Brandon's (and his family's)Big Adventures

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Dances with Dirt Hell 50 something Race Report

Posted on September 25th, 2011 by Brandon

Dances with Dirt Hell 50 something Race Report

What the heck is the race course markers smoking when they marked the Ultra Marathon course for Dances with Dirt Hell?  I should have know there was something funny in the air left over from the Hallucination run just 2 weeks ago on some of the same trails.  I didn’t see any stoned hippies passed out in the woods, but it would not have been any surprise.  The race paperwork includes a liability waver that really means “Death or serious injury is likely”.  My kind of race.  For me its the second DWD race that I have ran in this year.  The first being DWD Green Swamp where I really enjoyed 50 miles of fun trail running with minor “Stupid” added into the course.  That was Heaven, This was HELL!

Darkness was upon us as we arrived at the Half Moon Lake public access, where there was less than a half moon in the sky.  More like a sliver hiding behind the clouds, but they can’t have everything perfect.  Fall temperatures made the morning cool and LED head lamps didn’t do a thing to warm up the area.  Ben VanHoose “The winner of DWD Green Swamp” joined me for the ride down and that had to be the best part of the entire adventure.  Ben volunteered at an aid station to pass the hours waiting for me.  As Ben left me to help, I stood around waiting for the pre-race jitters to start.  They never really did.  I ran into John Yohe a fellow barefoot runner at the start and wasted the next 25 minutes talking everything barefoot.  He agreed to run with me for a few miles with the understanding he could leave me in the dust at any point.

Barefoot John Yohe and I, Dances with Dirt

Barefoot John Yohe and I, Dances with Dirt

Start of DWD Hell 2011

Start of DWD Hell 2011

1 minute before the Start of DWD Hell 2011

1 minute before the Start of DWD Hell 2011

This ultra run started off like every race Running Fit puts on… No one at the start line.  We all hung back and moved up only when told to.  Its not like Grand Rapids where there are thousands fighting for a starting spot.  We all just gather and go.  Most people started out in their right spots because I never ran up on a slower group.  I was passed by like 20 people in 5 miles, but they just didn’t want to start further up front.  NOTE: I WAS THE SLOW GROUP!  John and I ran through Hell Creek Ranch together where I lost him when “Nature Called”.  Being this was the second time I lost track of John I just let him go on ahead.  I had used up too much energy catching up to him when I had to stop to drink Boost after the first hour of running.  Eight minute miles on road sapped me of a lot of go juice.  Losing John wasn’t so bad once I caught up to Jeremy Haggerman.  Jeremy was running his first 50 miler and him and I had gone to Lansing Community College together.  He was running well and I did my best to keep up with him when he was moving well.  We ran for about an hour and then he was gone too.  Running with people is what keeps me going well.

Unplanned "Stupid" on Dances with Dirt Hell

Unplanned "Stupid" on Dances with Dirt Hell

The trail to this point was a mix of trails, gravel road, and grass.  “Stupid” hadn’t really started except for a few bush whacking sections.  Ben was a blessing to see and after seeing him is where things started getting tough.  My nutrition for the day seemed to be working, but I couldn’t get my hips in check.  The hills of course don’t help, but I knew the wheels were coming off earlier today than ever before.  Running through Hell Creek Ranch for the second time messed with my brain.   I read the map so many times and didn’t remember that fact.  I didn’t stop long and was messed up even more when Bruce Langlois a Lowell resident came up past me in the aid station.  He is a fast marathoner who is now behind me, and now passed me.  Was I running that stupid before.

"The stripper pole" DWD Hell

"The stripper pole" DWD Hell

Sections like “The Striper Pole” met us just before Hell Creek Ranch.  I hope the video gives you a glimpse of just how “hard” this race was…  (Don’t look directly at the Man’s shorts in front of my camera)


After Hell Creek Ranch the only thing to look forward to is “The River” right?…  Coming down a hill and seeing people cross the river in front of you is great, then stepping in the cold water is nice, the first time.  The second time I almost fell in, and the Third time ended with a Leg Bone on shore!  What the Hell did I sign up for.  I justified it by thinking the trail freshly cut along the river was in place of running the river because its so cold out.  NOT!  After running through more trail followed by a muddy bog, you step back out into the river for a forth time.  Oh wait, its now 1/4 mile upstream against the flow to Hell, Michigan.

