Gnarly Bandit: Introducing competitor Matt Menacher…

Gnarly Competitor - Matt Menacher23 runners toed the line to begin the 2013 UMTR Gnarly Bandit Series. This grueling five race series kicked off back in April at the Zumbro 100 Mile, ran through the Kettle Moraine, Black Hills and Superior 100 Milers, and will wrap up October 19 with the Wild Duluth 100K. With one race left to run, eight runners remain in contention for the $600 cash prize courtesy of Wilderness Athlete. We’ll be looking to talk with all of the finalists.

Next up, Matt Menacher:

1. When you started out at the Zumbro 100-mile back in April did you feel confident you would still be in the running for the award at this point?

With the confidence gained from completing the inaugural running of the Midwest Grand Slam last year, I projected the odds to be quite good that I’d still be in the running. That being said, anything can happen in a series of races with a duration of 100 miles.

2. What races in the series stand out as memorable (good and bad)?

They were all memorable in some way but what really sticks out in my mind is Zumbro. It is a seemingly easy 100 miler (6 loops) on paper but this year’s weather altered the course conditions so much that every loop seemed strangely different from the last. I ended up going through 3 pairs of shoes, 12 pairs of socks and the trail, unforgivingly, ate my Yaktraks.

3. Which race would you say “went according to plan” more so than the others?

It would have to be Black Hills. I really wanted to get the special buckle for completion in under 24 hours and that dream was realized through the help of others, both old and new. I flew out there alone and was left with the advice not to doddle too much at the aid stations. A special thanks goes out to Lisa Messerer for helping this lonely soul navigate the aid stations with ease.

4. How was your recovery between the races?

Overall, recovery has been good although I struggled with fatigue for about a month period following Zumbro. For the most part, the longer you are on the course subjecting your body to extreme wear and tear, the longer it takes to recover. Ideally, you should allow your body 10 weeks to recover from a 100-mile trail race. Kettle and Mohican were two weeks apart last year and this year Kettle and Black Hills were a short 4 weeks apart. I may have pressed my luck going into this last race by running the Chicago marathon the weekend before Wild Duluth. I hope to be celebrating at the finish with the rest of you extreme runners.

5. What’s on your calendar after Wild Duluth?

Currently, I’m signed up for Quad Dipsea in Mill Valley, CA. I intend to enter the lotteries for both Western States and UTMB again this year – fingers crossed. Truly though, I’m looking forward to hibernating for the winter.

6. Any advice for runners looking to attempt the series next year?

GO FOR IT! It has been such an amazing experience. I have formed a greater appreciation of all the wonderful people around me, which have helped me to achieve this accomplishment. Best advice, when appropriate, put your name on the line and tell as many people you can that you are doing it, encouraging you to finish. Also, checkout Bikram yoga to help your body acclimate to the humidity that is often found in the summer races and for some great stretching.

7. Any additional thoughts?

I would truly like to thank all of the race directors, the volunteers, participants, spectators, my partner, dear friends and family – you are what make the Midwest the Best. The Midwest running community is strong and growing and I’m proud to be a part of such a positive force.

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