Tatanka 100

Posted: July 12, 2016 in Uncategorized

There’s more to Sturgis SD than motorcycles.  Well at least for me there was.

It was the location of the finish for the Tatanka100 Epic. A point to point 80 mile race with over 10000′ of climbing that starts at Mount Rushmore and for the majority of the race follows the Centennial trail. The race is part of a larger race series called the National Ultra Endurance Series that showcases some of the best ultra the country. 

Two things worth mentioning about the day prior to the race. I suffered a crash while pre riding the finishing miles that I had to bandage up the wounds.   That evening I had a severe alergic reaction to something that caused me to break out in hives across my body. It took 2.5 benedryl to clear me up as I looked up the address of the nearest hospital. I did not get a good rest prior to my 4:15am wake up. 

I was lucky enough to have Christian doing the same race and was able to bypass the shuttle ride to the start.  The start time was originally 6:20 but was delayed 30 minutes due to the late arrival of the shuttle busses. It was already warm and the projected high was 91 degrees. Proper hydration was going to be key today and I had filled my 70oz Camelbak bladder with a HEED and Perpetuem mix that would carry me through to aid 2 at 30 miles.  I also filled a bottle with the same dry mix to add to my bladder as that has been my standard fueling strategy for awhile now. Turned out it was a good thing as the aid stations only had HEED which I would rely on from mile 50 to the end. 

A few big heads watching the race start 

Another Hammer athlete, Beverly Enslow from Illinois 

Beverly and myself

So with no idea how my race was going to go I headed out in the large group following the US Park Services vehicle as we sped around the pavement which let us to the singletrack. I maintain the position towards the front but not in the front on the back of all the faster riders knowing that they were going to burn some matches way before I wanted to you and I like to warm up in the my race. Those first few miles of singletrack a pretty hectic with tall grass, rocks, riders going off course and having to rejoin. There were some rocky areas where some rider had issues and they were having to pull off trail to let me through as I rode throug. There was the section about 7 miles in where it was hike-a-bike, playing to my strength since I do that kind of stuff all the time, I passed several riders there and soon found myself riding alone for the next 40 miles. I had no idea where I was in the overall or in my ‘old man’s’ category. 

I sped through the first aid station where Milissa, Christian’s wife was waiting for him

cruising into aid station 1

From there it was another awesome section of singletrack and fire roads leading to aid station 2. When I got there I asked where all the other master men were, thinking they were in front of me. NUE series director Ryan O’Dell, who was following the race answered that I was the first one. Dumbfounded I couldn’t believe it. I thought for sure that someone made the cut in front with the faster riders. Knowing I was in the lead I headed out on the third section of trail towards aid 3 with renewed energy and promptly started cramping. The thing about cramping and me is that I don’t stop, I grit and bear it and pedal on through softly. It’s always work for me and within minutes my legs hadloosened up and I was cruising again, alone.  

smiles when i found out i was in the lead

Within a few miles of aid 3 at the 50 mile mark, I was caught and passed by a singlespeeder and th eventual women’s winner. Not alone I was able to finally have someone to pace with. When I got to the aid, I proceeded to pour ice cold water over me as I had been cooking out there in the heat. It was the precise moment when the second place Masters rider, Marland Whaley, would show up, grab two water bottles from his support crew, and head out. I was a bit relieved to finally have someone else in front and worried because I was really suffering and he looked really fresh. I took off after him with Ryan taking photos of us as we headed into the next 17 mile section.  I cramped as we headed up the first climb out and backed off the pace to recover. In my mind I knew the 2 things I had going for me was I had been hydrating all day whenever I wanted due to my hydration pack vs his 2 small bottle setup and his hardtail bike would have shard time competing against me on my full suspension Salsa Spearfish. On the next road descent I couldn’t believe my luck as he almost overshot a turn onto the singletrack. I was on his wheel as we entered the climb and it was apparent that something was wrong as his speed was much slower than I expected. We both pulled off the trail for a couple faster riders in the shorter race. I deferred to him to go as he was in front and he said “no you go”.  Was this a trick I thought?  I decided with approximately 2 miles of climbing before a big descent to burn my matches and almost doubled to pace we had been climbing at to see what his reaction would be. Several minutes later I was all alone with no one in sight.  I bombed down the descent throwing caution to the wind as I drifted through switchbacks. I ended up crashing at speed as I slid on the pine needle covered trail and went over some rocks. Only some scrapes, I got up and charged down the descent again, and again the pine needles had their way but it was only a slow speed fall and I was quickly riding again as the trail straightened out. I had my GPS with course overlay showing the elevation profile and distance to next stop and hammered it out to the aid station. I didn’t waste any time and was quickly back on my bike with the final 15 miles remaining in a mostly downhill trending profile. I kept on the gas as best I could feeling much better than I did during the middle half of the race. As I crossed into Ft Meade recreation area I knew short of a race ending crash nobody was going to catch me. I eased off the pace so as to be focused on the final few downhills as I had crashed here 24 hours earlier. Even then I still struck a boulder with my pedal that sent me in the air. Luckily I landed in control and with 3 miles remaining irelaxed entirely to enjoy my first individual win in a long time. 

It was surreal as I crossed the line.  Ryan was there to congratulate me on a great race. DirtWireTV even did an interview with me. I was like, wow.  Now where’s the beer?  

Hammer Nutrition Endurolytes, Anti-Fatigue caps, and Endurance Aminos were used at regular intervals throughout the race. My main fueling was HEED and Perpetuem for the first half and HEED and 3 Hammer Gels the 2nd half. I never needed more but the cold coke with 15 miles to go sure tasted great. 

Later talking to Marland I found out that when I went by him he was suffering through cramps and had stopped to stretch. Furthermore he probably hit the same rock I did but was not so lucky as evidence of the blood on his arms and legs. 

Hammer Nutrition 1-2

custom TATANKA100 trophy

It was such a great course, I can’t wait to do it next year. 

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