A few numbers that stand out from last weekend’s Indiana Trail 100 held at Chain O’Lakes State Park:
Completion rate: 38 percent.
Trail/course alterations: 4.
Inches of rain 36 hours before start time: 6.
Temperature at start: 33 (wind chill 20).
With those numbers, what race director Mike Pfefferkorn said after the race may surprise you.
“Was the race a success,” Pfefferkorn said in repeating a question. “Absolutely it was a success.”
The inaugural running of the 100-mile trail race (Indiana’s only such event) was a success because of the spirit shown by the race directors was as great as those who were participating. Simply put: it was a race put on by ultra trail runners for ultra-trail runners.
“They had all the (parts of a successful race) covered,” said finisher Chris Beck of Fort Wayne. “They were prepared before the race, reacted well to the needs of the runners during the race and then when we were done, took care of us.”
Beck finished 20th out of 57 finishers with a time of 26 hours, 26 minutes and 8 seconds. There were 152 who started the six-loop race. In the three-loop 50-mile race, 77 out of 90 finished.
Winning the 100-mile race was national elite Michele Yates of Colorado in 17 hours, 35 minutes and 17 seconds.
Pfefferkorn and his co-directors Tom Landis, Don Lindley and Jerry Diehl not only worked thousands of hours over the past 24 months to prepare for the race, but then were ambushed by last week’s storms.
“I was at the start-finish line Thursday and it was 75 degrees and the trail was great,” Pfefferkorn said. “Twenty-four hours later we were re-routing the course in three places that were flooded. Saturday morning, during the first hours of the race, we had to alter the course in a fourth place.”
Asked how he and his staff handled it physically and emotionally, Pfefferkorn said simply: “We didn’t have time to sit down and throw a pity party.”
And therein lies the uniqueness of ultra trail running: there are no perfect 100 mile races. Not for the participant and not for the race directors. And there is a mutual understanding between the parties to this fact.
“I signed up for the race thinking it would be a great opportunity to run a fast time, that it would be my easiest (100 miler),” said Beck, who has finished four such races and a half-dozen other ultras. “But it ended up being the most challenging.”
Beck said the course conditions made the aid stations and volunteer support even better, as if they rose to the occasion. If the first Indiana Trail 100 will become legendary, so will it’s support staff.
“It was great for me because of all the familiar faces. It was a home-court advantage for those of us from the area,” Beck said. “But since the race, there have been a lot of great comments from runners who are not local. They are raving on social media about the race.”
Pfefferkorn, like any dedicated race director, was listing items that can be improved upon when he was interrupted with a question.
“Will there be (an Indiana Trail 100) next year,” Pfefferkorn repeated. “Absolutely!