Mike Morton’s 2022 70-mile SRT Race Report

This is a guest post by 70-mile finisher Mike Morton

The following is a basic report of my race which mostly includes how I felt, my planning, what went right and what went wrong.  I love both Russ’ report and Kate’s report for their insights into the course.

A huge thank you to Ken, Todd and all the volunteers on the SRT Race team.  Everything was extremely well organized.  Everyone was super friendly and helpful throughout.

Pre-Race

Just a quick summary:

  • 2 days before: I started to eat more carbs than usual.  I also drank a few electrolyte drinks to top up hydration and carb stores.  I tried to get more sleep leading up to the race.  I also tried to sleep in a few days.
  • Race Day: Nothing unusual.  I got a ride to the start, which was 3.5 hours.  Arrived about an hour early and “geared up”.  Had plenty of time, checked in and everything was smooth.

Race

Fun start with a quick countdown and we all shuffled off.  The first few hours were great: sun going down, chatting with a few new friends and cruising slowly (but probably too fast) along the trail.  Unfortunately my watch had the navigation upside down (the start as the end!), so the entire race I had to read directions backwards/upside down 🤯.  I turned on my headlamp after about an hour and enjoyed the first 4-5 hours of trails, road crossings and changing environment.

  • Thanks to Kate for getting me back on course, uh, more than once 😀

My hydration plan was to drink roughly 500ml per hour and to drink my entire bladder (1.5L) first and then sip from my 2x500ml front water sleeves.  Once the bladder was empty, I would start looking to refill at the next water crossing.  I figured that gave me ~ 2 hours to get to the next water crossing.  That strategy worked well for the entire race.  There was plenty of water and I never came close to running out.

My food plan was to eat ~300 calories / hour for the entire race.  That includes 100 calories from Tailwind, 100 from a GU packet and 100 from a bar.  That plan worked for about 4-5 hours until  about midnight when I just was not hungry at all.  I kept up with tailwind and probably 3 GUs from midnight to 6am, but no solid food.  I was able to start back with some food around 6am off and on for the rest of the course.  I had to force food in as I could throughout the race, with my stomach not wanting to eat – but nothing catastrophic.  More on the nutrition plan below.

The long flat section leading towards Checkpoint 1 was very rocky and did not feel great on the feet.  Glad to not be on the railroad bed – but boy those early rocks added up (on my feet) later in the course.  Rolled into Checkpoint 1 at 10:45pm a little bored/tired from the long straight, but feeling fine.

After checkpoint 1 was a the first big “up” section.  Definitely went slowly on the switchbacks and tried to eat a little food.  Pretty hard climbing.  But not long on the trails and then into the long flat section by the water leading towards Checkpoint 2.   This stretch started well, but also turned into a wide trail with rocks strewn across it – not just a nice smooth trail that you can chug along!  I suppose on a usual day it would be fine – but at night it was again stepping on a lot of rocks or trying to switch sides and avoid them.

During this stretch I paused to step off the trail and stepped right into a swamp!  I completely drenched my right foot – and I hate wet feet!  I spent the next couple of miles thinking of how I could create a sock from the extra stuff I brought (which did not include socks!).  But after an hour, it wasn’t bothering me and I let it go for the rest of the race.  This foot ended up hurting badly towards the end, more on that below.

I did enjoy the road section leading into Checkpoint 2 – it was a nice change.  In fact, I really enjoyed each time the terrain changed onto/off roads, a checkpoint or a new trail.  It was really nice to have changes to note that: yes, I’m making progress!

Right as I got to checkpoint 2, Russ (8pm start and 70-miler winner) jogged past me as I walked on the uphill road.  He introduced himself and was very friendly.  I got into Checkpoint 2, I’m not sure what time.  I continued straight on, although I should have paused to eat a bar probably.

IMG_1817

This next section I thought of as “the 3 bumps” since it went up quite steeply over 3 different rises.  Each one maybe 3-4 miles?  It was late in the night with a beautiful moon.  The trail was loaded with rocks and roots to step around and avoid, so I found myself focused and feeling pretty good (for the milage).  I thought the 2-5am stretch would be lonely and depressing, but since I had to focus on my steps, I found time passing pretty well.

