2003 – New Women’s 100km course record sets overall record too
As our second year as race directors wound down we were again overjoyed to be able to help 135 runners, numerous pacers, our gang of volunteers and all the family and friends experience the extremes of joy and sorrow all rolled into a serious dose of pain.
Overall 97 runners wrote happy endings to their ultramarathon stories at this year’s Kettle. Another 29 were able to say they had finished 100km even if they had been hoping to tackle the 100 mile course. Once again we had 3 races starting off in the morning dusk, a 100 miler, 100 km and 100 mile relay.
In the 100-mile event, ultra newcomer Nate Emerson, 27, had a spectacular showing with his first 100 mile event. Our women’s winner was Jodeen Hettenbach, 39, and what made the race enjoyable for all was seeing what JoDeen would be wearing next. Her trip around the course included five complete costume changes in the first 62 miles alone. Nate and Jodeen were each awarded our traditional first-place award of a handsome copper kettle.
Our 100-kilometer event continued to increase in popularity. First place overall was also the women’s winner, Ragan Petrie with a new course record for men and women. Michael Davenport is a regular at Wisconsin ultrarunning events and won the men’s 100K race.
This year we doubled our participation in the 100-mile relay. The competition was tough and the solo race leaders were kept company by the fresh relay teams throughout the day and night. A mixed team from IL took honors as the first team.
Happily, we enjoyed a high finishing rate again this year. Nineteen hours of dry, mild weather helped. Also, for better or for worse, our course is set up so would-be 100-mile runners can drop out at the 100K mark and still get an official time for that distance. (However, runners are eligible for place awards only if they complete the event they sign up for.) Every runner who reaches 100K also receives one of our unique little copper kettles as a memento of the race. As we travel the country we are happy to hear that people appreciate our unique awards.
We mentioned those 19 hours of nice weather. By that time (1 a.m.), all of our 100K finishers were in. But most of our 100-mile runners were still strung out along the final 38 miles of the trail when a tremendous thunderstorm struck. The downpour was a deluge. How we didn’t lose anyone in the woods, we don’t know. The rain was so heavy, runners reported that flashlights reflected back all their light without shining on the path ahead. Maybe the lightning helped light the way. Lots of folks sought shelter at the nearest aid stations and squeezed in under cover with our volunteers.
For those stuck in between aid stations more ingenuity was required to prevent hypothermia. As Bill Wilkey and Parker Rios pushed through the finish line the rain couldn’t get much worse. Bill and a pacer had modified a space blanket to fit over their heads in bonnet style, providing some comedy for the finish line aid station volunteers.
After a wild half hour, the storm passed as abruptly as it began. No lasting harm came of it. As we’re fond of saying, our Kettle Moraine trails “drain well” and Tom Bunk’s painted trail markings withstood the test.
As the 30 hour cutoff neared we were speculating whether or not Vince Varrone would be able to make it. The consensus was positive and he came through with plenty of time to spare. The decision to finish came back at mile 85 where he had the aid station captain call the finish line to inform everyone that Vince was behind the recommended cutoffs, but would make them up over the last 15 miles.
The race directors’ “dessert” after an ultra is the post-race cards and letters we receive from runners and crew. Once again, most people’s comments this year rightfully reflected on the lovable volunteers who staff our aid stations. We wish we could dedicate an entire article to our many friends who rolled up their sleeves and worked to make the Kettle Moraine 100 a success for the eighth year in a row. And our volunteers are always the first to turn the praise back on the runners for their courage and tenacity as they wrote their ultramarathon stories again this year.