Ultrarunning Edge

Racing the 2009 Buffalo Run

Written by Bruce R. Copeland on March 29, 2009

Tags: antelope island, energy gel, hypoglycemia, races, ultrarunning

The View West from Antelope Island

The 2009 Antelope Island Buffalo Run was a great success! Jim Skaggs, the race director, once again put on an outstanding event. This year Antelope Island State Park allowed uncapped registration, and there were nearly 500 runners spread amongst the 25K, 50K, and 50 mile distances—great for competition! The trails were in good shape, and the weather was perfect for running (very fortuitous considering that today we have a blizzard with near whiteout).

I went into this race seriously undertrained for the 50 mile distance (there still isn’t more than 15 miles of trail open anywhere here in Cache Valley). Nevertheless I managed to knock 26 minutes off my time for last year by using a new fueling strategy. It seems that my fat burning rate isn’t very high (I’ve been borderline hypoglycemic all my life). So to compensate for this, I consumed three carbohydrate gels per hour for the last 6-7 hours of the race. This strategy worked well, and I was able to comfortably maintain a higher than usual pace late in the race. Since three gels (90 g) per hour is getting near the carbohydrate fueling limit for the human body, I had to make certain that I spaced out my gels properly and consumed adequate quantities of water. To compensate for undertraining, I also used a caffeinated gel/blocks every third or fourth gel from the 30 mile point onward.

I only saw six buffalo all day (frequently I see many more when training on the island). Coming off the Elephant Head trail section, six buffalo decided to stampede across the trail right in front of the runner ahead of me. He was probably shell-shocked for hours afterward.

Congratulations to one of my training partners, Milada Copeland, for winning the women’s 50 mile competition. All in all it was a successful race!