KEYS100

A wealth of relevant information about every aspect of ultra-running is available through links to the website, www.run100s.com. Don't miss the blogs written by people who have run this distance and shared their experience. Read blogs from KEYS100 runners, too, on the “Photos & Stories” website page.

Here are a few basic tips:


During the Run
There is no magic formula for successfully completing a hundred miles, except perhaps to adhere to the mantra, "Go slow to go fast!"  During the event, most ultra-runners mix running and power-walking to maximize performance. Walking also gives the body a break from all the pounding while continuing to eat-up the miles. Think "negative splits". Be patient. 100-mile runs are all about the last 20 or 25 miles; the first 75 or 80 miles are just the warm-up! For 50 milers, the same theory applies. Keep "balance" in mind: adequate hydration and nutrition, replacing salt and electrolytes lost through sweat and keeping the body's temperature under control in this hot weather environment by using ice are vital to a successful finish. Using lubricant in any place on your body likely to chafe is another recommendation based on lots of experience running in the heat.  Use “Trail Toes” or “Body Glide” or similar products to protect your skin.  Don't forget to re-apply during the race. Use sunblock, too. 
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Training for a 100-mile Race
Training for an extreme endurance event like ultra-marathon running should focus on overall physical conditioning and on building core strength in addition to pure running ability. Most "100's" include a mix of running and power walking--a skill not particularly significant for a 5k!  Practice on a treadmill at a two-to-three degree incline to improve walking efficiency and build speed. Aim for a sustainable pace of 4.0 to 4.5 mph. And, do some training runs in the heat of the day to acclimate to the hot Florida Keys weather.  Spending significant time in a sauna if you have access to one will pay dividends, too.
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Nourishing your body
Proper hydration and nutrition intake during the race—and in preparation for it—are vital to finishing the distance. (This includes replenishing salt and minerals lost through sweat by taking Endurolytes, Salt Stick, Succeed, Nuun or similar electrolyte replacement products designed for this purpose.) There is plenty of published literature on the subject that will provide solid advice based upon your weight, age, gender and event conditions. Take the guidelines seriously. Many runners "bonk" after completing 70 or 80 miles because they have not been consistent with fluid intake (sport drinks and water) and calories. Most people should aim for 200-250 calories per hour.  Be sure not to experiment with new foods or drinks on the course to avoid stomach distress. Carry extra water on long stretches, such as Seven Mile Bridge.  (One hand-held bottle is generally insufficient to cover that distance successfully.)  Practice using the foods, drinks and supplements you will use during the event so you know what works and what doesn't, especially in the heat. Creating digestive issues for yourself in the middle of an ultra-marathon is not a good idea! 
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Care of your feet
Proper care of the feet includes selection of shoes and socks and such decisions as whether or not you will tape your feet to minimize blisters. Highly recommended for your consideration is the book, "FIXING YOUR FEET", by John Vonhof. There is no single "best practice" recommended here, but there are many good options and advice from which to choose. Proper taping of feet and toes is presented, including specific tapes and adhesives that work. Advice is given related to socks, moisture, keeping out grit and other factors that can cause—or help prevent—blisters. How to treat blisters, should you develop them, is detailed so that you can fix the problem and get back on the road. This read is a must for ultra-runners. Buy it online at ZombieRunner.com or through Amazon.com. 
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Relay Team Corner
Team size and running assignments: The KEYS100 team relay is ideal for 6-person racing teams. It is a great way for those who run shorter distances--up to half marathons, for example--to experience a 100-mile race without having to run the entire distance alone. In our format, each team decides its own race strategy.  The team determines how many segments each team member will run.  Racers do not have to run an equal number of legs or miles.  This flexibility maximizes the opportunity for everyone to contribute effectively to the overall team effort.  Race strategy may be changed during the race to adjust to weather, injuries or other conditions.  Segments are typically run sequentially, and each is generally 2-4 miles in length. (An exception is the person running the Seven Mile Bridge leg, which must be run in its entirety by the same racer.)  You may choose an entirely different approach.  Six people is the team maximum. A smaller team size is allowed, although there will be no adjustment for team size in the competition results.
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Transportation and team support 
READ "RACE RULES" FOR CURRENT RESTRICTIONS ON VEHICLE TYPE, SIZE, ETC.  VEHICLES NOT IN COMPLIANCE WILL BE BARRED FROM THE COURSE.  Each team must provide its own support vehicle; only one vehicle per team is allowed on the course. While not a necessity, the most efficient support vehicle is a full-size (12-passenger) van that has room for the entire team to stretch out, and space to store gear, water, food, etc., and to access it all. The team vehicle will leapfrog the active runner down Overseas Highway, stopping (completely off the road) at allowable exchange locations to wait for the runner to get there and for the next runner to warm up.  Carrying a cell phone or walkie-talkie for runner and crew to stay in touch is recommended for safety and in case of anything unexpected. 
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Running at night
Individuals and teams should anticipate a realistic finishing time in order to estimate the number of hours after dark, if any, they will be running. Running at night for some may be uncomfortable without a pacer. If so, the team should plan how it will provide that internal support.  A non-racing driver is allowed, but relay teams are self-contained so would not have extra crew to provide pacing support. Between sundown (defined for this race as 7:30pm on Saturday) and sun-up (defined for this race as 6:00am on Sunday), racers and pacers must wear reflective material facing in all four directions, as well as effective, legitimate blinking lights facing front and rear.  These are life-savers.  Take this seriously and use quality equipment.  RUNNERS FOUND WITHOUT THIS GEAR WILL BE PULLED FROM THE RACE. 
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Staying ready--teams:
All team members should stay hydrated, fed, rested and comfortable during non-running periods. The next runner in line should study the details of that next segment--ideally together with other team members.  Will there be a road crossing, a mandatory check-in, a bridge or service road turn?  The crew vehicle should be organized for ease of access to drinks, food, ice and personal items, and allow room for runners to relax and rest--and share jokes, of course! 
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Crew support for individual runners
Runners should plan to connect with crew (at allowable support locations only) every two to four miles to obtain fresh fluids, food, ice, change clothes or shoes, take rest breaks, etc.  Recommended crew size is 2-3 people if one or more crew members will also be pacing the runner.  (Single-person crews are allowed, but discouraged for reasons of safety and efficiency, especially for the 100-mile race.)  Recommended crew vehicle is a mini-van or SUV for individual runners.  Sufficient room should be available on board to store and organize (with ready access) all drinks, food, ice, gear and luggage for the runner and crew, plus space for the crew to sit and an option for the runner to stretch out and rest.  Crew, especially pacers, must also stay hydrated, consume enough calories, deal with the heat and get some rest.  You will all be on the course for up to 32 hours, depending upon conditions, runner capability and the specific race distance.  The last thing a racer needs is for a crew member to become ill or incapacitated and distract from the attention that should be focused on the runner and on completing the race in the best possible time.

