The Keys 100 Ultra marathon form Key Largo to Key West started off its second year with not only a bang but an explosion! This was due much to the determination of Bob Becker, race director who uses the race to raise funds for prostate cancer. Last year’s inaugural 100 brought out just 19 starters, along with 20- 50 milers and 102 relay racers. This year race had 65 -100 milers, 51 -50 milers and a whopping 240 relay. Runners were milling around the start anxious to get going and at 6a.m. they were off and running. 100 milers first, relay second and 50 milers starting at the half way point 50 miles away in Marathon Fl. One special runner this year was Sister Mary Beth Lloyd who was running alongside of Lisa Smith Batchen and 3 other women (all running there 1st 100!) to raise awareness to Aids Orphans. Last year it was 84 degrees at the start and quite humid, this year was 80 and slightly less humid. This made for some fast out of the gate sprinting which we all know does not normally work well down the road at mile 75. However with that said; one runner, Brian Krogmann led the race from the very beginning and covered the point to point in a blistering 16hr31mn. This knocked nearly seven hours off last year’s 1st place finish time despite the traffic, intense Florida sun and heat.
As the race began to unfold and people settled into their grooves we could see just how the runners were starting to align. The great thing is with a point to point the crew is the runner’s eyes for what is going on ahead. The Keys 100 is not unlike Badwater in the fact that it requires heat adaptation, competent gear and a winning crew. Point to point in the heat is hard enough if one is not prepared; it’s more like a death march. My wife and racer Jennifer Vogel had the determination, training, gear and crew to get the job done this year. Jennifer began the race at the back of the pack with her coach Lisa Smith Batchen and Sister Mary Beth Lloyd and then began the steady climb up to the front of the pack. By mile thirty Jennifer had moved into 10th place. As crew leader my job was evaluating pace, fatigue and general condition of the competition and to make according decisions. By the time the seven mile bridge would come around Jennifer had moved up to 4th place. The seven mile bridge is a monster of a bridge with hardened concrete, long climb, whizzing traffic and high winds. As we neared the next check in (mile 75) we decided it was time to take over the women’s race and push Jen a little harder. By mile 75 Jen was 1st woman and 3rd overall. In the next 25 miles the pace would quicken, and seeing Jen running strong still we decided we were going to go for 2nd place. Jennifer finished in 19hr10mn shaving almost 4hrs off last year’s winning time. Jennifer is running to raise awareness for the Getting2Tri Foundation, which foucuses on intergrating physically challenged people into sports as a way of boosting health and self-esteam. Its a grass-roots version of 2009 Badwater's CAF. This finish should raise some eyebrows.
The Keys 100 is not for the light hearted. Ninety degree plus heat, blistering sun, humidity soaking you to the bone and cars going by at highway speeds requires a certain dedication and awareness. Many racers have used it for preliminary Badwater training, and some runners have called it a “suffer fest”. Either way the Keys Ultras are great races, and they raise money and awareness for an even greater cause, prostate cancer. So if you are up to the challenge and want to see some beauty along the way, has Florida got a race for you.
-- Check out why I run:http://www.tinyurl.com/USAToday-G2TvideoInspired? Then Help:http://www.active.com/donate/getting2tri/teamvogel