Overall Rating
Overall Rating (6 Reviews)
3.8
(6 Ratings)  (6 Reviews)
DIFFICULTY
3.5
SCENERY
3.7
PRODUCTION
4.2
SWAG
4
RACE ACROSS THE ISLANDS OF THE FLORIDA KEYS! Talk about spectacular! This Southernmost part of the United States is a chain of islands surrounded by the turquoise waters of the Atlantic Ocean and Florida Bay/Gulf of Mexico. Picturesque and laid-back, the scene is a sub-tropical paradise ending in the City … MORE
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Recent reviews

    alwaysarunner FIRST-TIMER '22

    So after waiting awhile to run this race and being excited to do so, it is with a heavy heart that it was such a letdown. No aid stations at … MORE

    So after waiting awhile to run this race and being excited to do so, it is with a heavy heart that it was such a letdown.

    No aid stations at all, pretty bleak strip store scenery at least until mile 70, lack of restrooms and just it being a very lonely run really made it an all in all crappy day.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    1
    SCENERY
    1
    SWAG
    4

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    mullerator3 FIRST-TIMER '19

    This was my first 50 miler and I thought it was great for someone like me. I am new to ultra running and I thought this race was "easy" and … MORE

    This was my first 50 miler and I thought it was great for someone like me. I am new to ultra running and I thought this race was “easy” and inviting. It’s easy in the sense that there are no technical trail elements or wild elevation changes. The heat, humidity, and running right next to heavy traffic are the major challenges. I live in Miami (every run from April to October is heat training), so the heat had little effect on me. People who live north of Orlando, Fl should definitely put significant time into heat training. And everyone should use ice bandanas. I’ve never used ice on my runs before; what a game changer! There are a lot of fast runners in this race, but there are a lot of slow runners like me. I still felt welcome, like a participant, even though I came in 4 hours after the first place finisher. I had quite a few crews, other runners, race volunteers, and random strangers cheering me on along the way and at the finish line. It lifted my spirits everytime. Even the guy that does the race timing, Mike Melton, was enthusiastic and seemed really into the race spirit. It’s a really friendly event. Aid stations were amazing. All of them were fully stocked (I’m a middle pack runner) and staffed when I came by. I didn’t utilize my drop bags much, but it was nice to have a safety net. I ran 50 miles uncrewed without any troubles, but I also train without any aid. The views along the route are amazing; it’s hard to not take pictures every few miles. My biggest concern was 7 mile bridge. I HATE running near cars. The bridge was not as scary as I thought. The orange cones put along the road did a good job of keeping cars at bay. I recommend any race organized by Bob Becker.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    4

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    rfrimmel REPEAT RUNNER '15

    This is the 8th year for this race which includes a 100 miler, 50 miler, 100 mile relay and added this year a 50K. I have run the 100 mile … MORE

    This is the 8th year for this race which includes a 100 miler, 50 miler, 100 mile relay and added this year a 50K. I have run the 100 mile relay twice with a six person team and one failed attempt at the 50 miles. This time I was determined and more prepared to complete all 50 miles. The race is very well organized. Race director Bob Becker and his staff of volunteers do a fantastic job. Everything is well coordinated and organized. I will address the 50 miler in this review but if you have any question about the 100 mile relay, contact me. The race starts in Marathon at mile marker (MM) 50 with the first wave of 4 starting at 9:45am. Roughly 25 runners per wave. So being in the Keys, it is already in the 80s at the start. There was a nice tailwind of about 8-10 miles per hour. The first several miles are flat and then you reach the Seven Mile Bridge with a nice but not difficult incline. The views over the bridge are beautiful blue and green waters. Very picturesque Florida Keys. The temperature continued to climb throughout the day which meant a lot of walking and less running. During the race you have the opportunity to meet the other runners since you are either walking or running with them and commiserating about the heat. This course has NO shade so sunblock is a must as well as hats, cooling bandanas, and plenty of ice. You are allowed a support crew to assist with food and hydration. Some of the runners also use pacers. There are plenty of places to stop for extra ice and other supplies and the checkpoints always have extra water and supplements. Support crews are great and for me it was invaluable. I did get a little dehydrated around mile 20 and had to increase my water and Gatorade intact. Fortunately, the sun set and it became more tolerable to run and was as then able to run the last 8 miles with very few walk breaks. The finish is at HIggs Beach in Key West. The post race foot is plentiful with fried chicken, beer, and other goodies. And Bob Becker is there to greet each runner whether individual or team. This is great race if you want to challenge yourself in both distance and heat. Many of the elite ultrarunners do this race in prep for Badwaters. And you can make it a destination and hangout in the Keys a few days and relive all those mile markers.

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    4

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    AGeraldi REPEAT RUNNER '10

    I returned to Florida to attempt my third straight Keys 100. I had managed to buckle the race in 2008 and 2009 and was hoping to earn my third buckle … MORE

    I returned to Florida to attempt my third straight Keys 100. I had managed to buckle the race in 2008 and 2009 and was hoping to earn my third buckle in the third year of the race.

    After touching down Thursday in Fort Lauderdale, I drove to Miami and checked in my hotel – trying to work while reading race updates from the 24 Hour World Running Championships till 2:00 am. Then on Friday morning I went into my company’s Miami office for a while to get some work down. I like to get there a couple times a year at a minimum, but other travel had kept me away for well over a year so this was a good chance to reconnect with colleagues.

    Afterwards I started to drive north (yup, not south to the Keys) to West Palm airport to pick up Bob Cicalese. Bob was a friend that I had met on an ultrarunning e-mail exchange called the UltraListServ. About 6 weeks ago or so he and his family were in California on holiday and I took him on a couple training runs. During one such run I suggested he consider Keys 50 as a good warm-up for Vermont 100 which we are both entered to run. Later, I upped the suggestion and said he should consider doing the Keys 100 instead as it is plenty of time to recover for Vermont (July) and any mileage he gets will be a great base for Vermont. I also promised him that if he did, we would toe the line together and I would help pace him to his first ever 100 finish and buckle. I could see this thought taking root in his mind ……similar to the way visions of a sweet young White House intern takes root in Bill Clinton’s mind. Soon he embraced the concept, was hooked and in. So I had someone to run the Keys 100 with from start to finish….so I thought.

