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  • Writer's pictureBryan

YABRR: Snowdrop 55 2019 Edition

For once, not all the important information is above the fold. Thanks to Robin for reminding me of this, Dale for supporting me, and to Shellene for just shaking her head and saying "have fun".


Photo by Dale

This has not been a very good running year for me, having not run anything longer than a 50k since January, so I will admit that the goal-oriented part of me was feeling a little down. I "need" a 100 mile buckle was in my mind since my surgery, and really had only two chances to get one. The logistics didn't work out for Loup Garou (next year, maybe), but I had registered for Snowdrop earlier in the year (if you even think you want to do it, register early or you won't), so I loaded up my gear and drove to Houston. A bit of advice, check to see if the Texans are playing at home, and try not to drive through that area an hour before kickoff - life will be much better if you do that. I managed to survive the drive, dropped the trailer off 10 minutes from the park and headed over to setup my tent.

Snowdrop 55 had a little bit of everything. There was a little bit of concrete, a little bit of "trail", and a little (very little) bit of elevation per lap. Each lap was .69045 miles, so to hit 100 you needed to run 145 of them. There is a single aid station with standard ultra snacks, a hot food area, plus a dining tent (catered meals) and medical tent all by the timing table. People have tents (either sleeping or pop-up style for hanging out in) all along the course as well. Plenty of entertainment.

Race morning I get there, and my stomach was not happy. The good thing is, with the short loops I was able to hit the port-a-johns as needed. This way I didn't have to traumatize any squirrels. It was a case of, put a little food in, let a little excess out on the following lap. I made at least 7 detours for this during the first 12 hours.

During the first couple of hours I shared laps with Jon Olsen, just enjoying being out there, but I could tell that there was no way I would be able to hold his pace for the entire race. Even at my best it would have been hard, but I don't have the base (yet) I need to really run. After a while I added walking laps to the routine, and settled in for a grind. I stopped and ate a real meal twice, Rudy's BBQ for lunch, and pasta for dinner. That still didn't equal the Krystal buger at Chatty 100 though. After about 10 hours I checked into the medical tent for some stretching. At one point the PT had me put my knees to my chest, then she put her weight into it and told me to push hard. She let out a yelp, and the PT working the table next to us told me "don't break the help", as I launched her. The next time she held onto the table as hard as she could. Legs feeling a little refreshed I ran for a few more hours, still fighting the stomach issue, then decided to see if resting would make the stomach behave, so I took an hours nap.

While I had a tent setup, I only brought a light blanket and gear that I will have at UTMB (either in my vest, or drop bag) in the tent. This was deliberate, since I have a feeling I'll be napping in Europe in August. One hour later, I was up and moving, with my stomach doing better. I decided that I wasn't going to chance it though, and mainly switched to Tailwind and light snacks.

It got down to 39 during the night, so I got to play with my cold weather gear. I could either walk with the full rain kit, or run without it. Running with the rain pants/jacket caused me to overheat, so when it came time to run, I dumped it at Dale's tent.

I would occasionally slow down or speed up during my run to visit. There were a whole bunch of folks out there, and you end up seeing them often. Besides the fast relay teams (at one point I felt like Sam Wilson), there was a lot of walkers - just keeping on moving. Two had flags (one US flag, one Police "blue line" flag in honor of an honorary cop who had passed in November), and there was one lady who changed costumes every 4-5 hours. At one point she was dressed as a unicorn, so when I caught her I commented to her running partner "It's far too early to be hallucinating". She responded with "No, you're really seeing it", to which I replied "Good, you're seeing the dragon too" and then ran off. I also spent a little time TROTing with Robert.

At about 20 hours in, I knew I could sub-24 the 55 hour race (thanks Brent), and get my 100 mile buckle. I also knew that I could have taken a nap, run some more, taken another nap, and finished with a walk - probably getting 150 in the process. If I hadn't had stomach issues early, I might have gone that approach, but I figured I could stop and make it to the run at Big Cedar on the 1st.

Overnight and cold, photo by Dale

Sometime in the last 2 hours, I lost 3+ miles. I remember seeing that I had 6 miles to go, with about 22 hours on the clock, and then they were stopping me with 1.2 miles left so they could get my decision on if I was continuing past 100 - as well as personal information if I was stopping. I told them I was stopping, and that I was running my last lap in honor of Val. I finished lap 144, they announced that I was staring my last lap, gave me a glowstick baton to carry so everyone would know I was finishing and I started the final lap.

Lap 145 (last lap) was run (officially) in 7:20. It was the fastest lap of the second 12 Hours, and was run in honor of Survivor Warrior Poet Val Phelps.

Val and Robin

**There was no way I wasn't going to run that one all out.**


*And now you know the rest of the story.*

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