FKT: Martha Slocombe - Wabash Trace Nature Trail (IA) - 2022-10-14

Route variation
one way
Gender category
Start date
Finish date
Total time
16h 27m 13s
GPS track(s)

A day of running. I think that sums it up. ;)

Last year I hiked the Wabash Trace over 3 days with a friend, and it was great. Then I got into the whole FKT thing and figured it would be fun to see if I could run the whole thing in a day. I saw that Omaha ultrarunner legend Kaci Lickteig had already run the route supported. With their being no way I could best her time, that left me with the options of unsupported or self-supported.

I had planned an October run of the Trace earlier in the year, but after several missed long runs, I wasn’t sure I was up for it. About a week ago, I looked at the calendar and my general fitness level, and decided it was worth a shot! I didn’t have a lot of time to prep or check in with the local parks to see if the spigots would be on, so I planned to wing it a bit: I’d start off unsupported and if the taps were on, I’d stay that way. If they weren’t, I’d switch to self-supported and buy or find some water in some of the small towns.

Luckily, park taps were on in Coin, Shenandoah (Waubonsie Park), Imogene, and Malvern. The drinking fountain in Silver City was off. I topped off my water bottles at each stop named above, knowing that there may not be any more going forward. I think I had 7 half-liter Hydrapack bottles I was rotating through. I wished I had used a bladder for water instead of a stockpile of bottles, but it wasn’t too bad.

I started just before 5:30 a.m. at the Blanchard Trailhead (Big thanks to my friend Darci for dropping me off!!!). I went South to North knowing that cell service and general proximity to people would increase as I went north and perceivably got more tired. If I needed to bail, it would be easier to get a hold of people the farther north I got. Plus I’d rather finish where I’m more familiar with the trail in the dark. It did seem more uphill this direction, but that was probably just in my head. The trail is more maintained farther north, so that was also helpful in finishing. There were A LOT of walnuts and one giant hedge apple on the trail to maneuver around.

I saw lots of wildlife: an owl flying overhead, hawks screeching, bucks snorting, possums freezing comically mid-lick of their paws, spiders glistening in the light of my headlamp (kinda freaky when I figured out that’s what all those little reflecting dots were), the expected herd of cows, lots of squirrels, cardinals, blue jays, and the sounds of rustling and yowling in the dark.

People-wise, I saw 2 bikers, 2 trail maintenance guys, a girl foraging for mushrooms, a woman running, a farmer in a truck who made a joke about there “being speed limits” (because I was running soooo fast…haha), a kid headed to the creek to fish … and I think that was it over the whole 62.8 miles. There was a haunted house not far off the trail in Council Bluffs, so I got to hear lots of screaming and chainsaw noises; a hazard of running in October, I suppose. Mineola also had a bunch of skeletons hanging from trees which was a little creepy in the pitch black.

My plan was to average 15-minute miles (run 10:15-10:30 mile pace with walking, picture-taking, snack-getting, gear adjustments, etc.) and then take 10-minute breaks every 10 miles. I ended up running slower (I forgot to account for the heavier pack) but overall going a little faster than that. I would guess my running average was in the 11-12 min/mile range. I do wonder if I had made a little more ambitious of a goal if I would have walked less. I don’t know. Since finishing was my main task, I told myself to just keep moving forward one way or another. I snacked every 2 miles and took a salt cap every 90 minutes or so. I stayed hydrated and made sure I was still peeing. The running really wasn’t that hard. It was just long by myself. I told myself the plan was to run until 10:30 at night so that I didn’t get mired in the details of running so far.

Things I told myself along the way that were helpful: “It’s just a day of running,” to settle my mind into the task. “Running’s just as easy as walking,” because honestly it was and is faster. “Just run to X point and see what it is,” to keep the curiosity going and just get running again (vs. saying I could walk until X point and then start running).

-Salomon Advanced Skin 8 vest (could have used a little bit bigger)
-7 or 8 half-liter Hydropack water bottles of varying sorts (including one with a water filter (Katadyn Be Free) in a gallon ziplock or on the front of my vest (which was good b/c one bottle leaked)
-Nathan Ripcord Safety siren (never used)
-Medical stuff in a small ziplock: emergency blanket, pocket knife, bandaids, rock tape, tissues, ibuprofen, Tylenol, Benadryl, Immodium, chapstick, squirrel’s nut butter, individual hand sanitizer packs, tampon and mask-it bag, Liquid IV, hair tie
-Tinklebell pee funnel
-Cell phone with snack ziplock bag for waterproofing with AllTrails (which I apparently turned off somehow after 55 miles)
-Extra battery and cords for cell phone and watch. (I did charge both, though only the phone needed it)
-Headlamp (Black Diamond Spot 400) and extra batteries (which were dead - check before you go! Though luckily the first batch lasted)
-Sunglasses (Suncloud Montecito)

What I wore, full kit: Altra Escalante shoes with Superfeet Carbon insoles, Injinji Women’s Liner + Runner mini-crew socks, Lightweight Prana leggings, Aisle base hipster, Anita Momentum Pro sports bra, lightweight Icebreaker merino wool LS, Patagonia nano-air vest, Outdoor Research Rain Jacket (I think it’s the MicroGravity AscentShell Jacket), Lightweight Buff, and Manzella gloves.

What I ate, approximated: Skratch Superfuel (1200 calories), Thrive salted banana chips (450 calories), Lightly salted almonds (150 calories), PBJ sandwich (300 calories), 10 Skratch chew packs -some with caffeine (700 calories), 1 kids Macrobar (200 calories), Salt caps, and 1 sliced dill pickle. 3,000 calories total.

Things I would do differently:
-Run a few longer runs in the month ahead (I think 2, 3-hour runs would have done the trick). Though I think backpacking a couple weeks prior was helpful though in time on feet with a pack on.
-Packed my vest 2 nights before so I could get more sleep the night before.
-Used a bladder for water and the bottles for Superfuel.
-Used a slightly larger-volume vest.
-Brought more “real” food, especially salty stuff. My stomach was great until about mile 60 when all I had was chews and I was tired of them.
-Made sure I had NOTHING to do the day after.

Overall, it went well and I am pleased with the whole unsupported FKT endeavor!