    Anyway, after sitting in traffic for an hour, finally got Bob at West Palm and we began a comical drive to the Keys. There are toll roads (a bit foreign concept for a California driver) but I had driven them before so thought I knew where to go. But once we went through the Sunpass/pre-paid lane by mistake (without any such pass we thought until a call to the rental car company confirmed the license plate did the same thing) and once a slight wrong turn ended us up in a neighborhood of Miami that was not on any tourist destination maps. We locked our car doors and got the heck out of that part of town before were became extras in CSI Miami.

    We finally made it to Highway 1 and drove past Florida City through the Everglades. I kept seeing signs announcing Croc Crossings yet never saw any gators. Bob and I were running a tad bit late so we drove straight to race check-in and the pre-race meeting. This year it was in a community center.

    The check-in was very organized and we got our bags and numbers rather quickly. I managed to meet some fellow ultra friends and runners such as Christian Griffith from Atlanta, Bill Andrews (he and I did Badwater together and based upon advice we received from DC at ZombieRunner, walked the first two miles of BW together – he was also at AR 50 with me as well as Barkley) and Molly Sheridan. Bill was the guest speaker at the race meeting speaking on the very interesting topic of life extension through telomere extension (being a science major in undergrad and overall a geek – I truly enjoyed his topic that has led to 3 Nobel prizes….for more info go here: Sierra Sciences ). Bill’s speech had as a central point that exercise helped slow the aging process and that extreme exercise had the best effect at slowing aging…..for some coincidental reason he had a receptive audience to hear this message.

    Race director and friend Bob Becker did a great job opening the meeting and describing the event and answering questions.

    It was during this meeting that a thought hatched in my head….it was one of those “OMG you are such a dumbshi!!” thoughts. This year, the Keys 100 allowed non-crewed runners. This means runners who opted for this more challenging race format would not have a car driven along them with a crew handing them supplies…instead drop-bags would be placed for them about 10 miles apart. Bob and I were non-crewed. Also meaning (dumshi!!) that the car would not be at the finish line 100 miles later! We scrambled trying to see how we could get our car down there when these super nice distributors of this new vitamin and antioxidant drink called (click here to go to their site) Yoli offered to drive the car and have it waiting for us in Key West. That was a relief. By the way, the Yoli drink is quite good and tasty – I joked I would mix the citrus flavor with vodka. You should give it a try.

    So Bob and I headed back to the hotel and checked in. A quick bite to eat (where Bob watched his Flyers win game 7 of the Stanley Cup playoffs) and then back to the hotel. We spent about an hour or so organizing drop bags and contents. We decided that for the first 50 miles we would drop one at Mile 20, one at 40 and one at 50. Then after that every 10 miles. 50 miles drop was our biggest drop with the later ones having nighttime gear and supplies. Then it was off to bed.

    The alarm went off a bit too early it seemed (thanks to some partying kids) but we were up and soon out the door to the starting line. We parked the car grabbed our bags and headed to check-in. Our friends from Yoli were checking us in so we gave them the keys. Then I proceeded to put our drop bags in the right boxes: 20 mile drop bag in the box reading MM 20; 70 mile drop bag in box reading “MM 70” and so on. This little instance would revisit us later.

    Bob and I started walking to the starting line and as soon as we got there heard “One minute to go”. Wow! Time flies when you are running late! We barely had time to wish each other luck when we were off. The 2010 Keys 100 had begun.

    I had told Bob that we should follow advice I received from DC for Badwater. We walk the first two miles. After that we would develop a run/walk strategy and suggest 10 minutes running & 2 minutes walking through mile 25. Then we would see how we were doing and continue at that pace or adjust the run time down and walk time up. He agreed. But after 12 minutes of walking we said…OK let’s start the 10 and 2.

    During the early part of the race we came across some runners we knew such as Bill Andrews, Molly Sheridan, Christian Griffith and Bry Gardner. We chatted a bit with them but soon various race strategies spread us out and Bob and I were just two guys running our race.

    The 10 and 2 was working quite well and pretty soon we came to the first ice and water stop for non-crewed runners (each spaced 10 miles apart…or so).I had already developed a hot spot on the bottom of my right foot. Bob was also developing a blister. So we took some time and tended to those. After refueling and re-hydrating, we were off.

    By Mile 20, the sun was definitely up and I had put on my Moebens, OR sun hat and my Kool scarf (hollow so it can be filled with ice). Bob had a tank top on and a visor type cap. Pretty soon I could tell the sun beating on his head was getting to him. Somewhere around mile 22 he spotted a small white hand towel on the ground. He grabbed it, shook it off and plopped it on his head under the visor – presto: a sun hat! Bob swears that lucky towel saved his race for him.

    Soon we were slowing a bit. The 10 minute runs were decreasing and the 2 minute walks stretching a bit longer but I told Bob we didn’t care – we would take a little more time during the heat and recoup it as the day cooled down later. At the marathon check-in we found out we weren’t exactly in last place (barely) so that made us happy. We grabbed more ice and water were soon out on the hot road again.

    The Keys 100 follows Highway 1 down the Overseas Highway to Key West. That means bridges…a lot of bridges. I enjoy the bridges. My first year at Keys I saw porpoise, turtles, a barracuda, and a lot of other fish. Last year I saw turtles. This year I saw one turtle, a bunch of sting ray, and one barracuda.

    As Bob and I continued to run we approached mile 30 and I noticed my lower back was tightening up a bit and my piriformis was flaring up. My piriformis was what knocked me out of Rocky Raccoon 100 at mile 80. Damn – this is not good. I massaged it as we ran and walked. We would stop and stretch also. About this time the temps were definitely hotter and Bob, who had spent his last 6 weeks of heat training in the highs of 45 degrees F in Philly was not a happy camper. I could tell he was wondering why he ever listened to me when I suggested the Keys 100…that sweet young White House intern was beginning to look a bit more like Hillary on a real rough day.

