Equalizer Endurance Ultramarathon
Date: Last Saturday in October
Location: Grays Lake Des Moines Iowa
Start Time: 8:00am
Entry Fee: $65/$75/$95
Race Director: Chris Zepp - Cleozepp@gmail.com
Race day had a high of 38 but with the wind chill, hovered in the upper 20’s and low 30’s the entire race
Like most of my races, I work the night before. Luckily, we got outta there fairly quickly and I was able to get into bed right at 3:05am with my alarm set for 6:00am. Some race mornings, the thought, “Why am I doing this?” Goes through my head, but I usually brush it away and keep moving. Yesterday was no different. I knew I’d be taking a ride on the pain train in just a few short hours but I was ready for it. The plan was to be out the door by 7AM with everything loaded in, everyone bundled up but not before shoving my face full of food. I had oatmeal, a fruit smoothie, an orange, an energy drink, and a gatorade. Hydration is key to keeping the body moving in long distance events.
We arrived on site just before 7:30, got ‘camp’ setup about 30 feet away from the bathrooms. Mom, Dad, Kaylee and Hudson were motivating me and helping with everything! Before I knew it, the National Anthem was playing. I’d done my homework and researched most of the runners. A 12 year old kid named Cooper had signed up, so I tried to pump him up, unfortunately, he was a DNF. Another stud who actually ran with me for the first 8 or so named Ty ended up hitting a marathon and he too was a DNF. Whitney Noe has run a TON of races that I’ve been in, and she’s faster than me, so I knew I’d have to keep an eye on her! Each lap is 1.905 miles and the goal is to run as many loops as possible in the 6 hour time frame. I set a goal of running 40 and allowing myself exactly 20 minutes of rest/eating/bathroom for the entire event.
Eventually race director Chris Zepp did a countdown, 3.. 2.. 1.. and we were off. It took some jostling for me to get out of the gate, but eventually, I found myself leading the pack with a few people right on my heels. I had a plan to run about 8:34 per mile which is about 7 miles an hour. I felt really good, though it was extremely cold and windy. The race is held around a large lake that includes a long bridge that crosses over a good portion of the lake. I knew it would be cold every time I hit that bridge. Normally, it’s the most beautiful part of a run at Grays Lake, but I ended up hating that darn bridge because the cross-wind was unbearable each time. After an hour, I’d only taken a 30-40 second bathroom break, so I was right on schedule. Every few laps, I was grabbing Gu’s, gatorades, body armors, beef sticks and more off of my aid station table.
The majority of the race, I ran solo and continued to lead throughout the entire day. I realized that at my pace, so long as I didn’t slow down, I’d have a good chance to finish up front. Three hours in, I was feeling pretty good and was exactly where I wanted to be and had time to spare to get me to the 40 mile mark, but I was getting warm so I lost a few layers. I swapped out shoes as well, my Green Saucony Endorphin Speed 3’s are size 10 and I felt like they were getting pretty tight on my feet, so I swapped them for Red Endorphin Speed 3’s that are a 10.5 and I felt like I was floating once I swapped those. The windbreaker pants and jacket came off too and now I was wearing what I had planned to wear prior to the weather being announced. Green and black chubbies shorts and a hoodie! At mile 28, I was starting to get some major cramping in my left hamstring, but mentally couldn’t figure out why because I’d hydrated extremely well and at some points was going to the restroom more than once an hour. I also ate beef sticks, some chips and had plenty of bananas. I think the muscle may just be undertrained - I’ll be working on it for the next few weeks so I’m ready for the Stuffed Turkey 50K. With a Nuun hydration tablet, 28oz of water and some Advil, I was on my way and by mile 29, I felt awesome. I was cruising and finished with an 8:11. I actually had a 7:55 (Mile 20) and 7:58 (14) but didn’t reach a 9+ pace mile until mile 38 (9:04). I knew I was going to reach my goal but also wouldn’t have time to make an additional lap so it didn’t make much sense to go any faster. My family returned to the course with a few miles to go, so I had some hi-fives and cheering and Hudson yelled, “You’re the best runner ever dad!” And while thats far from the truth, it felt great to hear it and I knew I’d be accomplishing my goal. Long-time runner and donut fanatic Terry Kruse showed up and ran with me for the final lap. Terry is an amazing runner but a fantastic race photographer! I was bummed when I realized he was running with me but had forgotten the donuts!
For the Equalizer race, when you get to the final 20 minutes or so, the race director places cones 1/4th mile apart so you can continue to cover distance, but do not have to try to make it all the way around the lake again. If you don’t cross the finish line in time, it doesn’t count as a lap. The worst part, it was downhill out and uphill back, so my quads were screaming for the last out/back mile session.
My lap counter was fantastic. Every time I approached the aid station area, she was standing and saw me coming! I really appreciate having the amazing lap counters to assure that everyone can just focus on running.
As the clock struck 2:00pm, the 6 hour runners were declared “Finished” - I got bundled back up, hugged the fam and slowly made my way over to the medal receiving session. As I glanced over at the screen, I saw I had not received first place and was honestly pretty bummed. The announcements were made and eventually Chris called my name and said I had finished in second place due to the Equalizer adjustment. The equalizer makes the race “fair” for everyone no matter their age. An awesome runner named David Swenson finished ahead of me. David is 68 and ran 30.08 miles but with the Equalizer bonus (x1.515) - he finished with 45.5712 miles and I was right behind him at 43.2457 (and an actual distance run of 39.35 - though my watch was 40.08) - bathrooms were a little off course and weren’t included in the distances around. Whitney finished behind me with 38.45 miles and an equalizer score of 43.21. So close! Just as I was sulking about second place, Chris announced that I had won “Most overall miles” and received a really cool plaque so then I was happy again! The most overall miles was my goal anyway, so I was super happy with the award! Next year, I think I’d like to give the 12 hour version a whirl! Congrats to everyone that attempted this awesome race. The weather wasn’t ideal but most of you toe’d the line! Keep at it.