RUNable Race Review: Death By 5k Challenge
A Running Glance:
Things I loved
- Unique 24-hour challenge
- Support & comradery out of this world!
- Handmade custom medals created by a RunStrong member & participant
Things I less than loved
- Sleep deprivation
- Near-death experience (HA!)
Ten 5ks in 24 hours?? They say, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” I don’t know about that, but “what doesn’t kill you” definitely gives you a great story to tell! And the Death By 5k Challenge certainly did not disappoint in that regard. The challenge to run a 5k every 2.5 hours across a 24-hour period is one I will NEVER forget!! It was truly a unique experience; read on for a glimpse inside how it all went down.
Ultra-distance race registration – $45.
Near-death experience – PRICELESS!
At only $45 for an Ultra, I’d say this price is on the minimal end. I believe the Race Director (RD) at RunStrong, Jeremy Jungling, probably barely broke even between all the grub, cool medals, t-shirts, and time that was spent planning, promoting and “supervising” participants for 24-hours non-stop. The event started at 8 a.m. on Saturday with the first 5k. Participants then ran a 5k every 2.5 hours, for a total of TEN 5ks, with the last one starting at 6:30 a.m. on Sunday morning. 31 miles for $45? That’s less than $1.50 a mile!! What. A. Bargain.
Huge shout out to my buddy, Rod Simmons of Rod’s Racers for coming by to point and laugh, I mean … take these awesome pics of the DB5K-ers. Thanks, Rod!! You rock.
The t-shirt was 100% cotton, but a very thin, light-weight version. The brand was Very Important Tee by District, which I’ve never heard of before now. It’s a little long (I’m five foot two, so …) but the color is a nice army green. The “Death By 5k” logo is displayed predominantly across the center front and the back only contains the RD’s logo printed just below the neckline, which is really nice. A race shirt NOT riddled with sponsor logos? I didn’t even know that was a thing!
The finish line was a simple set up in the parking lot of RunStrong. There were several cones with pennant flags hung between to welcome you back to headquarters (HQ) ALL TEN TIMES. Local television station WLBT was there to see us off on 5k #1, and they even came back to film the last 5k and conducted some post-race interviews. Check out both of those news clips below.
RunStrong is also conveniently located right beside a Dollar General (Dolla Gentral for some of y’all) so there were many, many participants who patronized the store to pick up forgotten items and things you absolutely had no idea you’d ever in a million years need. I know the store’s employees, along with the majority of the general population, certainly thought we had lost our minds. And I don’t disagree.
Did you know? The medals were Old Cotton Woodshop originals! (If you were lucky enough to earn one, hang on to it – it’s bound to be worth something someday!) The gentleman who created these (Mr. Tim Townsend, himself!) is not only an all-around great guy, father, husband, and runner, he also has a pretty cool woodworking hobby and loves to take on unique projects his favorite running friends think up. The medals turned out pretty cool, and I really love that with the hand-painted finish, no two are alike. Check out a little video below that Tim put together showcasing the DB5K medal-making-process.
Here’s a handy-dandy link to Tim’s website, FB and IG pages as well. Go give this fella a like or a follow or a high-five. Not only did he painstakingly create every one of these medals, but he also finished the 31-mile event right alongside us! If that’s not badass, I just don’t know what is.
There were several volunteers helping with packet pick-up pre-race. My sweet little Jack Russell Terrier, affectionally known as “Nora the Explorer” also “volunteered” to run two 5ks with me! (See, I told you she was sweet!) It was really awesome to share a few laps with my favorite little 4-legged running buddy. This pup loves to run, and despite the heat and hills, she finished her 6.2 miles like a champ. Nora enjoyed licking a peanut butter jar lid as her reward. Sometimes, it’s the little things, people.
The course itself was an “out and back” that ran about 1.5 miles down Spillway Road from RunStrong HQ to just before the Reservoir Fire Department (Station #1). We passed the Turtle Point Nature Area, which is located between Turtle Creek and Forest Point subdivisions off Spillway Road. This area includes a little kayak pier and short walking trail, but also a nice little view of Pelahatchie Bay. A section of the DB5K course was on the trail and when that ran out, the remainder of the route took participants down the “scenic drive” that runs parallel with Spillway Road.
