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Prof. Steve Moellering’s Ultra Marathon Journey


                                                  In May of 2021 I decided to embark on an ultra marathon journey. I registered for the Ozark Trail 100 in October and began ramping up my running and leg fitness. My mileage per week started in the twenties and gradually made it up to 70 mile weeks before October. In addition to running to work and back home, I would make time to run at night on trails around St. Charles and St. Francois County to adjust to the rocks, roots, water crossings and overall low light/ no light running. FYI, running at night on trails= a lot of trips, falls, spider webs and spiders. In addition to running, I made sure to keep my joint and leg strength up for the later miles with lifting and core strengthening at Integrity Fitness in Winghaven. During the days and in between lifting my day was filled with teaching my Jiu Jitsu classes and training with my coaches and Professors. All of which takes a toll physically but is also incredibly fulfilling. Lastly, once a month I would add in a longer run from 20-30 miles, to prepare for the endurance/ pain. The lungs are not what wear out, it’s the mental and physical fatigue that relentlessly aims to stop you from pursuing your goal.


Another challenge that a lot of athletes don’t speak much about; either they neglect it or intentionally choose their path over everything else, is family time. The most important part of my life is my wife Jill and daughter Alina. Eating decent, recovering well, and not putting everything in front of them is crucial. When taxed, it’s easy for me to get home and negate what matters, my family. Just sleep, relax, TV, out. What is the point in all the struggle and victory if there is no one to share it with throughout? I made sure, with their help to prioritize and balance my life. Without the balance and discipline, undue stress can interrupt the best relationship, best workout and the best day. Keep balance and communicate.


The race was confirmed and I set off October 27 for the Mark Twain National Forest with family and we camped prior to race day. Weather was 39 at night and 70 at peak day with heavy rain for two days prior to the race. On October 30, I woke and prepped my kit for the journey then made my way to the bus that would take us to the start line at 3:30am. The race started in the Karkaghne Section of the Ozark Trail 15 miles south of Sutton Bluff at 6am. Ultra spire vest, Lululemon running shorts I’ve had for years, poly T-shirt, thin Under Armour pullover Hoka ATRs and Princeton headlamp were my gear. Spare batteries, chafe creme, water, electrolytes and BCAAs powder, bandages, socks, gels, and small amount of ibuprofen(take at your own risk). Aid stations from 5-13 miles apart provided additional water and potions of food with hot ramen in the cooler hours. The station workers were awesome.


My family would meet me first at 40 miles in. At this point my feet and ankles were swelling from the co start bashing of rocks. They were soaked from a dozen or so knee deep water crossings. Yeah, all those rivers we like to float in the summer. Feeling good after seeing them I took off and didn’t see them again until 65 miles in. Suffering at this point, pushing 18 minute miles, lower back in addition to ankles and feet were all antagonizing me. My wife joined in and ran with me another 8 miles. It was past midnight and several hours into the night I started power hiking as my legs were smoked. She marched with me for another 13 miles. She was so strong and supportive. I made it to 85 miles and the sun was rising; a new wave of energy overtook the pain and relentless quitting thoughts. An old dude who turned out to be a savage, insisted on pacing me the last 15 miles after I rewrapped my feet’ and ankles. He cracked the whip and never looked back. Pulled me with his energy. Just stayed out front.


“My feet are killing me.” 20 seconds later he said,
“Do you want to make pace or not?”
That’s it. Kept going. Always have more!


My pace decreased back down under 15 min miles with screaming ankles and legs. I passed 6 people in 12 miles to finish 17th in a field of 50. With a 50% DOR. 25 people quit/ dropped.


I worked really hard for this and actually not hard enough. I didn’t put in the longer training runs to prepare me for the compounding pain (50 miles). I quit a thousand times in my head. Toughest single day I’ve had. Ozark Trail 100 is technical, full of rocks, beautiful scenery, dozens of water crossings and incline (12k).


I learned that for one that I have a lot of respect for a couple who were significantly older and finished and secondly that I gain a ton of energy from TEAM and family. My wife pushed me the most. I am better with them. 102 miles 29 hrs
Recommend to anyone looking for a sufferfest and new way to push themselves.