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Two-time Rim to River runner Caleb Bowen is also an assistant cross country and track and field coach at Marshall University.

HUNTINGTON -- This time last year, I wrote a column trying to answer a question I had, “Why in the world would anyone want to run 100 non-stop miles”?

I found out my answer by talking to Caleb Bowen, the winner of the inaugural Rim To River 100-mile race in the New River Gorge.

A year later, I found myself talking to Bowen again, as he again won the only 100-mile race held in West Virginia. The race has an out-and-back course consisting of winding single track and rail-to-trail, traversing multiple times from the rim of the Gorge to down along the banks of the New River.

So I found out last year from Bowen what it was like to run 100 miles the first time out, so it was easy to start a recent conversation by asking if there was anything different this time on the course.

“Going into it, I felt like I trained a lot better this year," Bowen disclosed. "I upped my miles a good bit and was more consistent with my training, learning what I did last year. I got a number of better long runs from 25 to 30 miles in, and I feel that really helped me as the race proceeded."

When he isn’t training for 100-mile races, Bowen serves as the assistant cross country and track and field coach at Marshall University.

When he won the Rim to River 100-miler last year, the closest runner to Bowen was nearly two hours off his winning time of 18:23:57. It was quite different this time around as a former Marshall runner he coached, Dan Green, finished second just under 15 minutes off of Bowen’s finishing time of 15:37:05.

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So even though he knocked nearly three hours off his effort a year ago, Bowen knew he was in for a tough battle with his former runner. “I had really good competition all throughout the race with Dan. It was pretty much a duel the whole day. We ran together for the first 48 miles, then I made a move and he was chasing me down the rest of the evening. I would roll into an aid station and he would come in right as I was leaving. Up until the last aid station, I only had a three- to four-minute lead on him. I ended up opening up a little bit at the end. Having Dan pushing was tough but rewarding. It was, all in all, a super great day.”

For a lot of people, just driving a hundred miles can be a challenge, so what about running that same distance? Bowen made it clear, a hundred miles is a hundred miles, saying, “A hundred miles is a long, long time, and it’s really hard to simulate that in training. You can do 20- to 30-mile-long runs, but you are never going to get close to half the distance that you will be running. So being on your feet that long, keeping moving, managing nutrition, hydration and stuff like that are the main challenges. I guess the biggest thing is just making sure you can go the full distance; that's the hardest part.”

I finished my chat with my favorite 100-mile racer by asking if he was going to try and make three for three.

“If you would have asked me right after the race, I would’ve told you I was done with Rim to River, but I am definitely leaning toward doing it again. Maybe I just want to see if I can run it a little bit faster,” Bowen said.

You know what? I have no doubt if Bowen wants it, second place is not going to be a choice.

Go, Caleb!

Scott Depot resident Christian Deiss is a student at Hurricane High School.

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