Gnarly Bandit: Introducing competitor Ron Hendrickson…

Gnarly Competitor - Ron Hendrickson23 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, Ron Hendrickson:

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?

I’ll admit, I can be a bit of an ornery @#$% at times – which can certainly have its drawbacks, but comes in handy in 100 milers. So, yes – I was ready to battle my way through whatever came my way. Of course, a guy could also step awkwardly on a root, turn an ankle and disrupt a season’s worth of work. I decided I would go all-in, but take nothing for granted.

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

They’re all memorable, but I’ll give the nod to Zumbro (in both categories). When my pacer (Lisa Messerer) and I headed south on I-35 from Duluth, we were driving in white-out conditions, and I’m thinking, “Well, ain’t this going to be precious…” Things got better as we hit southeast MN, but the course was still tough sleddin’ – snow, ice, slush. That early in the season, one never knows quite where his legs are, and to make things interesting my stomach went south early on. Hardly two laps in (of six), and the unknowns were piling up. But as the race wore on, I noted I was moving steadily forward, staying warm, and keeping the stomach relatively at bay. The unknowns started falling away, and when I crossed the finish line I felt good – strong even. The Gnarly battle was officially on…

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

In playing this 100 mile game I’ve come to understand that once the starting gun goes off, the race – course, weather, changing conditions, etc. – tends to drive the conversation. Don’t get me wrong, planning is important. But it’s not so much whether the plan is fully executed, it’s more so whether one is prepared for when the planning train hops the tracks and falls off the trestle into the river. So the short answer is, none. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I think it’s the required perseverance and problem solving aspects of these long races that draws me out there.

4. How was your recovery between the races?

After Zumbro, Kettle and Black Hills recovery went remarkably well. I was back into a reasonable training schedule pretty quickly. Sawtooth beat me up a bit. The heat and humidity was tough, I hadn’t had much hot weather up here in Duluth in which to prepare – and the course is relentless. The training runs didn’t come back as easy as previous – some were OK, others extremely sluggish. This past week was pretty solid, though – looking forward to Wild Duluth.

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

Oh, I’ll probably enter the Spousal Capital 100K, in which I run around the house finishing all the home improvement projects that I’ve been neglecting this year…

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

Establish your base conditioning early. Get out there this winter and run, bike, ski, snowshoe – whatever it takes. Zumbro comes up fast. The next couple races, Kettle and Black Hills, follow pretty quickly, and each has a way of disrupting one’s best laid training plans. So, it helps to be more in maintenance mode than base-building mode.

7. Any additional thoughts?

I am constantly amazed at the nature of our Midwest trail running community. Countless friendly, dedicated people – runners, pacers, volunteers, race directors… so many others. Many are friends, and I hope many others soon will be. Without this community, something like the Gnarly Bandit just wouldn’t exist. As a member of the UMTR board, I thank each and every one of you.

To Angela, Joe, Tina, Matt, Jessica, Daryl, John… What say, we have one more go-around? See you soon, and best of luck.

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