Race Report: The 2021 Yeti 100 Mile Endurance Run

Race Information


ASub-24 hrsYes




I tried to get into the Yeti 100 in 2020, but my lottery number didn’t come up. I signed up again on January 1st of 2021 and was notified very shortly after that I secured a spot this year. I wanted in this race almost entirely based on the finish line videos I had seen of other people, all being greeted by Jason Green the RD at the finish line with a great big bear hug.

I only had one other (official) 100-miler race under my belt, with a finish time of over 29 hours. I had only one goal for this race, and that was to finish in under 24 hours. That was it – nothing else matters to me. I was only half-joking when I told my wife if the clock gets to 24 hours, I’ll pull off the trail, she can drive to me, and we’ll just get in the car and go home. In my mind it was all or nothing.


I’m not new to ultra running, but I had very few >50 mile runs. I am in the process of getting an ultra running trainer’s certification, so I guess I’m self-coached (which is probably not ideal) but for the most part, the training plan I used was borrowed directly from this website.

In total, over the 25 weeks, I ran for 1,258 of the 1,352 miles prescribed in the program. I missed out on three weeks in the middle for 2 weeks due to a cross-country family road trip, and 1 week because of feeling sorry for myself/malaise.
And full disclosure, while I stuck to the weekly mileage religiously for the second half of the cycle, the weekend before the 100-miler I ran a hard half marathon, and the weekend before that I ran a relatively fast-paced marathon at Erie. This might have had an effect on the home stretch.


I could not make it to packet pick-up and neither could my crew, but the pictures of other people having fun and the swag that they gave out looked amazing. We rolled into the town of Abingdon, Virginia just before 10:00pm and the town’s streets looked like they had already been rolled up for the night. We stayed at a hotel just a few miles away from the finish line and the next morning’s race shuttle. The town looks so cute at night, I couldn’t help but wonder what it was like during the day.

The next morning I slept in because we were so close, and made it to the shuttles with plenty of time, but I missed a bio break pre-race. Rookie mistake. In hindsight I would have gotten up 30 minutes earlier to down a couple cups of coffee to make sure I was in the right frame of mind to take off.

Lastly – it was cold! I was shivering at the start and lamenting that I didn’t bring a throw-away jacket. I couldn’t tell how many people were there, but when Jason the RD called everyone to the front for the race brief, I found myself starting in the top 20 or so people. It was the most-chill ultra-start that I’ve ever seen. He asked everyone “Are you ready” and when he got back the grunts of approval he said in a normal tone” Well then… go!” And then we were off!


The elevation on this could get tricky (full map here). The first 25 miles were downhill and I had hoped that it was gradual enough where I could bank some time, but not so steep that I blew out my quads or ankles too early. I was trying to stay at about a 10-minute mile pace for the first 40 miles (that’s where the first big climb starts) and my average pace ended up being about 10:45. So it was a successful start!

For the first 42 miles, I put on headphones and zoned out. Since pacers were not allowed until mile 42 at the earliest, I didn’t think I would see my crew until then, so I just tried to keep a rhythm. My plan was to make sure I averaged out to 14-minute miles to make sure I accomplished that single goal. Finish in under 24 hours.

Quick notes about my crew: My wife luckily got a day off of work (HS teacher – they are stingy about days off during the school year) and so we left right after she got off work on Thursday. She knows me best and knows how I feel just by taking one look at me (or even watching my pace). The rest of my crew was 3 out of the best long-run running buddies anyone could ever ask for. There were a couple other special people who wanted to make the trip, but work, kids, and everything else took over. Initially I had insisted that I could knock this out all by myself, but in true running-buddy fashion, they collectively said “Okay, that’s cool” and then created a separate group chat to plan their parts and never spoke of it again to me. Everyone needs friends like this in life!

At mile 42 I picked up my first pacer and they circulated in and out for about 7-mile increments so they remained fresh and didn’t run the risk of “holding me back” (ha!). From that point, it’s roughly 1,800 feet of elevation over the next 25 miles, but the path is almost devoid of big rocks and tree limbs (notice I said almost). Then at mile 66-ish, runners go back down that same hill, so it’s 25 miles of downhill, and after 100K, that is an amazing feeling.

