Shelia Allen (Mrs. Stu) Runs 22 Hours Before Elements at Mohican 100 Get the Best of Her
This was my wife’s second attempt at running 100 miles. Last year, she and Jeff Lewis of Otisville, and Peter Healey of Fenton made it to the 60 mile mark of this challenging trail race in central Ohio. Shelia would surpass that distance this time.
After a fairly cool start at 5 am, the temperatures in Mohican State Park near Loudonville, Ohio, soared quickly into the 90’s by the afternoon. The heat and humidity seemed to be a bigger foe to most of the runners than the rugged, hilly trails.
Our friend and training partner Jeff Lewis made it just past the 30-mile mark before severe dehydration and cramping forced him to call it a day. Many of our friends that we know to be strong trail runners were overcome by the heat. Nausea and dehydration are an endurance athlete’s nemesis. The casualties at Mohican continued to climb through the afternoon.
Shelia came through the start/finish aid station a little after 8 pm and seemed to be doing well. She had completed 54 miles, and had hoped to put 60 behind her before darkness fell. At this point, I was allowed to join her as a pacer, and we headed down the trail into the twilight.
It gets dark in the forest earlier than in open areas, so we were using the headlamps a bit before we made the aid station at mile 60. A problem was starting to surface as my wife was suddenly starting to have difficulty eating. A runner hoping to complete 100 miles needs to consume anywhere from 10,000 to 15,000 calories during the course of the event. This was not a good sign.
We made it to the next aid station, and all she was able to consume was some juice. By this point, she was starting to slow down. Our plan was to power hike through the night hours, and continue to walk a good pace and start to run more when it got to be daylight again.
The next 6 or 7 miles was a zombie-walk. Lack of food, not being able to keep down what little she did eat were starting to take a severe toll.
We made it to the aid station at 71 miles, and it was becoming clear that the clock was no longer our friend. I tried to encourge my wife to try to make it to the start/finish at 77 miles, and that maybe seing the sun rise would give her a boost.
She sat down and tried to eat something, tried to drink something, but couldn’t do it. With tears in her eyes, she told the aid station captain that she was done. 22 hours on the trail, 71 difficult miles.
As it would turn out, a low percentage of those who started the Mohican Trail 100 would survive to get a coveted finisher’s belt buckle. Those who made it, did something extraordinary.
As for my Shelia, she plans to try again to complete the 100 mile distance. We have a date with some friends to attempt the Superior Trail 100 in northern Minnesota in 2013. If all goes well, we hope to run this one together from start to finish.
Results from the Mohican Trail 100 can be found here:
After a couple of weeks of recovery time, we’ll see you at Mud Factor on June 30th! www.mudfactor.com