Trailer Trash


I went back to Ohio… to run 100 miles (Mohican 100 Race Report) (Read 28 times)


    Mohican 100 Race Report (2016)


    Ohio is my birthplace. I lived on the shores of Lake Erie through 5th grade before moving to a more rural part of the state, living there until graduating high school in 79’ and starting life’s journey out west, in CA to be specific. I often went back to my hometown for holidays and visiting family and of course those trips became more frequent when I moved back east to PA in the 90’s. Once my parents retired and moved to FL (99’ I think) I never went back to Ohio other than to drive through on trips to Oklahoma.


    So with that said, I have been looking to run a 100 mile ultra in Ohio for a few years now. The 2 major races are Burning River and the Mohican 100. The Mohican course interested me the most though I never pulled the trigger as I could not get a good sense of the course and if I would “enjoy” it. Recently though it had been converted to 4 loop course advertised as 95% trail. I have never done a loop course for a 100 miler, but have been more accepting of loops since running a few 12 hour trail events. As a bonus, I grew up nearby to Mohican State Park, and had done some hiking and canoeing in the area as a young punk. So I pulled the plug and registered for the race in early January after once again missing out on the Western States lottery. I also secured an excellent campsite in the state park less than a 5 minute walk from the race start and end of loop aid station.


    As usual my trail partner in crime and best friend extraordinaire Angus was along for the journey. We left on Thursday to setup camp and give us a day to chill before the race. Well give me a day to chill. On and off rain showers the entire way but it was dry when we made it to the state park. We setup camp and finished up the tent and rain canopy just as heavy showers moved in. Good timing on our part. We headed out to the local tavern for dinner and scored a most excellent burger (Mohican Burger of course). The waitress of course asked us if we were here for the race. After dinner we headed back to camp to wait out the rain, and then watch game 6 of the NBA finals series on a tiny smart phone screen. Hey, it beat calling home for updates every 5 minutes. The Cavs won and I realized if I made good time in the race perhaps I could get home for the final game of the series.


    One thing we both agreed upon about this race was the top notch organization, volunteers, and trail markings. Angus ran much of the course the day before my race and did not even get lost! They really seemed to have their act together, perhaps with the exception of parking near the race finish, due to the canoe place nearby needing the spaces for the tourists. This area, Loudonville OH, is a huge summer tourist destination for camping, canoeing, and tubing in the Mohican River Gorge. So it gets crowded on summer weekends.


    The course itself as I mentioned is 4 loops now, 2 long loops of 27+ miles, then 2 shorter loops of 23+ miles to finish up. The route is mostly single track trail in the woods, with 12,800 feet of elevation gain. I had put together a pretty aggressive race plan with an estimate of 24:05 for finish time. I could not quite justify planning out a sub24 though it was in the back of my mind.


    Anyways, on to the race… I was up at o’dark hundred (3:30am) to get ready for the 5am start. Many others in camp were as well. I could actually see the start line lit up from camp as we started our walk over there. The morning was clear and comfortable, maybe upper 50’s to 60 degrees at race start. I think mid 80’s for the high during the day. With the shade of the woods, and low humidity, I was not too concerned with the weather. The trails were dry and in great shape. I handed Angus my jacket, stripped down to near nakedness, shorts and 2 handhelds, and off we went at 5am.


    Morning Loop (27+ miles)

    The race started out on a park campground road to spread out the runners. Subsequent loops had us hitting the single track trail paralleling the road to get us to the trail that climbs up to the gorge overlook aid station. It was a strange start as I was just sort of jogging along and there was no one at the front of the pack really taking control of the pace setting. I had a stupid thought of surging ahead like an idiot to lead the way but of course I didn’t. It might have been fun though.


    The course leaves the park road and enters the trail about a mile into the race. Here I do something rather dumb though I didn’t realize it at the time. The beginning part of the gorge climb is pretty tame and I felt I was getting sucked into other runner’s pacing, so I made a move to pass a few people on the left. One woman of note seemed to give me a silent “eye roll or really” type of look as I went by. I thought to myself later that person was most likely elite runner Connie Gardner from Ohio who has won this race 7 or 8 times now. Yes, if I only had some sense to stick with her pace… as if I could. She went by me just after the first aid station.


    Anyway, it was very dark in the woods on the climb up to the gorge overlook AS (aid station) and I definitely took it a little too fast but everyone in the group nearby was moving at a good clip so it was sort of a flow thing. The trail twists and switchbacks multiple times and the headlamps moving through the woods was a mini-light show of sorts. Just before the AS we were treated to a morning sunrise and crimson sky, however the AS was not exactly at the overlook but still it was a nice effect. I covered the first 4.1 miles (mostly uphill) in about 39 minutes. Definitely too fast but I wasn’t overly concerned.


