I love mud… and cold… and loops… and bogs… and I love Mississippi trail running! It was my pleasure to once again entertain myself for a few hours with the madness that is the Mississippi 50.
I have run this race several times, and only once has there not been mud… that type of mud that sucks your shoes off. This year was considered to be a “dry” year, but all that meant was that the mud was extra-tacky… the kind of mud that, after a few thousand feet have gone through it, turns into a bog, where shoes stay and feet go.
In fact, one guy did lose his shoe in one of the mudpits; he reached in and literally couldn’t find it, and was left with one shoe!
Despite all this mud, I do love this race, for its volunteers, and its race director, Dennis Bisnette. He and his crew do all they can to ensure that a good time is had by all. The course is well marked, and the aid is solid, including red beans and rice at the finish. And man, red beans and rice on a cold day is MONEY. The 50-mile course is set up as three 12.5ish mile loops, and two 6.2ish mile loops. The 50k race and the 20k race are run on the same loops, but with variations for their distances.
Following my breakfast of champions (Pop Tarts and Citrus Drop Extreme, which is off-brand Mountain Dew), I headed to the start line, and met up with some buddies. Following a few “good lucks” we were off into the morning twilight. It was cold, but usually as the day progresses, I tend to get warmer. However, given the cloud cover and the wind, I stayed pretty cold throughout the run.
I settled in to a pace with my buddy Ed Daly, who had just gotten back from a ski trip to Colorado. As we ran and chatted, I could tell that the fatigue of the past few high mileage weeks was working on me, and that I needed to back off the pace a bit for the rest of the time. There is an out-and-back section to the course, and as we came back on it, we were able to size up the competition for the day. I told Ed that today was his, and to take note of who he needed to get. We finished up loop one, and I let Ed go off to track down his destiny. I, on the other hand, focused on keeping a solid pace for the day, not sure where I would end up at the end, but knowing that I needed to run patiently… just another long run.
The next big loops were uneventful, other than the adventurous crossings of the by-now bogs. Man, that mud will make you tired after a while! I just focused on being comfortable and patient with myself. At the start of the first short loop (mile 37.5), I decided that I would give myself two hard miles, just to see if I saw either Ed or Eric Lee, who was now leading the race. I figured that although I was on tired legs, maybe the sight of them would inspire me… but after a good push, they were still nowhere in sight, so I settled back into my groove, and was content to do my thing to the end.
Coming to the clock for the final time, I felt great. Although my legs were tired for a good portion of the day, I didn’t give in to it, and maintained an even keel for the better of the last 37 miles. I finished the race in 7:39, good enough for 3rd place. Not too bad for a long run.
Congrats to my buddy Ed Daly, who stayed strong the whole time, and was unrelenting all the way to the finish, good enough for 2nd. Congrats to Eric Lee on the “W” also… great guy. If you haven’t heard of him, Google him; he finished up Nolan’s 14 last year. If you don’t know what Nolan’s 14 is, Google that, and then have your mind blown.
Up next is the Lake Martin 50 miler on March 23rd! VAMOS!!!!
Shoes: Saucony Peregrine
Socks: Swiftwick 7”
Shorts: Salomon Exo S-lab II
Shirt: Patagonia L/S
Head cover: Buff (I freaking love these things!)