Meet Gnarly Bandit Contender Jim Lemke

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?
Going into any ultra I never assume I will finish. I hope for the best and plan for the worst. I plan my work and then I work the plan. Training, studying, and strategizing each race for the terrain and weather conditions. When I work a race I do it one aid station at a time and so going into the Gnarly Bandit series is the same. One race at a time. At this point in the series I am pleased. My times have been very constant with my training and we have found better nutrition as the year has gone on. Less fatigue in the race and a faster recover. So going into Wild Duluth I’m cautiously optimistic. Wild Duluth could be a tough race especially if the weather goes bad. 
2. What races in the series stand out as memorable (good and bad)?
This is a tough question because each ultra has it’s own personality and that makes the challenge fun. All the races are well run and the volunteers are awesome. But the one thing that always stands out for me is the unforeseen and uncontrollable…the weather. Zumbro was increasable with the high winds during the day and low temps at night. 18 degrees creates for some interesting challenges. And then there is Black Hills with it’s high temps and forest fire smoke. You know it’s hot when the runners stop talking after mile 8 and you pull into the 20 mile aid station, sit down, hang your head between your knees and cry while your crew pours water on your head trying to get your body to cool down. I could have never gotten this far with out my crew. And I got to say I thought the mud at Superior was awesome. Superior seemed easier than what I remembered so the mud and slippery rocks changed it up a bit. 
3. Which race would you say “went according to plan” more so than the others?
Kettle was about the best for scheduling. I know the trail very well and the weather could not have been nicer. I think I could have pushed myself a little harder than I did.
4. How was your recovery between the races?

Recovery has been pretty good this year. I’ve learned that my body needs allot of electrolytes during the race and I’ve been pushing more nutrition supplements before and after the race. This has almost totally stopped the leg cramps and I finish the race feeling good and not totally wiped out. To think that only five days after the race I’m hitting the road for a run is just incredible.

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

I’m pretty focused on the Gnarly Bandit right now. I have some shorter races I do with my family around the holidays, but I think I may just cut back for a while and run for more enjoyment and not training. I would like to spend a little more time with the grand kids and my family. It has been a pretty full year so far. But you know how ultra runners are. We’re in the middle of the race and we say to our self “never again am I doing this” and 2 weeks latter we’re on the internet looking for another ultra. it’s addicting…..

6. Any advice for runners looking to attempt the series next year?
Sign up… What have you got to lose….. Odds are you win no mater how far you get.  Think about it… you become stronger, healthier, your character is better developed and the people you meet along the way is refreshing. And if you make it to the end you’ll have some cool metals to hang on the wall, a couple of bucks in your pocket, and some incredible stores of an adventure that few have experienced. The only one who ever loses are those who don’t take the risk to try.  Failure is not a person, it’s an event. I have failed at more things than I have succeeded at and those struggles and failures have prepared me for tomorrows success. This is a win – win deal. Go for it. 

7. Any additional thoughts?
I have three rules I run by and I never waver from them.
1. Run when you can, walk if you have to, don’t stop: When I train I put the miles in even if I have to walk, Next week I will be stronger and will run more and walk less. When I race I will push as hard as I can even if I must walk. The aid station is closer with every step I take. Foreword motion is good at any speed.
2. Run to run another day: My body is just a machine and it will brake if not properly cared for. If I am having problems that could lead to long term injury I stop. No race is worth damaging the machine that I will grow old in. My wife, my children, my grand children, my fellow workers, and others depend on me. To drive my body to a point of no return would be a selfish act. I want to run with my wife and daughter next year so I will protect what I have today. Run smart
3. Honor the King: I have been created by God and so has everyone else I meet. I will value others and myself as God values. Jesus values us so much that he was willing to die to pay the price for our sin. I will value my fellow man as God values them. Though I can not pay for their sin I can share what I have, water, food, electrolytes, a hand out of the mud. And if it means you beat me to the finish line because I stopped to help you. I will rejoice with you.
Talking with other runners in the race has been the greatest joy of running ultras. I enjoy hearing about your families, your jobs, the places and races you’ve done. The miles fly by and the next aid station is in view before I know it.

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