Thursday, August 8, 2013

Why Howl at the Moon Ultra Matters (or not)

Does a single race matter? It does if you have run it 11 of the last 13 years! This Saturday, will be my 12th Howl at the Moon 8-Hour ultra. This isn't a local 5k road race, this is a local ULTRAMARATHON...and also the largest timed ultra in the country!

It's great to keep doing the same race every year. It allows you to compare your times (or in this case, miles) and determine if this was an up or down year. It also lets you know what kind of shape you are in to predict future races. If I do well at Howl, I know my coming fall ultras (usually 3-4 of them) will go well. I may even get a new PR. If Howl doesn't go well, then I need to analyze why, and make training adjustments to address my weaknesses.

Another reason Howl at the Moon is so special? It's a gathering of old friends from around the country. Lots of runners do this race every year and this is a chance to reunite and catch up on gossip. Howl is also a great place to compete with your old running buddies. One day I'll beat my Michigan friend, and running fiend, TC. This year, I'll have to be satisfied with whipping my local neighbors Jeff and Gregg.

Howl at the Moon was the very first ultramarathon I ever ran (August 12, 2000). That simple race started my whole obsession with these crazy events. That makes this race special. That's why this race matters. Hey, it doesn't hurt that the race is only 50 minutes away. And they offer free camping the night before and the night after the event. And they provide free beer. And food too. And showers. And cool awards and surprises. And awesome aid stations. Throw in insanely hot, humid, and sunny summer weather and you have the recipe for an epic event! That's Howl, baby. My special race.

Here are my current Howl at the Moon race statistics:

Total Races: 11
Low: 33.9 miles (2010)
High: 47.06 miles (2006, 2008)
Total Miles: 469.85
Average Miles: 42.7
Best Placing: 12th (2005)
Worst Placing: 99th (2010) 

I only need 31 miles to break 500 lifetime miles at Howl. That will be done this weekend.

I was inducted into the Howl at the Moon Ultra "Hall of Fame" in 2010 (they picked 20 runners from the past 20 years to join the hall of fame). Unfortuntaley, I missed last year's race due to injury...and never heard the end of it from all of my running buddies. You wouldn't think people would notice one missing runner among 350 ultra runners. I should be touched that they noticed my absence. Hopefully, I'll redeem myself this year. I doubt I'll reach my ultimate goal of 50 miles in 8 hours, and I probably won't set a new personal best (47 miles), but I'll certainly break 31 miles and head toward 40 with ease. After 40 miles, it gets tough. Instead of rating myself on miles achieved, I should aim for placing--I'd be happy with top 25%. 

Wish me well as I head into my 12th running of the Howl at the Moon 8-Hour Ultra this Saturday. This should be an interesting weekend. 

Geez, I'm already looking forward to next year and "lucky #13" for me. This race really is special. It does matter.


David said...

It sounds like you aren't too concerned about going all-out for a distance PR, and you have a manageable (I won't say 'easy') 30+ miles for 500. This is setting up for a low-pressure and fun run - sounds nice! Enjoy your victory lap!

I'm venturing out of my comfort zone this weekend with the Telluride Mountain Run (40 miles, 14K elevation gain, altitude from 9K-13K). My race goal is to not be medevac'ed from the course...

Any last minute advice?

Chris said...


Sounds like a fantastic race! Enjoy the scenery and just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Anonymous said...

Good luck, Chris.


Chris said...

Thanks Joe. It's not going to be easy, but nothing worthwhile is easy. Right?

Jodi said...

See you there! I'm volunteering/cheering/running a few loops/camping. First time I'll have been out at Howl.
Good luck!

Chris said...


Great! It'l be nice seeing you on the course. Wish me well...I'll need lots of help to keep going for 8 hours.

trice said...

It's just running.

Chris said...


Indeed, just running. With friends.