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Run through the hills: Bemidji man to take part in Superior 100 endurance race

LUTSEN, Minn.--By nightfall on Saturday, Keith Gora will have run 100 miles in less than 38 hours. At least, that's the goal. Gora has entered in the Superior Trail 100, a race that will have him running on the Superior Hiking Trail through the S...

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Keith Gora runs the 50K Superior Spring Trail Race in May on the Superior Hiking Trail. Submitted photo.
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LUTSEN, Minn.-By nightfall on Saturday, Keith Gora will have run 100 miles in less than 38 hours.

At least, that's the goal. Gora has entered in the Superior Trail 100, a race that will have him running on the Superior Hiking Trail through the Sawtooth Mountains from Gooseberry Falls State Park to Lutsen, Minn. The race's website describes it as a "run on rugged, rooty, rocky, 95 percent single-track trail with near constant climbs and descents."

The race kicks off at 8 a.m. Friday. Participants will run through the night and into Saturday with the cutoff time being 10 p.m. Saturday, after 38 hours.

"My secret goal is to be done probably by Saturday about dark so that'd be about 35 hours, 36 hours," Gora said. "There's no sleep, no rest. There are aid stations about every 5 to 10 miles where we'll get food and water."

Gora, a psychology professor at BSU, has a friend from graduate school who will be at every aid station to help him with food, a change of clothes or any other adjustments.

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This will be his second attempt at the 100-mile race. Gora gave it a try last year but had to withdraw at mile 63 after a stress fracture in his leg.

The 44-year-old has ran about 25 marathons, a handful of 50K races and a couple 50-mile runs. And this weekend's will be his fifth race on the Superior Hiking Trail.

"The running community in Minnesota is just amazing, the trail running community," Gora said. "There are so many trail races. I'm originally from a Chicago suburb and we don't have this kind of trail running in Chicago."

Gora trains at Movil Maze Recreation Area, north of Bemidji, where he would run about 50 miles per week. At the end of his training for this race, he was running up to 80 miles a week.

"For that very last week I did two 31-mile runs just about a day apart as part of the training," he said. "The whole key to training for something this long is to learn to run tired."

He said that way the body gets used to running through fatigue.

Running a 50- or 100-mile race differs from running a 26.2 mile marathon, Gora also added.

"At a 100-mile race you go through these cycles of highs and lows that will last for hours," he said. "So if you're tired in a marathon, you just hang on and get done. In a 100-miler you just hang on until you start feeling better, and then you ride that one out, and then you come back down, so it's going to be an experience."

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To finish the race in 38 hours, a runner has to keep a pace of a 22-minute mile. Gora hopes to run between 18 and 20 minute miles. He said everyone usually starts out the race faster and once they get about 50 to 70 miles in, the slowdown hits.

There are about 275 racers registered for the Superior Trail 100. The event also offers a 50-mile race and a marathon distance. Gora said he entered the 100-mile race for the challenge.

His first race on the Superior Hiking Trail was a 26.2 mile marathon distance.

"It went by so fast just because the scenery was just amazing," he said. "It's just a wonderful place to run."

Related Topics: SUPERIOR HIKING TRAIL
Jillian Gandsey is the Multimedia Editor at the Bemidji Pioneer. She is an Iron Range native and a 2013 graduate of Bemidji State University. Follow Jillian on Twitter and Instagram @jilliangandsey. Contact her at (218) 333-9786, (218) 996-1216 or at jgandsey@bemidjipioneer.com.
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