When you sign up to run your first 100 mile race, you really have no idea what you are getting yourself into. And I never expected a charging bear, heavy sleet and rain, never ending climbs, and a quick chat with a running legend. But that was exactly the case when it comes to the 2022 Run Rabbit Run 100 held in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. My friend Kyle and I signed up and completed the race together as our first 100 miler. Culminating is the end with the experience of crossing the finish line and earring our first 100 mile buckle. A rare experience at an event that saw only close to a 60% finish rate overall. So to better help others get ready for this epic race, here is my 2022 Run Rabbit Run 100 Mile Race Report.
Aid station food and the gear I used is at the bottom. Enjoy!
2022 Run Rabbit Run 100 Mile Race Report
This year’s signup and pre race meeting was held at the Olympian hall aid station. I believe they typically hold this at the same location as the finish line, but in 2022 the ski resort was doing construction. I will say that the Olympian hall location has a pretty good layout for parking which made it a great location for check in. Which went smoothly.
The pre race speech featured a lot of giveaways and a few good tips for the course. Including flagging, areas to watch for, and any changes that needed to be made. I highly recommend attending if you can. There is a Walmart in town you can pick up folding chairs at if you need them. We bought a set and used them throughout the race as well.
Tips: Get there early if you want to make sure they have your size in merch. And you can buy your lift tickets at check in for cheaper than the morning or the race. In 2022, gondola tickets were $20 compared to $35 the morning of.
Starting The Race to Mount Werner Aid station
The race starts at the base of the gondola in the center area of the ski resort. Sending runners straight up the mountain’s black diamond ski slope. The grade will go from tough to steep to brutal. So just prepare yourself. The hardest part of the climb is up to the top of the gondola. Where you can have your family, friends, and crew actually ride up and see you at the top of the slope. From here you have another climb on a fir road to the first aid station at Mount Werner.
Close Calls with Nature
On our climb up the ski slope, we had a large line section of about 30 people pulling up the hill together in a line. About 40 feet in front of me I notice a woman with her camera out facing to the right. Looking to the right I see what she is filming… a single young adult black bear in full charge at the line. And as soon as he got within about 10 ft of our group, he swung wide and circled. Now at this point we all realized that he wasn’t a threat. His facial expressions, breathing, and overall demeanor gave off a very non aggressive vibe. And within a few seconds we realized what he wanted. Some yelled “let him through the line”. So behind me the line split. And the young bear ran through the opening just a few feet from my running partner, Kyle. Off on his way. Wondering who these idiots are walking on his mountain.
This encounter turned out ok. But it could have easily gone differently. So make sure you’re paying attention out there.
Mount Werner to Fish Creek Falls Aid Station
In 2022 they removed the first Long Lake Aid Station stop. Saving about 1.5 miles and taking runners on a 12 mile unsupported downhill section to the bottom of Fish Creek Falls. The first half of this run consists of flowy downhills. Perfect to get the legs moving and making up some lost time from the first climb. Once you get to the Long Lake Fish Creek Falls split, the real downhill begins. With 6 miles of rocky, technical, steep, and beautiful trail. This section is incredibly stunning out and back so this also means you will have to deal with other runners either heading up or down. And passing on the narrow pathways up and down the trail.
So try your best to enjoy the views on your way down. While saving some legs for the massive climb back out. And watch your step!
Fish Creek Falls to Long Lake Aid Stations
Get ready to climb. The course description lists the climb out of Fish Creek Falls aid station as the most technical on the course (more on this later). So you can expect this to be difficult. The steps are larger and the trail is steep and narrow as you cross over the creek ascending up the canyon. There are two waterfalls to see on this section so make sure to enjoy a quick view. You will know you are out of the canyon once you hit the Long Long Aid Station sign split. And from here you get a somewhat flat trail around the lake to the aid station.
Long Lake to Summit Lake Aid Station
This is probably the easiest section of the race. With the course taking you on a service road that allows access to a large section of the mountains. With a gentle incline grade. You will be on this for the majority of this section and it’s a good spot to make sure you get your time where it needs to be heading into the hardest parts of the race. Summit lake is the highest aid station on the course. And also was also a drop bag location for the 2022 race.
Summit Lake to Billy’s Rabbit Hole Aid Station
This section is a bit of a blur to me. By the time we were leaving the Summit Lake aid station the weather was in full monsoon. With many runners taking shelter in the headed tents waiting out the storm. I’d wager that this is where the majority of drops took place. I vividly remember Kyle asking me, “do you want to wait it out for a few minutes?” But I knew there was no waiting it out. Only moving forward. And my response of “it’s not going to get better any time soon, let’s do this” being met with a laugh from the aid station volunteer checking people in. So Kyle and I sealed every opening on our body and took off. With the rain and sleet pounding on our rain shells, all we could see was the trail directly in front of us.
