So here we are in the story where I went through the night I am about 30+ hours in and have run 140 miles. As we moved through Hammonton, I was rejuvenated. The sunrise was magnetic and gave me a second wind. It was not that I would spend the next 35 miles in the Pine Barrens before running the last 20 or so miles down to Cape May. It was as I finished through Hammonton that my wife, Ashlee made some jokes that I was going too slow with those trekking poles. As I chomped down a Mcdonalds hash brown and a coke, I was like “Let’s Go”! I then started running 9 and 10 minute miles after suffering through 15 minute miles overnight.
As I crested the long 2 mile hill to the Pine barrens section, I was baffled with how gradually hilly this course was. When I scouted the course, it never felt that difficult. But after all of those miles on my legs, it was hard to push using the same muscles like this for miles on end. As I would near the next turn, I would look up and just see another long and gradual uphill. Ashlee played this game with me saying that it was downhill to continue to motivate me and fire me up. It was uphill. I kept grinding.
It was up another big hill, when I hit a bathroom break and connected with my father again. Ashlee I had told me a runner named Kurt would be helping me through this section and was a couple of miles up ahead. More hills, on these sandy dirt roads just kept beating me up. The Pine Barrens section is amazing as it is rural, wooded with Pine trees and a mix of rural roads on pavement along with a lot of sandy “Pine barrens” dirt roads. After crossing a bridge and then up past a farm that had tons of animals, we hit a parking lot where I met Kurt.
Kurt had the look of a true ultrarunner. He donned a sweet beard, and was outfitted all in Salomon. He looked familiar and I had thoughts maybe he worked for Salomon at the same time when I worked at Nathan as a Tech Rep. As we set out after I took a nice swig of chocolate oat milk, we were off. It was awesome to have Kurt along. The next miles started to tick by as we started up conversation. It was mid-day and the weather was a perfect winter day. This is when I started drinking too much Tailwind without much water. I wanted the calories and so I started the process of throwing off my electrolytes. In the next 10 miles, I started to feel a little foggy. Muscles were getting tense but I was still moving well. Now 160 miles in, I needed a pick-me-up. I chugged a Yerba Matte drink which is my caffeine drink of choice and had half of a banana. It was here when we were massaging my legs that a slight muscle tear might have occurred. I noticed a weird twinge at that moment but disregarded it. I was getting to that finish.
The Next Part: When The Mind Goes–Another State of Mind
It was at this point we were getting closer to getting out of the Pine Barrens. We hit a downhill, and I started picking it up hard. We dropped many 7 minute miles here. I was so impressed seeing Kurt run sub 7 minute miles in Salomon Speedcross shoes. It was in this moment that my body started having me go into a fog. And soon, I would be dreaming while awake. I started thinking Kurt knew the way and somehow found a shortcut that I could run and finish this route before the sun would go down which was my ultimate goal. I tried running as hard as I could thinking somehow I would see that Lighthouse any second. This was further from the truth. The next 3-4 hours, I was in a altered state as the Tailwind, lack of water, and energy drink had a weird effect on my incredibly tired body and mind. My mind started warping reality. So for example, Kurt put on a song and I immediately started to think that the song lyrics had something to do about this run. My mind thought that Lady Gaga just made a song about this run. I started looking around the course second-guessing where to go. Kurt had to really keep me moving as I was “Losing my mind”. Kurt was really like a guardian angel as I struggled to maintain my wits as we maneuvered through the less hill roads en route to Cape May.
- Pushing yourself for 200 miles is wild!
- I had visions of Governor Murphy coming to my finish, movie stars, you name it.
- I pushed through solely on the hope of being close to the finishline.
- I was thinking this was blowing up nationally and was hoping for all types of support from Bon Jovi and other famous NJ natives.
- I swore that Kurt was an athlete manager for Salomon and that maybe he would give me a contract when I finished.
- I was looking dazed and confused on the course thinking I had already been through that way and that we were lost.
- This was a stretch where I had only a few people out on course with me running or cheering. It was just Kurt, myself, Ashlee and my Father for most of these miles.
I then spent the remainder of the time in the daylight in this alternative realm where I was looking at airplanes in the sky thinking they were pointing the way to go. I had only slept 1 hour in the last 37 hours. Kurt kept me grounded and moving along in the right direction. I saw my middle school coach, Adam Nalven and ran with him a little bit. It almost was like out of a dream. I was still in this mind fog. We soon realized that I needed more water. And so after every few miles, I was drinking down water instead of Tailwind and would chug more Oat milk and eat good solid food like avocados. It was when I had another bathroom break by a local diner as the sun was getting close to setting that I started to come down from this mind trip. We hit a bike path and with about 30 miles to go, I started getting mental clarity again. I started apologizing to everyone for my wild trip .
