100km One Day Hike
By Craig Tyndall (aka DayHiker)
Well, this was a different and rewarding experience,
and certainly an extreme day hike - flying from San Diego to Washington
DC to walk 100km (62.5 miles for you metrically-challenged) along
the Potomac River. The
walk (hike, race?), sponsored by the local Sierra Club chapter,
started close to the Watergate complex (yes, that one) in the Georgetown
section of Washington DC, and ended up many hours later a couple
of states away at Harpers Ferry.
The route was the scenic and historical towpath of the C&O canal, which was
used for transporting commerce many years ago. The historical towpath
was originally created for mules to pull barges up the river.
Today, however, it is an incredibly neat place to walk or ride bikes
for many miles. Most people we saw that day were riding bikes. Wimps.
My hobby has been rigorous hiking (thus this site),
usually up large elevations with trees and neat rocks along mountain
trails (or canyon abysses) - hiking early, far, fast, light and getting
back to a soft bed and indoor plumbing in the evening. So does this
100km fit the "extreme day hike" model? Oh, yes! It
all started January 2001, just before the Superbowl, when Carol,
the publicity chairman of the Sierra Club in DC so kindly informed
DayHiker.com (me) about their upcoming event - the 28th annual, one
day hike, on May 5, 2001.
My initial reaction "yeah, right, sounds absolutely
I couldnt possibly do that". Walking two marathons
plus 10 miles sounded absolutely crazy. What am I? Forrest Gump?
I started training within the week.
The Sierra Club proposed a training
schedule for those in the DC area, which I simulated
within the environs of San Diego. This was the key to a successful
So began a new venue for the extreme dayhiker:
Walk from your home, walk early, walk when the newspaper is being
delivered, walk early Sunday morning when cars are minimal, walk
far, stop at McDonalds for refreshments. Come back home to MY BED
and a hot shower! Wow, this does fit the model. No backpacks
nothing except a cell phone and credit card (taxi just a call away).
See some of the previous
articles on this site, describing the 20 to 40 miles walkabouts
in San Diego. It really opened my eyes to the fun of walking large
distances from your own home. The lessons of how to avoid blisters
and toughen up the feet were byproducts of seeing my hometown in
a different light. Walking places you normally drive is not exactly
Thoreaus Walden Pond experience, but its close enough.
On to the hike itself. The hike started at 3am.
They said be there by 2:30, so my gracious ride, Roger, picked me
up in Alexandria at 2am. My plan was to get up at 1:00 am to
get ready. So being a clever planner I went to bed at 6 pm to get
some sleep. Yeah, right. Ever try to do this?
to sleep when a big deal is about to happen? Doesnt work. I
knew that, but thought it was worth a try. OK, so zero sleep.
I "got up" (which implies I was "down",
which I never was) at 11:00 pm, read a book, ate a leisurely "breakfast",
shaved, showered, looked at the weather for the 94th time on the
internet (in the 80s with medium humidity), wrapped my feet
like a mummy, put on sun screen (definitely planning ahead) and waited
for my ride.
I was surprised only about 40 folks were there
to partake in this 100km death march. Another 40 or so would start
at 10:30am about halfway for the 50km version. We started out briskly,
led by Paul, one of the organizers. He led us to and from a memorial
bridge back to where we started near the Watergate so the 100km would
measure correctly. Then we were on our own. I tried to keep up with
the 8 folks who were in the lead. Two of them starting running and
disappeared quickly. For the first 5 miles I would meet someone,
chat a bit; they would pull ahead as I started conversing with someone
else that caught up with me. Of course this was not a race in the
normal sense (right
tell that to a guy) so it was fun meeting
new people as they passed me.
Apparently the year before, it was very hot and
a lot a people were unable to finish. Luckily, this year was not
as hot , but still only 19
finished the 100km. This is a tough hike.
As I was moving along at mile 8 at what seemed
like a good pace a fellow came abreast of me. I could tell in the
sparsely lit night he was older than my young 57 years. OK
that was it - he is not going to pass me. Turns out Cliff is 71,
has done the "race" (trust me, it was a race) many times
before. Cliff and I walked together for about 45 miles, which is
longer than Ive walked with anyone in my life at one time.
Of course being guys, we talked for about a total of 20 minutes.
Heres the inspiration message for all
you couch slugs. I was telling Cliff about my web site philosophy,
which includes the phrase "do your personal best." Somewhere
in the decades of hiking miles, he says, "one year ago my personal
best was 100 feet." - the 100 feet being when he walked the
hospital floor with an IV attached, fresh from colon cancer surgery.
Hearing that was worth the plane trip. Cliff finished the race, again.
I met other people like the 30-something guy who
had to bail out last year due to heat exhaustion, blisters, etc.
He said, as he passed me at mile 6, he was going to do it this time.
As he pulled ahead I wished him luck. Then, I saw him again at a
rest stop around 40 miles. He was out again.
Roger, 63, a retired school superintendent, was
the prototypical successful finisher. He trained per the suggested
plan and paced himself well. Relatively new to athletic endeavors,
he is a role model for those who think they are too old to do something
rigorous. Good going, Roger.
The Sierra Club had this event organized to perfection:
water, food, and paramedics at periodic rest stops. Very well done.
In summary, this is a hike you need to do if extreme
day hiking is your thing. Come to Washington DC April 27, 2013, visit
friends in the area, tour the sites, and do this walk. All
it takes is some preparation and the right mental attitude. You
wont regret it.
Im writing this article a month after returning
from first 100k event. Why so late? Like any really difficult activity,
time diminishes the painful parts and amplifies the positive aspects.
Right after I finished the walk, doing this hike again, was
not a thought I cultivated.
Did it a second time ...... Still thinking about doing it again.
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