Welcome to a race-by-race journal of races 26.2 miles or longer. My original quest began to run 50 marathons in 50 states. The seed for this goal was born after the Des Moines marathon when I started searching for the next big race to enter. Unfortunately, with my injury during the Potomac River Run, the seed's initial dispersal was among rocky terrain. It laid dormant for four and half years until I ran the Kansas City Half Marathon where it shifted to more fertile soil. It took root and began to grow, and received a healthy dose of fertilizer with The New Hampshire Compulsion (NHC) - the silly thing Chris Gemignani and I created on a long day of hiking. The immediate goal is to complete 50 marathon or greater distances by September 2023.
50 Milers: 2 40 Milers: 1 50ks: 5 Marathons: 18 States: 14 NHC: 28
#26 Lawrence, KS 6.24.17
I first attempted the Night Hawk 50k in 2016. I decided to run it the morning of the race. I was trying to impress Chris by running an ultra between the times I saw him Saturday morning and again on Sunday night. That was the first of two bad decisions. The second was to quit the race after 10 miles. Sure it was humid, the bugs were awful, and I kept tripping in the dark, but there was nothing physically wrong with me. I was just mentally defeated.
About three days after dropping out of the race, I started regretting my decision. So I had 362 days to plan and prepare for the race in 2017. I wanted redemption! I conditioned myself by spending as much time in the humidity as I could. I tested using a handheld light instead of a headlamp to see if it reduced bugs to the face. It does! I ran in the dark to get used to tripping. I was ready. I redeemed myself and helped Brooke finish her first 50k. She has worse decision making skills than me, but she has truckload of grit. Finish time was 6:58:53.
#25 Lincoln, NE 5.7.17 (14 in 50)
Flat, fast and hot. First half is a loop, second half is an out and back. Paced with my buddy Bob for the 4:30 group. Heat got to me and I throw up as soon as I crossed the finish line with a time of 4:32:25. I hope they got a picture of that.
#24 Meredin, KS 4.15.17
What a crazy run! The weather in my first 100k attempt went from a risk of overheating to a risk of hypothermia. And while the mother of all thunderstorms caused my finish line to come 2 miles early, I couldn't be more proud of my race and thrilled with the experience. Big thanks to my outstanding pacer Ashley for keeping me moving and in high spirits during my third 20-mile loop. And what a pleasure it was to spend many miles with my new trail running buddy Rob. The record reflects a drop to 40. No buckle, no hat, no regrets.
#23 St. Louis, MO 4.8.17
Fun course going through downtown St. Louis. I stayed at my sister Melissa's house and she and Korn (of Flying Pig fame) drove me down to the race and cheered me on. My mom and step-dad also came down to cheer me one. It was pretty cool, well except for the heat and humidity which made the race a tough one. I was pacing the 4:20 group and had a bad cramp in my foot the last four miles. Ended up barely finishing in front of the 4:30 pace team with a time of 4:31:30.
#22 Blanchard Springs, AR 3.18.17 (13 in 50, 24 NHC)
A group of 10 trail runners stayed in a two room cabin to participate in different stages of the 3 Days of Syllamo. My buddy Bob and I completed day 2, the 50 miler. It was my second 50 miler and by far the tougher of the two. Some serious elevation. Bob and I managed to make it just before the sun set in 12:15:04.
#21 Kansas City, KS 2.25.17
Back on my home turf! The weather was fantastic, I started slow and got faster each loop. I set a new 50k PR of 6:32:34 finishing 77 out of 133 finishers and 159 starts. I was only lapped by Kaci Lickteig once.
#20 Overland Park, KS 11.13.16
One of the most inspirational marathons I’ve run. As a pacer, I stayed with two first-timers and helped encourage one to keep pushing to the finish line. The course is essentially an out and back with a four-mile loop in the middle. I finished 148th out of 219 finishers with a time of 4:43:55. We split with the over 800 half marathoners around mile nine. It has decent variety and is mostly on paved trails. With a modest 480 feet of elevation, I think this is a course I could potentially set a PR on.
