I’ve run four 100-mile races, and at times I ask myself why?  There’s something about the number(s) that draw me.  100…it’s a simple number but also one that is complex. The number 100 to me represents a new frontier, a barrier and a significant milestone.  24-hours like 100-miles is a significant number.  It may simply be a measurement of time but it is also so much more.  24-hours in a simple fashion represents life in its purest form.  In a 24 hour period like our lives we are born into the day and in 24 hours our physical life on the planet will end.  100-miles and 24-hours to me are linked together to form the almost perfect measurement of our (my) endurance and I guess that is why I’m drawn to run 100-miles in one day.

I tried to capture the drama and the challenge of running 100-miles in my book Running to Leadville.  The tale is more about life than running.  The story is centered on the main character who after his parents’ divorce finds his life full of rejection and heart break.  Then he meets her…

The story also highlights the personal struggles of running a 100-mile race, and not just your run of the mill 100-mile race, but the iconic ultra-marathon known as the “Race Across The Sky.”

Available on Amazon or SIGNED copies off my blog.

[Tweet “@cledawgs answers the FAQ about running 100-miles”]

When other people hear about my 100-mile races, I’m nearly always asked the same questions?

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you keep moving?  You simply do.  Forward progress is the name of the game, no matter how bad you feel, how bad your feet hurt or how messed up your stomach is…you simply never stop putting one foot in front of the other.  I stay in the moment. I stay focused on taking that next step.  For 24-hours, that is the only thing that means anything to me.

(My first 100 mile finish, Umstead 100, 2014)

Do you eat?  Yes, you have too.  I start refueling almost from the first step.  I eat small bites of good energy fuel/food all day long.  Unlike a car’s fuel tank that you can fill up when empty, if you wait until your empty to refuel, you will lose your stomach.  More 100-mile runs end on stomach issues then muscle issues.  I add small amounts of fuel all day to try and keep my tank full, or as full as it can be.

What do you eat?  I eat a lot of simple foods, power gels and easy to consume drinks.  I pack food bags with items such as, apple sauce cups, bagels with peanut butter, power bars, gels, and miniature candy bars.  At the aid stations, I look for boiled potatoes, salty snacks, PBJ, cookies, and warm chicken broth.  And if they have pizza BONUS!

Food selection during a 24-hour run or 100-mile race is very personal.

(Graveyard 100, 2015)

Are you running the whole time?  I’m moving “nearly the whole time.”  During my last two 100-mile races, Umstead 100 – 2017 and Yeti 100 – 2017, I spent very little time off my feet.  The only time I was not moving during Umstead was when I stopped to get some small rocks out of my shoes.  Total time off my feet may have been 15 minutes.  During the Yeti 100 I was never off my feet.  The only time I was not moving forward was while I was at the aid stations getting my water bottle filled and selecting my food items for the next leg of the race.  With food items on hand, I eat on the go.

As for the running part of this question…the elite level guys I believe are running near the entire time.  Most amateur 100-mile runners use some form of run/fast hike program.  During the Yeti 100 I started the race utilizing a 6/2 ratio of run/hike.  Run 6 minutes/hike 2 minutes.  This cycle lasted the better part of 35 miles.  The hardest part of this ratio was keeping up with my watch.  For the majority of this I was running with a friend who had his watch set up with reminders of when to run/hike.  When we separated at 30 miles, I had to keep up with the time intervals on my own.  As I got tired I needed something simpler (math wise) to keep track of on my watch.  I began a 5/5 run/hike ratio.  This lasted until night fall when I could no longer see my watch (around 60 miles).  Then I ran/hiked by feel.  I ran as long and as hard as I could, hiked until I caught my breath then did it again, and again and again.  I finished the YETI 100 in 22 hours 47 minutes and 45 seconds.

(My second Umstead 100, 2017 with my stellar crew, Elise and Andrea)

Do you change shoes?  No.  If it’s not broke don’t fix it.  For all four of my 100-mile races I ran in one pair of shoes and socks.  Although I have seen other runners do multiple shoe/sock combo changes mid race.

How long does it take?  Most 100-mile races have a 30-hour cutoff.  I’ve finished all four of my 100-mile races have been Sub-24 hours.  The event winners normally finish around the 15-hour mark depending on the challenges the course offers.

Umstead 100, 2014:  22hr 51m 05s
Graveyard 100, 2015:  23hrs 05m 05s
Umstead 100, 2017:  21hrs 36m 36s
Yeti 100, 2017:  22hrs 47m 45s

(Yeti 100, 2017 with RD Jason)

How do you keep running all alone, in the dark, at night?  I stay in the moment.  If I start thinking about the what if, how far I still have to go, or the things that go bump in the night I might just lose it.  I focus on moving forward as fast as I can.  I do not let my mind wonder much further then the next step on the trail.

Do you have a question about running 100-miles, comment below and I’ll be sure to answer it the best I can.

4 thoughts on “100-Miles in 24 hours – Ultra Marathon Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Jeff Beason

    Congrats on your finishes! I made my first attempt this weekend only to fall short due to IT issues. Reassessing and going for it again.

  2. DevonTaig

    Great info – thanks. I’m hoping to accomplish 100 miles in 24 myself after feeling a little excitement this weekend after walking (only walking) 76 miles in 24 hours by myself. I’m wondering if there is a “best practice” for a jog/ walk schedule and what pace people shoot for when running and aiming for that specific goal. I’m 50, and recently ran a 3:20 marathon if that helps.

    1. Brian Burk

      Thanks for visiting my blog. Interval running is a big part of running past the marathon distance. I run a 3:53 marathon, I’m 54. I have found a 4/2 interval spilt works well over the long haul, keeping a combined 12/13 minute mile. Now saying that your times will fall off on the back side. This weekend we hit 50 miles at 10:30 and finished the 100 in 23:30 +/- some. This race was a little different as we tried to stay together as a team. My best 100-mile time is 21:36. Good luck and keep in touch. Brian

  3. Rebecca Guenther

    Are there certain 100 milers that are easier to get a sub 24 hour time in? I’ve run two now (Bryce and Bighorn) but with no pacing strategy, just to finish. My times were 34 hours and 33 hours, respectively. I know that I spend way too much time at aid stations, and that would be one area of improvement. Bryce was runable, but there was a record high heat wave the year I did that one (2017) and I also developed 9 blisters that really slowed me down. Bighorn was just impossible for me to run. It was single track, 60% mud and there was not much sure-footing on the course. Now that I’ve done two, I’d really like to set my efforts on a sub 24 hour time. I train on the quicksilver trails in CA mostly, which are wide, with lots of climbing but easily runable trails. I’m wondering if I need to be practicing more technical routes so that I can learn to run them or if I should pick races that are more like quicksilver (can you recommend any?). I was considering TRT 100 for next year, 2020. Have you done that one? Is it possible to get a sub 24? Any advice? Thanks ahead!!


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