I had a good chat on the Running Dialogue podcast about the Arctic Frog 50 Mile, the ($)100k for Crim, and how running was different in 2020.
Monday, December 7, 2020
The Arctic Frog lived up to its name with the kind of temperatures you'd expect in Wisconsin during December. This was the first year the race was held in this location (it was previously in Illinois) and the new course is what piqued my interest. I had heard that the previous course was very flat and fast, but this new route had around 4,500' of elevation gain and loss, which is much more in my wheelhouse. I also liked that this route was 5 x 10.3 mile loops. This made it very easy for my wife to crew for me and I appreciated that, in true ultra-marathon fashion, the race was actually 51.5 miles.Some solid climbs allowed me to break free from the pack early. At the 20 mile mark I was in second place, but took the lead shortly after and continued to socially distance myself all the way to the finish. I was pleased with my splits, holding around 8 min pace for the entire race and the last few miles were my fastest. I fell just shy of breaking 7 hours (I ran 7:01:48) but this race gave me the confidence and hunger to get it next time. My 50-mile split was 6:50, so I know I can do it.
The cold and the hills seemed to be the real winner of the race, with a finisher rate of around 25% (only 9 finishers out of 35 runners).
Thank you to my beautiful wife for crewing for me, Frog Hop Sports for organizing a very safe and competitive race, and congrats to the runner-up Dave Janet (IL) and Amber Hardwig (MN).
Monday, September 14, 2020
We did it! Thanks to the generosity of hundreds of people who offered both financial and moral support, we raised over $110,000 for youth programs in Flint!
This event was a real celebration of the love of the Flint community and our passion for running and fitness. Dozens of runners came out to join me for sections, with countless more cheering us on. (My training partner, Chaz Hornburg, joined me for the full 100K.)
Saturday, August 22, 2020
In 1977, my grandfather founded the “Bobby Crim 10 Mile Road Race” to benefit the Special Olympics. To this day the race continues to raise money for the Crim Fitness Foundation, which now directs its efforts toward fighting the epidemic of childhood obesity and encouraging lifelong healthy habits among our youth. The race has taken place every August for the past 43 years…until this year. None of us could have foreseen the devastation and disruption that the COVID-19 crisis would bring, but it has fundamentally changed nearly every aspect of our lives. The Board of Directors, Race Committee and Race Team made the difficult decision to move this year’s Crim to a “virtual race.” The race typically draws a crowd of tens of thousands of runners and spectators, raising funds to support the Crim Fitness Foundation, showcasing Flint’s vibrant community to the world and providing a much-needed boost for downtown businesses. However, crowds of this size pose a serious health risk during a pandemic, and no race is worth risking anyone’s life.
I had the good fortune of growing up in a family that
encouraged an active lifestyle, with a father who coached my youth sports
teams, and a mother who made healthy, home cooked meals. I grew up in a
community with an abundance of parks and trails and attended a school which
offered a wide array of athletic programs. These opportunities provided me with
a clear advantage, allowing me to develop lifelong healthy habits and earn an
athletic scholarship to further my education. I strive every day to provide
those same opportunities to my daughter, but many children aren’t so lucky.
Many have parents who work multiple jobs to make ends meet and, although they
want to ensure their children have the tools to live a healthy lifestyle, other
more pressing matters take precedence. They simply don’t have the time or
resources to set a positive example through healthy diet and exercise, provide
the opportunity for their kids to play youth sports, or cook nutritious dinners
every night. Many school districts, especially in urban areas, have been forced
to eliminate physical education and athletic opportunities due to the
underfunding of our public education system, placing many children at a further
The Crim Fitness Foundation has worked to provide thousands
of children with the knowledge and opportunity to live a healthy lifestyle
through after school programs which encourage mindfulness, physical activity and
nutrition education. A healthy lifestyle is a family affair, so CrimFit Adult
Training Programs provide parents with guidance on their fitness journey and
The Crim Fitness Foundation is continually working to ensure active families
have places to enjoy the outdoors together through improving local trails and
parks, as well as providing safe routes to school and bicycle-friendly streets.
All these things add up to a quality of life and environment that have tangible
socio-economic benefits. A healthy community encourages our youth to stay in
Flint and help build our 21st century economy, as well as attracting energetic
and creative people from everywhere to make Flint their home.