As the sun set, we hit the Ocean ave stretch, with about 25 or so miles left to go, I soon realized we still had a long way to go but we were getting close. I had just gone past my goal of 40 hours at this point. And I was really hurting. Everything was so sore and beat-up. Kurt kept me moving at that 10 to 11 minute mile place. I had to push for that. Then as I made it 12 miles from the finish, I saw Harry and the Cape May Run Co crew. It was awesome knowing they were out there. They had brought the party as I would have a full police escort the last 10 miles into the Lighthouse through Cape may. Those last stretch approaching Cape May on the Ocean Ave was amazing. People started coming out cheering again. We kept moving downhill through this stretch as we would pass really nice Holiday displays, golf courses, you name it. I could smell that ocean breeze and knew I was going to get this done. My body was still reeling from my earlier episode so I worked hard to keep fueling. With 10 miles to go: Kurt ended his pacing duties with me and I then had a group that would follow me down to the finish. Kurt was amazing in this run and really saved me in those critical miles.
This whole crew in the photo above took charge. Kevin Joey, the man on the far right was amazing. He gave me GU chews, wipes when I had to use the bathroom, and so much positive energy and vibes that I needed to pull me through. With about 190 miles under me, I was running on fumes and just had to keep pressing onward. Kevin had some awesome broth his wife made for me that was so clutch as it was getting cold.
As I had a group with me the last stretch to the lighthouse, it was a surreal moment. I was in so much pain that it was hard to take it all in but man it was incredible. Through so much adversity and a wild journey across the state, I would be making it to that Lighthouse. As more people joined me for the last 5 miles or so, it was so awesome having that support. It felt like a group run and everyone’s positive energy helped fuel me to keep pushing at 9-10 minute miles.
So just so you know, this last stretch after you go across the bridge into Cape May feels like forever. I remember everyone saying you are like 2 miles away and really it became like 4 miles. I was holding on for dear life. I kept running and plugging away. It was so cool getting the chance to see the Lighthouse in the distance on the home stretch. I was going to get there.
As we entered the park, I sprinted to the finish as fast as I could and made my way to the lighthouse gate. I had a nice group of people there at the finish cheering and as I hit that gate, I stopped my watch and just rested on that gate. When I did this run, it was for Ryan Donnelly, whose idea it was to run through NJ point to point from High Point to Cape May Point. He was the featured runner in the “Running the NJ 184 documentary” and sadly passed away from health complications. I took a moment for him as this run was his true baby and I’d like to think he was along with me on that journey .
This was a monumental journey. I never had to dig so deep before. With lack of sleep before the run to not sleeping much during, to fighting severe swelling because of my run tights, numerous bathroom stops, fighting off electrolyte imbalance issues as early as mile 27 to my episode of dreaming while awake and acting delirious, it was wild.
I finished in 44 hours, 45 minutes, 21 seconds and 197.22 miles in total.
My wife, Ashlee was a complete rock star. She gave up so much of her time and herself to get me to the finish line.
My father was incredible in supporting me along the way.
I had so much support from so many out there! Thank you all of you.
Cape May Running Company brought it and was so pivotal in this whole run.
Run Groups like the Pineland Striders, Uptown Gentlefriends–Thank you!
All in all, this run was a run to inspire. People I feel can be quick to judge and put others down. I was judged. Many looked at me doing this as being crazy. But guess what, crazy it was but it was reality and we did it! I ran to support others with the Road Runners Club of America “Kids Run the Nation” and thanks to the generous support, we were able to give over $8,000 for funding and scholarships to kids that run in this program. Funding the future dreamers of America! Thank you all for your generosity. Ultra running is a team sport and the state of NJ came out and really supported me in this. That was something so incredible.
So what’s next right? Well, I think running beyond 100 miles will be my next passage in the sport. I would like to compete in Multi-day stage races across some of the most incredible environments in our world. These events often are 150+ miles broken up into running about a marathon a day for a week. I want to compete in more 200 mile races and events and hone my craft in that distance. I also want to get some 100 milers under my belt. Ultimately I also want the challenge of winter ultras and run the Iditarod Trail Invitational: a 380 mile ultra that runs through the Alaskan arctic wilderness on the same path that the famous dog-sled race, the Iditarod takes place to where I would like to finish the whole 1,000 mile long trail on foot.
When I set out on this run, I wanted to show people you can achieve great things if you believe. Be a beacon, shine bright through the darkness and be a ray of positivity that can help light the way for others to follow.