Dani Sevil

Best Crew Ever … And The Perogies! A Devil Dog Story.

My recap of the Devil Dog 100-miler can be summed up in a few words: I had an absolute blast; I loved the trail and just being outside, I had the best crew, and the volunteers were so beyond amazing – I felt like I had a 20-man+ crew team.

I love the energy, the smiles, the comradery, the community, the friendship(s), and the bonds that runners can forge for one another whether they know them or not. It’s a community of amazing people who are supportive, in your corner, and want you to succeed. Whether you are “competing” against them in a race or on a fun training run. Also, perogies. Definitely - perogie goodness.

Dani Sevel (here at the 2022 Martha Moats Baker 60k)

I slept about 4 hours the night before Devil Dog 100…this was my first 100-mile race and the longest distance I (would) run to date. At the wee hours of the night, I could be heard downstairs in the kitchen munching on cheese puffs, rice, dark chocolate and sleepy time tea. 4 am rolled around real fast after I finally fell asleep. Ted Bielawa dropped me off at Remi, I checked-in, listened to the pre-race briefing, tried to go to the bathroom and found Keith Knipling in the middle of the pack line-up for the start.

Loop 1: I made sure to take it easy and not go out too fast and had the pleasure of seeing Homeslice (Homer Komthirath) directing the racers for his morning volunteer shift. I fell into an easy steady pace, making sure I could still sing full verses in my head – my form of carrying on a conversation when no one’s around if I need to check my pace. It was glorious in that brisk (NOT COLD) morning before the sun came up.

I focused on my foot placement, as I was going into the race injured, with neuromas on both feet and a severe runner’s knee. I didn’t want to trip on a root or step poorly on a rock and set it off that early on. I knew my biggest challenge (of my limited knowledge of long runs) would be pain management. The burning/tingling/sock-scrunched-between-your-toes feeling came on around mile 2, which is pretty typical for me.

Dani arriving at Toofy during her first loop

Another challenge for me is not spending soooo much time at aid stations. I grabbed some food from Gunny, and took off to Toofy, skipping down the path. It was a great time for a frolic! I cruised into Toofy, happy and feeling good. Ted directed me to the aid station. The volunteers were awesome and cheering - I saw several people I knew – aid station captain extraordinaire Ivory Lira, and Zach Weinberger, and gave them both hugs, which they accepted graciously despite how gross I probably was. I perused the food, fueled up, and left.

Loop 2: My stomach was a bit bonkers about 3 miles before Remi and pain set in, so I took ibuprofen. I rolled into Remi with two other guys behind me, and naturally led them the wrong way - towards the bathroom instead of towards the actual aid station. I’m really good at getting lost. Luckily, we were redirected to the AS Pavilion. Eric Thornton was there and greeted me; my crew was there as well, and they filled my water and directed me to the food! I saw a sign for perogies and got super excited, but they weren’t ready yet.

The Pacers on Team Dani: Ted Bielawa, Homer Komthirath, and Karen Wille await their runner at Camp Remi

After moving on to Gunny, I grab a fresh buff from my drop bag and ask about perogies…none yet! Darn - I think I’m developing a love relationship with perogies, which I had for the first time less than a month ago while pacing Janice Heltibridle at the Rim to River 100. I grab salty snacks and ginger ale, and head on to Toofy.

I roll steadily into Toofy and see Ted smiling, which makes me smile! He’s gawking at me knowing that my pace is way faster than what I thought I could do! This is when I light up even more because I see Bob Gaylord and give him a full bear hug. And then I see Barry Hauptman, as well, and going into give him a full hug I somehow manage to slip and fall smack on my face. I ate pavement and got some nice road rash on my hip - but I still got my hug! I see Karen Wille and Homer as well, my Loop 3 and 4 pacers, and we chat for a split second. I grab some more food, Ted fills my flasks, and Karen sends me off. I make the comment to Karen that the girl and guy I had passed earlier have a legit aid station game – they were in and out like rockstars.

