June 08, 2008

Kettle Moraine 100 Miler Quick Cap

With 123 starters, and just 37 finishers, this race had one of the most blatant attrition rates that I've ever seen! The race started out with temps that stabilized at over 90 degrees and 100% humidity, which ripped apart the field within the first 30 miles alone.

Working support with Luke's wife Emily, 10 month old son Spencer, and best friend Doug, who just happens to be one of the top acupuncturists in the entire country, I sat idly by as the field continued to shrink with every passing mile. At the 31 mile aid station we watched over twenty runner's call it a day due to the heat and humidity. Then came our boy Luke, who's new nick name is Mr. Consistent, trucking along and looking strong.

Shortly after this point the skies opened up like I've never witnessed in North America before! I had seen truly torrential downpours in Central America, but nothing compared or prepared me for what was about to unfold. Within minutes roads were flooding, lightning was flashing and thunder was a crashing. We had 'one count' thunder as we awaited the arrival of our runner at the 47 mile aid station. Again we watched as runner after runner arrived, checked in, and then jumped in their car and simply drove away!

Luke never gave serious consideration to quiting, but after running with a pack of people who had spent the last hour talking about dropping, and then followed that up by doing just that, he wasn't sure what was safe, and what he fully intended to do. We were just under an hour away from the official allowed starting time for a pacer, of 6:30pm, and I asked permission to jump in there early and to start playing in the puddles. We got the ok, and before I was even changed into my own running gear Laga was gone, saying he knew I'd catch up to him pretty quickly.

What ensued was just over 13hr of actual run time and 53 miles of crazy ass weather. Every time we thought we were clear, like the time we started singing,
"Here comes the sun, da, da, da, da..."

CRASH, WHOOSH, instant downpour!

The race director said these were the worst race conditions he's ever been a part of, and my boy Luke Laga, in his first ever 100 miler, and just his second ultra race, crossed that line in 27hr16m07s to finish 24th overall!

Bar none, one of the greatest running moments of my life. Pics, vids, and stories to follow, assuming this rain lets up at some point and that my flight home tomorrow isn't canceled as apparently Milwaukee is pretty much completely under water right now!

Time for beers, food and some serious celebrating of an amazing accomplishment!!



Deanna Stoppler said...

Way to go Luke and Gary! A few runners from the SLUGS were there and I know one who dropped. My friend David ran, but I'm not sure what the word is yet on his finish. Last year, the 100km at Kettle was my first for that distance. We had heat, humidity, rain, but not the torrent that you faced. Way to go dudes!!!!!!!!!

garobbins said...

That was pure craziness! I would NEVER run in rains like that under ANY other circumstances!! Definitely a beautiful area and course, and simply amazing that they can host a 100 mile run on all trails! Thanks for the congrats Deanna, I'll be sure to pass along to Luke, and to link up his post race report in the coming days. The final results have been posted if you want to search for your friend David in there, hope he made it through!

Anonymous said...

Gary Robbins - Thank you so much for coming to Wisconsin and making this last weekend so incredibly perfect. So glad you got typhoid and stayed on Roatan far longer than you planned. You are the best!

garobbins said...

Yeah, who woulda thought that nearly dying of a fever would have lead to so many wonderful experiences!! Kinda ironic in hindsight that Luke had a fever the night before the race...
Love you guys so much and can't wait to share another memorable experience with you in the not so distant future!

Clara said...

I couldn't believe so many people stopped running when it was storming out...I seriously LOVE running in heavy rain and through crazy storms (ahh..screw the safety aspect). The chafing SUCKED but it was well worth it.

I'm glad Luke finished- he did awesome, especially for his first race.

Were you planning on running the whole thing with him had you not gotten sick?

garobbins said...

Oh that sickness Emily refers to was when we originally met in 2003 I flew down to Wisconsin intending to do 40 miles and had the pleasure of seeing 53 of the course instead, loved it!
I remember seeing you out there, and you certainly looked fresh each time we did see you. Congrats to you as well, quite the weekend for sure!

Clara said...


I see you're planning on doing the Stormy 80k race in August. Have you done that before? What's it like? I'm looking to get a 100 mile race in this late summer/fall if possible.

garobbins said...

I used to live in SQ and this course is absolutely beautiful! I've decided to do the 100, my first! Hope to see you up for it, Mark Tanaka signed up as well and i know that in the coming years this will be viewed as a big destination race for 100 milers!

Mark Tanaka (Ultrailnakaman) said...

Wow, you're a prolific blogger--I really had to scroll down to find your report/s. Congrats to you and especially your friend Luke. Great seeing you briefly in person again. Look forward to seeing you up in B.C.-- keep our fires from spreading up there, eh?

garobbins said...

Hey Mark, yeah I try to stay on top of things in the blogosphere!
See ya in August, looking forward to it...and nice work down in Wisconsin!