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Tag: 100 miler monster

Rabid Raccoon 100 – You can’t train for this much mud

Rabid Raccoon is a relatively new 100 miler for PA.  This would be the first time I would take on a 100-miler this early in the season, and potentially deal with some cold temperatures.  That was the case last year when they had a low finish rate.  The weather this year was perfect, except for some rain late into the night, it was mostly sunny and warm.  This is a looped race on a course with a few streams running down the trails.  There were multiple variations of the race going on with 2-half marathons, a 100K, and the 100M.  You could also run a 5K the day before.  With this many races going off on a looped course it was getting destroyed by the participants.  Below are some of the issues and things I went through as I battled the muddy Rabid Raccoon 100.  

Right before the start of the race. Training buddy Alex Takacs

What went right

Being a March 100 the race itself changed a lot of my training.  Knowing that you have to complete this in March will make you skip the “off” or transition season.  I enjoyed that and it maintained my fitness from the previous year.

Barefoot Stream Crossing

Went barefoot 3 or of 8 times crossing this stream. It felt good and preserved my feet.

Initially, this helped to keep my feet healthy/dry, but as the course became more and more muddy there was no avoiding getting wet.  On the final loops, there was no avoiding just how waterlogged your shoes became. I think I took my shoes off for 3 loops and it did help keep them in decent shape.

Food Plan

I had pre-made bags with RX bars, cashews, goldfish, and shot blocks.  This worked well for most of the race.  I leaned on the aid stations for real food as always with soup and broth.  

Friends and Crew

This more than anything helped me finish.  I shared the race with several runners from the past.  Sharing the race with some great runners made it worth pushing forward.

Alex Takacs – He kicked off the race with perfect pacing and made the race feel like just another day at the Wissahickon, our training ground.  He was the one that got me to sign up for this race.

Trying to avoid the mud in the beginning. The key word is “trying”.

Phil from – When I saw the long flowing hair and orange shirt I knew it was him.  We shared miles like we did in the Eastern States race.  He was part of a fun crew that helped me get through that difficult 100.

The running sage himself – Phil Perkins

Michael Fatigante (Loop 7) – Rockstar runner Michael not only paced me late into the night, but he took 3rd overall at the half marathon AND was the support crew for a 100K runner.  When he should have been sleeping he was out running loop 7 late into the night.  I tried to talk him out of it, but he insisted he wanted to help. I would have thrown in the towel at loop 7 because I was tired, and those aid stations were very comfortable.  BEWARE THE CHAIR as they had a sign that stated.

Who takes 3rd in a half marathon, runs support for 100K, and finally tops it off pacing ME for 4 hours. This crazy guy! God bless his heart. – Michael Fatigante

What went wrong


INSANE level of mud.

How do you train to slide around in the mud?  You spend lots of energy with poor footing and having to calculate every step makes a race more difficult.  Yeah, you could go stomping around in streams in your long run, but it takes 20+ hours for the damage and issues to surface from a race like this.  I was using anti-friction powder and dry socks. LOTS OF DRY SOCKS, I used every pair and I wished I had more.  

Stomach issues after a pepperoni pizza.

What was I thinking?  I asked for a slice and the kid asked if pepperoni was OK.  I said yes, but take my word for it.  Pepperoni is NOT OK in a 100M.  My stomach turned after that and I slowed down for 4-5 miles until it “passed”.

Foot care  

Good luck trying to save your feet

I didn’t pack enough socks. I knew that there would be water and streams in the area, and my initial strategy was working well. However, the trail became excessively damaged due to heavy use. Someone improvised by using trash bags to cover their feet. I wonder if he got across without water seeping in? The persistent mud made it impossible to keep one’s feet dry.

Course tracking died for my friends and family

I reverted to just taking my phone out of airplane mode and texting them after completing each loop. Live tracking broke. I know you can never count on this so always have a backup.  

What I would have done differently

Foot care – Foot care – Foot care

Your feet will be getting wet 8 times and water-logged for much of the day.  Use powder or something to absorb the moisture like spraying your feet with alcohol, or changing into dry socks.  Can you practice this?  Maybe, but it’s really hard to train for this level of mud. It’s funny because I would pass Phil, then tend to my feet, and he would pass me.  Some people don’t need as much foot care, but I like to keep them healthy for as much of the race as possible. 