However, I was definitely getting tired and the last “bump” lasted quite a long time for me.  There were 2 nice stream crossings during this stretch where I refilled water and splashed water over my head and neck.  I was definitely running quite warm and appreciated the chance to cool off.  I found that I would have good energy for the next 45 minutes after that, but then it was a bit of a slog into the wee hours.  I finally reached the downhill and flat into checkpoint 3.  Again, it was flat, but extremely rocky section that was eating into my feet.  I was happy to reach Checkpoint 3 at 5:45am.  I stopped here, dropped my pack for 5 minutes and ate  “breakfast” (a bar) – my first solid food in 4-5 hours.  That felt good and I was ready for the “second half”.

It was up for ~3 miles to Sam’s point.  I walked and hiked up and it was nice to see the sun rise and turn the headlamp off.  I expected to take 1.5 hours for this 3 mile section, and it took a bit less, so it wasn’t as bad as I thought.  I continued up the road to Sam’s point and the absolutely amazing views.  That was around 8am.  It was nice to jog along the path + road at the top, until I got to the turn-off for the trail.  Again, the trail was all stepping around and over rocks and it was becoming relentless.  After a few miles (Mud Pond?), I stopped at a nice river crossing to refill water, eat and regroup mentally.  It was getting harder: I was tired (obviously), my right foot was in pain and I was becoming a lot slower.  I just could not manage to jog on this rocky terrain any longer.

I kept following the trail and jogged (3-mile-per-hour) any section that was not too rocky.  The trail here led to multiple unbelievable points and views!  I laughed out loud at the section leading to Castle Point where I was actually rock climbing straight up.  There were a couple of nice folks up there who showed me what I was looking at over the 360 degree views.  You could see probably 100 miles.  Amazing.

Down the road (felt great!) and then back into the woods.  I was getting slower and everything was hurting more.  The trail through to Jenny Lane was just exhausting.  Step after step.  It was nice to see some 30-miler runners come past and say hello.  I just kept going, eating what I could, drinking as much as I could.

IMG_3054

I really enjoyed reaching checkpoint 4 at 12:30pm.  It was a fantastic wide stream crossing and I sat down on a rock in the middle of the trail (sorry those coming behind me!) to refill water, rest and cool down.  The volunteers throughout were so kind, helpful, encouraging and energetic.  I enjoyed the company here and took about 10 minutes doing my water refill, eating and relaxing.

The bad thing is that my energy didn’t last long and I was back to walking and jogging when I could.  Just managing 20-30 minutes per mile, so much slower than I was hoping.  The good news is that checkpoints were now going to come faster and I was actually approaching the end.

My stomach really didn’t feel great the entire day.  I forced in a GU approximately once an hour.  I drank big swigs of Tailwind.  And I tried to eat 1/2 a bar as a I could.  When I stopped to refill water or at a checkpoint, I tried to remember to eat right away and then rest 5 minutes.  I’ve felt worse, but it was just bad enough that I didn’t want to eat and had to force what I could.

I don’t remember much of the section into Checkpoint 5 which was the start of the half marathon.  I reached this spot at 2pm.  What was nice coming out from the checkpoint is that the trail was now covered in pine needles!  Wow – so soft and nice!  I could jog (15 min / mile) for stretches and that felt just so nice.  All the way into the next checkpoint was off/on shuffling.  I rolled into checkpoint 6 at 4pm.

The last 6 miles, and I’m definitely starting to count down now!   Up for a while, but a lot of down as well.  Some nice soft sections, but still some rocky sections.  I probably jogged 50% of the time, and walked the other 50%.   The entire day I rarely checked my watch for distance.  I had the map on the whole time and didn’t bother checking for where I was (mileage).  At this point, I kept up with the same: I never checked how much was left, I just kept plugging along.  Of course mentally I was thinking “maybe that was 2 miles and I have 4 left?”

The last little bit was of course nice, smooth and I was able to slowly jog it out to the finish.  For many miles now I knew that I could finish.  My original goal was 22 hours, but I felt very far from that after the halfway point: I was just moving so slowly.  However, I was really happy to make it under 24 hours!  I couldn’t be happier to have made it across this crazy course, and see a chair that I could finally sit down and stop!

