Running with the Owls

Running offers us so many different experiences. From roads to paths to trails, we encounter different challenges and achieve things beyond our imagination. For me the most important aspect is the people I meet. So thankful for the friendship I developed with my fellow Owls!

In Northeast Ohio, we are fortunate to have access to some amazing parks.  Within a short distance of my house, in any direction, there is an abundance  of county Metropark systems, forest preserves and the wonderful Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP).  These resources offer runners 100’s of options of multi-purpose paths and single track technical trails that include scenic outlooks, miles of pavement for road race training and rocky elevations for your trail fix.

While there are many races to run throughout these resources, the one that fully displays these trails is the Burning River 100 (BR100)

The Race

The Burning River Endurance Run & Relay is an exciting 100 and 50 mile solo run and 100 mile relay held in Northeast Ohio.  The race travels through several of the region’s most scenic areas, including the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, the Cleveland Metroparks and the Summit Metro Parks.

Starting at Squire’s Castle in Willoughby Hills, the 100 mile run and relay follow the scenic Cuyahoga River Valley Corridor through the Cleveland MetroparksCuyahoga Valley National Park, and Summit Metroparks before finishing in Downtown Cuyahoga Falls.  The 50 mile distance option also begins and Squire’s Castle and finishes at Boston Mills Ski Resort located in Peninsula, Ohio.

The 2018 Burning River 100 is a Western States qualifier, the 3rd leg of the Midwest Grand Slam of Ultarunning, and a UTMB qualifying race!

I have often followed the progress of the race via social media and just been amazed by the runners and the organization of the race.  When I saw that registration had opened, I toyed with trying to complete the 50.  Once I considered it more closely, I knew that completing a 50 was probably not the best idea for me.  I had never run more than a 10 mile trail race.  My Spring schedule already included the LA Marathon and the Green Jewel Ultra so I would not have the time to prep for a 50 miler.

At around that same time I saw a post in the Facebook feed of of one of my running clubs.  A few folks were trying to pull together a relay team for the BR 100.  Though I did not personally know anyone on the team, I jumped at the chance and became part of the Wise Ass Owls of Burning River.

Yes, that was the name we came up with at our first meeting in March.  Our team was full of experienced and passionate runners but we were also more senior in our running tenures.  I could not have found a better group of people to relay with.  Not only did they take in a stranger to their group but they were amazing in their support and energy about the race.

Wise Bad Ass Owls

One of our team members found matching owl jerseys and caps as well as created banners for our team and posters for each runner.

Early morning before the 6:00 am relay start
Logo projected at the site of the starting line

What an amazing experience this turned out to be.  We gathered at around 5:00 am on race day morning and were together for the next 24 hours.  Our team finished at around 4:30 am the following day. 

My leg which was the sixth segment was pretty tough for me.  I had done some training on the trails and hills over the weeks preceding the race but still felt pretty ill-prepared.  My 16 miles included a lot of technical track and finished in the Ledges area of the CVNP.  With a time under 4 hours, I was about 30 minutes over my goal.  But I was very proud to finish and to see my teammates cheering me on at the end!

Here is a shot of six of our eight team members just before my segment start.

I must say that this is most well organized and well staffed race I have ever participated in. From pre-race communication to race day course management, Western Reserve Racing does an amazing job. Since it is an overnight race, the volunteers are really the heroes of the weekend. 24 aid stations stocked with every nutritious and yummy food are run by enthusiastic and supportive volunteers.

Finishing strong!

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