    The next section of the loop takes us to the Fire Tower AS. A nice gentle descent before the twisting single track climb commences. Other than the initial start of the climb, this is a very good section for running. I was still with a quick group here, but took a pretty good trip and fall early on in the section. Both of my handhelds went flying into the ferns off the trail, and I had a few anxious minutes as I searched the brush for the bottles as there was still not much light yet in the woods and they were hard to spot. Thank God for reflective markings on the bottle straps as I needed them to finish the race. I wasted a few minutes in my search and settled in with another group after finding my bottles. I stayed back behind them for a mile or so but once again decided to go by them to get back at my own pace. I spent the next several miles switch-backing up/down the trail and eventually some other runners locked on behind me as a pacer. There was some music blasting at the AS, and it was a real tease as you could hear it for miles it seemed before reaching the AS. I was about 10 minutes ahead of schedule coming into this AS but it’s the last section split I really remember.


    The next section is the long loop to the Covered Bridge AS. This had some of the best scenery of the day, including Lyons Falls (Big and Little), Pleasant Hill Lake and dam, a run along the Clear Fork of the Mohican River and the Covered Bridge. I was still with the same group of runners for most of this section playing pacer again and hearing them chat things up. I think several had run the course before, or at least part of it. Nice running for the early miles here, mostly gentle downhill on easy trail. Near Big Lyons Falls the trail became trickier and we had to walk down wooden steps to the bottom. The trail to Little Lyons Falls was no more than a scramble through a creek bed with multiple downed trees but it wasn’t very long, and the short climb out on the “root” ladder was fun. Once up to the dam, the course veered down the hill on an annoying set of stairs before hitting an easy flat section of trail along the river to the Covered Bridge AS. Not much happened here, other than moving along through the course. I did somehow manage to turn off my watch here so had to resort to time of day to see my lap progression.


    Leaving Covered Bridge the course makes a very steep climb to begin the ascent to the Hickory Ridge AS. This particular section was my favorite of the course. The steep climb gave the legs a break and once on top of the hill a nice straight section of trail was the reward where you could open things up. I had broken away from the other runners by now and was sort of chasing down another guy who was moving well but I wasn’t gaining on him. Still I felt good and started to let my mind wander into section times, race times, sub24 and other things. I took a few spills here after that and found that I had to remind myself to stay in the “Here and Now”. There was a beautiful section of thick pines here, a view on top of the ridge where you could see the other side of the gorge to the west, and also a gorgeous piece of trail next to and above a steep little stream run cutting into the hillside. Oh, and the cicadas were extra loud here. I forgot to mention them. They were a constant background noise most of the day, even a few times at night.


    Finally into the last section of the loop, the return from Hickory Ridge to the State Park, and according to my memory of the course chart, the most downhill of any section. I was running well here but this section frustrated me. I came up with a name for this section later in the day; “the spin cycle”. The section started off with a gentle downhill on a forest type road, then the single track twisted up and down and around on itself, with a feeling of getting nowhere. I had a few runners on my tail later in the loop and one said he wanted to pass me, and I said just let me know, I am in cruise mode. I guess that took him aback as he never did request to pass. The end of the trail section here dumped us out on a hot dusty gravel road in a campground and this was a very tedious part of the course for several reasons. First, often the course was following the mountain bike trail and it’s mile marker posts and these had dropped down to zero already, so the mind thought the loop was over but there was still a mile or two through this campground to the AS at the state park. Plus there were some asphalt and road sections as well exposed to the sun. Still, I can’t complain as they had to get back to the park somehow and up to that point we had been on trail for almost the entire time. Running by the campground, some old codger was sitting alone next to his trailer taking in the scene and I mentioned to him that “hey, we must be stupid or something” and he laughed back, “yeah you must be something”. I finished the loop in good spirits but now the heat of the day was upon us.


    Section time, 5:30  (5 minutes under plan)



    Daytime Loop (27+ miles)

    I’ll try to be shorter here and stick to the highlights. I could tell I was slowing slightly on the second loop but I was expecting that based on the heat of the day and accounted for it in my plan. I saw Angus several times here at the AS with crew access and that was always a plus, seeing a good friend, getting a few crackpot comments, and of course he speeded my transition through the AS. I ran for several miles here with one of the runners from the first loop, Jason I believe from Columbus. We chatted and discussed previous races. He was looking for his first 100 mile finish, and I believe if I remembered his name right he got it!  When we hit Big Lyons Falls we both dipped ourselves briefly into the cooling thin stream of water from up above.