I got to about mile 76 before I felt any concern. And then it hit me. Coming out of that aid station one of my buddies rubbed my legs down with BioFreeze, which helped exponentially in the moment, but less than 100 yards after leaving the aid station a wind gust hit me (it was late, and the temps were in the 30s at that point) and I started shivering uncontrollably. I’m a previous cold-weather casualty, so the look of panic on my face must have scared the crap out of my pacer. I noped right then, turned around and headed back to the crew-car that mercifully hadn’t left for the next aid station. I put on extra layers, sat in the front seat with the heat up and drank some soup to get my temp back up a bit. Now armed with heavier gloves, full outerwear, and a warm cap, we began the second half of that descent. And even though my overall pace was still WAY UNDER my drop-dead time, that was the first moment where I started to worry.

The downhill that started around mile 66 continues all the way to the last full aid station at about mile 91.5, and I had hoped to gain more time, but it was about mile 78 where I entered the pain cave. It was different this time because I was running with someone who knew me well, but she could tell something was off. She did everything she could to keep me talking, but my responses went from my usual long-winded soliloquies, to grunts and 3 word answers. I started walking a lot more. And then I walked more. I did take a pain pill and that got me moving again, but by the time we traded off with the next pacer at mile 84.5, while I took my first bio-break, I could hear her briefing the others that I was going downhill.

Miles 84.5 to 91.5 were the last of the downhill stretch before a slow rise to the finish line, and my buddy pacing me that route watched me fall apart even more. First we would run a mile and then walked a few hundred yards. That cadence slowly devolved by the end of that leg to walking a mile and then maybe running a few hundred meters. When the last pacer came out to get briefed, I remember him saying “It’s only 8 miles, he’s going to be done in an hour and a half” and the pacer tapping out just shook his head. I was projecting at that point a 21:45 finish, and this guy thought we’d be in by 20:30 on the clock. I loved him for his optimism.

Those last 7 miles were the hardest miles I’ve ever walked in my life. Full stop. I was passed by about 10% of the remaining running field those last 8 miles, but focusing solely on my only goal, I didn’t care. I wished everyone who passed me well, and hoped they finished strong. I had my own race.

It’s hard to describe the fatigue at this point. There was certainly no “runners high”. There was no high of any kind at this point. My legs were shot. My ankles had been bothering me for 50 miles, and at this point, I felt like every single pebble on the trail felt like a boulder. My buddy, who is actually a medical professional, was watching me crash with horror. It was little stuff at that point. He moved me to the center of the trail because there were divots on the sides that he was sure I’d trip over and fall down the embankment. He pointed out every single rock he could. He grabbed and held on to my backpack when I stopped to relieve myself on the side of the trail, because he was certain I would fall forward (and to be fair my equilibrium was noticeably off). And he walked with me, for about 8 miles. I tried to run, but at this point the exhaustion, combined with the fatigue, left me feeling depleted and nauseous. I figured it was in my head, and tried to blow it off. I continued the most feeble run/walk attempts until my buddy had to step in, seeing that it was unproductive, and said with a degree of seriousness I had never heard from him “Buddy, save it for the end”.

At this point I’m stopping every 100 meters to bend over and stretch, often wanting to lie down. At this point, with less than three miles to go, I wondered why everything hurt so much. The course was a net downhill so it was supposed to be “easy” for a 100-miler. The weather, according to the RD, was the “Best weather in the history of the race” and I had more support from my family than I have ever had on any race. Less than 2 miles out the nausea hit me uncontrollably, and I wandered to the edge of the trail, much to my buddy’s dismay. Then came the dry heaves. Then came what had to have been the entire content of what was left in my stomach from the last 24 hours. It was rough – think of your wildest college party aftermath. But it was close enough to the end where it helped. I got back up, my buddy was patting me on the back and holding my hair back (like any good friend would) and waited patiently for me to start moving on my own. I went through about half a liter of water rising my mouth out… and then we started walking again.

I crossed the finish line roughly 21 hours and 43 minutes after I had started the race. Of course I got that hug from Jason the RD (link to that video above). Those were the only things I was looking for in this race. I got my Yeti moment.


We left the finish line and got back to the hotel before daybreak for a couple hours of sleep. Four of us met downstairs for breakfast and I, being the loquacious person I am, couldn’t help but to try and recap the entire race. There was one theme that kept coming up. This was a race that I dedicated 25+ weeks of training towards, but in the end, I honestly don’t think I could have finished like I did without my running family. My wife of course, slogging it out with me. My three running buddies who really kept me going. But then there were my other running buddies who made the logistical support, who wanted to be there but had jobs and kids of their own to manage. And then there’s the slew of people at Run Club who provide unlimited support and encouragement, who seemingly don’t even care when I drone on and on about blisters or inseam lengths.

Thanks for reading, and to everyone who it even remotely applies to – Thanks for the support!