And it didn’t get better. It got worse. With sideways sleet sting every bit of exposed skin. But we persisted and by the time we made it to Billy’s Rabbit Hole the storm had passed. But the damage had been done for more than a few runners.
All that said, I don’t think this section will be too bad. I don’t recall anything but the weather. And have me thinking in nice weather this may be one of the easier sections of the race.
Billy’s Rabbit Hole to Dry Lake Aid Station
This section is a long and winding descent. Covering 8 miles and what feels like endless switchbacks. Taking you into the Dry Lake Aid Station. If you have any running legs left at this point. This section and switch backs are incredibly long and flowy. And are great for running if your legs are up for it. Even at night. The trail will eventually take you down into the woods. Leading you to a tough little climb up to the Dry Lake aid station itself.
Dry Lake is also a crew access point. But having a vehicle with some clearance is recommended. Especially if there is any chance of rain.
Dry Lake to Olympian Hall Aid Station
At this point you will be heading towards the 50 mile mark. And this is a great section to either make up some time or let your legs recover for the long miles that are going to come late in the race. The trail here is mild to mid grade for the most part. With a few steep sections thrown in there for fun. As you descend you will be crossing the creek starting with bridge 15. And while I’m not sure if there are 15 bridges, it does feel like it. You will know you are getting close once you start seeing benches, then eventually the road, and the trail head that pops you out into town.
Here they will have people guiding you to the trail that leads you downtown. Where you will cross the main road. They have a volunteer pressing the crosswalk button as soon as they see runners coming to help speed up the process. Once you cross it’s a short paved section to Olympian Hall. Olympian Hall is a crew and pacer access point. With heating a plenty of space for runners. You will find a lot of people in here resting, recovering, and using the indoor bathrooms.
Olympian Hall to Lane of Pain Aid Station
You’re over half way there! We picked up our pacer and it was now time to keep pushing through the “Lane of Pain”. Now you may be asking, what is the Lane of Pain? This section consists of a fire road that climbs relentlessly while getting steeper as it goes. There is nothing too complicated. It just never feels like it flattens, it breaks the entire time. It’s a climb that would be memorable in most races. But in hindsight, this would only be a hill compared to what was still to come.
Lane of Pain is a limited aid station. Offering water a few small food options like chips and bananas.
Lain of Pain to Lane of Pain Aid Station
I’ll be honest. I don’t remember a lot about this section. I know it takes you up, down and around. I remember there being a few little pushes. But nothing memorable enough to stick in my memory. I’ll ask Kyle and fill this in if he has any notes as well.
Lain of Pain to Olympian Hall Aid Station
Leaving this aid station for the second time, you will be off to complete a long section taking you down the mountain. Consisting of long switchbacks that wind you the long way around and down. Spitting you out at the opposite side of the Olympian Hall aid station compared to where you started. This section wouldn’t be considered difficult but it did feel long. The switchbacks are designed for mountain bikes so have a steep berm and have you going off kilter. But besides that there is definitely some running that can be done on these sections.
From here, make sure to get fully fuelled and supplied at the aid station. You’re about to start heading into the teeth of this race. So it’s important to take full advantage of the Olympian Hall aid station.
Olympian Hall to Dry Lake Aid Station
Making your way through town and back to the trail is a bit of a surreal experience. For most people, this will happen at night. Adding to the strange feeling of leaving a city and heading into the mountains for your final 35+ mile push. It’s intimidating and I have a feeling Olympian Hall is where a lot of people dropped.
Once you make the actual trail, it should look familiar. You will be retracing your steps back up to Dry Lake. Crossing over the 15 bridges and slowly working your way up to the mountain. With no warning of the real climb that is coming in front of you.
Dry Lake to Billy’s Rabbit Hole Aid Station
The runners manual says the Fish Creek Falls section of the race is the hardest… I strongly debate this. And with every other runner we met having agreed, I’m going to assert that this is by far the hardest most technical section of the race. It’s not as long as the first climb. But it has sections as steep, consisting of rocks stacked at an angle for bikers to take downhill. Trust me when I say that this section will either make or break your race. So be ready for it.
Billy’s Rabbit Hole to Summit Lake Aid Station
Making it to Billy’s is a big accomplishment. The hard climb is out of your way. And while I wish I could say it was all downhill from here. This next section of the course is just a long rolling climb to Summit Lake. There isn’t anything particularly challenging about this section. But for me, this is where the miles started to feel long and slow. Making it a tough section mentally while being a somewhat needed break from the massive climb to the Rabbit Hole aid station.
Summit Lake to Long Lake Aid Station
With only two more aid stations after Summit Lake, the course takes you a different way than when you came into summit lake. Gone are the gentle grades and smooth back country road. Instead you will begin with a climb out of Summit lake and a series of rolling declines and inclines taking you over several passes. This section will take you 8 miles, and it will feel every inch of it. At this point I found myself wondering if they would ever take us downhill. A thought I would come to regret in a few miles.
