Q & A With Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile Finisher Erik Kennemer

Erik Kennemer Rocky Raccoon 100 2021 Race Report Team Dirt and Vert

One of the inaugural North Texas Team Dirt and Vert members completed his first 100 mile ultra at Rocky Raccoon on February 7-8, 2021

We asked Erik a few questions about the event and his takeaways.

Congratulations to Erik and we look forward to seeing you cover many miles leading up to your next ultra.

Tell us all about your first 100M race. Was it what you expected?

I lucked out with excellent weather, perfect trail conditions and pacers that were beyond seasoned and skilled. I knew going in that it would start out as a running love fest and devolve into misery, nailed that prediction.. The first loop I probably went out a bit too fast and couldn’t shut up, wanted to chat with everybody… THAT eventually ceased to be the case..Waves of emotion would ease over me out of nowhere and then subside, I’d like to avoid the rollercoaster analogy but… What I didn’t expect is that I felt relatively mentally alert the entire time, I had expected to be out of my head towards the end.

What was your longest race distance prior and what made you choose this race?

Crazy Desert 100k was my longest race prior to Rocky which I ran last March. Rocky has had a special place in my heart for a long time, I paced a good buddy “guess who” there 9 years ago at his first 100 miler and have returned to crew for another good buddy “guess who” a number of times. I had no doubts where I wanted to earn my first big buckle.

How did you train and how did the pandemic impact your training or race preparation?

I try to “stay ready to get ready” year round but started training in earnest 16 weeks out. I’m fortunate to be surrounded by strong knowledgeable runners that I can turn to for advice and guidance, no reaching out to the faceless Twitterverse here. Early in the training I maintained what some would consider conservation mileage 40-45 a week and towards the end ramped up to 60-65 mile weeks averaging 30 miles during the week with one day focused on hill work and back to back long trail runs on the weekends. The monotony of my weekday solo runs really made me appreciate the company of my Dirt and Vert brethren on the weekends as well as an occasional after work jaunt at one of their organized runs. The PANDI honestly didn’t effect my training much, I run super early during the week and would run with the same small and trusted circle on the weekends.. Mainly it just gave me anxiety about race cancellation.

In hindsight, what would you have done differently in training or race execution?

My race went really well and I’m honestly pleased with the quality of work I put in. I’ve crossed a lot of finish lines but there are few races that I feel I did well and honestly this was my best effort. I asked for advice from those with experience, I listened, implemented and was consistent. I’m chaos incarnate and thesis NOT typical for me. Execution wise I was uncharacteristically organized leading up to it and stuck to my plan regarding not burning time at aid stations and the start finish each time. I probably should have grazed a little more when I did pass through just to break up the monotony of eating the same thing mile after mile after mile. Towards the end I just didn’t want to eat and I’m sure I was low on calories.

Any advice or words of wisdom for runners considering their first 100M?

My advice to anyone considering tackling a hundred would be to seek the sage council of those who are experienced and be consistent in your training. Listen to your body, adjust activities as needed and know that rest and recovery are extremely important. During the race if something is irritating / bothering you, make adjustments immediately.. That rock in your shoe or the hotspot on you naughty bits isn’t going to fix itself. Lastly, don’t go in it thinking you can just “wing it”…

Now that you’ve completed your first 100M, what’s next for 2021.

I haven’t picked the “next” yet, for now I’m just enjoying running because I want to and looking forward to cycling season but I KNOW there will be next… I’m of course going to throw my hat in the ring for that loooooong shot chance for a Western States slot which because it scares the hell out of me it could actually happen…. Plus I hear it would drive a certain someone absolutely INSANE “guess who” if I got in with my first ticket.