The Mother Road 100 Race Report by Jeff Washburn

The Mother Road 100 was run between Oklahoma City and Tulsa on what seemed to be the “Road Kill Capital of the World”. I am one of those road atlas nerds and, when I heard that they were going to run 100 miles on old Route 66, I entered as soon as the application became available. There was no way that I was going to miss it, especially since it was only going to be a one-time affair.

I flew out to Oklahoma City with fellow GAC’ ers Aimee Jefferson and Jason Patch. Jason had run his first 100 mile at Western States this year and his second at Vermont. He had run a 7:10 at the Maine Track Club 50 Mile four weeks ago, not to mention the Chicago Marathon and numerous other marathons leading up to Maine. Aimee had a hip problem and only hoped to finish the distance. I wanted to go under 24 hours and would have been disappoint
ed if I didn’t do it.

The check-in at John Hargrove’s was everything that I had hoped from the race. It was full of Route 66 nostalgia. There I was able to put faces with many list members. There were sandwiches, popcorn and water as well as videos of some Leadville races. Dan Threlkeld, a local TV weatherman, did live weather broadcasts from the site. He also ran and finished the race
as did the building owner John Hargrove. We picked up our race packets, which contained more swag than I have ever gotten from one race, including a large piece of old Route 66.

Race morning dawned comfortably chilly. I started in shorts and a long sleeve and short sleeve shirts and wore my Bull Run wind vest over it. I wore my Acics Gel Landreth shoes with Smartwool socks and had on light polypro gloves and a breathable Montrail hat. I carried two water bottles in my fanny pack and only carried ibuprofen and Succeed caps in the pack along with my flashlights. I would rely upon the aid stations for food and planned to do the entire race without gels or race drinks.

A shotgun blast got us started and I ran most of the first 15 miles with Juli Aistars. She kept me from going out too fast but I was still running at just under 10 minute miles. We were running comfortably and got a chance to get to know one another. My goal was to run a 10 minute pace for as long as I could do so comfortably (at least 12 miles) and then try to run 12 minute miles for as long I could hold to that. I wanted to reach mile 50 in under 10 hours and mile 70 in 14 hours. After the out and back portion from and to the Round Barn, we reached the 8.3 mile aid station. Since I was going to be relying on aid station food all day, I perused the table for real food.
The table had animal crackers, pretzels and fig bars as well as Heed and water. This would be an omen for the aid at about half of the aid stations.
I refilled my bottles with water and grabbed three fig bars and headed out again with Juli.

Somewhere before Luther (16.6 miles) I made a pit stop and Juli went on ahead. Although I could see her in the distance for several miles, that would be the last time I would see her until the finish. I came into the Luther aid station to find that the only food were animal crackers and pretzels. This did not bode well for my nutrition plan. They did say that we wouldn E2
80 99t need a crew because the aid stations were well stocked. I don’t mean to complain, as everything about the race was fantastic; however, it was a bit disconcerting that the early aid stations were so sparse. I grabbed about five or six pretzels and headed out.

The course was quite interesting and rather enjoyable; however, in many place, there was very little shoulder. We were warned about this and were ready but many of the larger pick-up trucks with very wide mirrors made running on the narrow shoulder rather scary. There was no place on this run for inattention. One thing about this race was that the crews could meet their runners anyplace where they could safely pull off the road. I didn’t have a crew but every time I passed one of the other runners E2 80 99 crews, they would ask if I needed anything. I hated to bother any of them but it was good to know they were there. This would prove helpful as, later in the race, I had somehow lost my packet of Succeed caps and Lisa Mikkelsen, who was crewing her husband Thomas who finished second overall, came back and checked on me just when I needed her the most. She had some extra caps, which saved my race. It did get a little warm during the middle of the day and they came in very handy.

After Luther, the next town we ran through was Wellston at 24.75 miles. As with the other two aid stations, they only had animal crackers and pretzels. They did have small bags of potato chips that were probably left over from Halloween though and I took a bag and walked out of town eating the chips.
Coming out of town, we came upon a very busy section of Route 66. It was near an exit to the Turnpike and there were many more cars. The shoulder here was a bit wider in places but it required much concentration to stay on the shoulder and avoid the passing cars and trucks. We then came into the Town of Warwick at 29.45 miles and one of the best aid stations on the course.
They had a hippy theme and had food galore. I can’t remember what all they had but I had two chocolate cookies, two chunks of potatoes, two other cookies and two cups of Coke. This was the only aid station, other than the TATURS that had any soft drinks. We were also weighed at this aid station; however, they never asked me, and I never thought, to take off my fanny pack so I weighted in about 3 pounds heavier than I had stated.