    I happened to glance at my watch that has a thermometer – a cool 100 degrees F! After the race I have heard reports that temps hit the 90’s in the shade and 108 on the asphalt. Not quite Badwater but neither was it the Antarctic marathon. On the bridges it was cooler….but some of these bridges seemed to never end:

    As we neared mile 30 my back and piriformis were really tight. At home I use a Physical Therapy ball (or a kid’s T-ball ball) to massage the piriformis in my glute. But here no such items were lying along the Overseas Highway. There were however coconuts. So I grabbed a small baby one (already hollowed out by crabs) and brought it with me to the drop bag station. There I sat down and used the coconut to knead and massage the tight piriformis muscle to relieve the pressure on my sciatica.

    Bob and I got our drop bag and Bob noticed that they were mile 70 bags. Damn! How did I screw that up? Then we realized that the boxes I put the bags in were marked for Mile Markers. The Overseas Highway has a mile marker in descending order down to MM zero in Key west. So we were 30 miles into our race….but at Mile Marker 70. I had put in our 70 miles bags into MM70 box meaning all our drop bags for later in the race were actually spread out earlier in the race!!!!

    The two volunteers told us we weren’t the only idiots (well I wasn’t since it was my mistake). The volunteer Marshall would take our bags and would drop them off as he made it down to Mile 70 at MM30. That was a relief. So we refueled (I opened a packet of tuna fish and shared it with Bob).

    Soon we were shuffling down the road in some of the hottest parts of the day. When there was cloud cover I didn’t think it was too bad…and when there was cloud cover and the cross or tail winds it was actually nice in my opinion. Bob thought it was simply brutal. I am not sure, but I would think at times it was hotter than 2009 (not sure about 2008 as that was HOT) but at other times the weather was actually pretty conducive to a fast time (for someone else).

    Well, we hit that stretch between mile 30 and 40 that included bridges. I really enjoyed this and kept trying to push the pace as much as possible. After stopping to get more ice and water at mile marker 60 (mile 40) we pressed on. This stretch had a lot of telephone poles. I made a deal with Bob. We run one length then we walk one length. Then repeat. We kept this up for some time and I could see us recovering some time.

    At one point we were side-by-side and heard a honking. Through-out the day cars had honked either cheered at us or shouted stuff like “Get running!”. This time it was a motorcycle driven by a cool biker dude while his girlfriend/wife/sister/mom flashing us her boobs as they sped by. We both chuckled at this and yelled a quick “thank you” as we moved on down the road.

    But then tragedy hit…..the BIKE PATH!!!!!! The bike path has been for me one of the worst parts of the race. It is down off the side of the road pretty sheltered. There is no wind, no water, no nice view, nothing. And it goes on and on and on. Time stands still. Tree sloths have been known to commit suicide from boredom there. Jewelery melts and drips to the ground from the heat. Satan needs a iced tea when he visits it. The path is made of the melted soles of prior runners. Etc.

    Anyway, we entered the depths of Hades….I mean the bike path and continued our march and that is what we did. Except for a few short bursts of slow jogs, we were in power marching time. Simply going forward with deliberate strong and fast steps.

    After what seemed like an eternity we exited the path to Marathon. Marathon was the location of the mid-way point. Bob and I caught another runner and the three of us moved toward the 50 mile check-in at the Marathon airport. The other runner told us he was done and dropping for the day. Bob and I grabbed our gear and took a good 20 minutes resting, stretching, refueling, and hydrating. I also took that opportunity to apply a crap-load of Hydropel to chafing that was developing in places no human should ever be chafed.

    Then we were off again. We headed to the next little challenge – the Seven Mile Bridge. The sun was starting to set so Bob and I put on our reflector vests and donned headlights and flashlights. Bob had loaned me a blinkie light but that popped off my vest and shattered on the ground so we went on without (sorry RD Bob Becker….we improvised with swinging the flashlight back and forth).

    As we continued over the bridge the temps definitely cooled and Philly Bob was getting back into his element. I mentioned to him that once we hit the top we should run down the other side. So we did. Maybe we shouldn’t have. By the bottom of the bridges “hill” my legs were tired, bottom of feet sore and my back was killing me. But we kept going, taking a couple rest stops to stretch on the side of the bridge.

    Once we were on the other side we began looking for Mile Marker 60 and our next drop bag. There we found it and settled down into a couple of chairs as we chatted with the two volunteers who were crewing it. They were nice and one, a reporter, started interviewing us on the spot. After a bit we were off again and moving down toward Big Pine key – home of the endangered Key Deer. Last year I had seen one Key Deer, the previous year none. This year I clearly saw two Key Deer eating and near the end saw a herd of them consisting of about 10 deer in the brush on the side of the road….only their eyes visible reflecting our head lamps. Both Bob and I were actually feeling pretty good at this point and were picking up our pace (not actually running mind you but power marching at a good clip).

    The miles seemed to pass and now it was my turn to get a second wind. Bob was attempting to sleep walk – that is he kept right on moving but would shut his eyes for a couple seconds at a time. Usually I do the same thing and this year I really thought sleep deprivation would be bad for me (especially after staying up till about 2 in the morning Friday watching the 24 hour running championship updates). But this time I never really had a strong urge to fall asleep. So I kept pushing reminding Bob we had to keep going.

    About this time I started doing math. I would tell Bob – OK we are at this distance at this time. If we average 15 minute miles, we still have a 27 hour. If we average 20 minute miles around 30 hours, etc. He kept saying OK. Our goal was never to allow our cushion between a finish time and the 32 hour cut-off fall beneath one hour.

    Soon we reached mile 70 at mile marker 30. To my surprise it was being crewed by Will, one of my crew members from my 2009 Keys 100. He commented that I looked a lot better than I did in 2009…..wow I must have looked like a corpse in 2009!!!!

    Bob and I kept moving. All the time I kept telling Bob that if we do X pace we should finish at Y time. After awhile Bob seemed to move ahead of me. Either I was slowing, he was speeding up or he just got tired of hearing my mental calculations. By mile 75 my back was killing me. Bob got there a minute before me, but as we agreed, we were just going to blitz this stop to make up time so he just barely stopped.

    But when I got there I had to stop and stretch. I tried to take some aspirin for my back. But it dissolved instantly on my tongue and when I went to swallow it got stuck and started burning. Next thing I knew I was throwing up. Tim a volunteer tried to help me. I must admit I felt so disgruntled with my aching back and slowing pace I probably was not the most appreciative. But I tried to thank him and move on.