While this year’s HAP Virtual Crim is giving thousands of
runners and walkers the opportunity to continue their commitment to the Crim, the community and
their own health, the race’s lower pricing and simplification will result in a
significantly reduced budget for the Crim Fitness Foundation’s many programs
vital to the continued health of Flint families. The work that is funded by the
annual Crim race is very important to me, which is why I have decided to run
100K (62 miles) from our state’s Capitol in Lansing to the Crim finish line in
Flint to raise money for the Crim Fitness Foundation and awareness of the
significant ways in which they help improve our community’s health.
The Crim believes that health and well-being is a fundamental right for everyone. Even so, today running is a privilege. I have the social and economic freedom to dedicate time each day to running, a freedom that many don’t have. Traits outside of my control allow me to run without fear - I don’t have the same worries that female runners and runners of color do when I step out the door. The ability to run ultramarathons is even more of a luxury. I seek out difficult challenges because I live a relatively comfortable life, and that is never lost on me. For many children, hardship is an inescapable reality they face daily, and I want to do what I can to level the playing field by working to provide everyone with equal opportunities. As a runner, the concept of giving everyone a fair start is important to me. Using my ability to run long distances to raise money for the Crim Fitness Foundation is one small way in which I can do that.
To learn more, visit crim.org/100k
You can also join me virtually! But don't worry, you don't have to run your 100K all at once. https://runsignup.com/Race/MI/Flint/100KforCrim
Thursday, August 13, 2020
Thursday, July 30, 2020
Monday, July 20, 2020
Saturday, June 20, 2020
Monday, June 15, 2020
Saturday, June 13, 2020
Saturday, June 6, 2020
The Falling Waters Trail is a "rails to trails" route stretching 10.5 miles from Concord to Jackson. I ran it out-and-back for a total of 21 miles in 2:16:18 to snag the speed record. The "Fastest Known Time" was previously held by Josh Sanders, a good guy and accomplished mountain runner for Salomon.
I usually seek out hilly, technical trails, but this one was flat and fast. It was a good litmus test before I begin training for my first road marathon this Fall. I began to feel the lactic acid buildup around mile 17, but I held it together enough to stay relatively close to my goal pace.
I ran this "unsupported," carrying 18oz of water (with Tailwind) and 2 gels, which seemed to be perfect. I was originally only going to take 10oz, but given the 94% humidity I called a last minute audible and I'm glad I did.
There were a few times today that I really wished I had a pack to run with so it would be easier to turn my brain off and slip into autopilot, but I suppose that's just one of the challenges of unsupported speed records.
The sun was at my back for the second half of this run, which was very beneficial because it allowed me to see my shadow. As I began to tire I could immediately see when my form started to break down (like my elbows flaring out a bit) and make the necessary adjustments.
It looks like some local 5Ks are taking place next week, so hopefully I'll have the opportunity to race again soon!
FKT Website (Falling Waters Trail)
Thursday, May 21, 2020
The Potawatomi Trail is an iconic 18-mile loop in Pickney, MI (also winding its way through the town of Hell, which seems fitting) with around 2,000' of elevation gain per loop. A "Triple Potawatomi Trail" is exactly what it sounds like - 3 of these loops back to back to back. My watch lost GPS signal a few times, but still clocked it at 54.1 miles total, which includes running through a lakefront park that connects the trailheads at the start and finish.
I'm very honored to add my name to the list of runners who have held Potawatomi Trail FKTs - it has become a veritable "who's who" of Michigan endurance athletes. However, I'm not actually particularly pleased with my time - I was hoping the finish under 9 hours - but it was a good learning experience and I did what I needed to do to get the record. (Shoutout to my buddy Chaz Hornburg, a talented trail runner who held this record and will probably take it back from me.) I typically pride myself on refusing to walk during ultras (whether that's smart or not is debatable) but by the last loop I had slowed from 8:30/mile pace to 11/mile pace and was power hiking nearly every climb.
This was the warmest ultra I've run and I misjudged how much water I would need... but I learned my lesson. I ran the first lap carrying 20oz of water, the second lap with 32oz, and the third lap with 48oz. I used my car as a makeshift aid station so I was able to resupply every 18 miles and drank furiously at these stops as well. In total, I consumed about 140oz of water and 1,800 calories throughout the run. I believe that overall I drank enough water, but I just dug myself into a hole early by not drinking enough on that first lap and spent most of the next 36 miles playing catch up.