    I had a lot of that stay in the “Here and Now” thing going on here in my head as I fell pretty hard 3 more times in this loop, banging my left knee and hip leaving scrapes and bruises. I was still thinking about a 24 hour finish as that was in my plan, and I felt I was still right there. It seemed every time I thought about it down I went. I even bargained in my head… hey keep it up, if you can get 24 hours screw Western States Qualifying and screw 100 milers. You can call it quits at this stupid long distance. I had to put that out of my mind though, and it was tough. Keep running. Feel what’s going on with your body and move down the trail. Don’t think ahead. It was pretty hot by the time I hit the gravel road in campground before the finish but I still felt relatively good all things considered and was looking forward to the shorter loops. Ha.


    Section time, 6:15, overall time 11:45 (right on plan)



    Evening Loop (23+ miles)

    It was still pretty warm in the evening but not overly oppressive in the shaded woods. I left the State Park AS scarfing down a slice of pizza. My second one, as I had one earlier while getting things together and cooling off. I felt pretty much disgusting overall, a sweaty sticky mess. During the climb up to the Gorge Overlook AS I passed a friendly hiker who was doing the 50 miler. Interesting here is that the only cutoffs are the 100 mile cutoffs so hikers can do one or two loops. This loop is where I passed many of the 50 mile hikers; the second loop the marathon hikers.


    I made it to the gorge AS in about an hour which looking back was right on my schedule and Angus was there again to get me back me out on the trail. The run back up to the fire tower AS was decent but that music again was a real tease. They had the blues blasting there this time and I was asked to sing. I declined, but probably should have belted out the crotch rot blues as I had a case of them and doused myself with some vaseline. The short loop here takes us down a new section of trail to the Covered Bridge AS. It was short, mostly downhill, but had several tricky places among streams and foot bridges towards the end. I wasn’t paying much attention to section times here. No section was truly uphill or downhill it seemed. Switchbacks everywhere, twisting you up and down; a 100 miles of switchbacks!


    I had slowed down quite a bit so thankfully the trail falls became less frequent. I think only one this lap. During the run up to Hickory Ridge, the overall leader for the 100 mile race lapped me and he was looking good. Less than a 17 hour finish! It was getting dark as I started the last section, the dreaded “Spin Cycle”, and out came the headlamp. I had a mental meltdown here as for some reason I felt I had to finish this third loop before darkness to get my goal time. In retrospect, I just needed to stay strong but at the point my mind was slipping a bit. I sort of ran this section, but it was more of a shuffle/jog type of thing. Headlamps were shining behind, in front, and on the side of me in all directions. It was weird… you could not always tell if they were ahead of or behind you on the course as they seemed to be everywhere in all directions.


    The second place 100 miler lapped me just at the end of the loop. That was also slightly demoralizing but in reality those were the only 2 runners to pass me in the last few sections. I staggered into the State Park AS feeling a bit dejected and run down. The loop course really bears down on you as the 100 mile fade is so noticeable. I had hoped to run this third loop slightly faster or equal to the second loop, due to the shorter distance, but instead I was 10 or 15 minutes slower. I had mild thoughts about how stupid this was and why subject myself to a night of suffering but of course I continued on. No real reason. I just did. I was here to run a hundred miles. I was mightily bushed though.


    Section time, 6:25, overall time 18:10 (30 minutes over plan)



    Night Loop (23+ miles)

    I spent way too much time getting myself together at the State Park AS. Angus was ready to pace and I mentioned I was ready to walk. I felt pretty overheated still even though it was night. I had no idea on the temps but Angus had on a long sleeve and that made me wonder… perhaps though he was accounting for my slow ass self. I was about to go out shirtless and I probably could have and been fine but made a last minute decision to play it safe and put on a short sleeve.


    We had a decent hike up to the Gorge Overlook AS, maybe even some shuffle jogging in places. I guess it was after midnight when we arrived. I had an issue peeling bananas and dropping things now. I was littering and making a mess of the place. Oops. A runner was getting ready to take a nap here when we came in. I found it odd as it wasn’t late and I still can’t figure out how and why people do that?! No one had passed us yet but a runner came in just as I was pounding some jello and snacks so I got out of there.