    Bob had, per our plan, kept going. I didn’t think I could catch back up with my lower back cramping up but I kept trying. After two miles I stopped on the steps of a store and stretched some more – using a round rock as a massage ball. I kept the rock and ended up using it probably 8 of the next 12 miles. I was now on my own as there was no chance of me catching Bob – and I was thankful he did what I had told him to do “Keep going and get your buckle if I can’t keep up.”

    Soon with the sun lighting up the morning sky, I hit Mile 80. Mile 80 is a major mile for me in 100’s. It gives me a mental boost knowing I only have to take a step and then I have less than 20 miles to go. So that is what I did. I took one more step so I had less than 20 miles to the finish……and then dropped to the ground and stretched out. Tim from mile 75 was there dropping off some drop bags and he asked if he could do anything. I told him my piriformis was killing me but that there wasn’t anything he could do. So I got up and put my power walk into high gear so that I was averaging around 17 minute miles. I kept power marching, dropping to the side of the road and stretching my back and massaging my piriformis. The miles came and went….slowly. But I was moving closer to the finish line.

    Around mile 86 or 87 the skies opened up. I was along a bike path and the rain was coming down so heavy. The wind was blowing the rain so hard it actually plugged up my ear like I had just been swimming. But it felt GOOD! I actually started running again. The cool water made my legs feel better and actually seemed to help my back. But the heavy shoes were not helping my feet.

    As the rains cleared the humidity from the evaporating water increased. I kept moving but was being passed by runners every so often. All were very friendly and supportive. I began to think that I might get the DFL award! This award, for being the Dead F____ing Last runner to officially cross would be a new one for me….but so well earned.

    As we approached the Naval Air Station we began to climb what appeared to be Mount Everest (funny…..as tough as this “mountain” seemed at the time, as we later drove out of Key West I couldn’t even find an incline there). The heat was very high and all my heat gear was on again. But finally, around Mile 94 of the race, I stepped on the Bridge leading to Key West.

    I had about 3 hours and 20 minutes to go 6 miles. At 20 minute miles that would be just right – but way to close for comfort so I tried to push the pace. Soon I was off the bridge and onto Key West…..but that stretch along the road to town seemed to go on and on and my back was really killing me. The bottom of my feet were sore too….I think from the rain water.

    Anyway, soon the golf course appeared and finally a Mile Marker 4 sign. I turned the corner and saw the sea wall ahead. I had plans and intentions to run the last 3 miles, but instead I immediately sat on the side walk and stretched. I stayed there for about 5 minutes stretching my back and piriformis.

    Finally I stood up and started a slow jog along the beach wall. I jogged and power walked until Mile Marker 2. Then I just sat on the wall to catch my breath. A truck stopped and two runners who had finished the relay the previous day jumped out and asked me if I wanted some company for the final stretch. I accepted and we joked and talked as I did a very slow walk towards what seemed like a very distant finish line.

    Finally, 31 hours and 10 minutes later I crossed the finish line to claim my third straight Keys 100 buckle – the only person with all 3! Bob was there full of praise. He had finished his first 100 miler more than an hour earlier cracking the 30 hour barrier!

    So we cheered on a few more finishers (there went my DFL award) and then headed back to the hotel in our rental car that was so kindly driven 100 miles for us by the cool Yoli crew! We missed the awards ceremony but showered and caught about 2 hours of sleep. I treated my blisters (not too bad this year).

    Then we went to Duvall street for some food. Neither of us were feeling great but I managed to down some conch fritters and have an alcoholic slurpie.

    The next day we raced back to Fort Lauderdale to catch our mutual flights home. All in all it was awesome ….painful…hot….humid….painful…..but awesome! Now that my hat trick is complete….my goal is to Four-peat in 2011!!!

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    4
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    AGeraldi REPEAT RUNNER '09

    Once again, I ran the Keys 100 Ultramarathon. To date, it is the only 100 miler I have run twice. But race director Bob Becker, co-race director Jared Knapp, and … MORE

    Once again, I ran the Keys 100 Ultramarathon. To date, it is the only 100 miler I have run twice. But race director Bob Becker, co-race director Jared Knapp, and all their volunteers put on such a high quality and unique event it is impossible not to come back.

    That said, for a while I believed I was to do the 50 mile option instead. My crew volunteers (having lives of their own) slowly decreased until I decided the 50 miler was my only option. So the final training and tune-up was geared toward a 50 mile race. I even went down to Death Valley the week before to run a training run of 20+ miles believing that would be a good combo with the 50 miler. Then Friday morning before the race, Bob Becker writes to tell me that he found 3 brave souls willing to crew me. So I was in the 100 miler.

    I got down to Key Largo and attended the pre-race meeting. The check-in, number distribution, everything went very smoothly. I was able to finally meet people face-to-face. I had exchanged many e-mails and blog/Facebook posts from other runners who I had not met in person. I got to meet Christian, Lane, Bob, Chris, Joe, Jen, and others.

    Then Bob gave his informative pre-race speech and a runner, Sister Mary Elizabeth Lloyd who was planning on running the full 100 miles of the tropical heat in her habit, gave a presentation of orphan children due to losing their parents to AIDS. With her was Lisa Smith-Batchen who was helping her and 4 first timers attempt a 100 mile race. Her cause is very worthy and the statistics very grim. I was moved and pledged to help.

    Then it was off to final pre-race prep (buying some supplies, packing bags, etc.) I got to meet two of my crew members then. William (Will) Reynolds was a serviceman in the Navy based in Key West. This was his first introduction to the world of ultramarathons. The other was Bob Gentile, an experienced ultramarathoner. Bob was to crew me the first 50 along with Will. Then my third crewmember, Floridian Karen Maas, an experienced marathoner, was to relieve Bob and crew me the second half.

    I was pretty nervous and not too confident about my conditioning. I predicted coming through 50 miles between 10:30 and 11:00 hours and hoped to hit my 100 mile average time of between 27 and 28 hours (well slower than my last year 25 hours and some change at Keys).

    Then it was off to sleep before the alarm clock went off. In the morning we all packed the van and headed to the start line. The start was staged in the parking lot of the local Publix supermarket. Then we walked about a quarter mile to the actual starting line at mile marker 101 (the keys have mile markers counting down to mile 0 in Key West).