The next town we entered was Chandler at 36.65 miles. Just before I got there I took some ibuprofen to relieve the tiredness in my legs and, after an hour, it really got me going again. Chandler is a rather large town compared to any that we had passed so far and we passed right through the main downtown section almost as if we were a parade. People were along the downtown watching us pass. It probably gave them some amusement to see us pass. The
aid station was back to normal with animal crackers and pretzels. I took five or six pretzels and headed down the road. Once we got out of Chandler, it was almost a straight shot to Davenport at 43.75 miles and the first place where I had left a drop bag. It was too early for night gear so I left that in the Bristow drop bag. Here I just changed my shirts and put on fresh ones, grabbed a dry hat and put the Bull Run wind vest back over everything.
This aid station was womaned by some locals who had made tuna, ham and cheese and PBJ sandwiches. I hate peanut butter so I took a whole ham and cheese sandwich and ate it as I headed back down the road. I also had a very large and delicious cookie. I was starved when I entered the town and this made my day. Of course the song that was stuck in everybody E2 80 99s head was E2 80 9CGet you kicks on Route 66 E2 80 9D but, shortly after I left Davenport, I came over this rise with the whole world laid out below my feet and I could only think of the Tom Petty song. E2 80 9COut in the great wide open, under the sky of blue. Into the great wide open, a runner without a crew. E2 80 9D That got stuck in my head for a lot of miles in spite of my trying to remove it.

The next stop would be the 50 mile marker. They had rounded off the aid stations when they set up the drop bag distances and I never checked the actual distances. The Davenport aid station said 45 miles. After finally checking the distance while writing this, I no know why it seemed to take me forever to get to the halfway point from there. I reached the 50mile point (just short of Stroud) in 10:15. That was about 30 to 45 minutes slower that I had hoped to get there but was still acceptable. I felt great and had no foot problems and nothing was bothering me. I was slowing down a bit but that was to be expected. The aid station did not have much so I took a banana and was on my way. During this next section, on the way to Depew, it started getting quite cold. The forecast called for a low of around 30 for the night and it almost felt that cold just after the sun went down. At somewhere near 60 miles, the top of my right calf stated hurting. It wasn’t too bad at that point but hurt when I straightened my leg as I was striding. If I walked a bit, it would ease up and then I would run and it would start hurting again. So far, it wasn’t anything that I couldn’t deal with. Just before I got to the next town, I took some more ibuprofen because of the sore calf. It didn’t seem to help much this time.

We soon turned off the main road and into Depew at 61.05 miles. There are not words enough to describe the way the people of Depew made us feel when we entered the town. At each block, a couple of local kids would greet us and walk with us to the next block, asking us where we were from and engaging us in conversation. At the next block, another set of kids would do the same
until we reached the town center. The aid station there was nirvana. They had pudding. I ate three cups. They had soup. I ate a large cup of that.
It helped warm me. I really hated to leave but I was on a mission and had to go. I took a couple of cookies and headed out. These people knew how to make you feel welcome.

Once out of town and back on the main road, it started getting really cold and my calf started screaming at me. I would walk and it felt better. I would run and it would start up again. It looked like this was going to be the pattern for the rest of the race. I was really freezing and my night clothing was at Bristow at 68.85 miles (rounded to 70 in the drop bag information). The drop bag mileages are only important because they were the only mileages that I could remember and it made it seem like it was taking me forever to reach the next aid stations as a result. You know how the mind messes with you out there. On sections where the shoulder of the road was wide, I would run with my flashlight off. I could run faster this way but, if the shoulder got narrow, I would have to turn it back on. I finally arrived at Bristow and immediately went into the building there with my drop bag to get warm. I went into the rest room and changed everything except my shoes and socks. They hadn’t bothered me at all and I still had no blisters or sore feet. I put on a long sleeve and short sleeve shirt, a jacket that I got at C4P, another Bull Run wind vest and wind briefs and tights. I also had fresh gloves and a fleece hat. When I emerged from the building, I was ready to get it done. I took some soup at the aid station and was on my way.
I hadn’t wasted too much time making the changes so I still had a good chance to break 24 hours.

When you left the aid station, you headed right through the main street of the town and had to stay on the sidewalk as you headed though. There were a few people around and they cheered me on. After we got out of town, we had to make a turn onto an old section of Route 66. Laz was there waiting for Dirt and made it easy for me to see where the turn was. The old section was
very dark and the pavement was patched with asphalt that was peeling off in places. You had to watch your footing through here. I knew the aid station was in 8 miles and was in the middle of nowhere. The TATURS club from Tulsa was manning it. It seemed to take me forever to get there and, because of the distance rounding for the drop bags, I thought I was over a mile farthe
r than I was. I finally saw the Tiki torches up ahead and the oasis came in to view. Unfortunately, I was pushing the edge of finishing under 24 hours, especially with my bad calf, and I didn’t dare spend any time here.
It was unfortunate because they had a great spread of food and a fire going. I almost wished that I didn’t have a chance at a sub-24 so I could spend some time there getting warm and eating mass quantities of food. I took some potato soup, drank a Coke and was on my way. I had 23 miles to go and had no time to spare if I wanted to break 24 hours. This aid station was to be my last stop.