This is the second FKT I've set in the past week, so it seems like the 100+ mile weeks during "QuaranTraining" have been paying off. I've found that I typically do best in 50K trail races, but with everything cancelled I figured it's a good time to get out of my comfort zone, both on the short side (3.35 miles) and the long side (54.1 miles). Next on my "not in my comfort zone" list? Roads...
FKT Website (Potawatomi Trail)
Thursday, May 14, 2020
FKT Website (Lake Lansing Trail)
Monday, February 24, 2020
Sharing a 1.5 mile loop of single-track trail with 200+ runners added another challenge, as I found myself weaving in and out of other competitors for most of the race.
I'm pleased with how I responded to the challenges and I know my fitness is moving in the right direction, but I still have a lot of work to do if I want to be competitive with the pros at the Ice Age Trail 50 this May. I wasn't very happy with my training block leading up to my last 50 miler (Yankee Springs), which was condensed due to an injury, but I'm looking forward to a productive few months before Ice Age and planning to log some 100 mile weeks. I have yet to miss a podium in an ultra, and I don't plan on breaking that streak anytime soon.
Tuesday, January 7, 2020
My expectations are a moving target. A year ago, if you had told me I would complete a 50 mile trail race, I would have been ecstatic. Six months ago, if you had told me I would podium in my first 50 mile trail race, I would have been thrilled. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very pleased with a third-place finish in the Yankee Springs Winter 50 Mile… however, it’s still the lowest I’ve placed in an ultra.
This was one of the more competitive ultras I’ve raced and took place on a fairly challenging course. The 5,142’ of elevation gain and loss punished those who weren't prepared and some of the rocky descents were perilous. The trail claimed it’s share of victims and the finish rate was around 60%. Many of those who dropped out were just worn down by the distance and terrain, but a fair number were very strong runners who went out too hard in an attempt to remain competitive in a fast field and it cost them.
I went out with 8 minute miles for the first 5k to establish myself near the front of the pack, but then quickly settled into a more methodical pace. I crossed the 19 mile mark in 5th place, averaging just under 8:30/mile. I was feeling fatigued far earlier than I expected so I was very happy to pick up my first pacer, Mark Ott. Mark has a ton of ultra experience and some very impressive 100 mile wins to his name, so I knew I was in good hands. He quickly assessed my condition based on my stride, calorie and water intake, and a few brief questions about how I felt. He set a pace that pushed me but wouldn’t break me and stayed about 5 yards in front of me, pulling me along. I had consumed less than 16oz of liquid during those first 19 miles, which Mark immediately recognized would be an issue later in the race if we didn’t adjust quickly. His periodic barks of “Drink!” kept me hydrated and I downed 50oz over the next 15 miles. As we hammered up some of the steeper climbs Mark offered reminders to pump my arms, and as we crashed down the hills he pointed out loose rocks and roots to avoid. We bounced between 4th and 5th place for a while before some of the leaders began to pay for their fast start as their legs failed them. When our time together ended 34.5 miles into the race, I was in 3rd place.
With 15.5 miles to go I picked up my final pacer, Ben Pankow. While Mark excelled at ensuring my body remained in working order, Ben did the same for my psyche. Ben was a standout runner for Williamston and CMU, an accomplished coach and is a very good friend. As much as he ensured I maintained a good pace and form (I heard "shorten your stride" and "relax your shoulders" more times than I could count), most of his duties involved supporting me mentally and encouraging a positive attitude. Around mile 36 I was struggling up a long climb when I ground out a hoarse “Ben…” between audible breaths. He turned around, and seeing the look on my face offered a soothing, “I know, buddy… I know.” He alternated between understanding and encouraging, and at times provided some much-needed tough love (as you can see in the video of my finish below, with Ben in the blue jacket breathing down my neck).
A race like this is a team effort, and I’m lucky to have an awesome team. Thank you to my crew (my dad, stepmom and beautiful wife), my pacers, my mom and stepdad for watching my daughter so we could stay in a cabin at the trailhead, and the volunteers and staff at Switchback Endurance for putting on a great race.
All in all, this was a good start to the 2020 season and I’m eager to continue pushing my limits. Congratulations to the champion Steve Lawrence and runner-up Chaz Hornberg. Next up: Winter Loops 4hr!