Wednesday, June 5, 2013

2013 FANS 24 Crewing Report

June 1-2 was my 6th year involved with FANS 24 in some shape or form.  I have participated three times, volunteered twice and this year I crewed a friend for the 1st time.

It is the 2nd time I have crewed for someone and I think crewing is hard.  When I run, I am a very demanding runner and my wife is one of the best crew people on the planet.  When I crew, I compare myself to the high standard she sets and I just cannot come close to her attention to detail and being on the ball all 24 hours.

My friend Don is a pretty good runner and has potential to hit a high number in the 24 hour.  He came in with a nagging hip problem, but still anticipating a solid day.  Secondarily, I was helping another friend Chris when his parents were not around.  I was not much help, but it was nice seeing Chris in action ~ his attitude is always excellent. 

This year the event is being held at Fort Snelling.  Lots of room and parking, but the parking location made for a long carry of supplies to tent city.  As always the FANS 24 hour organization and volunteers were as good as it gets.

The day started out warm and humid.  The start was offset .135 miles, making the 1st lap 2.307 miles and the laps following were 2.17 miles.  This allowed the 100 mile mark to be exactly at the start / finish line.

The course was 2/3 eight foot wide paved bike trail and 1/3 a little wide dirt / gravel trail.  There were many places with opportunity to run in the grass alongside the trail.  In my opinion this course was a little harder than the previous Lake Nokomis location, but still a good course.

The 1st mistake I made was not getting an exact time on all of Don's early laps.  He was running @ 9 minute miles ~ Which is well within his skill set, but with the warm and humid temps it was a pace that was too fast.  I did end up recognizing the pace versus the weather and eventually asked him to slow down to make sure he could Rock and Roll at night.

At the 4 hour mark we ran into a problem to solve.  Don had lost 4% of his body weight.  The race weighs you every 4 hours if you lose more than 5% they can pull you until you are back in range.  Think of this as expiration date on beer.  The beer may be fine, but they pull it from the shelf just to be safe. 

A slower pace, S-Caps and drinking more than we would have liked solved this issue and he was up 1/2 pound at 8 hours.  Between the faster starting pace and the solution to our weight problem, lead to issue #2 = Sour stomach.  I also think that Gatorade and its simple sugars were a major contributing factor.

We fought sour stomach most the rest of the race.

Between 4 and 8 hours we had a pretty good storm roll through with heavy rain for an hour or so.  It did cool things slightly, but it took a few more hours for the front to move completely through to give us relief from humidity and some really cool air moved in.

Somewhere between 8-12 hours we had issue #3.  His hip was getting really tight.  His calves were also crampy, but I think that is pretty normal in a race of this distance.

I have run enough 24 hours races (8) and suffered through 5 bad races that I understand the mental and physical battles.  If we have only 1 issue to deal with, we are pretty blessed and almost anyone can handle it.  But as the issues start to pile on one another, it takes more and more mental fortitude to not let them effect your race results.

Starting the race too fast is one issue that is difficult to overcome.  The problem with pace is our bodies have something different to give every day.  It can feel really easy, but even 15 seconds per mile too fast for a few hours and you have a mountain to overcome.  Mountains can be conquered.

Injuries - Series or Nagy injuries going into a 24 hour race often will doom your chances.  Sure you can gut out a marathon or 6 hour race with a bad hamstring, hip or knee issue.  The 24 hour race is not so kind, to have a chance to achieve 90% of your potential you need to be injury free.

After 12 hours, Don continued to fight, hoping things would turn around.  He continued to lower his goal, but set the new goal high enough to force himself to focus on his race.

In the end, he had to settle for the goal of "100 mile sweatshirt" they give to 24 hour people reaching 100 miles.  He hit this goal with around 80 minutes left in the race, then pulled the plug to not cause further damage.

24 hour races are hard.  There are 10 things that can go majorly wrong and blow up your race.  If you hit 90% of your potential you have hit a home run.  Like 100 mile race, often the person who problem solves the best wins the race.   Something will always go wrong, but the goal is to resolve the issue quickly as possible.

I believe Don and myself  are a little wiser through Don's suffering (Thanks Don).  I think we are a little better equipped to be better at our next 24 hour race from the experience.

In the end being at the FANS 24 hour race was a really cool experience, but did not create any fire in my belly to return to racing the 24 hour.  Next year is the 25th anniversary of FANS 24 ... and I do need 101 miles to get my 500 mile vest ... so maybe.


  1. It was good seeing you out there. I was trying to glean information from people as I ran with people, but ended up just sharing stories of races past.

    It's almost impossible to not go out too hard in a first 24 hour run. I thought Doug Kleemeier started too fast, but he still pulled out the win.

  2. It was great to hang out at the race - I enjoyed crewing mroe than running. I did think this course is harder than the Lake Nokomis course. More elevation change and the dirt / gravel section.

    Doug holds the course record - Year #1 of new course. Maybe I will return next year to see what I can do at this new location ...