I pushed in into Kellyville as best I could. I had realized that I would have to suck it up and ignore the calf pain if I wanted to reach my goal of a sub-24 hour finish. Because I thought I was a mile farther than I was, I thought that I had more time but, when I checked in at the Kellyville aid stat ion at 84.05 miles, I thought I only had 15 more miles to run. Since it was 8 miles to the next one, I would have only 7 miles after that. I finally reached the aid station, which was in a closed gas station, and just checked in and left. The person there told me I had 8 miles to go. This was upsetting. I thought I only had 7 to go so I had to find another gear and push my
self even more. Knowing I had to overcome the pain in my calf in order to finish, I took some more ibuprofen. I had only intended to take it twice but I needed one more hit to get my though the pain. If I could have walked it in, I would not have taken any but I had no choice but to try and run if I wanted to break 24 hours.

Not only was I on the edge of breaking 24 hours, the next section into Sapupla was very confusing. Also, I was having trouble keeping awake. There were several intersections that looked like they were the correct way to go but there were no markings. The course was only marked if there was a turn. I f you were to go straight, there were no markings. This caused a lot of consternation as you had to hope that you didn’t miss a turn marker as you wouldn’t see another one until you came to another turn. If you were off course, you could go miles before you realized it. Just a few confidence markings would have been nice. We knew this going into the race so it was something we had to be aware of.
At one point the main road seemed to go to the right and the road to that went straight looked more like a back street in the town. I moved along for a couple of miles with a fear that I had missed a turn. There was not even a Route sign to help with my confidence. Finally, as I came near the main part of the town, I saw a Route 66 sign. I never thought about heading back to see if I was on the correct route since I wouldn’t have a chance at breaking 24 hours either way. I finally made it to the last aid station and found that I had 8 more miles to go. This really had me worried. I knew I could do it if I had anything left but I was running out of gas and was having a hard time keeping awake. We made a left turn into an old section of Route 66 6 and headed into a less comfortable section of town. As I was pushing through this section, a local police officer stopped by me and warned me of loose dogs in the area. This didn’t do much to help. I have never had problems with dogs in all the years that I have been running so I
wasn’t too worried but, if he thought it necessary to inform me of it, I had better be ready. I had just passed my friend Kurt Kelly after the last aid station and he was being crewed by his wife Missy. Missy was kind enough to drive to the finish and come back, letting me know exactly how far I had to go. I was pushing with all I had and knew I could make it with time to spare. I was just worried that my calf would give out completely and ruin the whole run. I spoke to Missy in monosyllabic terms as I was so tired and beat and had been pushing myself hard for the past 30 miles. Normally, I am quite talkative, even this late in a race. At last, I was able to ma
ke the final turn into the parking lot of the Carl’s Jr. hamburger place and the race was finally over. I crossed the line in 23:53. This was the first sub-24 hour 100 I have run in at least 15 years. It was certainly nice to finally do it again.

I went into Carl’s Jr. and got my drop bags, ordered a burger, two cinnamon buns with icing and a strawberry milkshake. It was heaven. I had no blisters, no real soreness except for the top of my calf and, except for hunger pangs, had no problems with my stomach. I have already mentioned everything that I ate throughout the entire race. I always wonder at how much some people can eat, or seem to think they need to eat, in these races. I reached my goal and was happy but I knew, had it not been for the calf, I could have done even better. That does get me psyched for next year’s schedule.

Jason finished ninth in 20:22 and Aimee had to drop in Depew as she was getting hypothermic. We went back to our motel and took a nap and met Juli Aistars and Connie Karras for a huge Chinese buffet. Juli finished as third woman in 22:46 and Connie was forced to stop because of someone following her in a pickup truck and making her uncomfortable. Finally, when the truck was found up ahead of her with the driver nowhere to be found, a course marshal asked her if she would leave the course. She complied since they could not find anybody to run with her.

On the trip home, I felt great but, from keeping my leg bent in the airplane, the calf would tighten and it would take me quite a few steps before I could straighten it again. I did manage to bowl on Thursday night but it wasn’t pretty. And today, as I write this, it is still bothering me qui
te a bit. I want to thank everybody involved in putting on the race. It was an adventure that I am glad I didn’t miss. The organization that went into this race must have been enormous and I thank them for all their efforts. The road was dangerous at times but the adventure was a once in a lifetime memory.

After I got back home, there was a DVD of the movie Cars in the mail for my birthday, which was a few days before the race. I loved the movie when I saw it in the theater and just had to watch it again before I went to bed. I didn’t remember all the references to Route 66 in the movie and, even though it references parts that were in California, it brought tears to my eyes and brought the memories of the weekend past flooding back in a rush of emotions. Thanks to all who were there for making it a great and enjoyable weekend. I did get my kicks on Route 66. The home of multiday running news and events.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.