Name that Bone- DWD Hell

Name that Bone - Bank of River

"Stupid" bogg before you get to the river to wash it all off

"Stupid" bogg before you get to the river to wash it all off


You are greeted by a Man dressed as Satan and a not so attractive chick dressed as his girl friend.

Satan and His bride - Dances with Dirt Hell

Satan and His bride - Dances with Dirt Hell

The best part is all the people that were laid out as corpses in the aid station.. Oh those were real!  For the second time today I was asked where Gnarly my Ultra running Giraffe was.  It was sad leaving him home, but I was afraid of him getting muddy and wet from “Stupid”.  I changed socks, wrung out my Moc3′ s and restocked my back pack for the last 9 miles of my day.  I was sorta okay when I left Hell and headed for the trail.  It didn’t take long and the mental battle began.  I don’t know if it was demons that followed me, or just common sense.  As I ran/walked through more “Stupid” areas of deer trail that had been abandoned by the four legged creatures years ago do to how “Stupid” the trail were my mind collapsed on me.  What could I be doing at home?  What did I have to prove by running 50 miles wired shut?  Where could I find what the race director was smoking?  All these thought battled throughout the remaining miles.  I came into Silver Lake access without much hope, took two swigs of Coke, and then was cursed by the Porta John.  Sitting never helps in an Ultra despite the relief inside, the legs hated me for sitting.  I left the aid station without much hope.  The familier trails that I had ran in the spring didn’t help either.  As I ran the downhills, walked the uphills and whined to myself about my legs cramping up, the miles slowly trickled by.  There wasn’t anyone to talk to, and I was passed way more than my mind could handle.  I ran the last 5 miles in pure mental disarray.  I convinced myself that there was no point to running 19 more miles of “Stupid” after I had the choice to peel off and finish 50K.

I continued to run, and at no point anything about 50 miles seemed remotely a good idea, so my wife’s voice came through “Don’t do anything Stupid” and I listened (First Time for everything).  I ran hard to the finish and didn’t feel like a failure for only completing a 50K.  I finished 2 Ultra Marathon’s with my Jaw wired shut and it didn’t matter what distance they were.

Ben was there to great me and support me.  After picking up my unused drop bag at the 40 mile aid station we headed for home never looking back at my decision.  I was safe and headed home to have fun with the family and friends.  It was a great race and I would run it again just to see all the other “Stupid” I missed on the remaining 19 miles.
More stupid like this:

Dances with Dirt Hell Race Info can be found at: http://www.dwdhell.com

I ran the race in Soft Star Shoes- Moc3  They worked so well instead of changing into a pair of Vibram Trecs after running through the river I rung the out changed my socks and kept running in them.  I was sad that I didn’t get a chance to wear my Run Branca’s on the trail, but they will be there for me next time.

A full review of the Moc3 shoes will be on the blog in a few days.

Mercy Run – 8 Miles in Run Branca Sandals

Posted on September 25th, 2011 by Brandon

Mercy Run – 8 Miles in Run Branca Sandals

Run number 6 of 7 races with the wired jaw was the Mercy Run in Greenville, Michigan.  As a fund raiser for the homeless and hungry of Montcalm County I couldn’t resist to run this race.  It was also the inaugural race on the newly complete Fred Meijer Flat River trail that encircles the city of Greenville.  Everything about this race felt right going into it.  A hometown advantage of sorts since this is a community I have served as a Paramedic for over 8 years.  My wife and her friend Sara decided to run this as well the week leading up to the race.  Going into the race I figured there would be a lot of local runners, because I saw the entries at the Lowell Pink Quiver run and had heard about it for at least 2 months.  I was surprised at the small turnout.