#19 Kansas City, MO 10.15.16
My first repeat. I ran the KC Marathon in 2013. That running is still my PR. I paced this race with the 4:50 group - finished at 4:50:37 as the trail pacer. Beautiful day. Fantastic course and tremendous support. They close down the big streets and have some bands along the way. Would love to see more crowd support and some solid food snacks along the way. Finished 799 out of 1,249 total finishers. Check out my buddy Bob’s and my post-race recap.
#18 St. Charles, MO 10.2.16
My first time pacing! I was responsible for the 4:30 group. I crossed the finish line at 4:28:32. Within 90 seconds of goal! I was thrilled, but the feedback from our pacer coordinator was, “Next time, try to finish closer to your goal time without going over – no biggie, but something to improve on for next time.” Flat course with good variety of scenery. Two distinct halves. First half is through St. Charles and New Town; second half is on the Katy Trail. Took a fun road trip with my daughter across the state and stayed at my mother-in-law’s house which was only eight blocks away from the starting line.
#17 Lawrence, KS 9.10.16 (18 NHC)
My first 50 miler! Sponsored by the Lawrence Trail Hawks, the Hawk Hundred is a race with about 150 runners and three distances: a marathon, 50 miles, and 100 miles. The 50 and 100 mile races are run on a 25-mile loop of trails along the north shore of Clinton Lake in Lawrence, Kansas.
The sixth annual running of it in September 2016 was on the alternate rain course which was run on an out and back section of campground roads through the Clinton Lake state park. The Race Director, Sherrie Klover, was devastated to have to make the call to run on pavement, but the views were decent and the support was exceptional.
SWAG include a Hawk Hundred drop bag, long-sleeve t-shirt, and finishers of the 50-mile race received a hand-crafted mug made by Matty Mullins. I had terrific running partners on this race, Ashley and Emily. Both 50-mile veterans, they had entertaining stories and helpful advice along the way. Emily's back was bothering her, but she managed to tough it out through a 50k. Ashley and I crossed the finish line at 10:16 finishing 18 and 19 out of 40 finishers.
Check out our complete journey in my video race report.
#16 Kansas City, KS 7.23.16
Three Trail Nerds ultras in a row! Super hot and super humid. This race is where I fell in love with the ice bandana. I ran it slow and stayed cool managing to avoid hitting a wall. I ate plenty of solids, several 33 Shake packets, and took a S cap every 30 minutes.
Finished in 7:36 and placed 38 out of 59 finishers which was out of 85 starts. In the winter version I placed 72th percentile and managed to move up to 64th percentile. SWAG included a bottle opener metal, beer glass, t-shirt and a trucker hat to give me a complete Psycho Wyco set.
See how I conquered the brutal heat in my video recap of the race.
#15 Meriden, KS 5.14.16
It's a little race in terms of runners, and a long race in terms of kilometers. My second ultra and another Trail Nerds race. I'm keeping it local this year.
The hills are gentle, the pine forests are refreshing, the lake shore is breathtaking, and the ROCKS! The rocks are hard, the rocks are big, the rocks are sharp, the rocks are mean. They beat at your feet from every angle, but worse of all they are constantly reaching up smacking your toes and trying to take you down.
Even if you don't face plant, the the amount of contortions you have to do to stay upright raise your adrenaline, twist your back, and take your breath away. I'm going to have to work some more on my core before I run this one again, which I will in the fall. This spring the course was shortened because of muddy conditions, and we did it three times instead of the normal two loops. Regulars said the shorter course covers the best parts of the course, but it is nicer to do two loops instead of the monotony of three.
Finishing each loop you pop out of the woods and end up in a field of waste high native grasses where a quarter mile of mowed switch backs take you up a steep hill to the finish line a Branded B Camp. I knew this hill from running the half marathon back in the fall. I told myself, I was only running that hill once, not three times, so I walked it the first two times.