    The run up to the Fire Tower was a battle of holding off the headlamps behind me. I did not succeed that well, but I didn’t make it super easy either constantly trying to move at a shuffling pace. I think I was passed twice, and I saw a few other headlamps but they may have been behind me on one of the switchbacks. The music again from the AS teased us for a few miles. As we got closer it sounded very haunting to me, but closer yet, it was some crazy techno beat. I sort of got in a trance and power hiked my way the last few hundred yards bridging the gap to another runner and pacer. The Fire Tower AS itself at night was incredible sight. The techno sound, some sort of laser light contraption throwing spinning dots of green light into the forest canopy. I nearly wanted to stay and party. Instead I fueled up with grilled cheese, watermelon, rice crispie treats, and got out of there. It’s still a race dang it.


    Not much happened heading down to the Covered Bridge. I was just checking off sections at this point, not even paying attention to my watch or time. We did start bridging the cap to another runner by the time we reached the AS. After fueling up, we headed up towards Hickory Ridge and I told Angus about this section and how it was my favorite. We were just behind the other runner and his pacer and I felt I had some energy now and tried to reel them in during the steep climb. Once we leveled out I took off with what felt like fresh legs, blew by the other runner at a pretty fast pace. Regular running really.... It felt great, sort of crazy, but I was worried about surging with so many miles to go. Still I went with it and had a good section overall, not really floundering too much and kept improving my position in the race. I was finally back in the “here and now” I suppose.


    At the last aid station food pickings were slim so I grabbed some blueberries, coffee, and we hit the trail. I had no idea what time it was and I did not want to check yet. I was done with tailwind as fuel, as I was just sick of it all and wanted just 2 bottles of ice cold water for the final section. There were many runners lingering at the AS so we got the hell out of dodge to make up some positions plus nothing else there interested me. I was ready to be done. One other runner headed out at about the same time and caught us just as we headed off the forest road to the single track trail. At first he wasn’t sure about passing, but once he saw how slow I was moving on the single track off he went. I believe he may have passed me earlier as I remember saying how I didn’t feel too bad that the young dude passed his grandpa. He might not have been that young though.


    The “spin cycle” of the last section went pretty much as before. For some reason I lost the adrenaline from the last section though maybe it was just a mental thing. I felt this was also the most technical part of trail in some places. In any case, we saw a skunk lurking about the woods, nearly chasing us it seemed, and Angus was disappointed that we were not sprayed. He thought it would make for a more epic finish us coming in stinking of skunk. I saw a few headlamps floating about but nothing like the last time through here. I still had minor hopes of a sub25 time but I had not been clock watching and when I noticed the thin wisp of light in the sky signaling daylight I figured my hopes were gone on that one. I popped out of the woods into the open campground part of the course, and finally checked the watch to confirm…. just a few minutes until 6am. Maybe I should have checked it earlier and pushed but then again maybe I would have blown up. It was good enough though.


    I pretty much jogged it in from there as the sun rose in the eastern sky. Angus headed back to camp to get the car while I made the turn under the bridge to the finish. It wasn’t that surreal… just another long day, but a successful finish… and I came home in the cool cool cool of the morning after staying awake all night, as BTO once sang.


    Section time, 7:06, overall time 25:16 (1 hour, 11 minutes over plan)




    Finish time: 25:16, 25th overall, 200+ starters, 121 finishers... a 2.5 hour 100 mile PR, but that is sort of irrelevant in a 100 mile race. This was the easiest 100 mile course I've ran but with 12,800 feet of ascent it was not a pushover either. It was the course of never ending switchbacks as I mentioned but I enjoyed it none the less. Hard to say if I will ever get that sub24 time in a 100 mile race but I am glad to have at least had a shot of it here. Thanks for reading.

    In dog beers, I've only had one.


    Next up: Whispering Pine 12 hour, 2/16



      You always write the best RR's. Nice job, and sounds like you did all that you could.


      For me, the problem with a loop is you know what's coming up, and if it's a section you don't like, it really plays on a tired mind.


      Nice to have a friend around. Does Angus do any training runs with you, or do you just run with the dogs?


      I'm out of ideas

        Nice detailed report. It doesn't sound like you had any really bad stretches.


        2020 Races:

             03/07/20 - Delano Park 12-Hour

             05/16/20 - 3DATF 50K

             07/11/20 - Ethan Allen 6-Hour

             07/25/20 - Endless Summer 6-Hour


          That was a great report. I really enjoyed sort of getting into your thoughts. In fact, I even stopped halfway through and did a little math for Cajun Coyote. We shall see. I think you had a pretty good race, but it is sometimes hard to stay focused for such a long period of time. And there are so many things going on in your body and mind during a 100 mile race. Congratulations on the PR and a great finish.



            AT - Yep, the good sections went well, the bad sections not so well. I needed a strategy for that! Angus is a very talented runner but retired from racing (overtraining thing). He's won Catoctin, Virgil Crest, Superior Trail to name a few. We run together 2-4 times a month, sometimes longs runs. He did a couple of them with me this year. We've been friends for a decade now. THe Lady, she has 3 hour long run limit so nothing over 15-17 for her.


