Pre-Race: It all started with a Facebook Message, “would you be interested in running the Graveyard 100k with me,” my running mentor asked. George N. is the Race Director for the Virginia 24 Hour Against Cancer, my first Ultra and ever since then has helped me to establish myself as a ultra-runner. Since that first race George and I have run together often. During these runs he has shared a wealth of experience and information. Surprisingly in his 20+ years of ultra-running he has never ran a 100k event and since I needed a 3rd training run in preparation for my Umstead 100 mile race, I jumped at the chance.
Weather: George and I drove down to the Outer Banks of North Carolina hoping the world was not coming to an end. Friday night during our drive an ugly storm rolled into town with 35 to 60 mph winds, ragging seas, and driving rain. The building the race meeting was held in was built on the base of a fishing pier and as the Race Director gave his brief you could feel the building shake at it’s foundations by the crashing waves. After the brief we headed out to dinner in the continuing storm, going to bed that night I really wondered what conditions we would face at race start.
Saturday morning the winds calmed down and bright sunshine filled the sky. Temps at race start (3 p.m.) were forecasted to be around 59f with a tailwind around 11 m.p.h. Overnight the low would reach 45f with the winds changing to a quartering headwind out of the sw, and a bright half-moon. Conditions could not have gotten any better considering where it was just 24 hours before.
It was tough waiting on the later 3 p.m.start time. Felt like much of my body rhythm was thrown off, but it was also nice to get in some rest and extra lazy time. This later start also provided a few more hours to double check as well as “double guess” our drop bags and back pack inventory. I was racing in a Ultimate Direction AK Race Vest, so space was limited. I initially planned to carry rain gear, but when the forecast called for ZERO percent chance of rain I opted out and added a second long sleeve t shirt just in case it got cold overnight.
The 100k course is 63 miles point-to-point, traveling the entire length of paved highway on Hatteras Island and just over 10 miles of Bodie Island viewing much of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore via historic Hwy 12. With the unpredictable weather conditions of the Outer Banks in March, no two Graveyards are ever the same. Add into the fact that we were running this event un-crewed, meaning other than the 3 aid stations (at roughly 5, 24 and 50 miles), we would be depending on what we could carry ourselves. All of these factors added together and the Graveyard would present many firsts and a challenging 100k, (63 miles).
Race Kit: (At Start)
Reebox Hat with built in tail light
Garmin 201 GPS
Long sleeve tech running shirt
RunSeen reflective vest
UD Race Vest (one 20oz bottle)*
*two additional long sleeve shirts, beanie, gloves, trash bag
Nathan hand held 20oz bottle
Race ready long distance shorts
CW-X men’s stabilyx tights
Dirty Girlz, Puppy paw print gaiters
Layer 8 Socks
Nike Air Pegasus
8 GU Energy Labs Tri-Berry Power Gels
Hammer Nutrition Endurolytes
Hand help micro flash light
Both water bottles had Lemon Gatoraid mixed with a Tri-berry GU
Race: The race provided transportation to the starting line and after some last minute logistics we lined up and were ready to run. The Graveyard 100 (for the last time) is two races in one, a 100 mile race and it’s little sister the 100K. The 100 milers started 10 hours before us and at a point 37 miles to the north. We saw a few of the tail end 100 milers at the 100k starting line/water station. Our starter Heather lined us up just before 3 p.m. and without much fan fair we were off.
George devised a great pacing plan. His plan had us running for a mile, then taking a two minute fast walk break, then run another mile, keeping up this cadence for the next 63 miles. Following the Jeff Galloway marathon training theory, we hoped this pacing method would save our legs for the later stages of the race. The first miles went off without much effort and we both commented about how fast we felt.
Mile 5: (Aid Station 2): 52:31: This aid station although part of the 100k route was really set up for the 100 milers, for timing reasons we were required to run thu it to trip the timing mat accounting for our overall time. I snagged a few cookies and headed back out on the course as fast as I could.
