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Five reasons to run the Hennepin Hundred

By Henry Howard

I finished my third 100-miler this past weekend, completing the Hennepin Hundred. It wasn’t the race I wanted but it was the race the day presented.

My finishing time of 22:50:01 was roughly an hour slower than last year when I did the race. It was disappointing considering I was on pace for a sub-20 hour finish after a solid first 50 miles. But a combination of tight quads and an acid reflux/digestive issue slowed my roll in the second half.

Overall I feel good about my performance, getting a second straight sub-24 finish at Hennepin. As I wrote in my pre-race post, it was a day to have fun, find joy and play. I was able to accomplish that goal, albeit a lot more in the first half than the second.

There were some lessons learned from the race that I will use going forward. I don’t have any races scheduled now, but will certainly be diving into that shortly. The big goal has been getting into Western States, and with this finish I will have a slightly better shot in getting my name drawn than in years past. And if that happens, I’ll certainly adjust my race itinerary to be fully prepared for that opportunity.

Why Hennepin is a great race

If my name is not drawn for Western, I will likely look for another race to get a qualifier for the following year’s drawing. While I am a big fan of the Hennepin Hundred, I’ll likely choose another race to expand my horizons and try something new.

That said, here are five reasons for you to consider Hennepin for an ultra:

1. Race director Michele Hartwig and her team put on a tremendous race, actually three. In addition to the 100-miler, Hennepin offers 50K and 50-mile options. The course is really well marked, aid stations are plentiful and the communications leading up to the race are ideal. Her team, Ornery Mule Racing, has other ultras that I will definitely be reviewing as I look ahead.

2. Not only are there lots of aid stations, 20 over the 100-mile course, the volunteers are friendly, helpful and supportive. In fact, Matthew Rivera, who runs the aid station at mile 88.1 went above and beyond when I made a request. When I learned his aid station would be serving pancakes, I inquired about whether there would be gluten-free options. He ensured that there would be, which I deeply appreciated since I have a gluten allergy. And the pancakes were amazing!

3. For runners who have a crew, the access to aid stations is incredible. Not all aid stations were available to crew because of limited parking. However, most of them are open to crew. And the stations are easy to get to so crews can service their runners. (And a big shout-out to my crew of Brandon Seaver, Chad Prichard and his dog, Woody, who all contributed to my finish at Hennepin!)

4. Regardless of the distance you choose, the flat and fast course is a good event to try a new distance, set a PR or — for the 100-milers — get that Western States qualifier.

5. The items for runners are first race. The buckles for the 100-mile finish are awesome, as well as the flannel, made by rabbit. Additionally, runners receive a souvenir T-shirt, loads of food options at the aid stations and commemorative stickers.

Thank you to my supporters

InsideTracker: As an ultra marathoner, it’s important for me to understand how my training, recovery and diet are affecting my overall health. That’s why I get regular blood draws from InsideTracker that give me easy-to-understand scores, feedback and recommendations. I have another blood draw scheduled soon am looking forward to seeing the results as compared to past data.

Honey Stinger: Honey Stinger is a leader in the endurance sports fueling industry. I used their gluten-free waffles and chews throughout the race for fuel.

Gnarly Nutrition: There are seemingly endless options for athletes who are looking for options for hydration products. I use Gnarly because their products are clean sport certified, help me perform my best and are created by athletes for athletes. Here is why Gnarly is much better than an overhyped product that uses lesser quality ingredients.

UltrAspire: The small company’s tagline, "Inspired by athletes," is an apt description of its philosophy and its approach to creating gear for endurance athletes. Knowing the aid stations at Hennepin were so close together, I had my UltrAspire handheld bottle to hydrate between stops and used a pair of their waist lamps for lighting my through the dark.

Squirrel's Nut Butter: In long endurance events, a little blister can cause a big problem. Early during the race, I felt a minor hot spot on the edge of my toe. At the next aid station where I met my crew, we changed socks and added some more SNB to protect my toes. Once again, SNB kept me blister- and chafe-free for an ultra.. The story of how SNB came to be is interesting and inspiring.

Drymax: I run in Drymax socks because they have also been instrumental in preventing chafing and blisters during these events. Like SNB, I have literally never experienced a blister or chafing when running in Drymax socks.

Prevail Botanicals: The company’s CBD-based salve provides relief to aches and pains that endurance athletes suffer. It’s been a key component of my recovery in the past and I’m using it now to boost my recovery now.

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