    Bob gave a brief talk, I gave a brief prayer, then we were off. I started running a relative easy pace – somewhere around 9 minute miles I believed. Soon the sun rose and lit up the Florida sky. Despite thunder storms the previous day, the skies were quite clear and it was already in the 80’s and humid. As I ran, I saw some faces I knew such as last year’s winner Alyssa Spellmen who was ahead of me (I knew this year I was no threat to her and soon she disappeared ahead of me). I also saw Brian Krogmann, a former SF Bay area resident (a fellow USF alum too) who had blazing speed.

    Around mile 5 I noted that my legs were feeling very tired and actually sore. But I was still running the same pace (probably not smart). Next to me was Chris Roman a sub-24 hour 100miler and Joe Lasky, another fast runner. We chatted for a bit and soon Chris headed off into the sunset. Joe and I leapfrogged each other a bit and I met his wife and two young children (his crew). But after awhile he too went ahead.

    Bob and Will drove along side me in the crew vehicle with #30 all on it (my race number) – Will’s pick-up truck. By mile 18 my legs were so sore and tired I actually slowed and walked. I was getting very frustrated and worried about the race. By the time I got to Will at Mile 20, I threw my water bottles in the back of the truck and started swearing. I crawled into the cab and just sat there. Soon, I realized that although I was drinking water, taking my S!Caps, and drinking my Clip2 – I had ate almost nothing for 20 miles (2 Gu packs).

    So, I got out and told Will that my plan was to reel it in a bit, re-group, re-fuel, forget time, and try to salvage the race. I ate some tuna fish (my race fuel), another gel, and some coconut water. Then I started off again. After awhile my legs were feeling better, they were still sore but I was able to run.

    Pretty soon I reached check-point #1 at the marathon point in just under 5 hours. After checking in, I grabbed some more fuel and headed off again. As the run progressed I started to crossing more bridges. This was my favorite part of this race. I was able to look over the gulf and ocean. The water was so blue and beautiful. Last year I had seen porpoise, turtles and other wildlife. By this point I had not seen any but the view was still beautiful.

    My feet started to hurt and I felt as if I was getting blisters. So I added more lube and went on.

    Soon Bob slapped on his shoes and joined me in my run. He was great – always cracking a joke and helping me get my mind off the run. We talked about various races we had run, mutual friends and other topics. I mentioned to him that I was disappointed that we had not seen any sea life yet and right as I said those words, a huge sea turtle floated right underneath us. Bob took a video of it (I will post it soon). We continued running past people fishing along the bridges. At one point a boy about 6 or 7 ran alongside us and tried to outrun us. He stayed ahead abit then stopped and smiled as we passed him. I joked with Bob that if he had kept outpacing us we’d have to toss him off the bridge and see how fast he swims 🙂

    My slower pace, refueling and constant use of my ice filled bandanna was working. I was feeling better. Not great, but better.

    Bob was getting hungry and mentioned that he would probably take a break and grab a bite to eat and re-join me on the Marathon Key for a hard point of the race on a bike path. The bike path is down in a low point with little breeze and it bakes the runners. But Bob never left – he stayed with me and soon we approached the bike path at around Mile 40.

    The bike path was long and hot, but not nearly as hot as last year.Bob and I would mostly powerwalk it with some running. We came to Will at a couple of points and got more water and food and electrolytes.

    Finally the bike path ended into the “downtown” section of Marathon. I will have to say that this is not the prettiest part of the race as we run past motels, dealerships and fast food joints. But after passing them we came to the Marathon Airport and the 50 mile check-in.

    I got there at 10 hours 45 minutes – exactly half way between my predicted 10:30 and 11:00 hours. There I met Karen for the first time. I also took an opportunity to check my feet. I had developed some pretty good blisters and proceeded to clean these up. Some were “bubbles” that I drained and patched. Others though, on the sole of my left foot especially, hurt and was white but there was nothing to pop. Oh well, on I went.

    Bob decided that he would go on and help Brian in his race as Brian’s only crew up to that point was his mom. He received word that Brian was already at 70 miles!!!! Karen then jumped in the truck with Will and said that she would join me for the run across the 7 mile bridge.

    So we kept going at a jog/walk until the 7 Mile Bridge. There at the base, I stocked up on my supplies as there would be no crew help for the full 7 miles. Karen grabbed a water bottle and joined me.

    The bridge is wonderful. Some people think the traffic is bad, but the shoulders are very very wide and the view unmatched. We started the flat part walking but soon were jogging up the incline. Along the way we traded places with a few runners, passing a few and being passed. Karen and I also had great conversation as we went on. This conversation and the views really helped get my mind back into the race. I knew that when we reached the other side it would be 60 miles and for some reason that was a huge mental benefit – knowing I would have less than 40 miles to go after going past that point.

    As we were approaching the end of the bridge I looked down and saw a few porpoise breaking through the water. Then, all the sudden, a beautiful huge spotted ray floated under us. We watched it as it glided under the bridge and beyond sight. It was sights like those in the crystal blue water that make this a truly unique race.

    Finally, we reached the opposite anchor of the bridge and met Will. We refueled and moved along. It was just starting to get dark so after 2 miles more, we put on the reflective vest. After 2 more miles we grabbed flashlights. Karen was still with me. (SPOILER: I did make it to the finish line, details follow, but at this point I wanted to mention that Karen had done 2 marathons and those were her longest events. During this race she logged nearly 50 miles with me!!!)

    As the night moved in, we lost the view of the sea. But it was still pretty. My legs were pretty thrashed – I just had not done enough training. But my worry was my feet. They were hurting more and more. The spots were now on the balls of both feet and the heals of both feet. I had tried everything from changing shoes and socks to various lubricants. But nothing helped.

    So we kept moving forward and soon dropped down the bridge onto Big Pine Key. This was home of the Key Deer. Despite having crossed that key a few times I had never seen one. I flashed my light around and said to Karen “No deer.” and then turned to our left to see one standing about 100 feet away. We watched it – it actually came closer to us – not really afraid.

