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Why run 100 miles at Kettle Moraine?

I'm headed back to race at Kettle Moraine, this time for 100 miles.

By Henry Howard


After my pair of unsuccessful Western States qualifiers in 2023, I swore off the 100-mile distance. It wasn’t in my sweetspot, I reasoned. There are staggering odds just to get into the coveted race that goes from Olympic Valley to Placer High School. Maybe my mind was telling my body it was time it started acting its age.


Then I reassessed.


After my dad’s passing in January, I wrote a post entitled “Our one wild and precious life,” where I talked about my renewed motivation to qualify for, line up at the starting line and finish Western States.


“There is something about Western States. I know if I give up and don’t try to pursue that goal, I’ll regret it.”


In due time, I emerged from the wait list of the Kettle Moraine 100. My races thus far this year have been a steady build toward finishing 100-miler number four and acquiring that ticket for the drawing this December for the 2025 race.


In February, I put together a solid half marathon trail race outside Indianapolis, then in April performed well at a 50K. I’ve worked through some lingering soreness, am stoked about the three-man crew I’ll have on this journey and mentally ready to tackle this journey.


My why for this race


So why run 100 miles at Kettle Moraine?


This will actually be by fourth race at the Kettle Moraine State Forest in Wisconsin, following three shorter distances that I did with the North Face Endurance Challenge Series there. As I wrote in a preview of my third race there, “I am drawn to the race because of the great course, incredibly helpful volunteers and all the amenities for runners.”

Looking forward to having another awesome crew at Kettle.

The Kettle Moraine 100 will have a more challenging course, with a total of around 8,800 feet of elevation gain. Still, I recall the sections from the North Face races (I did the marathon once and 50K twice) as very runnable.


Unfortunately, North Face folded its challenge series. However, I am looking forward to the awesome group of volunteers from Michele Hartwig’s Ornery Mule Racing, which hosts the race. I’ve had great experiences at her previous races, including the Hennepin Hundred three times and this year’s Earth Day 50K.


As many ultra runners have said, “We don’t do these races because they are easy, we do them because they are hard.”


I needed to dig back into that mindset, set out a challenge and dive right in. Kettle Moraine will be hard. But that will make it all the more rewarding when I finish the race, erase the doubts from 2023 and anxiously await the Western States ticket drawing roughly six months later.


Maybe I’ll get in to the 2025 race, or maybe it will take five — or more — additional years. But along the way, I’ll make lifelong memories, cherish the ultra running community and redefine what’s possible for me.


All with no regrets.



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