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 experiences. Read blogs from KEYS100 runners, too, on the "Photos & Stories" website page under "MORE".
During the Run
There is no magic formula for successfully completing 100 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-mile and 50-kilometer runners, 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. ("Trail Toes" is an excellent product and a KEYS100 sponsor.) Use sunblock, too, and cover-up. Wearing a hat and long sleeves is recommended.
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 "100s" 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 for your ability level. 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 or "steam" if you have access to one will pay dividends, too.
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 or S-Caps capsules, or Liquid-IV, Drip Drop, Nuun or similar electrolyte replacement drinks designed for this purpose.) There is plenty of published literature on the subject that will provide solid advice based on 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 (sports 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 fluid on long stretches, such as Seven Mile Bridge. (One hand-held bottle is 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!
Proper care of the feet includes the 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" [latest edition], by John Vonhof. There is no single "best practice" recommended here, but there are many good options and advice from which to choose. Proper techniques for taping of feet and toes are 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.
Team size and running assignments: The KEYS100 team relays are a great way for those who run shorter distances--up to half marathons, for example--to experience a 100-mile or 50-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 the weather, injuries, or other conditions. Segments are typically run sequentially, and each is generally 2-4 miles in length. (One exception is 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 are the 100-mile team maximum, and three people are the 50-mile maximum. Smaller team size is allowed, although there will be no adjustment for team size in the competition results.
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 for a 6-person team is a standard 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.
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 will have to decide which teammate will provide that pacing support. A non-racing driver is allowed, but relay teams are self-contained and are not allowed to have an extra crew for pacing or other purposes. Between sundown (defined for this race as 7:30 pm on Saturday) and sun-up (defined for this race as 6:00 am on Sunday), racers, pacers and any crew outside the vehicle 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 PROPER GEAR WILL BE STOPPED AND MAY BE PULLED FROM THE RACE.
All team members should stay hydrated, fed, rested, and comfortable during non-running periods. The next runner in line should study the details of their next segment in the "Race Guide"--ideally together with other team members. Will there be a road crossing, a timing mat, an open or closed bridge, or a 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!