    Then we moved on. The night was still warm and muggy. When we hit the 70 mile point, I said that I would like to do 2 miles before stopping at the truck and then 3 so we could hurry and get to 75. Then I wanted to take a 15 minute nap as I was really having trouble keeping my eyes open and was staggering a bit. But then we realized the check-in was actually at mile 76, so I took my nap then.

    After waking up, I felt much better. Feet still hurt like hell, but I was staying awake. Soon we crossed a bridge and headed to mile 76. This was a gas station and my point of total collapse last year. Although I was getting nauseous a bit and dry heaving, it was 10000000000 times better than last year. But my feet were killing me.

    Karen and I checked in and I refueled – staying mostly with gu’s, bars and electrolytes (S!Caps). It rained a tiny bit here and there, but barely even got us wet. Ryan soon passed me looking strong.

    Karen and I passed through the remaining Keys all the time I was doing more walking than jogging. Soon, the sun started to rise as I entered the first part of Key West at Lower Sugarloaf near 85 miles into the race. It was around here that Bob rejoined us. He had helped bring Brian in for a 16 hour 31 minute finish!!!

    So we kept going. Karen and pushed on until about mile 90 where she took a break. Bob joined me and we continued on. Bob tried to lift my spirits, but I was pretty low. I was moving but so slow and my feet hurt so f’n bad.

    At one point we passed Lisa Smith-Batchen. Unfortunately Sister had to drop out around mile 40 (I still gave her $50 as I had pledged her $1 per mile for her cause….and after she dropped she came back and paced a runner for 10 miles). On we trudged slowly passing some runners….who then passed me back as I faded.

    Finally, we entered the city and turned left to the seawall. 3 miles to go. I was going soo slow I was worried if I would make the cut-off (32 hours….and I had about 4 hours to make the 3 miles). I had never moved so slowly. I tried to draft off of a snail in front of me but it went to fast and I was left on my own yet again. A slug zoomed up from behind me and told me to get out of its way. Turtles laughed at me. A tree sloth mocked me. It wasn’t pretty.

    I came along side Ryan. He was limping too. He and I looked like victims as we barely moved down the sidewalk in our own private death march. I asked him if he wanted to limp across the finish line together and he agreed. I looked ahead and could not see the finish line. I was sure we had less than a mile to go. But when I asked, Ryan pointed off in the distance to two sailboats stating the finish line was there. I was floored – and all energy just left.

    I couldn’t keep up with Ryan’s blistering limping and I sat on the seawall. Finally, I got up and Karen urged me to cover small areas “from here to that tree” “just to that parked car” “2 inches”, etc.

    Then, Bill Andrews came out to greet me and walk with me the last half mile. Jared also joined me as did Richard (one of the key supporters of the Keys race). I came down to the finish line and crossed with me crew following me. Finally time: 29:57:59. Ouch – that was slow and painful.

    Bob Becker presented me my belt buckle. Mandy’s husband Andy handed me a beer which was so cold I downed it….and immediately felt the need to sit down.

    I asked if I had the DFL (Dead F’n Last) award…but was disappointed to learn that I did not.

    After a shower and a nap, my crew joined Ryan, Brian and a few others for dinner. As is my tradition (well, 2 years in a row now) I celebrated the true Key West Ultra way….conch fritters and a Rum Runner (I think if the bartender knew of my performance he would have invented a Rum Walker drink instead).

    Overall, Bob Becker put on yet another unbelievable race. If you have the chance – enter the Keys race (or one of his other ultras). I will….I will be back next year to keep my streak of finishing every single Keys 100 intact 🙂

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    4
    My Media

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    AGeraldi FIRST-TIMER '08

    On May 17 and 18, I competed in the Keys Ultra 100 mile run. This run started in Key Largo and ended in Key West. My main, and in fact … MORE

    On May 17 and 18, I competed in the Keys Ultra 100 mile run. This run started in Key Largo and ended in Key West. My main, and in fact almost my only, goal was to finish and get the belt buckle to redeem myself from my Did Not Finish at Rocky Raccoon 100 in February.

    My FANTASTIC, AWESOME, SUPPORTIVE, ATTENTIVE, UPLIFTING AND #1 crew of Mandy, Michele and Teri met me in the lobby of the host hotel and we went down to the Race-Mobile (mini-van). There we drove to the start at Mile Marker 101 (meaning we were starting 101 miles from the finish line in Key Largo).

    Then it was off to the start line.

    The 100 mile and 100 mile relay started together while the 50 miler started, not surprisingly, 50 miles further into the course. Combined there were around 160 or so racers.

    Although it was 6:00am it was already warm (80 degrees) and humidity was around 75%.

    I started running and was feeling good. The course ran along the Overseas Highway (Highway 1) so the choice was basically asphalt, concrete or the shoulder (consisting of some grass, crushed rock and coral rock). While running on the shoulder sometimes saved some pounding from the asphalt, I found out later the constant rolling on the rocks along with the slants (most roads had a definite slant in the shoulders) caused problems with the bottom of the feet.

    I was running smoothly averaging around 9 minute miles and feeling very comfortable. I was chatting with runners next to trying to find out if people were in the relay or the full 100. I soon was able to learn that if a runner had a low bib number (under 25) they were a solo runner. I met some real nice people and the miles seemed to quickly past.

    I left Key Largo and entered Tavernier (around 10 miles) and soon came upon Plantation Key. I was still right under 9 minute miles and feeling good, but my early morning cup of coffee had kicked in and I realized that I needed to find a restroom. As I passed some houses, I was hoping to see a homeowner to ask if I could borrow their restroom. Then, I came upon a public park with large clean public restrooms. I ran in and was very grateful for the timing.

    Afterwards, I continued on my way. Every now and then my support crew would drive by yelling words of encouragement.

    We had worked on a plan where I would meet them every 3 or 4 miles. As the day wore on and the heat grew, this changed to every 2 miles (actually, this change was very early – probably no later than mile 8). I would reach the van and they either be waiting or would jump out. They were awesome! My hat and bandanna were chilled with ice and water. My two water bottles were filled with ice/h20 and ice/Gu2O. They gave me anything I asked for and got me on my way.

    They also decorated the van nicely with cool signs.

    Early on in the race I had been wearing a light short sleeve top and a Zombie Runner headwrap. Those lasted less than 10 miles before I changed into a sleeveless running top, sunglasses and my soon-to-be Badwater Desert running cap (which triggered lots of smart ass comments…including from my great crew).

