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Long Haul 100 Furlongs Trail Race

Long Haul 100 Furlongs Trail Race Brian Kondas

A Long Haul 100 Furlongs Trail Race

As I finish the Long Haul 100 Furlongs trail race, a man wearing a blue head scarf and a Gore jacket is slightly ahead of me. Accelerating my pace, I move up and run along his left shoulder. With 30 seconds remaining, we sprint toward the finish. Which man will win the race?

On Saturday, January 14, 2023, it’s a cold 45 degrees (7 Celius) with ten mph winds (16 km), and it feels like 40 degrees (4 Celius). A few minutes before 10 AM, I count 30 runners at the start – the smallest race I have ever run.

My first trail race is the Long Haul 100 Furlongs (12.5 miles) in Land O’ Lakes, Florida, at the Cypress Creek Preserve. It starts precisely 3 hours after the Long Haul 100-mile ultramarathon, which began at 7 AM.

Racing Clothing and Gear

I wear layers of clothing for this cold-weather trail race. First, a knit cap covers my head and ears. Then I wear a long-sleeve insulated Under Armour shirt over a compression t-shirt. Finally, I wear running shorts over full-leg compression pants.

My running gear also includes the following:

  • Garmin Forerunner 55 watch
  • Reebok low rise, quick dry underwear
  • Swiftwick trail running socks with Merino wool
  • New Balance 880 running shoes (two weeks old)
  • Go-Long gaiters to keep debris out of my shoes

Race Breakfast and Fueling Prep

After waking at 7 AM and getting dressed, I cooked three scrambled eggs and toasted a slice of “Fruit & Veggie Seeded” bread with cream cheese. With my breakfast, I drink a large mug of coffee.

To prepare for my first trail race, I make two liters of Gatorade Endurance and pour it into the bladder of my Nathan hydration vest. Also, I pack four Clif Shot energy gels.

Parking and Pack Pick Up

After a 45-minute drive to 23200 Nickel Lan, Land O’ Lakes, FL, I arrive at a grassy parking lot filled with about a hundred cars. Two female runners follow me as I walk down the paved road and through the gate. To my right, I see two porta-potties and enter one to empty my bladder.

Then one of the ladies enters the other porta-potty. When I exit, I see the other woman waiting for her. It’s cold and windy, so I quickly pass by and walk East down a long paved path. Finally, a mile later, I see the finish flag and walk to a guy who introduces himself, “I’m Andy (the race director).” I shake his hand and say, “I’m Brian.”

Next to Andy is the registration table and a female volunteer. I wait for one person ahead of me to get their packet pickup bag. Then the volunteer asks, “What’s your last name?” I tell her, “Kondas with a K.” I have my driver’s license, but she never asks for my ID.

She finds and highlights my name on her printed list. Then opens a plastic filing box and pulls out my racing bib 864. She asks, “What size?” and I tell her, “Medium.” Checking the shirt size, she puts a medium in my bag and hands it to me.

Where’s the bag check?

With my race packet bag in hand, I walk East to explore. On my left, I pass a structure with music playing on loudspeakers. Then I see an aid station tent and many runner-support crew and tents along the paved trail. Finally, I come to an intersection (hub) that splits off into three spurs:

  1. First spur turns right (South)
  2. Second spur continues straight (East)
  3. Third spur turns left (North)

What I don’t see is any sign of a bag check. So, I turn around and head back to the registration table. I plan to ask Andy, “Where’s the bag check?” Then a guy runs past and yells, “Bag check?” Andy points and says, “On the other side of the trailer.” 

I walk to the other side of that trailer and see many bags on the ground. In the ground around the area are wire stakes attached to small red flags. Other people have placed the same white racing packet bags in the area, so I decide to place mine next to a flag. 

The bag check area is across from the aid station. It has no security. The only thing of value in my bag is a Long Haul 100 long-sleeve shirt. So, it’s no big deal. My phone and wallet are locked in my car. 

Long Haul 100 Furlongs Trail Race – The Start

I walk back to the registration table and ask the volunteer lady, “Where’s the start of 100 furlongs?” She says, “The race starts here,” at the finish timing mat and flag – a race with no start corral.

I’m standing next to a white tent with the wind blowing hard. Then, the tent flies up off the ground. I grab the corner leg in the air and pull it down to the ground. Other nearby people also grab hold of the tent.

A group of us move the tent and stake it back down into the ground. The wind blows hard, breaking the tent wall’s velcro straps. I stand inside the tent by a pole support, ready to grab it if needed. The tent breaks the winds and is a little warmer inside it.