The list of allowable support locations shows the options for runner and crew to meet along the route. Most are 1-3 miles apart.  Runner and crew do NOT have to stop at each of these locations, but should agree in advance on a race plan.  (You may always modify that plan on race day if circumstances warrant.)  Crew will drive ahead of the runner to the next pre-determined stop to wait and prepare for his/her arrival. Recommendation: know what the runner will want at that next stop by deciding at the previous stop, or by runner or pacer using a walkie-talkie or cell phone to call ahead.  Having the item(s) ready--a fresh bottle of water or sports drink, fresh bandana with ice, a gel or sandwich, a change socks, whatever—will save a lot of time over the course of the race and minimize a lot of scrambling and confusion.  A crew member at the vehicle should keep watch for the runner’s approach, then meet the runner just before he/she reaches the vehicle, exchanging bottles and other gear as the runner continues to move forward whenever possible. That way the runner doesn’t have to physically stop for the swap so that time is not lost at every connection.
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Friday night lights!  100-mile race runners and crew should arrive the night before and get a good night's rest.  Arriving on Friday afternoon or evening will allow time to meet, review expectations and calmly resolve any remaining details—and attend the orientation meeting, of course. The support vehicle will have to be loaded properly and decorated, signs affixed and final race logistics and preferences discussed. There is always a lot to do. 

On Saturday morning, runners will be called to the starting line according to wave assignment. There is plenty of parking at the race start—the Office Depot/Divers Direct shopping center located next to the Holiday Inn in Key Largo.  After the race begins, crews will drive to the first agreed-upon meeting point and the fun begins.  After the first ten miles--i.e., at MM90--a pacer may join the runner if that is the race plan.  There may be times when the runner prefers to run alone, or will hook-up for a few miles with another racer on the course.  No two races or support arrangements are ever quite the same.  These suggestions apply to 50 mile and 50 kilometer race support crew, too, although pacers may not join the 50-mile runner until after Seven Mile Bridge or the 50-kilometer runner until Ramrod Key.  Runners 60 years of age or older may have a pacer from the beginning of the race

Typically the runner pays for race-related expenses, food, drinks, the vehicle rental, etc. Obviously, any crew member who wants to help the cause will be appreciated. (Perhaps you know someone who will let you borrow their van or coolers or other gear.)  But, traditionally it's the runner in crewed races who is responsible for direct expenses. 
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The importance of aligning crew and runner expectations cannot be overestimated. To that end, a very good reference book is "Death Valley Ultras--The Complete Crewing Guide". It should be available from www.ZombieRunner.com, which is also an excellent source for all running-related supplies, gear and other resources if unavailable at your local running store.