100 Miler Monster – The Muddy Rabid Raccoon

If they change the course next year I say remove the stream crossing.  It added nothing except novelty to the race.  The course is already so wet.  It also increases their drop rate if temps are frigid.  The course was changed from the previous year, but it should remove some of the sections that are perpetually wet with runoff.  Remove some of the concurrent races.  Focus on just the 100K and 100M and make those the best they can be.  900+ people on a course destroyed the trails BEFORE a single drop of rain fell.  Of all my 100M finishes this one ranks in last place.  Food and aid stations get a 10, but the course gets a 1.  It had some of the friendliest people, amazing food, and the nicest facilities.  If they modify the course and limit the number of races they could have an amazing 100M/100K.    

The French toast bread was an amazing award.

Special thanks to support crew captain and chief – Pascal Durante my awesome father.  I couldn’t have gotten to the starting line in life, and this course without him.  Thanks to my wife and mother for watching the kids. 

Final note: One of the strangest things to happen was raccoons checked out my shoes/poles after the race. I had put them at the back of my house when I got home. This was the first time I had seen raccoons near my house! Weird…

Two raccoons check out my shoes and poles after the race.

My last post talked about battling a “100 Miler Monster”, well this is what I think he looked like. First I tried to generate a “mud monster”, then I tried to do a “Raccoon Mud Monster”. Enjoy!

Slaying the 100 Mile Monster

This idea came from a question. What is your number #1 priority for 2024?

Gain XP!  What is XP?  In video games, XP is experience.  XP is how to level up your video game avatar or character. As a kid, I played games like Golden Ax, Gauntlet, and Hero’s Quest where you picked a character at the start. There were 4 characters to choose from. A warrior, wizard, archer, or valkyrie. If you are reading this you might have selected the same character as I did, a trail runner. Maybe you slowly became this character over time, either way, your actions brought you here.

UltraRunning Character Selection Screen. Sometimes it feels like I’ve taken an arrow to the knee…

Certain adventures or quests are available once you have gained enough XP.  There are many quests that you can choose from year after year as you level up. This year I plan to slay the 100 Miler monster. It’s not my first time slaying it, but each year the monster comes back, slightly stronger, with different abilities and methods of attack. The difference is I have gained intelligence, strength, speed, agility, and more skills than the year before.

What quest could you take in 2024 that would give you more XP? With games that level up your character, you can’t keep picking the same quests you’ve done previously.  They will pay little to no XP, or gold as a reward.  We have to take on bigger quests than before.  We have to break out of the habits and routines we do year after year.

100 Miler Monster

Part of what made these games great was taking on the quests TOGETHER.  It was a shared experience with friends.  Those make for not only the most rewarding challenges but also the most memorable. I have made lifelong friends during my trail adventures. Gaining XP by yourself is one thing, but sharing it with others is where the real magic comes in.  That’s the formula for great games, experiences, and a great life.  So for this year, I am setting my sights on XP, and hopefully bringing the “trail running” character I’ve selected to his highest level before he fights the end boss.

The 100 Miler Monster

How do you defeat the 100 miler monster?  It’s almost like the race knows your weaknesses and will use them against you! The trick is you have fought mini-versions of the boss in your training. These side quests were done during your training to become a warrior. You were fighting mini-boss battles that consisted of quests in the cold, rocky, wet, trails around your village you grew up. They were shorter quests, but similar to the end boss.

The 100-miler boss is extremely powerful. He can even turn your own body against you! You have tested the elixirs and potions you have created consisting of Tailwind and GUs. Once you get to the 100 miler boss fight, which normally comes around mile 70-80, you know his tricks. You know what he’ll throw at you.  He might have a surprise attack you haven’t seen but you will defeat him.  

100 Miler Monster
What is chasing you during the entire race

You are going to war with at first the mini-bosses and then finally the 100-miler monster at the end.  Who will win?  Did you level up enough?  Do you have enough XP to defeat the monster?  If you have taken on all the side quests, and put in the time, you can slay that beast. Victory will be yours, for you are a warrior, and this epic quest along with all that glory waits at the finish line.

If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy “A Runner’s final race”. It’s a post where I try to imagine what happens to a runner the second they pass away. Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed it please consider sharing the story.

Some of the other images I created when making this post