2014 DWD Gnaw Bone Recap + Video Highlights

Gnawbone Feature

The second stop in the 2014 Running Fit Dances with Dirt (DWD) series was held in Brown County State Park, Nashville, Indiana on May 10th. One would think that a trail event in Indiana would be an easy run on flat trails. Wrong! Once again Randy Step (race director) and his Running Fit crew held an amazing event on some of the most beautiful and challenging trails in the Midwest.

We don't have this in Michigan just saying

We don’t have this in Michigan just saying

After dropping my gear bag off for the 21 mile aid station I went through my typical pre-race routine before the start and had enough time to hang out with some friends before toeing the line. Just as the sun was starting to shine it was 6:15am and the official GO was shouted. This wave of runners included 50 milers and 50Ks so right out of the start there were some runners that were definitely going to bring the heat for the day. I knew going into this race that I would have to work hard at finishing it as I’ve heard that the elevation gain of the 50 mile course is around 8000ft. The first half mile takes you on a dirt road then quickly you’re on single track and heading upwards on some wicked soft mud. Eventually the trail flattens out and hardens up and you are connected into the Brown County State Park trails. By mile 7 I quickly realized that the day’s effort would be a totally different experience than the Green Swamp DWD 50 mile in early March of the year.



While the terrain was incredibly brutal at times for this Michigander, the views of the valleys and the amazing ravines that you’d drop in on were absolutely breath taking.  As I was coming into the Fire Tower aid station (second gear drop site) I was at 21 miles and I decided to swap out my Salomon Mantra for my Salomon S-Lab XT-5 as I heard there was a section coming up that may require more traction. This was a good decision as from here on out as the day unfolded the morning rain that we endured for a solid hour would provide some adventurous trail conditions. There is a section (two to be exact) that definitely earns the DWD tradition for a true challenge as you’re basically on all fours climbing up a side of a hill and grabbing anything you see so you don’t lose your footing.  If you have ever ran the Vertigo leg in the DWD Hell relay, this section in Gnaw Bone is Vertigo’s mother.  Twice as long and twice as hard.


Gotta have fun and smile when it’s pouring rain!

As the day went on so did the miles. I broke up the mind game into 5 mile sections. Every 5 miles I would make sure I was eating and also I would reward myself (if you call it that) a half mile walk even if it was on a downhill. The humidity though was climbing at one point and was literally sucking everything out of me. When I ran in Florida in March, I filled my 70oz Camelbak bladder in my Ultimate Direction SJ vest and still had some water left when I was finished. This race was different though as I ended up filling the bladder again during the race plus I finished off a couple 20oz bottles of Gatorade. The only time I felt light headed though was towards the end so I felt that I was staying ahead of hydration. At the Playground aid station (mile 45) I sat down for a solid minute to take in some more calories plus some Mountain Dew. From here on the trail conditions were twice as hard as they have been all day (if that is even possible). For the next 3 miles the trail was pretty flat but during that time we had another quick storm cloud roll through and the skies opened up with some heavy rain. While this made the terrain even worse, it was a joint to my system and cooled me down just enough that I would push for the last section as fast as I could.

Yup, these sucked!

Yup, these sucked!

I quickly checked into the last aid station with my number and proceeded to attempt to knock out the final 2.8 miles as quick as I could manage. This was harder than I thought it would be. The aid station was called Nosebleed and I found out why. Some sections were -10 to -15% grade on some slippery mud along with rocks and boulders randomly placed. I’ve heard from friends leading up to the race that while you’re coming back to the finish the course takes you through a creek so you’re nice and ‘clean’ for the finish. At this point I was hoping they were correct as I really wanted to cool off.


Mud any one?


Rinse and repeat

Rinse and repeat

With the sounds of the DJ and crowd in the distance, along the way was the creek I heard of. The markings would take you alongside and through the middle of it. Yes, it felt good and yes I may have slowed a bit during this section to just cool down. As I exited the creek and made a couple turns onto the trail I could see the familiar DWD finish line arch. My friend that paced me in my first hundred mile race last year was the first person I recognized and high fived as I rolled out of the brush and headed for the line. Along the way I noticed my wife and boys jumping up and down as they cheered me on.



I did it. I survived the Gnaw Bone 50 mile race +.6 miles as I did get lost at one point due to the not watching the flags but rather checking out the amazing views. Definitely not a PR in distance time but a personal best on the toughest terrain this Michigan native has ever experience (15th overall, 1st in AG with a time of 10:48:25). Would I go back? Definitely but some hill repeats are in store for my training before I set foot in Gnaw Bone, IN again.


Now it’s time to recover, continue my training for my fall 100 mile target race (Running Fit Woodstock Hallucination 100) and begin to start planning for the third stop in the DWD series, Devil’s Lake in Merrimac, WI on July 12th. See you there!


 Gear on the Run

One Comment on “2014 DWD Gnaw Bone Recap + Video Highlights

  1. Pingback: 2015 Yankee Springs Winter Challenge 50K + Video Recap - VanLoo Running

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