Debriefing the race afterwards with my friend Dennis, he said, "I figured walking it wasn't any fun either, so I might as well run it." In long distance races the better times don't necessarily go to the fastest runners, but to the runners who stop running the least. I finished 19th out of 37 finishers with a time of 6:53:31. Dennis finished 18th and was 11 minutes ahead of me. I think there maybe some merit to his approach. Plus looking at the GPS data afterwards, that is only 60 of elevation. Come on!
#14 Kansas City, KS 2.20.16
My first ultra! The Run Toto Run 50k is the winter version of the Psycho Wyco hosted by the Trail Nerds. The race is mostly on bridle trails at Wyandotte County Lake Park with 4,263 feet of elevation. For the 50k, you run the same loop three times. That can get a little boring. And there are many hills that are too steep to run. From the bottom of the dam, to the entry of speed-demon ridge is a 220 ft climb. That's like walking up stairs in a 22 story building.
The weather for February was unusually warm - 70 degrees - which is not something I could train for in December and January leading up to the race. I logged plenty of miles and did regular squats and lunges training for the race. It paid off. While I hit the typical wall, it came a little later around mile 22, and I had pretty fast recovery. My goal was 7:30, so I was extremely pleased with 6:55:58 which was 73rd out of 101 finishers.
What sets Trail Nerds races apart from others is the quality of the volunteers. Friendly, supportive and here's the real difference, knowledgable. Not only are they willing do anything for you, they know what to do for you. Many are ultra runners between events, and there is great variety of food that you can get at the aid stations.
The SWAG included an awesome hoody, a sweet medal with an actual spinning tornado, and most impressively, a finisher's trucker hat. Hope to make this race an annual tradition.
#13 Elkton, MD 6.20.15 (12 in 50)
A two-loop trail marathon on mostly single-track trails through the woods, Big Elk reminded me of running on the local paths at Wyandotte County Lake Park - hilly and muddy with plenty of horse shit, yet also tranquil and stunning with dells of ferns.
I twisted my ankle on a rock around mile three. It smarted, and while I was able to walk it off, the tenderness revisited me throughout the race. Miles 9-11 were my darkest moments. My ankle was bothering me, my knee started to ache, and I started playing with the idea of quitting at a half. We had the option to simply cross the half marathon finish line at the end of lap one and call it a day. Thankfully, I gained my second wind around mile 12 and stayed to the right in the chute to continue on for lap number two.
Around 19, my knee really started hurting, so I walked a little, ran a little, walked a lot, ran a little more. I was in one of my walking modes with less than two miles to the finish line when two other runners came along and encouraged me to join them. I did and managed to run the last mile and a half. That social support was exactly what I needed and a powerful example of being stronger together than individually.
Since it was a gun-timed race, the three of us all finished with a time of 6 hours and 43 seconds. I managed to finish 56th (out of 70) and 3rd in my age group. One of the benefits of getting older is my peers are finally slowing down to my pace.
#12 Las Vegas, NV 3.7.15 (11 in 50)
My wife and I were on a trip to Las Vegas in the spring of 2008 when we heard about the breathtaking views of Red Rock Canyon and decided to explore it. The main drive through the park is a 13-mile horseshoe. I was training for the Potomac River Run (#3 below), so I saw this as an opportunity for a memorable long training run. Gina took the car and her camera, drove ahead, parked, hiked and snapped some pictures while I ran to where she parked and refueled on water and nutrition. We repeated that leap frog approach for the full loop.
During that run, I learned that the road runs uphill to the summit overlook which is about 5 miles in and at an elevation of 4,771. The view is stunning, but the climb is relentless. I registered for this marathon in 2014, but a patellofemoral syndrome injury prevented me from actually running it.
