Torture Report: Oh ‘Howl’ I love this 8-Hour Race!

Howl at the Moon is an enigma that nearly defies description, definition or detail that does it justice. It is the Vegas of Danville, Illinois the second weekend in August every year.

This was my 8th time at the Howl and Johnny Armani’s 9th. It is the one event that rivals all others in fun, personality, irreverence and surprises. You never know what crazy character will appear on the scene and they have to be pretty darn impressive because it’s really hard to outshine the self-proclaimed “broken-down ultrarunner” Race Director Marc Reddy.

He is equal parts tough-love encourager, bar keep and your favorite, quirky uncle. You never know what he’s going to say except it will likely be a little bit profanity laden, politically incorrect and spot-on, all at once.


The centerpiece of the Howl is the beer wagon.

It arrives early on Friday afternoon and there are four kegs on tap. We all show up late in the day to participate in the Baby Howl, which is just one loop of the course so that the volunteers can get a turn on the course and the newbies can check out the terrain. But for those of us who’ve been around for a while, we know this is really just another excuse for us all to walk and drink our way through one loop of the course. This year, we also found that cigar-smoking was a new addition to the Baby Howl festivities. Never know what you are going to get.

The beer wagon again takes center stage when the race ends on Saturday at 3:30 pm. We all stagger (from soreness and fatigue, not drunkenness) our way to the Big Red Barn where the beer wagon is and begin our carbohydrate “refueling.”

Johnny Armani doing his due diligence and “refueling” post 30-ish miles.

If that’s not enough, Marc and the Kennekuk Road Runners put on a fantastically fun and well-supported race. They are runners themselves and they know how to take good care of runners on a summer day trying to run for 8 hours. They shower us with good food, well-placed motivation and near the end of the race: Alcoholic beverages at the aid stations! How can you go wrong?

I mean, you do need to run for nearly 8 hours for alcohol service to kick in at the aid stations but it’s totally worth it. There is something wholly inappropriate and natural about being offered Gatorade, Gu and a Margarita all in one breath.

So now that you’ve got a little history and explanation of the Howl, Johnny Armani and I managed to get just shy of 31 miles done on Saturday. The weather was great, not too hot but a little high on humidity, which is to say it’s been way worse.

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The race leader passed us on the 3.29 mile-loop no less than 7 times. It’s nice to be around for runners like that. We help them to feel good about themselves. 🙂 We all have our role to play. (The winner only managed 57.93 miles, poor soul).

Eight hours is a long time and it also goes fast. There is plenty of time to bump up against your limits, push past them a little, and also have them bite you back. We left it all on the course and have some new goals for next year.


We aren’t without battle scars, especially me:

Serious chafing along my back from my sports bra

Toenails that are displeased with their place on Earth

And a right hip that’s wound up tight.

(Aren’t you glad I didn’t share photos of these maladies?)

All of which are just other ways to say the Howl at the Moon was awesome for another year!


Tuesday’s Torture Report is a running log of our progress as we train toward fitness, specific races or our latest exercise-related obsession. Lowi’s working toward Becoming Pocahontas and G’s latest adventure goal was Howl at the Moon 8-Hour Ultra.

Sunshine & Sarcasm,





2 Comments Add yours

  1. Annie says:

    Now you have two data points re: adding cigars to your life… Looking forward to seeing the toenails at yoga.


    1. amillerbarton says:

      The toenails are unfortunate to be sure. The cigar smoking thing is hilarious. I don’t know why that keeps showing up 🙂 So far, I am going to abstain from taking up smoking of any kind.


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