Many of you know about my 100-miler last year in CA. Although I finished the distance in the cut-off time of 30 hours, I was still a little disappointed with myself- I believed that I could/should run it in 24 hours. With the blessing of my wife- I set my sight on 24 hours with the McNaughton Park 100 in Pekin, IL. A friend from Madison (Kathy) was also going down attempting her first 100 so I caught a ride down with her and her brother Paul.
The McNaughton Park 100 is a ten-mile loop of rugged trails and open fields. Each loop contains about 1600 ft. elevation change- so over the 100 miles that's over 15,000 ft. elevation change. When I went down there last year and competed in the 50-mile race option I was shocked that there were hills like that in IL. But in Pekin there are. With my cell phone in my drop bag, I called Christina after every loop. I had predicted times for each loop to reach 24 hours. The first two loops needed to be done in 2 hours with about 5 minutes added to each consecutive loop and leaving 3 hours for each of the last 3 loops which would be done in the dark. I ran the first 10 miles in 1:40 and did not slow down until the 4th loop. By mile 40, I had a 1 hour cushion for my 24 hour goal. Miles 40-50 were tough (that was the only time I thought about stopping). It was a hot day around 80 and that was around 1 - 2 PM Saturday afternoon. I hit the 50 mile mark still an hour over schedule at a time of 9 hours 40 minutes (5 minutes faster than my 50-miler last year on the same course). I wanted very badly to lay down a take a 30 minute nap at 50. I thought, let me rest and then I will still have a 30-minute lead over my goal time. I did not- just keep moving- slow and steady like a machine.
Things began to get better and I continued covering the miles. I kept maintaining and reached my goal of 70 miles by 9 PM at 8:15 PM (still 45 minutes ahead of my aggressive game plan). Besides miles 40-50 there was never a doubt that I was going to finish, but still the question was can I run 100 in a day? By working hard all day Saturday, I now had 9 hours and 45 minutes to cover 30 miles during the night. Perfect- that is a steady walk. But running alone at night is still tough- but God works in awesome ways. Miles 3-5 of the 10 mile lap are extremely rugged with steep inclines and declines. I had just come out of that section on my 7th lap- so it was about mile 75 and 10 PM at night. I was walking up this hill into an open field-it is completely dark. Then I hear this voice, "RYAN DEXTER". It was my friend Terry Alberti whom I know from racquetball and church. We usually see he and his wife Donna and their sons at Panera after church on Sundays, he knew about the race and I had sent him the website information. I thought if they were going to come down it would have been during the day (which was when my mother-in-law Judy came to see me - thank you so much for your support). Terry had driven all the way down from Madison to see me. He had gotten to the race start/finish and Andy (the greatest race director in the world!!!!) told him where he might find me along the course. Terry had parked his car and walked up about 1/4 mile to the field and waited for a headlamp in the darkness. We walked to the aid station about 1/4 mile down the field together and talked. It was AWESOME and carried me the rest of the night. Terry you are an angel and I was not ready or expecting that! Basically, Terry drove 8 hours just to spend 5 minutes with me. Can you believe that? He ran his own ultra.
My brother-in-law Brad came down from Madison also and he and Paul ran the last 10 mile loop with me. We ran that last loop in about 2:45- my legs were still fresh and runnable. I sprinted across the line in 22 hours 51 minutes and some seconds. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I could run a 100 that fast. I trained hard for this race having logged over 300 miles in March training. And mentally I was ready- I knew I could cover the distance- I was not afraid.
The following photo is Kathy and I before the 6 AM start Saturday morning. Kathy covered 60 miles in the race and then decided to rest. I am very proud of you Kathy- 60 miles is nothing to laugh at- JOB WELL DONE.
The second photo is me at mile 60 right after leaving the start/finish area.
I feel night and day better that after Western States last June. Really the only thing hurting me are the bottoms of my feet and some rather big blisters on my heels. Other than that I am good to go. By following Jesus all things are possible- this was just one small thing that we did together. Without HIS strength and perseverance this goal would never had been obtainable.
Thanks to all of you for your thoughts during the day/night and for those of you that I ran with training for this race- thanks for pushing me to do better.