With a small field of runners and no spectators, this race pushes the boundaries of endurance physically and mentally. Marathon Maniacs and 50 Staters comprised many of my fellow runners as well as a few locals who love Calico Racing and their well organized events. I finished 53rd out of 103 finishers with a time of 4:38.
#11 Nashville, TN 11.23.14 (10 in 50)
I learned about the Flying Monkey when my friends Chris and Jennie moved to Nashville. I researched nearby marathons and instantly loved this race director's demented sense of humor. "Running is stupid." It's limited to 300 participants, and last year, I missed the cut off, so I volunteered at the race. This year I won the weighted lottery and ran. It was warm for November (low 60s), but rainy and windy. However, the real pain came from the constant rolling hills. The sign at the top of the first big ascent read, "300ft climbed, 3,300 more to go." I took an enjoyable pace approach to this race. After crossing the finish line in 4:32, I had the following exchange with the race director.
ME: You were right. Running is stupid.
TRENT: Was there ever any doubt?
TRENT: Did you suffer out there?
ME: Yes, I did.
#10 Salina, KS 9.27.14
My friend Jerry suggested this as his first marathon because it was close to home and would offer some small-town hospitality. It was my smallest marathon yet with just 26 finishers (one for each mile). At the 20-mile aid station, I jokingly asked if I could catch the leader. One of the workers responded with "There are four or five ahead of you." I thought he was teasing me back, until I finished sixth. I managed to get back under four hours with 3:57 on this flat course.
#9 Manitou Springs, CO 8.17.14
While technically an out and back race, up and down would be accurate. Going up starts in Manitou Springs and climbs over 7,800 feet to the top of Pikes Peak. The first five miles are pretty congested - you're only as fast as the horde in front of you. As you get above the tree line, the air gets thinner making it difficult to breathe. It can take experienced runners 30 minutes to go a mile at the top. I took a little longer.
Crossing the halfway point at the summit felt as triumphant as Rocky bounding atop the art museum steps. The weather was ideal, and the view was spectacular. Coming down the air gets thicker and every step gets easier, at least they did at first. Around mile 23, my legs turned to spaghetti. Thankfully, my running partner, Bruce, was there to keep me going.
Of course, it was his idea that we run the second toughest marathon in the world. Once we cleared the trail, we still had a mile to go on pavement into town. As we approached the finish line, the announcer called out our bib numbers, hometowns and names. Eight hours and ten minutes of running, hiking, walking and shuffling led to an exhilarating experience and an awesome sense of accomplishment. I'm pretty proud of my new slowest marathon time... and my strongest negative split.
#8 Cincinnati, OH 5.4.14
Coming off Disney, I was training hard for Red Rock Canyon running 5-6 times a week, 30-50 miles, and because of all the snow and ice, a lot of that was on the treadmill. All that running on a belt along with an underdeveloped VMO led to patellofemoral syndrome where basically my knee cap was being pulled to the side and was rubbing against my thigh bone. So I canceled Red Rock, took a break, and began strength training.
As I added the miles back to my weekly training, the pain came back. Canceling Flying Pig was less of an option than Red Rock, because my sister was running it as her first marathon. I was going to go to support her whether I ran or not. Four weeks prior to the race, I decided to take a significant break and let my knee heal completely. I focused on walking and strength training, but no running. If I was was going to make it 26.2 miles, I would have to rely on my established base.
The plan worked. My endurance suffered (I walked more than ran the last six miles), but I finished Flying Pig with no significant knee pain in 4:53 which beat my slowest finish of 5:30. Cincinnati is a great town, and the crowd support was fantastic. While in town, I managed to reconnect with a friend I haven't seen in over 12 years. His wife was running the Half Marathon, so I joined them and their friends for an evening of carboloading. It was delightful.
And best of all, my sister completed her first marathon! We celebrated at Moerlein Lager House with some beer, burgers, and ice cream.