    I continued running. The views became very beautiful. We were constantly running between the keys, over bridges. The ocean was so blue. And I would glance down and see all sorts of sea life. Once I saw what appeared to be 2 porpoise swimming and breaking the water. Later I confirmed they were porpoise and saw at least a dozen more throughout the run. In addition, I saw rays, a barracuda and a HUGE sea turtle gliding through the waters.

    Soon, the road entered the village of Islamorada, made up of various keys. Around Indian Key or Craig Key, I approached the 25 mile point. This was the first check-in point. As I neared, my crew was screaming my name and as I got there I was informed by all that I was in first place overall in the 100 miler. My time was 4 hours 10 minutes. I felt great – but never dreamed of being in 1st. I laughed and told everyone that wouldn’t last I would rightfully be around 3rd or 4th by mile 50.

    My crew mentioned that compared to my estimated splits I had been going fast. I agreed so for the next 25 miles I employed a 5 minute run, 3 minute walk pace (although the walk was very very brisk).

    I took off again and continued the same 5/3 pace while my crew would leap–frog ahead every 2 or so miles. About every 2 or so miles I would down a 1/2 bottle on ensure and sometimes some pretzels. Conch Key passed, Long Key passed, Walker’s Island and Duck Key all passed as I kept my pace, feeling very strong but noticing that fatigue was setting in.

    After awhile, the road seemed to leave the ocean view as we left Long Key and approached Grassy Key in Marathon. There it dipped down onto a bike path. It was nice to be away from the constant buzzing of cars flying past just a few feet away, but the bike path was sheltered with no shade. It felt as if the temps had risen 10 degrees (Mandy’s husband had called her during Day 1 and reported that the temps there had hit record highs. Since the last record high I saw was 92, that meant at least 93…although I never saw the car thermometer go above 91 myself).

    Finally I left the bike path and entered the section of the keys near Marathon airport.

    I kept running looking for the 50 mile marker. Soon, to my left I saw my crew jumping up and down. Everyone in the aid station was shouting my name too. I entered and sat down. I was still in 1st place incredibly. More incredible – my 50 hour time was 9 hours 9 minutes! That was my 3rd best 50 mile time ever!

    I decided to take a bit of a rest in the shade of the 50 mile check point. My crew had filled an extra ice chest with ice and water. I stepped into it. YIKES!!!!!!!!!! That was cold. Michelle had gone next door to a coffee house and through some unknown manner(but humorous inside jokes were made as to how she got the ice) had come back with a free bag of ice for the chests. After soaking my feet. I took a look at them. I counted 6 blisters total over the feet. I pulled out my handy-dandy blister kits from Zombie Runners (these are must-haves!) and proceeded to clean and dress the 4 largest blisters. It was funny, each foot had exact mirror image blisters of each other.

    Up through this point, I had seen a few support vans for other runners but they were all relay teams. All but two – one belonged to the Badwater legend Lisa Smith-Batchen and the other to Alisa Springman, a very experienced and accomplished ultra runner from Pennsylvania. So I knew they were close. Honestly, I never had any dreams of winning the race, but at that 50 mile point, still in first, I now kind of wanted to keep it.

    So, after the blister care, off again I went. The run went through marathon and soon approached mile 53, the start of the 7 mile bridge. As I approached the bridge, my legs were feeling pretty tired. I met my crew in a parking lot on the north end. There I saw a man grabbing a woman and pulling her up the embankment. She was only wearing a bra, her jeans falling down and she was holding her belt. It was clear she was intoxicated and I feared the worse. As I neared them though, it became evident that the two were a “couple” as she swore at him to get her another drink and he tried to keep her on her feet. Ah puppy love is so sweet.

    I approached the van and the 4 of us watched as the people basically crumpled in the driveway of the parking lot. She tried to stand but fell backwards and on the guardrail, with the ocean under her. The man only held her left hand and she teetered as Teri rushed over to help. She basically pulled the woman back while the guy made some comment like “she does this all the time” and hardly did anything to prevent her from flopping over the rail. The woman then laid on the road and screamed obscenities at the guy telling him to get her a drink. I commented that if she was like that all the time, I wouldn’t be in a hurry to stop her from going over the guard rail either.

    I then headed up the 7 mile bridge after a couple of relay runners. My crew called the police who showed up to meet the guy and his lady friend as my crew raced back to Marathon for supplies.

    The 7 mile bridge starts flat, then climbs up the largest “hill” of the day. This actually felt great – it was the first time my leg muscles really had to be worked in a new manner for 53+ miles. I flew up the bridge and then down. However, the last few miles were flat and I walked a lot of it as it was actually, despite the view, getting a bit boring. During the length of the 7 mile bridge I counted nearly 2 dollars in loose change, a baby car seat, lots of tire treads, a pair of sunglasses, one glove, some fishing tackle and about a dozen empty bottles and cans along the bridge path.

    As I exited the bridge, I saw Alisa’s van drive by. At times I wasn’t sure if they were waiting for her or checking out my lead. Either way, I knew she was closing the gap. Soon I saw my crew off to the right. I jogged over and Lisa’s crew came over shouting to me that I was doing great. One of her crew (I believe he was her husband) offered me some water melon and told me that Lisa had been forced to drop out. I munched on a piece of melon and Lisa appeared. She shouted “You are the man! You are kicking ass!” I laughed and said that I wasn’t feeling that great at the moment. She told me that she had dropped – and that it wasn’t her day. I told her that was unfortunate. I meant it too – knowing how much that sucks.

    I then met my crew and got more supplies (since the last 7 miles were without crews as vehicles couldn’t stop on the bridge). They told me Alisa was looking good and was about 3 miles back. Just a matter of time I thought – oh well, I’d hold her off as long as I could. I joked with my crew that if I could at least hold onto second place, I’d have the men’s course record 🙂

    So off I went. 60 miles down, “only” 40 to go. These miles seemed to drag along but I managed to hold my 5/3 plan pretty good. I even hit one bridge around Sunshine Key and felt really good. I ran the whole way, joking with the fishermen below and watching more porpoise playing beneath me.

