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Dust (& Ryan) in the Wind

3/20/2021 | 100K Trail | 8:11:59 

Ryan Clifford took on the unpredictable conditions of the North Dakota grasslands to complete this windy and unforgettable adventure!


An overall pretty decent race with everything considered. The goal of the entire race was to stay in control, get down plenty of fluids, and be able to stomach most of the food I was putting in. In terms of that goal, I would say I was very successful in that for the first half of the race. The second half of the race on this front slipped away from me, but it wasn’t a complete bonk. The first 4 miles were a loop, and then it was onto the long out and back which made up the rest of the course. Cody crewed me the entire time, meeting up with me every 6-9 miles. With this being a COVID year, I knew that there was going to be some hesitation with registrants signed up for the race, so I figured that I would be running most of this by myself. I was correct with my assumption. With a cap of 10 people at the 100K, and 40 people at the 50K, there were not many people on the course. The first 15 miles I felt my achilles a bit, but once my quads and hips started to get sore, I didn't notice it anymore. Results from the calve raises I suspect!


The next 17 miles were brutal, running down south into the exposed grassland. The wind was hitting me at a constant 20 MPH with gusts up to 35 MPH. I was not in the best mindset at that point. After a few aid stations, and hitting the turnaround point, I stopped at 34 miles to put down some food and refuel on fluids. With this being the 4th aid station with Cody, we had most of it down to a science. After everything was refilled, I was off heading back to the north east part of the national grassland. At 3 miles past the halfway aid station (each mile had a mark on it), I passed the 2nd place person from the 100K. I estimated 7 miles with the .5 miles past the aid station. I still felt good at this point and was moving along at a decent pace. At 50 miles I had a nice few minutes at the aid station, and then kept going.


Fluids were refueled and I switched to a more liquid based diet at the end. I began catching people from the 50K which started at 10AM and only went out to the middle trailhead aid station, and it was nice seeing people. The last 12 miles or so had a combination of wind and rolling hills. My Suunto said it was about 3000 ft of elevation change, where the Garmin had a little bit less. Right before my last check in with Cody, I made a wrong turn which costed me about 6 minutes give or take. It was bad markings which could've used some turning flags. I only started listing to music with 6 miles to go, so that was a plus too. Big Bootie mix 18 never disappoints. With about .75 to go I stopped and walked for 20 seconds to check to see how long I had since I had 62.25 on my watch, which was past the distance I was anticipating. Took 1st overall with a time of 8:11:58. A new trail PR, but slightly off from what I was looking to hit. If it wasn't for the wind, I would have had a much quicker time (~20 minutes). But you have to take it with the conditions, especially for a race that is known for having feet of snow and extreme temperatures.


One post race thought is that I need to acquire salt tablets and have that sorted. I put a lot of liquid into me, and still was yearning for more at the end. Another post-race thought is that the taper before the race was very drastic because of the achilles flare up. I don’t know if it helped me whatsoever, but I also don’t think that it took too much aware from the experience either. The post-race cider made it worth it all up in one sip! Finally, the Instagram coverage from myself and Cody gave a good summary of how the events of the day played out. I would like to be able to replicate that in future races. Moving time I averaged 7:27 pace which is right where I wanted to be! Thanks for tuning in, and the next ultra should be at the end of May to prep before my FKT attempt at the 46 Adirondack peaks in July.

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