Course Difficulty: LEVEL 5
Now, I rated this course a FIVE on my course difficulty scale, not so much because the 5k course itself is that bad. The course does have a few rolling hills and then one doozy of an incline there at the end. But ONE 5k on this route would garner only a median difficulty level on my scale. However, TEN, spread across 24 hours equals LEVEL FIVE BABY! This is the first (and could possibly be the only) time I’ve ever issued a LEVEL FIVE in my race review career. I very, very naively underestimated just how difficult this race would be. Silly me thought that once the sun went down, the 5ks would get easier. (This theory is downright laughable NOW.)
For some reason, my brain didn’t register that by the time the temperature dropped outside I would be 15.5 miles in and ready for bed. I also didn’t account for just how mentally tough it would be to stay up all night, depleted from the day, but all the while still demanding another 15.5 miles out of my body. I can honestly say that I was delirious by the time it was over, and it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. (Aside from childbirth. And marriage. And adulting in general. Okay, okay, it was the hardest race I’ve ever done. That’s more accurate.)
There were no aid-stations on course. However, there were plenty of snacks and food being served throughout the day and night at HQ. We had pancakes for breakfast, grilled hamburgers for lunch, and crockpot BBQ pork sandwiches for dinner. I also remember eating the most delicious cheese quesadillas fresh off the griddle at some point, but (see aforementioned delirium) I can’t recall exactly when that occurred. In addition to all the food and snacks, cold water, electrolyte salt capsules, and Tailwind samples (hydration & recovery) were all available to everyone all day and all night as well.
Parking was right on-site and plentiful. There were proper facilities inside HQ and a porta-potty available right outside as well. Many participants set up “camp” in the grassy area across the parking lot, complete with tents and chairs, or some chose to cat-nap in their cars between 5ks. I opted to “rest” inside RunStrong. (In the AC – hardcore, I know.) Twice I fell asleep for about 20 minutes, once before the 4 a.m. round and again before the 6:30 a.m. 5k. I was startled awake both times by Jeremy’s bellowing “15 Minute Warning” call. Dragging myself up off my pallet and willing myself to put my stinky, wet running clothes back on after so little sleep was difficult and truly posed a challenge.
I ran the first five 5ks. I walk/ran intervals during #6, walked #7, walk/ran #8 and #9 and then walked #10. I spent some time that last lap talking with my buddies, Nelson & Amanda, as we reflected on the gravity of what had just happened. Up until this event, I had never run more than a Half Marathon, aside from running 15.5 miles on a relay team at Fondren Urban Ultra this past April. (That was five 5ks across 12 hours. So, the DB5K was just that, ya know, DOUBLED.) Looking back on the days and weeks leading up to the event, it never crossed my mind that I wouldn’t finish or that it wasn’t at all totally doable. I think some odd defense mechanism kicked in where I truly didn’t allow myself to think too much about it or apply any logic or common sense to the situation. #HighLevelFun #RunStrong #RUNable
I met the RD, Jeremy Jungling, about two and a half years ago. At the time, I had just left a very stressful position at a state agency, and I was in the market for a serious career change. During my job search, I repeatedly received signs that pointed me to a local running shoe store in Flowood called StinkyFeet Athletics (SFA). I finally broke down and set up a meeting with the store’s manager (Jeremy) and told him, “This is going to sound crazy, BUT…” Man-o-man, that would be the first of countless times I would turn to Jeremy over the years to come and say, “This is going to sound crazy, BUT…”! Haha. Jeremy and I worked on many events together at SFA, and even after I moved on from there, and Jeremy followed suit and started RunStrong, we have maintained our “co-worker” status through the monthly $5 5k. (SFA eventually bit the big one without us — may he R.I.P.) I consider Jeremy my coach (even though I don’t always listen or read his emails), and I certainly call RunStrong home and its members my RunFam. You’ll never find a more knowledgeable, down-to-earth, dedicated friend/ co-worker/ cheerleader/ coach/ race director. Hey, Jeremy, this is going to sound crazy, BUT… thanks for putting on the Death By 5k Challenge. Until the next event …
Follow RunStrong on FB and IG so you’ll be sure to know what these guys are up to next! Maybe you can have a little near-death experience of your own some time, or just a little high-level fun, as we call it. #ButDidYouDie