McNaughton Park Trails 100 Mile Run – Will Taggart

Nikki Seger Photo by Mary Gorski
Nikki Seger Photo by Mary Gorski

Will Taggart has kindly given permission to reproduce his account of his 100 mile race at the McNaughton Park Trail race.

Miserable. Psychedelic. Fun. Hellish. Cathartic. Awe-inspiring.

Just a few words to describe the overall experience of MPTR this weekend.

My race, briefly:

Started a bit fast, loop 1 in 1:48, brisk, but conversational pace, rainy, incredible mud. 5th through one loop. The slipping and sliding took its toll very quickly. I was mud-skiing down these little hills, and my muscles weren’t ready for that. Had very bad lower back pain and nausea throughout loop 2. Fell back to 14th or so. Regrouped and
was steady miles 20-70, caught a bunch of people and moved up to tenth towards 80 miles. Played cat and mouse with Alisa Springman and Charlotte Vasarhelyi all day. They are tremendous. I figured if I could hold on and keep I could place in the middle of the survivors, 6th or 7th, which was my goal.

But oh how quickly the worm turns. At about 78 miles, after Heaven’s Gate, I started crying. Bottom lip quivering, trying to hold back the tears crying. Now, I’m not an overly emotional person, I probably cry about once per year for one reason or another. But these were tears of “joy” as I had convinced myself that I was going to make it. Started hallucinating.

And at 82.7 it hit me like a ton of bricks. I was fine jogging all the flats until this point. But at Totem Pole on the 9th loop, the wheels came off. And hard. You know how you feel the day after you run a hard race, staggering little baby steps, unable to descend stairs, barely able to walk? That’s what it felt like then, and that’s how I feel
now. And it hit me very suddenly. I have never had DOMS *during* an event!

At 85.7 I told one of the aid station workers at Heaven’s Gate that I had a bad case of the “I don’t want to’s,” and she asked me what was wrong. The bottom lip started quivering again, and I had to turn away, pulling my shirt over my head to hide my face. Looking back on it, my weird emotional responses were almost certainly due to sleep deprivation. Same with the hallucinations. Pretty much done at this point.

Got back to start/finish and Hans Dieter-Weishaar was sitting at a picnic table and I struck up a conversation with him. I was going to take a nap and zombie-walk one more loop and be done with it. “I didn’t come all this way to go 90 miles […] I could continue but it’s not f—ing worth it. That’s like 20 more hours of this s—t […] —k that […] I’m not getting —-ing hurt out there,” and so on.” Good to vent a little bit.

So I did, zombie walked, staggered, one more loop “out there.” I was passed by 10 people in the last 20 miles, which took me over 9 hours, including a couple of little naps. Hallucinating very badly towards the end. DNF @ 100 miles, 31:41. DOMS + sleep deprivation = the end.

This was an incredible learning experience for me, and a great introduction to the sub-culture within a sub-culture group of ultrarunners who do things like running across America on Route 66 (Phil Rosenstein, nice Porsche, btw!), run Badwater (Nikki Segal) and absolutely destroy the McNaughton 150 (Ryan Dexter put on a superhuman display of focus which was incredible to watch, that dude is an
absolute badass.) It’s a bit like the Russian nesting dolls, you know the ones where each dolls contains another of smaller size? And the smallest doll contains what? “I’m walking to the Moon baby, the Moon!”

Or maybe the culture map could be described using a Venn diagram, with mountaineers, ultra-walkers, and runners overlapping to produce this little unique sub-cultural space. I don’t know, either way it was great sitting around (or hopefully, running) and talking with all these great people. Moe the Eagle, whose son Logan is an absolute BEAST. Oh Canada! Mark Tanaka, who is unbelievably tough. Ulrich Kamm, Charlotte, Hans, Nikki, Juli, Charlotte, Sherpa John, Adam Prebola, Andy Weinberg and all the volunteers, Travis Liles (who, in his first 100, placed 4th!), Alisa Springman and others made the trip worthwhile.

Sitting around watching people finish the 150 this morning was deeply humbling, those people are just incredible endurance athletes.

I’m wondering how long it will take me to recover. I’d like to race again within the next couple of months to get the stink of DNF off me. Something, uh, you know, sane. I’m not even going to think about another tough trail ultra for awhile, I’m going to try to do some flat timed events next.

I actually feel good about the whole thing. Wanted to finish, but I’ll live to fight again. I know how much effort I put in to this thing, and while I might have been able to actually run a good time on a decent 100 course, I don’t think I would have learned as much. I figure if I don’t fail every now and then, I’m probably not pushing myself hard enough. My aerobic system, nutrition and hydration worked perfectly, but my muscles weren’t trained for the skiing and steep downhills, and that, along with the sleep deprivation just knocked me out. I know now many things I can improve, while other things remain a mystery. Live and learn.

best,
will

McNaughton Park Trail Races Results by Time to Run

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