Bob Gerenz won the Zumbro 100 April 13-14 by a whopping 2 seconds, setting a new course record in the process.
For starters, this was my first race at this distance. I put together a strategy. My crew and pacers were all dialed in. Then came race day. It was suppose to rain, but it held off. We all reported to the starting line. Race Director John Storkamp was getting everyone whipped up, the nerves were peaked, and then it just started.
As you most likely already know it was a 6 lap journey. My strategy was going through my mind, do this, and do that, stay within yourself. But the plan started to change after the first ¼ mile. I settled in to a pace with a group of runners that included Matt Aro, Joe Boler, Ed Sandor, Matt Lutz, Jason, and others. We maintained a nice pace. There was good conversation. It was really enjoyable. We moved in and out of aid stations and really got into a groove. As the first lap was completed I was ahead of pace, but felt great. It was a challenging course. There were many sections that you to keep an active mind, no dozing off.
As we progressed in to the second lap, the group got smaller. I still ran with Aro and Lutz and also Brian Ortell for a little while. But as time went on our little group dissolved, which meant prepare yourself for a lot of alone time. I had moved into second place. I was out of contact with first. And then as I was coming into the fourth aid station on the second lap I saw the leader. So, I knew where he was but at this time was not going to chase him. I just maintained. In the next couple of miles we met on the trail, chatted, and I moved into first. So, when the second lap was complete, I was in the lead. The day was still young and there were many miles to go.
I maintained my pace for the next couple of laps. My crew (wife –Sue, sister – LeAnn, cousin – Sandi, and my running group – “Foolish Soles”) did an awesome job at tending to my needs and keeping me focused. After lap 3, I started working with my pacers (Clay, Jen, and Gary). We made through the dark, thunderstorms, downpours, etc. They all did a fantastic job. Also, all of the aid station volunteers were awesome.
During laps 5 and 6, I wasn’t getting very accurate information as to where 2nd place was. Gary (pacer) and I were lead to believe that 2nd place was over 15 minutes behind us. We moved through aid station 4 on the 6th lap and headed for the finish, which was a little less than 3 miles away. With just over a ½ mile left, Gary and I were approaching the road from the single track and guy (Matt Aro) came up behind us and we let him go around. At the time I did not know who it was. There were a lot of people on the course (50 milers, lapped 100 milers). After he passed, I knew who it was, because I ran with him during the first and second lap. So, Gary, Matt, and I are off the single track and on to the road headed for the finish. We engaged in some chit chat as to how the race was going. Neither of us said what lap we were on. Finally, I asked Matt what lap he was on, and he said he was about to finish – he was on his 6th lap. I said ‘me too.’ And without a word my pacer, Gary, took off and I followed in behind him and Matt behind me.
We were running crazy down that road, everyone holding position. I was watching for land marks, the light from our head lamps bouncing everywhere. I was watching for 2 sign posts and the green gate, and everything came up so fast. We all held position (Gary, me, Matt). We past the green gate into the camping area and the finish was somewhere around 150 and 200 yards ahead of us. The finish was all lit up and Matt and I just ran and ran. I did not know how close he was. I just knew I had a step on him. We both continued to run crazy and in the end we were separated by 2 seconds. What a race. Matt is an excellent runner and competitor. It was an unreal way to end a 100 mile journey. Both of us as well as Joe Boler all finished ahead of the previous course record.
On his background, and how he found his way to Zumbro:
Up to a year ago, I was a road runner doing marathons (fulls and halfs). I started running Ultras 1 year ago. I did a couple of 50Ks then a 50 miler. I liked it. So in January a group of us (the “Foolish Sole” went to Bandera Texas and run a 50K or 100K. I did 100K. Shortly after, I decided that I needed to try the 100 mile distance and that’s when I registered for Zumbro.
I am sure that more will be registering for this race in the future. This event will grow in popularity and with that, the competition will get better. The current course record is only temporary.