Tom's 100 Mile Race | Part one

Part 1: Get your head in the game.

PACE has been focusing on employee wellness – both physically and mentally. Tom Ferrell, a project manager in our Lake Oswego office, goes above and beyond in his fitness journey. He recently competed in the Bighorn 100-mile race in Dayton, Wyoming! He shared his experience with us:

In a word, the 2022 Bighorn 100M was hot. It was run perfectly in the middle of a heat advisory, from 9 am Friday until 9 pm Saturday, with temperature in the upper 90s. All 100M races have unexpected difficulties. The heat wasn’t so much of pending doom as a logistical problem. Although, I wasn’t about to use heat as an excuse not to run or give up, despite not having gone for a single run with temps in the 80s. It was simply a question of how to handle it. 100M races are said to be 90% mental. As soon as you lose the mental game, your race is over.

My friend Michael and I decided we were not only were we going to finish, but we were going to do so in style. I got us (and my father-in-law, who was our sole crew) matching Hawaiian shirts. The positive feedback we received throughout the race for our attire was fantastic. It gave us energy, which we needed at certain times. The mantra for this race: survive the day so that you can run the night.

The race course runs up the Tongue River Canyon, down the Dry Fork of the Bighorn River, then up the north side of the Bighorn to Jaws. Then, you turn around, retrace your steps, and add four miles back into the town of Dayton. We settled into an easy jog for the first couple of miles along the Tongue River, which quickly turned into a steep hike as we gained 4,000 feet by mile eight.

To keep our body temperature down, we dunked our hats and neck gaiters at every possible stream crossing, no matter how soon the next one came. 10 minutes, fine. 30 seconds, oh well. By the time we arrived at the Aid Station at mile 13, I was feeling notably poor given how early we were in the race. Michael’s easy effort was faster than mine, so I focused on keeping up with him best I could.

Possibly the most beautiful part of the entire course was a half-mile past Bear Camp, where the woods opened into the prettiest wildflower ridge I’ve ever seen. The whole hillside was a blanket of flowers. We took photos, and this lifted my mood for the next mile. We got into Sally’s Footbridge late afternoon, and I encouraged Michael to leave me behind. There’s just no way for two people to feel the same throughout a race of this length. He pulled ahead a few miles later, and I’d only see him one more time over the next 18 hours.

With more than half of the race left, does Tom endure running alone and during the night time? Find out next time in part 2!