What I brought:

Pack (Solomon 12L ADV, size Medium)

Emergency / First Aid:

  • Emergency Bivvy
  • A few bandaids
  • A couple patches of Moleskin
  • A couple small pieces of KT-anti-blister tape
  • Packet of Sunscreen
  • Packet of anti-chafing jelly
  • Small roll of TP
  • Salt Tabs (14) and Ibuprofen (12)

Extra Clothing:

  • Lightweight Jacket (Houdini)
  • Lightweight pants (Houdini)
  • Arm Sleeves
  • Buff
  • Hat + Gloves

Tech

  • Headlamp (Fenix) with 1 extra battery
  • Backup Battery Pack w/cables to charge headlamp, watch and phone
  • iPhone (in shorts pocket)
  • Headphones

Water: 2.5L

  • (2) Salmon water sleeves (front pouches) w/Tailwind
  • (1) 1.5 L bladder w/Tailwind

Food: 6,500 calories

  • Tailwind: 5 scoops mixed into water (above)
  • Tailwind: (18) small packets with 1-scoop of TW in it
  • (24) Gu packets, a variety of flavors and 50% without caffeine
  • (2) Gu Gummy packets
  • Bars: (2) Raspberry Fig Bars, (2) Bobo Oat Bars, (2) That’s It Fruit Bars, (1) Kind bar
  • (1) Packet of beef jerky (~350 calories). (1) Beef Stick

What I wore:

  • Shoes, Toe-Socks, Gators
  • Shorts + Tights
  • Tech T-shirt
  • COROS Vertix
  • Hat, headlamp
  • Loaded (13lb) Pack [above]

What worked and What didn’t

Honestly looking back, a lot more went right than wrong.  I didn’t have any falls (amazing), no scrapes or bruises.  No major injuries.  No major getting lost.  The only thing physically, besides of course getting very tired, was my right foot.

What went RIGHT:

  • Food:
    • Raspberry Fig Bars, Kind Bar, That’s IT Bar and Beef Jerky were very good additions. Not that I felt like eating much, but those were the best choices.
    • GUs worked really well. I kept up with 1x / hour (forcing some to be sure, but it was OK)
  • Hydration:
    • I had plenty.
  • Gear:
    • I didn’t need to use any of my emergency / First Aid gear.
    • I didn’t need to use any of my extra clothing
    • Tights: I took them off after 3 hours and that was a great call. I didn’t need them again, and stayed very warm.
  • Salt Tabs: Any time I felt a cramp starting, I popped a salt tab. No cramps the entire day.
  • Training: Quite a few things went right with training, but in particular I did a couple of sessions running hard downhill for 2 miles (walking back up and doing it again 3-4 times). This pounding on the legs during training really paid off on the course.  My legs were never a limiting factor.

What went WRONG:

  • Food:
    • As I approached or arrived at a checkpoint, I should have crammed in 200 calories from a bar. Then hang out for 5 minutes at the checkpoint and slowly move out.  I think that would have helped maintain better energy in the second half – but it’s hard to tell.  I focused on minimizing stoppage, so I tried to always keep moving.
  • Hydration:
    • I needed plain water. I had planned on only drinking Tailwind, and about halfway through the race I was very thirsty, craving plain water.  At the next water fill-up, I drank (filtered) water and it felt GREAT.  I then carried water in the front pouches and Tailwind in the bladder.  I craved water most of the time, and sipped Tailwind often to keep up calories.  I suspect this was from all the salt I was eating from GUs and salt tabs and the body needing to balance that with water (not electrolyte drink)
      • Fix: Good to start with Tailwind in the front, but drink that over the first few hours and refill with plain water from there.
    • Gear:
      • Tights: I started the race wearing tights thinking it would be “cool” overnight. The race started at about 75 degrees, 60s in the night and dipped into the high 50s.  High of maybe 75 the next day.  I was very warm the entire time — too warm.  For the last 30-40 miles, at every water crossing I doused my head and shoulders with cold water and it felt great to cool off.
        • Fix: Trust that anything above 50 degrees is shorts+T-shirt weather (can always add layers up top – legs never get cold)
      • Headlamp: I kept the headlamp on HIGH (flood) at the start. My first battery ran out after ~5 hours.  I then kept the headlamp on MED (flood) for the rest.   It was fine.  However, I would have preferred to keep it on HIGH and have a 3rd battery.
        • Fix: Bring a third battery.
      • Right Foot: About mile ~25 I decided to step off the course and stepped directly into a marsh, my entire right foot in soaking water. I hate wet feet!  For the next mile I was thinking all the ways that I could create a new sock once my shoe sort of dried out.  After awhile, I didn’t notice it at all, so I kept on through the finish.  Whether it was the wet, or would have happened anyway: my right foot felt very “bruised” for the last 25 miles.  Landing on any rock or root hurt tremendously, so I tried to land on flat surfaces with it (the pine needles felt so good).  I don’t think it actually was a “bruise” at all – the foot was swollen and sore at the end.  I suspect it may have been from the wet of 35+ miles.
        • Fix: Bring an extra pair of socks!
Mike Morton’s 2022 70-mile SRT Race Report

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