Labor Pain Ultra 12 Hour Run Recap

I had been interested in the 12 hour Labor Pain Endurance Trail Run ever since its first running in 2010 when my teammate, Ryan Jones had won it, but this was the first year I was able to fit it into my schedule.

Unlike a fixed distance ultra, the concept for Labor Pain was different. The course consists of 5 miles of technical trail running over rocks and mud, the first half of which has 325 feet of vertical climbing before giving all of that elevation back on the last 2.5 miles. Runners could stop whenever they wanted, but awards were given for furthest distance traveled in 12 hours. Elapsed time only became a factor if you had run the same number of loops as other runners.

Based on the results of the previous two years, I decided to set a stretch goal for myself of 60 miles.

Fifteen minutes before the race, I tested my blood sugar and found myself at 48. Whoops! Fortunately, I had planned to take in carbs just prior to the race anyway, so I set out feeling fine.

My plan consisted of taking in an energy gel every 30 minutes. Though my preference would’ve been to stop and test every hour, on the first several 5 mile loops I came in around fifty minutes, so I decided to test every 2 loops when I returned to my drop bag. While my first test had me at 143, my second test at mile 20 had me at 291! I should’ve expected this, however, as by now downpours had reduced the trail to a mud bog, forcing me to slow my pace.

The slower pace meant I wasn’t burning as much sugar as I’d expected to, but knowing how important fuel is during an ultra, I simply took a small bolus to compensate and kept my fuel strategy going. By the time I tested at 30 miles, my blood sugar had settled around 150, where it would stay for the rest of the race.

By now, a far greater problem than my diabetes were the blisters I was acquiring from 5 hours of running mostly in the rain. While my feet had a couple of raw spots, these were nothing compared to my underarms and waistband. Though I was applying Bodyglide on virtually every lap at this point, it did little good and my skin was raw.

Even so, my 7th lap felt great, and at that point I still thought I might make it to 60 miles. But as quick as the good feelings came, they were gone, and I limped into the checkpoint at mile 40 feeling tired and sore.

The great news was this was exactly when my wife and kids showed up. They helped me change into dry socks and shoes, bandaged some of my blisters, and sent me on my way.

Though my spirits will still strong, there was no denying that the humidity and miles were taking their toll on me, and I came to the realization that I probably wouldn’t get a chance at 60 miles. Per the race rules, no partial laps were allowed, so if the race director wasn’t certain I could make a 12th lap in less than 12 hours, I’d be cut off at 11.

On my 10th lap, I briefly considered stopping and calling it a day when I reached 50 miles. I knew from talking to other racers that many of them were planning on doing just that. But at the same time, I realized that the race I was in rewarded tenacity even more than speed. Regardless of how fast anyone came through 50 miles, they would all be behind me if I simply managed to slog through the 11th lap, regardless of my time.

I headed into the check-point and a runner whom had just called it a day at 50 miles looked at me. “Are you going back out there?” he asked.

“Yup,” I said. “I paid for this and I’m getting my money’s worth.”

As I was leaving the checkpoint, a friend of mine asked me how many laps I was doing.

“That was ten,” I said. “This one’s for extra credit.”

Indeed, that last lap felt like extra credit. When I looked at the results after the race, I noted that slightly less than a quarter of the runners continued or were permitted to run in that final hour of competition. I was one of them, clocking my 55 miles in 11:26:45.

Though I came in 5th among runners in my traditional age group of 40-49, this particular race extended the age group to 59, meaning my technical finish was 6th, or just out of the money! Still, I couldn’t complain. Overall, I was 16th out of 211. In every race, some poor guy has to be the fastest guy not to get an award. In this particular race, it just happened to be me.

Comments

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. Awesome job Marcus! But, no photos?

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  3. Well done Marcus. Sounds like a fun race. I love your attitude of just doing one more lap and how that puts you ahead of everyone else who doesn't. It is attitudes like that that will eventually get you on podiums.

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  4. Way to go dude! You are so freaking badass.

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