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A Burning (River) desire

By Henry Howard

While in recovery mode from a race, runners have time to think about goals, process the previous training cycle and race, and chart their path to the next big adventure.

This week I am recovering from an unusual “race.” Lightning forced the cancellation of the Blue Ridge Marathon after about 90 minutes. I finished my 26.2 miles with a second run on my own after the brief storm passed. Thanks to the race directors, the effort will count as a virtual marathon. (My take on an unusual marathon.)

But that’s in the past, as well as the trail marathon I completed in January. Now I’m focusing on my big audacious goal for the year: 100-miler number four, Burning River in Ohio. It will be my fourth ticket into the Western States drawing, set for early December.

Earlier this year I wrote about plotting out my race calendar, focusing on goals and the process rather than race results.

The next three months or so will be a combination of the guidelines that drive me: keep showing up, smile deeply, dream big and enjoy the journey.

A look at Burning River

Burning River will be hard, much more challenging than the Hennepin Hundred, which I completed the past two years in less than 24 hours. Those finishes represent two of my tickets for the Western States drawing.

But, as ultra runners, we don’t do things because they are easy. We do these things because they are hard.

And that is among the reasons I was drawn to Burning River. The race appeals to me for a number of reasons, including:

• The challenge of running 100 miles in the heat of summer. Hennepin and Rio del Lago, my first hundo, are fall races. Even though Rio is in California, I expect the heat and humidity of Ohio in late July to be much more daunting than I experienced at Rio.

• The significant but not daunting elevation change, which is far different than what I found at Hennepin. Burning River is an estimated 8,000 feet of gain, well more than the 1,000 feet at Hennepin. (Don’t get me wrong — I love the Hennepin race. In fact, I am doing the 50K this year.) Since I live and train in a flat area, I will need to be creative in getting in as much hill work as possible to be ready for Burning River.

• Burning River allows me the opportunity to give back, an important part of my process as a runner. As part of my participation, I am raising funds for the Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park and Summit Metro Parks Foundation. It’s a pleasure to support the trails system and protect nature so that others may enjoy it, too.

I’d be honored if you would help support my journey and help the trail system. Please consider a donation at this link.


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