Don’t take the weather for granite.
This is the highest section of the race and we made the mistake of leaving our raincoats and cold weather gear at the Summit Lake drop bag. Hoping to save every ounce of weight for the final miles. This would be a major mistake. 45 minutes out of Summit Lake aid station our run was interrupted with a bang in the distance. Drawing our eyes to a dark spot. And given the wind’s current direction, it was coming straight forward. Our perfect day with no rain in the forecast was turning into a hail storm at 10,500ft.
Kyle and I both knew we screwed up. And that without a word shared between us, we only had one choice. With no warm weather gear and the fear of a DNF in our hearts we took off running. Move to stay warm. We ran, and ran, and ran. And by the luck of mother nature, after about 20 minutes we saw the trail leading to the braking light in the distance. And knew if we could get there. It would be safe. Once in the sun, we knew we caught a break. I’m not sure how much longer we could have pushed in that cold weather.
If you take anything from this Run Rabbit Run 100 mile race report, learn from our mistake here. Always be prepared for mountain weather. Keep your rain protection on you!
Meeting a Legend
It’s not often you get to meet a running legend. And it’s even more rare to have them be even cooler than you thought. Oh, and they were volunteering at the aid station. Helping out the back of the pack runners struggling through the miles. Yes, I’m talking about Scott Jurek! How cool is this guy.
Long Lake to Mount Werner Aid Station
I would call this the longest 6 miles of mile life. Not the hardest. Not the most technical or with any particular part that is that bad. The miles just seem to go forever. And you will roll up and down 3-4 passes before you see the final climb to the Mount Warner aid station. And when you see it you will realize that they managed to throw in one last good climb before they send you down the mountain.
Mount Werner to the Finish Line
You’re almost there! Climbing into the last aid station is a great feeling. So make sure to load up on any food and water you might need for the 6 mile downhill that lays between you and the finish line. The course from here is simple. You will be following a dirt road down the mountain into town and the celebration awaiting you. It sounds a lot easier than it is. By this point your legs will most likely be toast. And 6 miles of steep downhill will be the final bout of torcher that the course will be throwing at you.
Poles would have helped
Both Kyle and I never trained with poles so we decided to not use them during the race. If I was doing it again I would have left poles in my Summit Lake drop bag. And used them strictly on the last downhill. They would have helped. And while I had some juice left, Kyle’s legs were shot and the downhill became a longer, more painful process than it would have been with poles.
Crossing the Finish and Post Race
Once you make your way off of the trail you will have a short (feels much longer than it is) run on some pavement before you enter the main resort and the fan fair that comes with finishing 100 miles. Take in the environment, cold beer, and amazing burgers. Thank your friends and family and make sure to enjoy this moment.
Aid Station Food & Drink
Below is a list of food and drinks featured at the aid stations. And While each aid station was different these were common at most:
- Cheese Quesadilla
- Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches
- Honey Stingers
- Gatorade Energy Gels
- Chicken Soup
Socks – AONIJIE Toe Socks
Trail Running Shoes – Hoka Speedgoat 5
Gaiters – Ultra Gaiters
Underwear – ADIDAS Midway Underwear
Shorts – BCG 5 Inch Running Shorts
Shirt – BCG Running Shirt
Arm Sleeves – Outdoor Essentials
Windbreaker – Patagonia Houdini
Rain Jacket – Marmot Water Proof Jacket
Sunglasses – Goodr
Buff – Random from Past Race
Beanie – Tough Headwear
Pack – Salomon 12 adv skin
HeadLamp – Black Diamond Storm 400
Hand Held Bottle – Nathan Handheld
The Next Day – Drop Bag Pickup
To get your drop bag from Summit Lake, most racers will be waiting until Sunday. The day after the race. For us picking up bags was a breeze. They had them at the Olympian aid station. And featuring one last stair climb, the hardest part was finding our bag in a sea of bags that look the same. So if you have a bright colored bag, bring it!
Final Thoughts – Run Rabbit Run 100 Mile Race Report
Being my first 100 mile race I don’t have a lot to compare this race to. But a couple of things do stand out. One, both Kyle and I are excited to do our next 100 miler. Two, Steamboat Springs is incredibly beautiful. Three, the volunteers are amazing. And four, this course is absolutely brutal. Weather of no weather, this is a beast of a 100 miles. Racing at elevation in the mountains is a special thing. And the Run Rabbit Run 100 gives you those special feelings in bunches.
So if you’re looking at 100 milers I can’t recommend this race enough. And if you’re already signed up. I hope this section by section Run Rabbit Run 100 mile race report helps you plan your race a little better.