Thursday, February 13, 2014

Delirium 24 hour: The Tale of Two Races

Walking the course the day before
I made my way down to Ridgeland, SC on Friday with plans to run a lot of miles at the Delirium 24 hour race. When I arrived, I set up camp and headed out for a one lap run on the 1.695 mile course.  This gave me a chance to see the course and helped loosen up my legs. There was a little bit of rain the week of the race that left a couple of small puddles on the course, but nothing too bad.  The course was absolutely beautiful as it led you through a tree-lined dirt road and along a beautiful lake. The rest of the night was spent hanging with friends and resting up for the next day's adventure.

Before the start of the race with Lara, female 1st place finisher
I woke up at 6 a.m. on Saturday to a cold chill in the air.  It had drizzled during the night, and the forecast was calling for the worst part to begin just after the start of the race. I lined up to the start line, and at 8 a.m. 143 people headed through tent city and out of sight of the start line. I started out a little quicker than I expected but the pace felt easy.  We made the first lap without any rain but within a few minutes of starting the second lap, the rain started to steadily come down.  According to the forecast, the rain would continue for the next few hours.  With 143 people mixed between the 6, 12 and 24 hour race option, this meant the course was going to quickly become a mud fest.  Lucky for me, I didn't concentrate too much on this since I was running alongside two time defending champ Garth Peterson during the first few laps .

Running just in front of Garth
Pearl Izumi N1s all wet and muddy after 4 hours of running
Lap after lap we went around and around. I made sure to eat some type of gel or fruit every other lap. I planned to stay ahead of my nutrition early on. My pace was relatively steady throughout the morning but never felt quite right towards the end of the morning. All I could do was push through the uneasiness and hope to turn things around. Going through and around the mud was starting to take a toll on my legs and my shoes. After about 4 hours (I think) the rain finally stopped and the sun started peaking through the sky. Since that was all of the rain that was in the forecast and the course was starting to dry up, I changed out of my Pearl Izumi N1s and into a clean pair of Hokas. I didn't plan to wear my Hokas so early in the race but with my N1s covered in mud I had no choice.

Once I changed into my Hokas, I quickly got back into the groove of running laps and dodging mud puddles.  I came through the 50 mile mark in just under 7:30 hours.  I knew my initial goal of running 140 miles was out of the window as my legs were hurting more than they should have been at this point.  I continued to stay on top of my nutrition by eating fruit, dates and gels.... I made sure to grab something after every lap. My stomach felt great, and my energy was high... I just had to get my legs in a good place.

59 laps equaled 100 miles and I didn't start thinking about this until lap 50.  At this point I told myself to only stop every other lap for nutrition.  As I continued logging laps, I began to focus on running 100 miles in under 16 hours.  I crossed lap 58 with roughly 18 minutes until the 16 hour mark.  I skipped the aid station and ran as fast as I could on the dry spots of the course.  Even though I still had 8 hours left to race, I did not care.  I wanted sub 16 hours. I maneuvered through the largest muddy section very carefully to ensure I did not fall.  Once I cleared this section, I opened my stride. Hollering and screaming I came around the corner and over the line in 15:58:10.  Sub 16 hours was big for me.

Once I hit sub 16 hours for 100 miles, I stopped for 15 minutes or so.  I sat at the aid station for a while eating and talking to the volunteers. After that, I tried running but the 15 minute break made my legs stiffen up so I slowly transitioned into a jog.  In my head I really did not care what happened the rest of the race but I still wanted to keep going, even if it meant walking for 8 hours.  I was able to muster up a slight run, if that is what you want to call it.  I knocked out 2 more laps before the 17 hour mark.

At the 17 hour mark, I knew there would be no more running for me. My challenge now was to see  how many miles I could cover by walking and if I could keep my first place finish.  I reached a very low point and my beautiful wife joined me for the next 4 1/2 hours as I walked.  We were covering good mileage until about the 21 hour mark when my pace dropped from sub 30 minute laps to 45 minutes per lap.  I was stumbling around the course like a drunken idiot. I tried to eat every lap to see if I could make any energy return to my body but nothing changed. I planned to call it quits at lap 70 but after a little convincing from my wife, we decided to head out for one more lap.  This lap was a big blur for me.  I was barely able to stay upright, but with her motivation I made it around the loop and back to the finish.  As I crossed the line, I called it quits with 1 1/2 hours to go. I made a major mistake after I finished... I did not eat or drink anything. Because of this, after we took a few pictures... I passed out. I quickly recovered thanks to the help of Tim and Joe, but I learned not to scare the crap out of my wife, other runners and crew again.

RD Tim Waz presenting me with the first place trophy
I ended up running a total of 120.34 miles. The weather made it a long, tough day on the course.  A huge congratulations to 2nd place finisher, Garth Peterson, who finished with a total of 116.96 miles and still looked strong at the end.  Birthday girl, Lara Zoeller, won the female's race and finished 3rd overall covering 115.26 miles. What a way to celebrate a birthday! All in all we had 11 people finish with 100 miles or more.

If you haven't had a chance to run a Lowcountry Ultra race, I highly recommend it!  They are not only well organized but they are also a lot of fun. I'm glad my first 24 hour race was a part of this race series. I look forward to next years race, and I promise not to pass out next time!

Belt buckle for running at least 100 miles in the race
Feeling good at this point
Nice lake view to enjoy while running

Group shot of all the 100 mile finishers (this was right before I passed out!)

A few of the runners and crew warming up by the fire after the race


  1. Nice read Robert and an impressive accomplishment. Sub 16 is unreal! Glad that you were okay after the fainting. Are you running Georgia Death Race or Thunder Rock?

    1. I am not running either. I was going to run Georgia Death Race but I have an opportunity to run a track 24 as a last chance qualifier for the U.S. Team on March 15th.