Yeti 24 Hour Ultra Challenge

My friends Lauren and Charlotte brought this virtual event to my attention. Jason Green, the founder and leader of Yeti Trail Runners, put this event out in response to requests for a challenge for us runners during the COVID-19 pandemic. I don’t really think virtual races are my thing – I certainly won’t seek them out in the future. But sometimes, when life is throwing a lot at you, it can be nice to find a challenge to focus on.

Last fall I did a training weekend to prepare for the Crooked Road 24 Hour Ultra, where I ran 4 miles every 4 hours for 24 hours – the “4x4x24.” It went pretty well. The hardest thing about it was the sleep deprivation – especially for my last two runs at 11 PM and 3 AM. I intentionally did not nap at all during the 24 hours to practice for Crooked Road.

This time, the Yeti Challenge would have me doing 5 miles every 4 hours for 24 hours – a total of 6 runs and 30 miles (except we made it 5.2 miles per run for 31.2 miles total to hit the 50K mark). Since I’m not preparing for anything, I fully intended to nap this time. I also didn’t think it would be a big difference to add on one more mile. I was wrong on both accounts.

I made a virtual bib for the virtual event.

I roped Kim into the Yeti Challenge, and honestly it didn’t take any convincing at all. I’m pretty sure she said “yes” before even knowing the full details of the event. Our friend Ashley also joined in last minute. Kim and I would run the first five runs together, but all of us started at the same time so we were all running together virtually. I enjoyed knowing we were all out there getting it done at the same time, making us feel more together while we have to stay apart during COVID-19.

Run 1 – 6 AM / local park / 40’s windy and raining

Kim and I met up at a nearby park where 1 lap is 0.7 miles. It was still dark, and with the rain and chilly temperature I wasn’t feeling super jazzed. The run felt like a harder effort, so I was surprised to see we ran a pace that was slower than normal. I was soaking wet and freezing, but the first run was done.

The event logo was very fitting for this first run.

Post-run food: Peanut butter and honey oatmeal and coffee.

Run 2 – 10 AM / New River Trail / upper 30’s, cloudy, and very windy

The time between runs throughout this event felt pretty short, and before I knew it it was time to run again. The first half of this run was on a gradual uphill and I still felt just “blah.”

So green!

The second half of this run was a gradual downhill and I felt like I cruised more.

Post-run food: Greek yogurt and a turkey sandwich

Run 3 – 2 PM / New River Trail / 40’s, sunny, and breezy

Kim and I started from a different access point on the trail to mix things up. I hit the restroom before we got going and found my first ever painted rock! Finally! Of course, it would be in a bathroom.

This run had the nicest weather yet and that definitely gave me some pep in my step.

We continued our trend of running each run progressively faster, and this run was the fastest yet – a trend we did not expect to continue!

Post-run food: Half of a Luna bar, a dill pickle, some plain potato chips, and a ginger chew.

Run 4 – 6 PM / New River Trail / upper 40’s and sunny

We ran this one in the same spot as run number two. I think I was getting a little loopy, as I kept mistaking things like tree branches for deer or a rabbit and orange flagging in a tree for a cardinal.

My legs were definitely starting to feel fatigued and I was starting to feel sleepy. Despite that, this run was even faster than run 3. The extra 0.2 miles we were tacking on to each run started to feel silly at this point.

When I got home, I was excited to find an envelope from Yeti Trail Runners in my mailbox with some new stickers! What perfect timing.

Post-run food: Tailwind recovery shake and a ginger chew. My stomach was starting to feel really rocky at this point.

Run 5 – 10 PM / local park / upper 30’s and cold

Barry came with me for this run and we met up with Kim at the park where we did our first run of the day. This one was really tough for me. My stomach was cramping and I just felt like crap. It was colder than expected and I was shivering pretty hard for the first part of this run. I definitely did not have enough layers on!

Normally, Kim and I talk our entire run. But we barely spoke at all during this one. What little conversation we had revolved around slapjack, sharks, and counting down the laps from what I can remember. I was so glad to get this one done!

Post-run food: Dill pickle, a few crackers, and half of a Luna bar.

Run 6 – 2 AM / treadmill

I thought I would nap between runs 5 and 6, but didn’t end up doing so. I was tired enough to, but I felt too crummy to sleep. This run was really tough and my legs felt stiff and tired. Even though I was tired and sore, I was really happy when this one was done because I had completed the Yeti Challenge!

Post-run food: Chicken noodle soup, and it was SO good!

Here are the stats from all six of our runs:

Overall, this was harder than I expected and it challenged me both mentally and physically. When I find myself in the middle of something hard asking “why do I do these things?” I know I’m taking on something worth while, and this was one of those things.

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