Mile 10: 1:48 / 10:48 pace:
Bonner Bridge: Once I decided to run this race it was always a positive to run across the Bonner Bridge. This bridge stands approx. 350 ft off the water and spans a solid 2 miles. It was such a pleasure to run across this and get to see a different point of view then most folks who routinely drive across. Also so thankful my camera batteries waited to die until after we made it on to the bridge. I wanted to stage a nice picture while we were on the center section, but my lack of planning and checking the charge of the batteries put an end to that. The bridge crossing fell nicely into our run/walk plan as we ran all the flat sections, fast walked the uphill then ran the downhill.
Mile 20: 3:45 / 11:15 pace: I hit a GU and two Endurolytes
Mile 25.5(Aid Station 3): 5:01 / 11:48 pace: From time to time during the night, when it was quiet, or when a driver would zoom past us at 100 miles per hour, I would think about #megsmiles. I pray her family is doing well, she has inspired 1,000s. Here I grabbed two cups of potato soup, cookies, coke and some pretzels.
Mile 30: 6:02 / 12:04 pace: Another round of GU and Endurolyte chaser
Mile 40: 8:14 / 12:21 pace: I was struggling a little bit around mile 42, 43…my left knee began to hurt, my feet hurt and it just got to be a bit of a struggle. My energy and drive was good but I was just not having much fun. Around mile 45 I met up with a runner who was being crewed and I asked if they had any Ibuprofen. They did and I took a 800mg tablet. Part of what was bugging me was that I knew I put some pain meds in a small zip lock, but could not find them. We hit Mile 47 and I felt like a new man, my knee did not bug me anymore, the pain in my feet was gone and I felt an zap of good spirits.
Approaching Cape Hatteras Light House: Running down the access road to the light house was a bit of a drag. Up to this point we had been running south making progress towards our final destination. Running out to the light house, running east, felt like we weren’t making any progress, just logging miles. But once I saw the light house back dropped by the night sky with is light shining into the darkness, that extra distance was worth whatever it cost. I’m sure not to many people get to see the light house from that perspective, at that time of night, another one of the benefits of touring OBX by foot.
Mile 50 (Aid Station 4) 10:44 / 12:52 pace: As much as I was struggling at mile 45, leaving the aid station at Cape Hatteras I was feeling great and ready to end this thing. While at the aid station I downed a few more cookies, some coke and a hand full of cheese nips. I half joked asking George if we could run a 2 hour half marathon and finish in under 13 hours. He laughed some, but it wasn’t until leaving the light house area that I understood George was struggling.
“Some races you run for time, Some you race for friendship” – Brian
Mile 55 12:06 /13:12 pace: Even though I was just coming off an aid station stop, I did not want my fuel sources to run in debit, so I hit another shot of GU and Endurolyte chaser
My GPS battery died somewhere around mile 60.
Mile 63 Finish 14:36:16
Post-Race: The support crew for this event were OUTSTANDING. At race brief/check in, each aid station, finish and the recovery rooms at the finish hotel the support teams treated us like rock stars. A BIG Thank You goes out to everyone who put this race on. As I understand it this is the last year for the 100k, and I feel bad for that. The 100k distance is a great option to the 100 miler, but I also understand how hard it must be to organize and run two races at the same time covering a course that stretches 100/63 miles.
The other racers were welcoming and very supportive. I met a ton of great people during this race and every one of them made me “a middle of the pack 100k runner” feel just as important as the potential winner of the 100 mile event. I hope to keep up the friendships that I made along the way!
Final Thoughts: What a great weekend and memorable race. I’m so glad it played out just like it did. At times I wanted to speed along and just finish this race, but I made a commitment to my friend and I stuck with it. At the finish George thanked me for pulling him along, and told me he could not have finished when he did without my help. That made it all worth it, I felt like I had given something back to him for all the words of wisdom he has given me over the years!
The winning 100 mile runner finished in 14 hours 47 minutes, he won the race…George and I won the weekend, will be friends for a long time…I’m sure.
Best Graveyard 100 Quote: I finished the race, and the race finished me. unknown
Graveyard aftermath, all the race reports combined by the race director.