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Andre Hall , 04.07.2011

thüringenULTRA 100 Miles

The Runners of the Volunteer Fire Department (FFW) of Fröttstädt (Lauffeuer) hosted their fifth ThüringenULTRA (TU), 1 – 2 July 2011. Like the previous four years this year’s TU was exceptional!

In celebration of their fifth anniversary Lauffeuer hosted a 100KM singles race, a 100KM Relay (2 x 50KM), a 100KM Relay (4 x 25KM), and the King of Races – a 100 Miler (161KM).

After having such a great time at the 2010 TU I decided to go for the TU 2011 100 miler. At this juncture “WOW!” really sums up my impressions of the race and its distance.

Going into the event the Lauffeuer indicated that they had been given the opportunity to award four points toward qualification for entry into the Utra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB). I got to thinking about that; successful completion of the UTMB itself awards four points for qualification… Something was just not right in Fröttstädt. What in the world did they have planned for us?

Coordination, news and information on the 2011 TU was great. The TU web site at provided news and updates leading up to the event. Lauffeuer sent out informational e-mails to registered runners that provided consolidated “must know” information – very helpful!

Pre-race activities in Fröttstädt were well thought out and very well supported. Parking coordination and signage to the race start and finish area were well marked and hosted. Final race registration started at 1500 on 1 July for all of the races. Final coordination flowed smoothly and was well organized giving runners the opportunity to gather last minute information, pick up their starter kits and drop off drop bags.

100 mile runners were given the opportunity to start the one hundred mile course between 1600 – 2200 on Friday, 1 July. I had initially considered starting at 1600, but a running friend and I settled on an 1800 start. Choosing this start time supported my goal of finishing, this my first 100 miler, and the chance of getting in under twenty-four hours. The first seventy kilometers of the 100 mile course were both a pleasant surprise and a gut check. The route was beautiful passing over hill and dale (yep, now I know where the four points for the UTMB came from) and was well marked. Marking was critical given that much of the later part of this 70KM course was single track and we were running under a new moon (illumination was close to zero). While talking single track, illumination and marking, let me digress. I was terribly disappointed in the person or persons that removed the reflective markings from the trail marking tape. I hope that whoever this was, was not actually running the race. Whoever you were – you’re a jerk!

Going into the course I was a bit worried about the whole night passage and the 70KM course. As things turned out the night passed without event and we transitioned back onto the original 100KM TU course and route. The real gut check occurred for me between kilometers 107 and 112. This down phase was largely mental transitioning from a 100KM event to a 100 Miler.

The TU 100 Miler taught me many things about running ultra distances. Yes, you need to hydrate and eat while running for longer than an hour or so, but you must deliberately drink and eat to complete a hundred miler. I thought that I’d been to the wall before, but after about 22 hours of running with no sleep and only race centric food to eat I found myself splayed onto the wall like a bug smashed on the wind shield of a car. I experienced nausea, dizziness, a headache and deep, deep sensations of futility. There is deep truth in the saying, “The first fifty miles of a one hundred mile race are run with the legs while the second fifty miles is run with the mind.” The TU 100 Miler brought this ultratruth home…

For this race I carried my Nathan back pack with a 3 liter bladder and two 750 milliliter bottles, 24 energy bars, 24 energy gels, six tortillas with peanut butter and jelly, Succeed Clip 2 drink, Succeed tablets, Hammer Perpeteum drink, first aid kit, rain jacket and caffeinated chewing gum. In addition to the fruit, soup, pretzel sticks and cola that were served at race check points I consumed 20 energy bars, 20 gels, all six tortillas and drank water and Perpeteum. Because temperatures were low I did not use any of the Succeed I carried. The TU was the first time I’d tried using tortillas – they worked very well offering a solid, different flavor than all of the other items being served. I plan to continue to use them mixing sweet with salty flavors.

Race support over the entire course was simply outstanding. The quality of race volunteers hosting rest stops and checkpoints was second to none. The 100 mile course included twenty stops offering an assortment of cola, tea, water, sports drink, soup, and snacks. Although my hat goes off to all of the volunteers that supported the TU a couple of big thanks go out to the volunteer groups at KM 53 (Rothenhof), KM 90 (Langenhain) and KM 95 (Gewerbegebiet Waltershausen). You guys ROCK! Thanks for the words of encouragement and steadfastness to hang on in the cold and rain. I was concerned about the drop bag plan as I’ve seen it go badly at other races. Lauffeuer had this well in hand and drop bags were delivered (Laid out and organized – what else would expect from Fireman!?!) and returned (boxed and organized) on time and dry.

The TU 2011 was yet another fantastic event put on by Lauffeuer der FFW Fröttstädt. I highly recommend this race venue for both experienced and new ultrarunners. Am not certain if you all are planning another 100 Miler, but I’d love another opportunity to run it with you. Look forward to seeing you all again in 2012!!!

© Andre Hall, 04.07.2011

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