    Soon, I entered the Key Deer reserve area of Big Pine key. This area is fenced and protects an endangered species of deer called the Key Deer. While I saw some droppings, I never saw the deer. I approached my crew at around mile 70 and told them that the last couple of miles I had been feeling like throwing up.

    I changed into my night gear (light, reflective vest) and left my sunglasses and hat and took off. I was accompanied by a beautiful Keys sunset.

    All this time, I kept expecting to see Alisa come up behind me. I was pretty sure that unless she was fading like me, that she would get me soon. So I made my next goal to see if I could at least hold the lead into the mile 75 check-in. Plus, a sub-24 hour time was still a possibility (although shrinking).

    Sometime between mile 70 and 75, Mandy offered to pace me. I agreed and that helped a lot. We chatted a bit, but for the most part just kept moving forward. Mandy is a 7 time Ironman finisher, including Kona. Despite getting in a serious bike crash a few weeks ago and having her hand in a soft cast with pins sticking in it, she was there in the dark night keeping me going.

    Soon, we approach Michelle and Teri in the van and they tell us thet the 75 mile aid station is just on the other side of a short bridge. Mandy and I jog the bridge and we come to yet another wonderful group of screaming volunteers. I plopped into a chair and held me head in my hands. I was feeling like absolute crap. It had been more than 5 miles since I was able to eat anything. My “fuel” had consisted of sips of water and an occasional sip of flat mountain dew or red bull. I had the dry heaves a few times.

    Finally, I asked where our van was as I needed to lie down. I walked across the parking lot to the van and felt a wave of nausea hit me. I was down on my knees wrenching in the intersection. I was later told my crew and a few volunteers gathered round me to stop a semi truck from driving over me.

    I then went to the van. Michelle went to get some tums from a market. I lied down a bit but felt that I better get going. I stepped out of the van and saw Alisa’s crew right next to me. I said hello and asked how Alisa was doing. They informed us she was doing great, but for some chafing and he asked me how I was doing and offered me a chair. I collapsed in it and told him I had better days. I think my crew thought I was Benedict Arnold and was fraternizing with the enemy. But as much as I would have liked to have held on to that 1st place, I knew it was gone – I was more concerned with my sub-24 hour which I felt had almost slipped away. The night had gotten a bit cooler – dropping to 80, but the humidity had risen sharply.

    Mandy and I took off and kept trying to run. Soon however my jogging became less and less. After awhile I had to walk the full stretch between stops and finally announced that I needed to take a nap. I went into the van and put my feet up. As I was semi asleep, RD Bob Becker came by and asked how I was doing.

    After about 10 minutes, I got up and Teri and I started off. I tried some jogging but my legs were thrashed as I was approaching mile 80 which meant 10 plus miles without being able to keep anything down and the joys of dry heaving. Plus, the bottom of my feet were killing me from more and more blisters. I had learned that the constant unequal footing had caused some bad blistering.

    At mile 83 I turned and saw Alisa and her pacer approaching. The soon passed me as if I was standing still (mostly because I kind of was at that point). We exchanged greetings and off they went. Oh well, now to try and hold onto second place. By this time all of us had realized that unless something drastic changed, my sub-24 was not going to happen either.

    The night dragged on with me taking more and more rest breaks. The Tums was helping a bit, but every 2 miles or so, another bout of dry heaving would hit me. I could tell that Mandy, Teri and Michelle were getting just as tired. I know it had to be miserable to be without sleep, go a mile, nap for 10 minutes, be woken up by me, get out of the van, attacked by misquitos, and then watch me stumble off at an ever slower pace. Once I took some extra time to dress some blisters and I realized that it was a mistake – I should had waited until the next stop. But my crew never uttered a negative word.

    Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, we entered in the single digit zone….less than 10 miles to the finish. Mandy took a couple of miles, and then Teri. Finally Michelle and I crossed the causeway and entered Key West. We got to 1 and 1/2 mile from the finish and all three of my crew got in the van and wanted me to cross the line on my own. This was not an easy task as now I was around 10 hours and 30 miles without any fuel of any kind in my system and very painful blisters.

    I tried to jog along the ocean front toward the finish line. I kept looking behind me, expecting to see 3rd place fast approaching. Every now and then I’d see a jogger and fearing the worse, tried to jog.

    Finally – the finish line was in sight. I crossed it. My time was 25 hours 37 minutes! This was more than 2 hours better than my previous best. I had taken 2nd overall and set both my age group and men’s course record (both should be easily shattered next year).

    After crossing the finish line I gathered with my AWESOME crew for hugs and photos and Michelle put my finishers medal on my neck and I was handed my BUCKLE!.

    Then, these great EMT volunteers who had been on the course for as long as the runners came over to help me with my feet (I had 23 blisters spread over both feet!).

    Afterwards, I slept in the van and napped and cheered on the other finishers. Out of around 20 starters in the 100 miler, only 7 finished. Two of these finishers basically collapsed and needed IV’s and I needed the blister care. It is without a doubt a very difficult course – the heat, humidity and pavement all combine to present a true ultra challenge.

    THE AWARDS

    After a real nice shower, and a 2 hour nap we all headed to Hurricane Joe’s for the awards. I decided to celebrate with the appropriate Key Ultramarathon drink – I had a Rum Runner.
    The crowds were in a great mood.

    Co-Race directors Jared and Bob started handing out awards.

    I was called up and got my 1st place male 40-49 and my overall awards!!!

    Then it was a raffle where almost everyone walked away with something (I got socks).

    Afterwards, Mandy, Teri, Michelle and I watched the sunset at Mallory Square and had a wonderful dinner.

    Two full days after the race, my stomach still wasn’t 100%. Despite some conch fritters, mahi-mahi and some seafood paella post-race, I am still down more than 4 pounds since the race start and my digestion is not perfect. But my legs are recovering and the blisters receding. Also, I got two great awards, my buckle and finishers medal and met the best crew possible. We are already discussing about possibly defending our titles next year at the Keys Ultra, plus Mandy is considering joining my Badwater crew! Finally, having met Bob and Jared, I would consider running almost any race they put on. Not only do they take great care of their runners, they put on a fantastic race, and they are just wonderful people.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    4
    My Media

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  1. Races
  2. KEYS 100