DWD Race Report

Photos by Indiana Trail Running Facebook

This was my first time running Dances With Dirt (DWD) Gnaw Bone 50K, but I was very familiar with the reputation this course and promotor had for being tough. I have mountain biked a majority of the race venue before, so I had a good understanding of what I was up against. I had a lot of confidence going into the race I would be well prepared for the steep conditions, as I have done a majority of my training in the hilly Jefferson Memorial Forest (JMF).


Like most nights before a race, I did not sleep well at the hotel. I was up at 3:00am excited to get underway. The temperature outside was in the mid-40’s and the rain was pouring! The forecast showed the rain moving out early morning, but the temperature was only expected to get into the low-50’s.

After some light breakfast and coffee, I arrived at the start area to watch my friend Maddy start the 50 mile race. The 50 mile race started 30 minutes before the 50K race. I also dropped off my drop bag, which I would access at mile 21.

Start – Maddy in pink

By this time the rain had nearly stopped and it was just light enough not to need a headlamp for the 50K start. In my vest I carried one water bottle (which I would refill at the aid stations) and enough nutrition to carry me to mile 21.

Instructions from Coach Troy were pretty simple for this race — save enough to push hardest the last 10 miles and have fun. I knew I needed to be disciplined and not get caught up in “racing the competition” early on to be successful.

The race started promptly at 6:15am and we were off! The first mile or so was on a gravel road to help thin out the heard before we hit the trails. I headed into the woods in roughly 5th position. Once on the trail, the next 2-3 miles were up a steep, muddy, horse trail, with ankle deep shoe sucking mud. This section was very difficult to run, so I started hiking the hill almost immediately. Even hiking, my heart rate was very high. I was passed by about 3 guys who were running. I knew based on my walking heart rate, that these guys were burning precious matches trying to run. It is a bit hard on the ego to be passed this early in the race, but I kept reminding myself to be smart and patient.

Eventually we got off of the horse trail and onto the mountain bike single track trail. The mountain bike trails were in very good condition and very runnable. I felt right at home on these trails – Very much resembled Jefferson Forest. I continued to keep my heart rate at the low end of my spectrum and log miles. Another cool thing was that I was starting to pass some of the 50 mile runners who started 30 minutes before my race. It was fun to make encouraging small talk with these runners along the way. I feel this helped to keep me motivated all race. I had caught up to Maddy mid-race and we enjoyed a short conversation. I was glad to see she was moving along well and in good spirits. She also informed me that she believed only 2-3 50K runners had passed her. She mentioned the leader (singlet guy) was flying. I knew I had passed several 50K runners along the way, but I honestly did not think I was up that far. The miles clicked off and I continued hitting my fueling and hydration targets.


One of the multiple creek crossing

Just before the mile 21 aid station I had caught up to another 50K runner form Kentucky (I’ll call him Kentucky) and we ran into the aid station together. I accessed my drop bag and refilled my vest with more nutrition to get me through the last 10 miles of the race. Kentucky did not stop and got a jump start on me out of the station. This is the point of the race Coach wanted me to push hard! I was feeling great, so I turned up the gas. Kentucky and I continued to play leapfrog for the next 3-4 miles. I had the advantage on the uphills, but I could not shake him.   Eventually we caught and passed a 50K runner that I remembered from the start. He was someone I had earmarked as a “fast guy”. It was at this point I believed Kentucky and I were in a race for second place. I had been pushing hard for the last few miles, but I had not shown my full hand yet. I did not want to make a move to soon and risk blowing up.

With about 5 miles to go we hit a stretch of road which lasted for maybe a mile. I am confident in my road speed and I was almost positive he would not be able to hang with me as good as I was feeling. I pushed hard and opened up a large gap as we headed back into the woods. I continued to push hard to increase the gap. The interesting thing I find about trail running is, you can really break someone’s spirit when they cannot see you anymore. This was my goal and it worked!

The home stretch

The last 5 miles or so, the 50K course blended in with the half and 10k courses. Again, it was fun and very motivating to be around other runners and encouraging them into the finish.

I crossed the finish line in a time of 5:07 and was informed I was the winner! What?? Yes, the early leader in the singlet had dropped out of the race. It was a great surprise and really neat wooden trophy to boot! Kentucky finished about 12 minutes behind me. We shared beers and stories as we watched the other competitors finish. One of the 50K finishers (his first) was my high school friend Tony who I had not seen in about 15 years. You never know who you may see at trail races! Maddy finished the 50 mile race as the 4th overall female!


Awards – Plus free entry to 2017 race

DWD Gnaw Bone is a top notch event and course that I would highly recommend. Well organized and attended! Thanks to all the volunteers!

Next up Mohican 100!