Mercy Run - Greenville, MI

Mercy Run - Greenville, MI

We arrived 45 minutes early and walked into the Have Mercy center and was greeted personally by the Race Director and many of his awesome volunteers.  Do to the local papers article about raising food by running 50 miles they treated me like a celebirty including a photo with the race director and Bib #1 which was saved for me.  The attention was overwhelming, but appreciated.  I was also asked to sign my first autograph on a copy of the article that they had saved out as inspiration.  Their ministry relates to the food drive and they understand and live the need.  I appreciate them and what they do everyday to impact Montcalm County.

First Autograph

The race participants gathered at the end of the drive way and there were maybe 30 people starting the 8 mile race with a smaller group in the 5K fun run, and one relay team.  Being its first year the Race Director did a great job marking the course, timing the event, and having very cheerful volunteers.

Mercy Run Start - Greenville, MI

Mercy Run Start - Greenville, MI

Paved bike trail for 7 miles with a lap around Baldwin lake was the make up of the entire course.  One hill greeted us about 2 miles into the course and it was a welcome sight as it looked out over a beautiful field where some of the runners saw deer and other wild life.

Fred Meijer Flat River Trail - Open Field

Fred Meijer Flat River Trail - Open Field

Choosing a pair of shoes for this race was tough.  I wanted to run the race barefoot, but with so many unknowns and the fear of blisters from running too fast with bad form I choose to test out new foot coverings.  Run Branca running sandals are my second pair of running sandals this summer.  I found the sandals on another site where they were part of a giveaway.  I didn’t win the giveaway, but was interested in them to run in so I purchased a pair to try out.  I recieved the Run Branca Sandals on Friday and customized them to my feet just 8 hours before the race.  They come pre-laced and just need to be cut to the correct length based on a marker outline of your feet.  I donned them and tied them a little differently than advertized and toed the line.  The tread on the sandals makes them great for trail, but also great for asphalt.  After the intiall “Are you going to run in those?” people just saw the bottoms as I ran.  The feeling of running in sandals went away after about 1/2 mile.  It feels different in a good way.  The fresh air keeps the feet cooled and free.  There wasn’t the flopping noise that I so despised with the other sandals I tried this summer.

Run Branca Sandals- How not to tie them

Run Branca Sandals- How not to tie them

The thickness of the Branca’s is what makes them different.  They are made of 5mm Vibram Newflex sole which is the newest sole from makers of the five finger shoes.  The harder less flexable sole makes it perfect for sandals because it doesn’t take trade ground feel for protection, but also doesn’t flop under your feet.  It also wasn’t designed as a “rock guard” like the sole of the Five Fingers.  It just works.  As I ran the strap across the ankle worked well to hold the foot in place on the sandal.  Its flexibility does allow for some movement of the foot on top of the rubber sole.  This was the only area I had issues.  I tied the shoes behind the ankle leaving the top of my foot to move and that in turn allowed for too much movement.  My toes blistered the end of the sandals as they rubbed back and forth.  I will take responsibility for these do to not following directions for tying across the top of the foot which limits the amount of forward movement.

Run Branca Sandals - Traction

Run Branca Sandals - Traction

Run Branca- Back of Sandal

Run Branca- Strap across Back of Sandal

Run Branca Sandals- Minimalist Running shoe

Run Branca Sandals

Running 8 miles in the sandals seamed effortless.  Weighing only 3.8 oz’s is like running in socks and the sole protects your feet from the ground.  I would recommend them for running trail, roads, or beach.  They allow the feet to breath,  allow for more ground feel than many of the other minimalist shoes on the market, and will last a runner a long time.   They look better for the beach and other casual wearing as well.  The professional look and logo on the back make them look more like a commonly acceptable sandal and less like a cut piece of tire strapped to your foot by leather.

