Blackbeard’s Revenge 100, OBX [Day541]

Just after the start of the 100 mile race

While I had wanted Umstead 100 to be my first 100 mile race, Outer Banks’ Blackbeard’s Revenge was the runner up on my list. I ended up running the Rocky Raccoon instead in Huntsville, Texas as my first during 2021.

Since then I ran other 100 mile races and finally circled back to this one.

So I took Friday and Monday off to travel to North Carolina to line up at the start. It was necessary and worth the trip.

Aside, we spent 10 hours in the car there and 10 hours back, the drive was almost as long as the run (gps calculated that the trip only would take 5 hours, but I had to make some detours to pick up my mom, etc).

We had optimal weather window to run this. The rain did not come but only a little bit on Saturday afternoon. We did have some constant wind but it was calming down to about 15-20 mph. We couldn’t control the weather. Temperature wise was mild as well, ranching from low 50s to high 70s.

I enjoyed my time there while met up with some recently made friends from other races. At the package pick up, I ran into Joe and Simon who were my pacers at the Fort Worth Marathon last month. During the race I happened to meet Fernando on the course whom I met at the Devil Dog 100. I was able to ran with Fernando a bit, maybe 10-15 minutes until we arrived at our second drop location around mile 41.

sunrise of the first day

The main thing was I got it done. It was on road surface instead of trail. This was my first road 100 mile race. It was a fast race because I PR’ed it, running my best time, of 26:17:00, cutting the time from Rocky Raccoon by almost 2 and half hours.

The course was slight on an uphill at least that how I felt, but overall was flat as a pancake. It was also my first point to point 100 mile race. Logistics was about the same. I was worried about where to stay before the start. I chose Kitty Hawk to be closer to the start rather than near the finish. It was an option. One runner chose to leave their car at the finish and hitched a ride to the start, maybe about 3 hours drive. Another choice was to stay somewhere in the middle and I was kind of like that, about an hour from the start and 2 hours from the finish.

The race also offered after race shuttle to take runners back. However, this was done at a 4 hr interval, so getting a ride back can be tough if you finish after one of the rides departed.

I had no problem running this race. I was prepared by previous races. I did not specifically trained for this since I came off running the Devil Dog in December. I took couple months off to recover. After that I did couple training runs for BRR and MMT. I ran couple marathons (Ft Worth, Seneca Creek, and Virginia Beach).

I packed a bit better. I had everything packed into four 1 gallon ziplock bags.

I still over packed my things but I got the nutrition about just right and spaced them in the dropbags. My suggestions to myself from a previous race report about planning to bring my own food as the primary source instead of relying on the aid stations, helped me to throw in some cereals and candies into my dropbags. I glad I did. This is not saying it couldn’t be done by eating aid station stuff or that their stuff was bad, but it reduced a set of variables from the equation and give a better chance of finishing.

I had a positive experience through out the race. The course was beautiful and we were blessed by good weather of neither too hot or too cold or other extremes (too windy). The beauty of the place was overwhelming. I have been to Outer Banks maybe 10 years ago and the memory of that trip left a deep impression of endless seasshore (and of course the lighthouses). I will try to share some pictures. It is subjective, but OBX is a place I love to vacation or retire to because it is just so beautiful. If one theme about this race is the peacefulness of everything.

Another reason I like this race because it was a point to point course. It is hard to put up a point to point race both from the RD perspective and ours. It is a lot of work. The last three 100 mile races I did were all looped courses. Rocky Raccoon was like 5 loops, Rim to River was an out and back race, going out 50 miles and coming back with a bit of variation, and the Devil Dog was 4 loops in the Prince William Forest. Even Massanutten can be considered a single loop in a figure eight pattern. This race, Blackbeards starts at one end of NC-12 hwy to the other end, from paved road to end of paved road. The road continues on in either direction as an off-road path (and probably goes by a different name).

For us runners, running 100 miles in a loop or point to point is the same. However, when the course is in a straight line instead of a circle, you get a sense of the large distance covered.

Also everything is harder, so as arranging ride back or to the start. I like the extra challenge. Maybe more on this later. The race organization did an amazing job to lessen the burden of this. There are a lot of information given ahead of time in term of bag drops, aid stations, hotel, parking, shuttle rides, and dealing with planning for the unexpected such as weather, etc.

Another reason, take this point as a grain of salt, I think it is an easy 100 for first time 100 attempts. I think the race organization babied us too much, but I understand it was for our safety. There were tons of information in the race handbook and the RD when over them multiple times. I did not mind being beat over of the head the same things.

Now about the race and my experience, I think it was perfect. I am not sure how many people signed up. I wish there were more people running it. I felt we were very much under the capped. If this continues, the race might not be around in the future. Not sure why people are not running this, maybe too easy, too hard, not being on trails, the logistics factor, but anyway those can be overcomed.

We had probably 100 runners in each event. There were four events (plus virtual events). We had the 100 mile, 100k (at 10 AM start and at different location than the 100 mile) and plus the relays for both distances. However, there were about only 50 finishers in 100 mile and 100k event. There were about maybe 5-6 relay teams. The exact numbers are on the race signup and results website. I think there were a lot of drops but I don’t know the drop rate. I felt there were close to 100 runners at the 100 mile start, but on about 50% finishes. This is typical I think.

