SPRUCE WOODS PROVINCIAL PARK — When Dale Wohlgemuth crossed the finish line, the evidence he just ran 100 miles wasn’t obvious.
Sure, he was moving a little slow but he was barely sweating as an enormous grin spread across his chapped, deep red face.
"I’ll be a little sore tomorrow," he said, smiling at his understatement.
Wohlgemuth, 52, began the race at noon on Friday from the start line at Epinette Creek Trail at Spruce Woods Provincial Park and finished just after 5 p.m. Saturday, braving the incredible stress of running nearly four back-to-back marathons, on no sleep, with little food, through the -2 C temps brought by the mid-spring night.
Wohlgemuth was one of eight runners who completed the 100-mile ultra marathon during the third annual Spruce Woods Ultra, which included the gruelling overnight run for the first time, as well as a 50-mile, 50-kilometre and half marathon runs.
Six 100-mile racers buckled and didn’t complete.
"It’s a big mental game, there is pain and there’s going to be tiredness, but I feel pretty good," Wohlgemuth said just minutes after his 29-hour journey, which was met with a modest fanfare from a sleepy crowd as the last of the approximately 130 runners trickled in. Cow bells were used sparingly to let sleeping babies lie.
Wohlgemuth, from Landmark, started running nine years ago in an effort to shed some weight and get healthy, a decision which got him to run a half marathon. "It was too easy."
This was the first attempt at the 100-mile run after running 85 miles in October.
Race director Dwayne Sandall said it’s a very emotional experience for him to see runners cross the finish line.
"I get choked up when they come though," he said.
"So much of it is all in the head. You have to have some training to back it up, but you have to have the right headspace to persevere."
The 100-mile race, entirely on the park’s trail system, consisted of three 33-mile loops, with aid stations roughly every nine kilometres throughout the course, serving up gels, gummy bears, baked potatoes, peanut butter and jam wraps, and drinks and other quick eats.
Racers generally took about five minute breaks but were warned ahead of time of potential heckling if they hung around for too long.
"The trail network here is fantastic, it’s a diverse network, they’re challenging. People think Manitoba, they think it’s going to be flat," Sandall said.
It’s not. There is a rough total of 3,500 feet of climbing per lap, he said.
"In my opinion, you want to have a challenge, a challenge you can enjoy at some twisted level."
Brandon’s Juraj Karcak was the talk of the trail Saturday afternoon after winning the 100-mile event with a blistering time of 19 hours, 43 minutes and 42 seconds.
Also from Brandon, Bert Blackbird clocked in at 25:23:54, Scott Lamont at 27:48:05 and Wawanesa’s Brian Weige crossed the line after 24:59:02 of running.
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