Editor’s note: This is part three of a four-part story that chronicles Frank Piner’s attempt to complete a 100-mile run in Alabama known as the Pinhoti Endurance Run. Piner, a 2009 Nevada Union graduate, enlisted in the Navy in 2012 with the intent of becoming a Navy SEAL. He decided a 100-mile run would give him a taste of what training and mental toughness would be needed to be successful as a SEAL. He searched for the most difficult 100-mile run he could sign up for, and the 2013 Pinhoti 100 in Alabama’s Talladega Forest was it. This is his story.
We crossed more rivers and ran over another bridge, and I could tell we were on the side of a hill again but due to it being so dark out, I could not see a thing.
Along that we met a nice lady by the name of Alissa Draper. I talked with her while we ran and found out she just got out of the Army after five years. Then we came to the next aid station, mile 47. They said it was only three miles to the next aid station. I refueled my camelback, as I had been doing between every aid station with water.
The rest of the group wanted to go to the next aid station since it was only three more miles. So we continued along. My buddy, Svenson, was now starting to get tired, stiff and sore.
We were walking along on some of the flats. We had now run three miles as Draper reported from her GPS, and there was no aid station. We were looking for other runners and markers and did not see many. We knew we just passed a marker about 150 feet back but had not seen one yet. Vanhoy went to look while we waited for a few minutes and we discovered we were on track.
We went on and after 4.2 miles, we reached the next aid station around 52 miles. I got some more food and found out Draper’s mom was there. She was very nice and gave me a ham sandwich, which was good. Draper also advised me to put on some Icy Freeze on my legs and rubbed it on for me. I was very cautious on where to or not to place the Icy Freeze because I never used that before in a training run. It turned out to work out well. I had been getting sore by then and it felt good. I started taking salt tablets as well and we continued on. Draper, Svenson, our new pacer Gutchmidt and I started again.
We were going along on a fire road and Draper and I just kept running together. We talked about running, what she did in the Army, where she had been deployed and about cross fit. I guess she had only done cross fit and ran five miles a day training for this. However, she also ran a 50-mile race two weekends ago and had done a 126.2 mile race, as well. She guaranteed me that this would not be my last 100; I would sign up for another in about 3-12 months, and that these are addicting in a sense.
We now were coming up to the aid station and mile 57. Svenson and his pacer were behind us, and as I reached that aid station, I learned from the rest of his crew that my other friend Berthelson tripped at mile 43 and suffered a minor concussion, along with messing up his right ankle and knee. He kept running from mile 43 to mile 58, throwing up along the way before dropping out at mile 58.
I was sad to hear about the news but was not all that surprised, as I had tripped 20 or so times along the way. Draper got a few caffeine pills from her mom and advised me to take them to keep from hallucinating later on in the night. I took two and then two salt tablets and we started running again. I was not to worried about my other friend because he had his crew with him. It was now Draper, the trail and I. She warned me that miles 60-70 would be her hardest miles due to that point in the race and that time of night. We ran on and talked some more. We were back on the single track and then back off onto a fire road.
At this time, when I was on the fire road, I had the weirdest thing happen. I had the feeling that I was running downhill but the road looked like it was going up. I could not tell what was going on. Later Draper had the same thing happen to her. We ran together for a ways and made it to aid station at mile 65. We had three miles to the next one. It was now 12:45 a.m. Sunday morning. We needed to be to the next aid station by 2:31 a.m. to make the cut-off time, then we would have our last tough mountain to climb.
We took off with the intent to run at a 15-minute-mile pace. However, it started off up hill, which we did not expect. We were going about a 21-minute-mile pace and Draper was getting sick. She said she was afraid we would not make it. I motivated her with kind words and visions of getting there in time. We kept on going and got there with about 20 minutes to spare.
After getting more food and filling up the camelback again, I saw Vanhoy and said a quick hi to him. Draper had gone to her mom’s car to change and I went down to meet her after I refueled again.
I had spent roughly five minutes at each aid station with her. We planned out our pace to get to the top of the hill; her mom said she would meet us at aid station 15.
Check back Saturday for the conclusion of Piner’s attempt to tame the Pinhoti Endurance Run.