Superior tech notes

One of the cool things about blogging is that there aren't a lot of rules. I had some thoughts about racing at Superior that I wasn't able to weave into my previous post, so I'm just making a new post about technical aspects of the race. What I wore, what I carried, and what I ate.

I brought rain gear and extra clothing to Minnesota, and used it on Friday. But when the forecasts converged on dry and mild for Saturday, I left that gear out of my pack and drop bags. I sent a pair of shoes (Evo Speedgoats) and socks to the Cramer Road aid station at 27 miles and a spare headlamp to the Sawbill aid station at 40 miles. No other non-consumable items. I didn't use the spare Speedgoats. My feet were still feeling okay at 27 miles. In hindsight, it would have been better to have sent completely different shoes to Sawbill. A pair with a different fit, like my Nikes, would have been lovely to change into at 40 miles.

I wore the same clothing all day. Smartwool socks. A very light tech top from Patagonia. Venerable capilene boxer briefs from REI and slightly ratty, but lucky, Vuori Banks shorts. I trust these to be non-chaffing at home and they came through for me again. My Gnar Runners Boco tech trucker was on my head until sundown, after which I intermittently wore a capilene beanie. I wore my nylon windbreaker (Patagonia Houdini) for the last seven miles. With clear skies, the air cooled quickly, but never got very cold. I left my wool gloves in my pack. I wore almost everything I packed and didn't need anything more. I'm going to have to retire some of these items soon. Plastic clothing lasts a long time, but not forever.

I carried everything in my trusty Ultimate Directions Mountain Vest (4.0). It weighs almost nothing, is breathable, and fits well whether lightly or heavily loaded. I brought a small first aid kit, but didn't use it. Nor did I use my sunglasses or small stick of sunscreen. For hydration, I carried three 16-ounce soft bottles. One was mostly a spare. It was never very warm, and I never carried more than two full bottles at a time between aid stations.

I brought light hiking poles to Minnesota, the ones I used at the Never Summer 100k last year. They're very helpful on muddy trails and on technical descents in the dark. I left them in my room at the lodge on race day and didn't regret it. I would have used them in the last hour of the race if I'd been carrying them, but they wouldn't have improved my time or saved my feet.

Shoes... I do think that my Speedgoats weren't adequately broken in. The heel and toe areas were a bit stiff. I did appreciate the famous cushion and traction. They're a good choice for the Superior Hiking Trail. It's a super rugged trail, so you need some combination of cushion, armor, or dancer's feet. I ran for miles with a guy who was wearing the Speedgoat 5, which I have worn for up to 20 miles, but no further, and he loved them. I might see about switching over.

Fuel is the last technical detail to cover. I drank a lot of Tailwind solution. 400 calories worth at six of the 7 aid stations. I stashed pre-measured amounts in my drop bags to pick up along the way. I sucked down 4 packets of GU and ate three Stinger waffles and one bag of Stinger chews. I drank 8-10 ounces of Coke, one of my go-to calorie sources, at every aid station. I was able to eat plenty of solid food all day long. From pancakes and sausage in the morning, to mashed potatoes and chicken noodle soup in the evening. Mid-day I got tired of aid station food and that's when I went for the chews and gels. I did a much better job fueling than I did at last year's Never Summer, where I bonked badly in the last 10 miles.

What about crewing? I didn't have a planned crew. My friend David Bitner, a devoted Superior runner and pacer, met me at mile 27 to pump me up and help me get set for the second half. Outside of that, I found my own groups as I went. 50 miles, in my experience, is not so long that I need help. I would love to have some crew help on a 100 mile race and a pacer to help me flow quickly through aid stations.

That's all the technical notes for the race. I went into it with a B fitness level, extra pounds, a little uncertainty about my heart, but with experience at this race distance to lean on. I flunked my shoe choice, but did everything else right, enjoyed tons of support, and had a great time.