            WCRunner - Probably the lowest spot was the end of that 3rd loop. I walked some of bike path leading towards the aid station.


            LB2 - Sub24 was a pie-in-the sky type of goal. A-goal was 24-25, and B-Goal was 25-26 so I guess a B+ for my race. I really wish I would have taken section splits to see where I lost most of my time. I was spot on through most of the 3rd loop so I think it was the spin cycle section at the end. Good luck with your planning and training, and racing.

            In dog beers, I've only had one.


            Next up: Whispering Pine 12 hour, 2/16



              LB2 - Sub24 was a pie-in-the sky type of goal. A-goal was 24-25, and B-Goal was 25-26 so I guess a B+ for my race. I really wish I would have taken section splits to see where I lost most of my time. I was spot on through most of the 3rd loop so I think it was the spin cycle section at the end. Good luck with your planning and training, and racing.


              It seems like in every race there is this point at which time just slips away. Sometimes, 5 minutes seems like 30 minutes and 30 minutes seems like 5 minutes. I think most time disappears at aid stations. That is the only rational explanation I can come up with. I am going to make it a point to write down, or have someone write down, the time I enter the S/F and leave the S/F on a loop course. I always say that, though, and I never do it. But next time...



                XT, great job on the 100.  I really liked the RR.  I sort of have a love/hate relationship with loops, love getting back to my personal aid stations, but I do hate the loops.


                You should do a flat 100 like Rocky Raccoon or Cajun Coyote to get that sub-24 !!!  LB2 will take care of you !!!

                 Houston Marathon - Jan 19, 2020


                  Thanks for the report. I've heard of this race but never really looked into it. If I ever decide to try a 100 I'll have to consider this one.


                  running under the BigSky

                    Congrats!  Deepest respect for anyone who completes a 100 miler  


                    I'm guessing it was pretty technical single track- falling sucks!

                    Gates of the Wilderness Loop 1/24-26

                    Bob Marshall Wilderness Open 2020  5/23-?

                    Trailer Trash Rae Lakes Loop 8/22


                      LB2 - I sort of account for the aid station stops but probably not enough. I was fairly efficient at most of the stations other than the end of loop station where I had my dropbag to resupply gels, salt, and tailwind. I carried enough with me to get me through each loop. Still with 19 stops I bet that added up to nearly an hour. But you have to stop briefly and eat and top off bottle. No real way around that unless all stations are crewed or you run with a pack (I don't).


                      Sandy - Thanks... surprisingly the loops didn't bother me mentally too much. That one section of the loop at then did though!


                      Dreamer - Thanks... They have a marathon and 50 there too with no cutoffs. A real nice area, and the trails are very runnable.


                      Warden - Thanks... funny, these were not very technical trails. There were quite a few roots in places, but pretty easy surface. I think I have been due for some falls and I took the surface for granted and kept catching a root with the toebox.

                      In dog beers, I've only had one.


                      Next up: Whispering Pine 12 hour, 2/16

                        Shit dude!  25th overall You are an old man and yet you beat 175 other folks!  Way to go.  One hour and 15 mins over your planned time is still very good because you really had no idea about this course and 100 miles is a long ways.    I thought Lady B was your trail partner and best friend!


                        So was there really a techno party or was some of the stuff you did in the 80s coming back to you. 


                        On a side note, never say naked in a RR with no pictures!  and How is it possible to eat pizza without drinking beer?  (or wine)


                        and I hope you get in WS so I can crewgar or pace with you.








                          Queenie - No telling about the rave party.. I was out of it for sure, but like those days in the late 70's.. but it was the most awesome aid station I've seen at night. Oh... and put on your blinders. Big grin



                          In dog beers, I've only had one.


                          Next up: Whispering Pine 12 hour, 2/16

                             that running is paying off!!!







                            Dr Jamie

                            Le professeur de trail

                              Very cool. Thanks for sharing. You always give great details in your RRs.


                              Not bad at all.  Time and place!


                              Someday I will run a hundred (I know I keep saying that).  The whole loop course vs out n back vs. point to point is all very interesting.  One can make a good argument for any of them.  Not sure that would be my deciding factor though in the end.



                              My favorite day of the week is RUNday





                                You should do a flat 100 like Rocky Raccoon or Cajun Coyote to get that sub-24 !!!  LB2 will take care of you !!!

                                I'm running Cajun this year. I hope I can get a sub-24 or at least a PR. But, you never know with these things.