Finishing the 8 mile in 1 hour 1 minute was incredible.  Running hard for over an hour with my jaw wired shut is getting easier and with only one race to go it makes me ponder on how much faster I could be without the wires.  I didn’t win an age group medal or anything, but was very happy with the time and the experience of running for such a great cause.

For more information on Run Branca Sandals check out their website at http://www.runbranca.com/

Sarah edging out Emily at the Finish

Sarah edging out Emily at the Finish

Congratulations to Sarah for getting 3rd place in her age group!  It was her first 8 mile race.

Pink Arrow Quiver Run – 10K Barefoot

Posted on September 11th, 2011 by Brandon

Pink Arrow Quiver Run – 10K Barefoot

 

Brandon Mulnix Family

My family

Pink Arrow Pride is a huge deal in Lowell,Michigan.  Over the past four years the community has raised over a million dollars by turning the town pink.  Last year one of their fund raising additions was adding the Quiver 5K.  A year later the organizer added a 10K and a kids run.  The community really showed up today to support this run.  With over 85 runners in the 10k and 244 in the 5K walk/run the organizers must be proud. 

Todd McMyler - Saranac High School

Todd and I went to High School together

 I signed up for the 10K earlier this week with the idea of running for the 4th consecutive weekend since my jaw surgery.  The night before my wife decided to run it as well.  My daughter would join us to run the 1K fun run.   To wake up at 6:30 on a Saturday does get old, but worth it when its for a good cause.  We arrived at 7:15am to so many familiar faces.  There were so many people running that I didn’t know ran.  Many signed up for the 10K!  My wife got registered and I picked up my packet.  I was hoping for a Pink shirt like the flier let on to, but it ended up being a white long sleeved.  As temperatures fall I will appreciate their decision for long sleeve.  As I walked around in my Invisible Shoe Sandals I got many of the same questions I got during the Labor Day run, “Are you going to run in those? (Insert a slight hint of judgment added in).  I took advantage of knowing most of the people who were asking and replied “No way I am not running in these I am running barefoot” (Insert Sarcasm).

 This race had many great attributes.  The first being a professional sound system that you could hear and a local Radio DJ to do the professional announcements.  The safety and course instructions were clear and planned out like they were reading a script.  The 85 runners gathered at the start line ready to run.  Hanging out at the start with people I see daily was really refreshing.  One girl stood out when she asked “Isn’t running barefoot not good for you?”  I appreciated the question, but didn’t know how to answer in an about to start manner. 

Pink Arrow Quiver 10k 2011

Waiting to start the 10K

 A number of local celebrities joined us in the race.  We had the Lowell Red Arrow Football coach, a Boston Marathon Qualifier, that one guy, my sister in law (in certain circles she is famous), and that guy who ran 50 miles with his jaw wired shut.  I was fortunate enough to run with the Football coach as we started and ran with him (around him) for the first 2 miles.  The course was asphalt for the first 3 ½ miles.  Some of the asphalt was horrible for my bare feet.  I found the road patches were the smoothest to run on.  It was a great learning experience since most of my barefoot runs are on smooth fresh asphalt.  By the time I got to the 2 mile turn around I decided to increase my pace and start working my way through the runners.  It was nice catching fast runners. 

 

Brandon Mulnix, Pink Arrow Quiver 2011

Narly Asphalt

The pavement paused for the next 2 miles as we ran on the WittenbachWege Center trails.  This is where the 5K walkers and the 10K runners mixed.  I was proud at how respectful the 5K walkers and runners were as we passed.  The sandy trails felt great on my feet and I used it to push my limits.  Passing so many 10 K runners really put a pop in my step.  The course had small inclines and lots of roots and rocks.  The largest hill on the trail was right before we popped out into the parking lot.  With only ½ mile to go I started to shift into a new gear.  By this point I knew I over ran my feet and I could feel blisters.  The last ½ mile was asphalt that went downhill into the Bob Perry Lowell Red Arrow football stadium.  Once my feet hit the rubber track the sprint was on.  I was able to finish in a reasonable time for me of 52:38 good for 24th place. 

