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My ‘why’ for returning to Hennepin Hundred

By Henry Howard

I thought about headlining this post something creative. Double H does Double H for second time. Or something else playing off the shared initials for the Hennepin Hundred and yours truly.

But I’ll save that and instead focus on my personal “why” for this race. When dedicating oneself for a challenge like a 100-mile race, a “why” is often necessary to push through not only the training but also the actual pursuit on race day. When I need to dig deep, that why will help push me through.

There are many reasons why I chose to return to Hennepin, after I had an amazing experience there last year. Here is what led to my decision:

1. It’s time for redemption. After my DNF at Zion in April, I needed to prove to myself that I can do hard things. Deep inside, I know I can — and will — finish Hennepin. While Zion did not work out, I’m inspired to dedicate myself to finishing a significant challenge. But it’s not entirely about the final steps that will take me across the finishing line in the wee hours of the morning in early October. It’s about the months-long journey through the ups and downs of training that will make those final steps not only possible but a reality.

2. Getting a Western States qualifier. That’s a driving force in why I get up at zero dark thirty and embrace running in the morning. Mile after mile. Day after day With a third year of qualifying races once I finish Hennepin, my odds will rise ever so slightly in my favor for this year’s drawing for the 2023 race. I may not get in for that year, or the next one or even in 2025. And therein lies the challenge. Through consistency, commitment and just plain showing up, I know I’ll have the opportunity to line up one early morning in late June at Olympic Valley and push through until I round the track at Placer High School.

3. My experience during Hennepin last year. Race director Michele Hartwig put on an amazing event and it’s an honor to return to one of her races. (Previously, I wrote about her journey into ultra running, race directing and podcasting.) The 2021 race was incredibly well organized, the volunteers were awesome (including the Rivera family at the mile 85 aid station who have an inspiring story I wrote about for iRunFar).

4. A course that fits my strengths. As someone who lives in a pancake flat area, my training is better suited to similarly flat races. And while Western is in the mountains, I’ll have time to dedicate myself to preparing properly for it. For now, I’ll focus on training for the flat Hennepin race.

5. The race presents a challenge. There are no certainties in 100-mile races and just finishing will be a challenge. At the same time, I also want to challenge myself to improve upon my first performance. While I have a time goal in mind, I have a lot of training to do beforehand that will go a long way in establishing a specific goal.

What is your “why” for the tough races and other events you pursue? Hit me up with an email and share what you have cooked up for your race season. In the meantime, find joy on the run, dream big and follow your passions.


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