So what do I think is the challenges? Other than the distance, I think the main being weather. We were buffered by wind (strong headwind) through out the race. It could have been worse. The wind was ‘calmer’ on our race day. They were saying it was blowing hurricane strength the week before.

We had only faced with 15-20 mph constant wind. Also the temperature. We had relatively warm weather to run in this time, however at early morning, I think it was in the low 50, and when I breathed, I could see my breath. My fingers were cold. Lucky I put in my dropbag a pair of gloves for the evening portion and buff/neck gaiters too. I wore sleeve inserts on either arm. It was my first time and they helped a lot.

Then during the day the temperature rised to near 80. We were burning. I was sunburned on my face, neck, back, forarms, and back of my legs. I applied sunblock lotion but only did it once and in the early morning, but did not reapplied so, I was burned. Don’t misjudge the spring sun. It is still hot.

The temperature, I felt could have been worse if it were to drop a bit lower or get higher. This depends if you like cold running, but for me, I prefer warmer weather. We also was rained on for a bit. maybe for 10-15 minutes. Thunderstorms were forecasted the day before and the day after, but we only had a brief rain session while out on the course, and I was actually grateful for the rain even though it made me wet and cold. The reason was, I was hit with ‘sandstorm’ during the afternoon. Not really a storm but the wind stirred up the sand and when it hit me, it was painful to have sand repeatedly blasted on your body. The rain actually prevented this, making the sand stick together. I appreciated that sand stopped blowing on me. We were so exposed out there. Wearing long sleeves helped. Facing the elements was probably the hardest challenges.

Aid stations and drop bags. We had 17 aid stations. There was almost a station every 5 miles except for the first two. We had our drop bags at about every 20 miles. I think it was more than enough.

My greatest advice to myself was to pack my own food as my primary source and rely less on the official aid stations. This is not a complaint. I reread my last 100 mile race report and that what stuck as being successful, and I said really? My MMT failed attempt was attributed to my lack of eating. So the trick was to bring my own food to eat at anytime and all the time.

Because it was a road race, we shared the road with cars. We had to wear a safety vest/reflective gear throughout the race. There was a significant night portion. We had to have spare lamp and bateries. This was not an issue for me, for my light lasted through the evening. I wore one of those fancy lighted fiber optic tubes. They had their pluses and minuses. The plus is it meets all the required gear but having a spare. The disadvantages were the wiring get in the way of my running, and also harder to put clothes on and off or any other things that goes over the shoulders like a water pack. It was a tiny inconvenience. A lighted belt or a clip on blinker would have been better.

And also, I should have gotten two sets, so that during the day, I could stove away once I reach my drop location and at night get it from a drop bag. Instead, I only had one set, so I wore mine the whole race.

we ran on the left side of the roads. There were sidewalks but the course and directions were provided based on the lefthand side of the road. Road’s shoulder was wide enough. However, when cars drove by fast especially on the bridge, and at night, it was quite stressful to runners.

As said, I had generally a positive experience. I had a fast race. It was peaceful. I was mostly by myself on the course. Because the field was small, I was not able to find someone matching my pace to tag along. There were maybe 10 people whom I was leading from the second half after 50 miles, but they were going a bit too slow for me. I gained about 30 minutes on my nearest competitor (Rich, a new friend I made while running) by the time I finished, not a huge gap, but far enough apart.

A small critique was the aid stations were understaffed (they did call for volunteers) and I tried to ask my mom to help. I felt many families could have helped and I think many did, however, like my own, many spent much of their time wanting to crew their own runners. A few of the stations only had one or two people. They did their job well, but more volunteers would have been ideal. Also the food, I felt was quite limited.

Not sure if it was because the 100k people (the horde) had just gone on ahead of us and ate everything. I had sufficient stuff from the aid stations, but I had done the three other 100 mile races where their aid stations were a buffet of hot food and an island of cheers. This race was more a solitude affair. Here we had mostly hummus and gels. I glad for having a sloppy joe and a cup of noodle that saved me at a portion of the course when I was most needed for real food. Also a slice of American cheese I picked up a long the way, helped so much later in the race when my stomach was turning from eating my own food too much. These were provided by the aid stations. However, bringing my own food was still the best advice to myself.

sunset and beach time. This was the following day after the race when I recovered enough to walk around. I did cross the Jughandle Bridge during sunset.

First Big Race of 2023 done. And PR’d it. The last 5-10 miles were very hard. I was exhausted. Singing got me through. I sang thanksful spiritual songs. That did it. It gave me tge energy to run to the finish. Finished in 26 hours. Originally I was targeting between 28-30 hours. But by the first 6 hours I was already knew I was 3 hours ahead of schedule and I could maintain the 3 hours lead through out. We were running at 12-14 minute pace, which meant a 20-25 hour finishing. This is fast in my book. The lead allowed me to stay in the rest stations longer. At couple of the drop bag locations, I stayed up to 30 minutes. In total, I probably rested over an hour to two hours. I could aim for a sub 24 hour finish, however, I love having my rest. There was no need to kill myself to get that sub 24 hour finish.

One response to “Blackbeard’s Revenge 100, OBX [Day541]”

  1. […] the lack of food at aid stations. I love it a lot because I had a good time. Full report is here. This race was those once in a lifetime adventures. I was glad I ran it. It gave me the feeling I […]


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