 
I will give the Pink Arrow Quiver props for having the best post race refreshments, Chocolate Milk!  They had pints of it, and you could have more than one.  So I refueled on my favorite drink right now.  I enjoyed two pints while hanging out till my daughter was able to run the fun run.  She ran really well and again the Pink Arrow Quiver race spoiled the kids with lots of great swag. 

 I will make it 5 consecutive weeks of racing; I signed up to run the Mercy Run 8 Miler.  This is the first race on the new trail that encircles the Greenville,Michigan.  Join us!

Bad Apple Ultra- Race Entry Giveaway

Posted on September 6th, 2011 by Brandon

Bad Apple Ultra- Race Entry Giveaway- Winner Ryan H!

This October 29th, in Greenville, Michigan there will be a first of its kind race for the ultra runners.  The Bad Apple Ultra Race is a timed event with 3 different races to choose from.  The longest race of the day is the 12 hour event which will allow runners to experience the 4 mile loop as many times as possible from Dawn till Dusk.  For people who only want to spend part of the day running there is the 6 hour and 3 hour events as well.  All will compete on the same 4 mile loop that is host to some beautiful autumn scenery and scents.  If you are more team driven, get a couple of friends together and run as a team of 2 or 3.

Timed events are an easy way to figure out if ultra running is for you.  There isn’t much commitment.  In a set distance race you are responsible for running the entire distance in order to qualify for “finishing” the race.  In a timed event, its up to you to do as much as you want to do.   As long as you complete one lap you are a finisher.  If you want to rest, you can rest.  If you want to quit after 9 hours, you can quit.  No matter what happens you do not get a DNF.  Most people find themselves reaching new limits in a timed ultra.  My wife for example had never ran more than 5 miles, but at a 12 hour race she was able to complete 31 miles.

Ben VanSoose is one of the founders of this race and has given us one race entry to give away.  There are a few steps in order to be entered to win this prize.

  1. You must like  post a link to the race on your Facebook Wall and/or Twitter – http://badappleultra.com/
  2. You must comment on this blog why you want to test yourself at a timed event, or what advise you have for someone running a timed event.
  3. You must share this blog on your Facebook Wall and/or Twitter
    http://www.brandonmulnix.com
  4. You must sing our National Anthem while holding your hand over your heart.  I will be listening. (Please no recordings, or any witness required)

Winners will be Picked on September 23rd, 2011 via random.org draw.  One entry for each step completed besides step 4 will be rewarded.

Naked Foot 5K – Grand Rapids (I must be crazy)

Posted on August 25th, 2011 by Brandon

Naked Foot 5K -Grand Rapids(I must be crazy)

 Running 50 Miles must not be enough for me, because now I am signed up to run the Naked Foot 5K on Sunday in Grand Rapids.  I am a sucker for peer pressure and I caved when a number of runners who read this blog mentioned they might be running it.  It helped that there was a Groupon offer for $19.  Available to Midnight 08/25/2011

 So less then 11 hours after my anticipated 50 mile finish I will attempt a nice easy soft Barefoot 5K.  Merrell is the hosting sponsor and the race will be well attended by Barefoot runners from acrossMichiganand beyond.  It will be nice to run with like minded people that understand what its like to run “FREE”. 

 Barefoot Ken Bob Saxton will be there and that is worth the $19 in itself.  Ken has been running barefoot for a really long time and has a ton of experience and knowledge for it.  His passion for natural running is contagious.  Anyone who attends will be glad they did.  Jason Robillard author of the “Not Yet Best Seller” book “The Barefoot Running Book” will also be there to help guide the lost soles to the promise land of barefoot running. 

 Shoes are welcome (but it will be like wearing clothing in a nudist camp), and it’s a safe place for the Kids with a Kids fun run and 1 mile run. 

More information is available at: http://www.thenakedfoot5k.com/events/grand-rapids-mi/

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