#7 Orlando, FL 1.12.14
With my family's love of Disney, this seemed like the natural pick for my Florida marathon. With 27,000 runners and three days of races leading up to the marathon, it's one of the most organized and best communicated races I've ever participated in. With Disney characters posing for pictures, marching bands playing us on and a gospel choir singing hallelujah as we round the corner for the finish line, this race is also one of the most entertaining.
One downside is the 5:30 a.m. start time which meant getting up before three to catch the shuttle, make it through the security check-in, drop my gear bag and walk to my starting corral by the recommended time. The field was a little crowded at some narrow points, and while we ran through all four Disney parks, the detour through ESPN Wide World of Sports complex felt like they needed to add a few more miles as we ran around one field, and then another, and then the next one.
Overall, there were far more cool points of interest. I found it thrilling to run around Walt Disney World Speedway with dozens of classic cars lining the track. And the biggest energizer was slipping in the side entrance to Magic Kingdom and rounding the corner on Main Street. It was packed with a cheering crowd, music was booming, and the castle was lit with the winter icicle lights against the dark early morning sky. Not the race for those striving for a new personal best, but a fun, interactive one that will make serious runners feel strong about their finish. My 1,101 place (3:48:54) was in the top 6% of the total 19,198 finishers.
#6 Kansas City, MO 10.19.13
With both the Des Moines Marathon and Potomac River Run, I felt a since of pride hitting the turnoff point for half marathoners. In my arrogant mindset, they had it easy at that point, and my real journey was just beginning. During the Kansas City Marathon in October 2012, I ran my first half marathon, and I found myself longing for the longer run when I hit that fork in the course around mile 8 where the halves go left and the fulls go right. It became one of the key motivating moments for me to run another full marathon. 364 days later, I came back stronger and faster setting another PR of 3:45. It's a visually delightful course through the Power and Light district, the Plaza and scenic Ward Parkway. The weather was brisk yet sunny, and I breezed up the the three significant climbs and finished feeling like I still have more to give. Special thanks to my friends Jill Meyer for encouraging me to run the half in 2012 and Bruce Brown for bandit running a few miles with me in the middle.
#5 Duluth, MN 6.22.13
Nice to be back in a big marathon - over 7,000 runners. It was cold, rainy and foggy for June even for Duluth, so the views weren't as nice as I expected, but the crowd was the best. Streets lined almost the entire race. With another under four finish (3:56), I treated myself to a giant burger and a beer at Grandma's. Stayed at University of Wisconsin-Superior which was a great value compared to the jacked up hotel prices in Duluth.
#4 Abilene, KS 4.13.13
Another out and back twice run. I figured I had to get back on that same horse that bucked me off. I met a lot of people on the quest for 50 marathons in 50 states. For this race, you're either a local runner, or someone who wants to check Kansas off their list. It was fun touring the Eisenhower Museum the day before, and support volunteers were friendly and encouraging.
The course was flat and I was ready. A new personal best time of 3:54 with near perfect splits.
# 3 Alexandria, VA 5.4.08
Small out and back twice marathon. I hurt my IT band and would have quit if the race was larger with more medical tents, but the only way back was to to keep moving. I finished third from last with a time of 5:30.
#2 Des Moines, IA 10.21.07
Okay, so it took me 12 years to run my second marathon. Ran this one close to home. It's a beautiful course, and not nearly as crowded as Chicago. I ran the first half way to fast and was out of energy by 20 miles, but I managed to cross the finish line in 4:32.
#1 Chicago, IL 10.15.95
Four months prior to this marathon, I had never run more than 3.5 miles. A friend of mine talked me into to running it with him. I started ramping up training as fast as I could. I was amazed how how easily I moved my miles up to 6, 9 and even 12. Then it got difficult. I barely managed to get to 17 as my longest run before the race, and that involved a lot of walking and pain. I tried to bail out, but my friend insisted I go and give it a shot. I finished!
I give credit to the pasta, the large dose of caffeine and especially the incredible crowd. Everyone I met that day wanted me to finish the race. Inspiring day!