Fueling and Stretching

15-minutes before the start, I consume my first Clif Shot energy gel with 25mg of caffeine and begin dynamic stretching. First, while holding on to a pole inside the tent, I swing each leg forward and back. Then I swing my legs laterally from side to side.

There’s a small group of runners standing outside the tent. None of them are stretching. Then a female runner enters the tent and says, “It’s warmer in here,” I say, “Yeah, it’s a windbreaker.”

My fueling plan is to consume Clif Shot energy gels at 30 minutes, 60 minutes, and 90 minutes.

Andy’s Prerace Meeting

Andy speaks in front of a small group of 30 trail runners. He says the race will start at the 3-hour mark. We gather around Andy as he explains the course route:

  1. Crossing the first timing mat, we run West toward the parking lot, touching the gate and returning to timing mat #1. The distance is .9 miles each way. (1.8 miles)
  2. At the hub, you turn right, running South down trail spur 1. You cross a timing mat and turn around. (3 miles)
  3. Then, back at the hub, you turn right, running North-East down trail spur 2. At the second aid station, you turn around. (5.2 miles)
  4. At the hub, you turn left and run North-West down trail spur 3. You turn around at the timing mat and aid station. (2 miles)

My First Trail Race

My first trail race goal is to finish in one hour and forty-five minutes. That’s an 8:24 minute pace per mile (5:13 min/km). I had run a half marathon (slightly longer distance) on the road at an 8:29 pace. Based on the shorter course (.5 miles less) and my increased running fitness, I believe I can run 5 seconds faster per mile.

Miles 1 through 5

I feel good at the start of the Long Haul 100 Furlongs trail race. We run on a paved trail for the first two miles, and I plan to keep an 8:30 pace. As I run through the hub, I hear the people’s cheers, and my pace accelerates. 

Turning right, I run down trail spur one and momentarily pass Darcy Crum. Then, realizing my pace is too fast, I slow down and closely run behind Darcy in miles three and four.  

Returning to the hub, we turn right, heading down the paved path to spur 2. After mile 5, Darcy starts pulling away. My paces for the first five miles:

  • 1st mile 8:34
  • 2nd mile 8:20
  • 3rd mile 8:32
  • 4th mile 8:42
  • 5th mile 8:48

The Next 5 Miles

In mile 6, my pace continues to slow at an average of 9:06. Having run for 60 minutes, I take my third Clif Shot energy gel. Luckily, I see a porta-potty near mile 7 and empty my bladder. About forty seconds later, I exit the porta-potty and ramp up my pace.

My pace increases and I run miles 8 and 9 at 8:57 and 8:28. Then, at 9.5 miles, I return to the paved path and accelerate to a pace of 8:00. Runners heading in the opposite direction see my swinging arms and speedy effort. They give me positive words of encouragement.

At mile ten, I enter the hub running a pace of 8:37. Then, I turn right into the final trail spur #3. It’s 90 minutes, and I take my last Clif Shot energy gel. My pace slows a bit while consuming and drinking.

However, a trail flood near the end of spur 3 causes me to stop and walk along the muddy trail edges. Also, a female runner in the middle of a narrower single-track tells me to “Look left, please.” Then I look left, see nothing and pass a woman on my right bent over on the side of the trail.

These trail obstacles slow my mile 11 pace to 9:14. Crossing the timing mat, I turn around and head back to the hub.

The Final Mile

I want to run as fast as possible. However, the trail flood slows me down again. I feel frustrated having to walk along the muddy trail edge. As I approach 11.5 miles, I push my pace hard, reaching a peak of 7:16. 

In the last half mile, I run my fastest 5-minute pace at 8:03. Progressively, I increase my pace in the final minutes:

  • 7:35 in the final two minutes
  • 7:09 in the last minute
  • 6:09 in the final 30 seconds

With 100 meters to the finish, I continue to accelerate and pass the male runner at my side. When I cross the finish line, my peak pace is 5:37 min/mi with a top speed of 10.7 mph (17.2 km/hr). 

Male Victory at Long Haul 100 Furlongs Trail Race

Brian Kondas wins first place in the male division and third overall. Thus, two faster female runners beat him. 

My official first-place chip time is 1:47:27. The second-place male I passed in the final sprint, Joseph Pellettiere, lost by four seconds. 

The following two females beat me:

  • Katie Rozar, with a finish time of 1:31:37
  • Darcy Crum, with a finish time of 1:45:20

I was the fastest male trail runner at the Long Haul 100 Furlongs race. My Garmin Forerunner calculated a race distance of 12.1 miles and an average pace of 8:53 per mile. 

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