Forgotten Florida 100 - A Race to Remember
BY: CHRIS STANGLE - 2022 participant & 4th overall finisher
Forgotten Florida 100 – A race to Remember
As far as Florida Ultras are concerned, many lack appeal to the masses. The majority are either loop races, which deter some folks, or they are all out swamp stomps that can stave off others. I’m not saying there are not great Ultras here in Florida, they’re just far and few between. The Rum Bum Races’ Forgotten Florida 100 may have just taken the lead for Florida Ultras, by combining a point-to-point course with an insane variety of terrain, conditions, and atmosphere. This beauty played out like a stage race, with nearly as many different race strategies as there were competitors. As the event unfolded, all of Sean “Rum Bum” Blanton’s pre-race tips began to light the path to an epic adventure I will never forget.
It all began 6:00 am February 5th on a dark dirt road outside of Christmas Florida. Packet pick-up well organized, flowing efficiently, and a free pre-race photo to capture the eyes of the
innocent. A quick pre race briefing from the man himself standing on his tailgate, updating us on last minute course modifications to aid us in missing some of the worst flooded areas. As he jumps down from the tailgate and into the driver’s seat, he led the pack for the start until directing us to our first turn. From there, it was on us to follow course markings, utilize GPX files and, in worst case scenario, the Gaia app on our phones (mandatory gear requirement).
After the first turn we quickly found ourselves diving into the trails under the dark canopy as all were jockeying for position. With the 45 milers and 100 milers starting together you really had to decide for yourself who you were going to go with and who you were going to let go. A short distance into the trails we started to find out where all that rain had gone with areas of ankle to shin deep water/ mud.
Nothing unmanageable, just the realization that this course indeed is going to be wet, and often. 6.5 miles in we come to the first aid station
“The Division” which was a crewed aid station, well stocked with several volunteers attending to runners. With the help of my wife Ivi, I took the extra time to change sock and shoes due to upcoming runnable dirt road miles, topped of my pack and was on my way. The next 7 miles were dry and fast dirt roads. A welcome change as we were able to settle into our paces and take in some of the epic scenery. Along the roads with the sun rising, I saw several different species of birds perched along the tree lines and numerous ponds. The weather was perfect for a long effort with temperatures right at 60 degrees with overcast sky and a forecast the predicted most of the same for the duration. Mile 13.5 we came to the “Far Out” aid station, again well stocked and attended by one of my dear friends Kris Mannino. From there a brief out and back to a small peninsula trail and right back to “Far Out” by mile 15. Again, just a quick top off and back on
Shortly after leaving the aid station, we dove back under canopy into the forest and really got to work navigating more technical trails,
water, and mud. This continued off and on for the next 8.5 miles, with the trails gracing us with short reprieves between reminders that this is not going to be a typical Florida Trail Race. At mile 23 we come to our next crewed aid station “The Middle”. For me this was the next stop for foot care, fresh socks, a full reload of race fuel, then back on the move within 4 minutes thanks again to my amazing wife. Once again, we switch modes with dirt dual track, grass road and trail for the next 7 miles, all the while changing ecosystems like someone was flipping a switch. With the inevitable crossing of a 4-lane road the decision was made for the safety of the runners to shuttle us across, when I approached the aid station prior to the shuttle Sean was there giving clear direction, a shuttle was waiting for me, and I was across the road and running again in less than a minute. Once across my wife again like a trail angel was there with a soft flask to swap and extra fuel knowing that I would not see her again until mile 42. The next 12 miles we traveled through Seminole Ranch which proved to be some of the toughest conditions on the entire course with soft ground, dense forest, technical trail, and yes, mud.