Kansas Grand Slam: A Slam to Remember

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By Heather Rickerl

My proudest accomplishment of 2016 was completing the Kansas Grand Slam of ultrarunning, which requires completion of four (from among five) 100-mile races in Kansas.

The first race I did was Prairie Spirit Trail 100 in Ottawa, Kansas. During Prairie Spirit, I battled high winds and heavy smoke from nearby controlled burns. Being in the woods alone, late at night in the smoke-filled air, made me feel like I was in a horror movie. This straight, flat “rail-trail” event was a great race to start my season, and the last time I would have fresh legs in 2016.

The second race of the Slam was Honey Badger 100. Leading up to Honey Badger I trained in sweatshirts and stocking caps in the Colorado summer. This race can be summarized very simply; 100 miles on Kansas roads in July. The heat took a toll on me and made this the hardest race that I have ever completed. I came away from this race having learned how far mental strength can take you.

The third race of the series was Hawk Hundred. As a Colorado girl, I was so excited to run 100 miles on a trail. I had trained on Pikes Peak, the most technical terrain I could find, and was ready to tackle the race. Mother nature had other plans for race day. Due to severe storms before the event, the trails were not suitable for the original course, so the race was moved to an alternate road course. Running another 100 on the road did not sound ideal, but I considered myself lucky to be able to run at all. I made my way up and down hills on pavement for 75 miles before I got the news that the last 25-mile loop would be on the original trail. Roots, rocks, and technical hills after 75 miles on road made for an interesting race. I stumbled around half-awake on the trails until the finish.

The final race I completed was Ad Astra 100-Mile, a .845-mile loop in a city park. The only other 100-mile participant was the owner of the race, which made for some friendly competition on this monotonous course. Ad Astra was mentally tricky and I ended up being the only finisher of this race.

Completing these four unique and challenging 100-mile races was accomplished with the help of lots of training, friends, family, volunteers, and awesome race support. I have learned that falling asleep while standing is possible, and that you have to be just as mentally tough as you are physically to complete this type of challenge. I faced cold temperatures, extreme heat, rain, wind, fires and mud. I had some amazing pacers and support from incredible friends. I will not be completing the 2017 Grand Slam, but I will surely be back for more Kansas ultras.

Kansas Grand Slam Races:

  • Prairie Spirit Trail 100 Mile
  • Honey Badger 100 Mile
  • Hawk Hundred
  • Ad Astra per 100 Mile OR Heartland 100 Mile

 

2016 Finishers:

Heather Rickerl:

Prairie Spirit Trail 100 Mile
April 2, 2016 / Ottawa, KS
Finish Time: 26:39:28

Honey Badger 100 Mile
July 9, 2016 / Cheney, KS
Finish Time: 29:36:55

Hawk Hundred
September 10, 2016 / Lawrence, KS
Finish Time: 28:35:00

Ad Astra per 100 Mile
October 15, 2016 / Wichita, KS
Finish Time: 27:52:40

400 Total Miles In 112 Hours, 41 Minutes And 30 Seconds

Greg Gray:

Prairie Spirit Trail 100 Mile
April 2, 2016 / Ottawa, KS
Finish Time: 26:43:15

Honey Badger 100 Mile
July 9, 2016 / Cheney, KS
Finish Time: 29:26:07

Hawk Hundred
September 10, 2016 / Lawrence, KS
Finish Time: 27:53:19

Heartland 100 Mile
October 8, 2016 / Cassoday, KS
Finish Time: 26:22:52

400 Total Miles in 110 Hours, 25 Minutes And 33 Seconds

 

 

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