Karen and Dani getting that Loop 3 show on the road from Camp Remi

Loop 3: I’m happy, having a ball rolling into Remi… AND THEY HAVE PEROGIES!!!!! Beautiful, glorious, delectable, life-fulfilling perogies. My life is so complete. “How many do you want they ask,” my answer: “Yes.” Aren’t I awful lol! To the perogies chef – you are an absolute Goddess! Karen and I take off laughing and chatting about fun things, and she gave me excellent advice on sloshing water in the bladders! I start cruising and Karen is joking behind me about playing “keep away from the pacer.” I overeat on the perogies (yummmm) at Gunny and we’re off lickety-split to Toofy.

I dropped my pacer and rolled into Toofy. Ted gives me my head lamp, lathers up my back with chafe cream (the pack is chafing), and we’re off. I roll into Remi without Karen, and now I see PJ Vaughn and Ellen Hart there as well — what a treat! They assist me with changing my top and Dr. Ellen instructs me to wait on taking another ibuprofen. I grab some perogies and broth.

Loop 4: I pick up Homer for Loop 4 and we set off chatting and laughing. This loop can be deemed “the loop of rubber ankles and falls.” It’s now definitely misty, too. At Gunny I grab some food and they tell me that I am in first place for females – I had no idea. I’m all for community- but I still have a competitive side. This sort of sets a fire under me and we waste no time at Gunny. Not even 5 minutes down the path and I have to pee bad – not I have the urge and should go, but no, right now. My pants are stuck to me and I’m struggling to get them down. Homer is wishing he had been recording “the things Dani says when she’s running.” I may have tinkled a bit on my pants.

Team Dani! And Karen to the rescue, as Dani couldn’t work her headlamp.

I know Homer is struggling to keep up, but he’s really pushing himself – I’m impressed. At Toofy, Barry refuses to hug me for fear I’ll eat pavement again and I hear my name over the loudspeaker – courtesy of Heather Dougherty – I love it! Ellen feeds me Tums, which I don’t want at first but take them and realize they taste like candy and this makes me happy! Heather and Ted KT tape my back where the pack chafing is a real thing.

Homer realizing we have to go back out …

We get a “Team Dani” (as Q dubbed us) picture, grab some food and take off for Remi. I have a doozy of a fall. Several. But this one takes the cake; this one even makes my pavement faceplant look cushioned. I wipe out…hard, with some whiplash, and leaves now everywhere. But nothing feels broken and Homer doesn’t see any blood, so we’re off to Remi. Homer is holding strong and really working, but he tells me “You’re dropping me” about 3 miles from Remi so I take off and pick up my pace the rest of the way.

Loop 5: The gang has all had a field day over my dropping my pacers – I really made them work. And there was a bet going whether I would drop Ted (ahem…Bob) who brought me perogies from Toofy!!! Absolute KING!!!!

I pick up Ted for my final loop and we’re off. We roll into Gunny at a leisurely pace as the pain is creeping in again. At Gunny I’m not feeling great: my knee hurts, my feet hurt, and my stomach hurts. But I’m also worried about time and pace. I throw some goldfish in the pocket of my pack and steal a few bites of bagel bites, which aren’t what I want but I need two bites to figure that out.

Ted and Dani very much enjoying their visit to the Gunny Aid Station at around midnight

Everything took a turn for the absolute worst after Gunny. It started downpouring and it was freezing. “Steady, heavy, cold rain. Ankle deep water on the trail. Drenched. Freezing” Ted said, and I was in so much pain. We were soaked, freezing, and my (now former) raincoat was not helping. Ted did everything he could to just keep me moving forward. It hurt to walk – I needed another ibuprofen, but they were with Homer – 8 miles away. It hurt my feet to walk, and it hurt my body to stand still it was so cold. We were only walking at this point. Well, I was walking and Ted was graciously going my pace.

We finally made it to Toofy and I hopped right in Homer’s truck. I was freezing and needed to warm up. Apparently, I broke Homer – he was too sick to help me (sorry, Homer!). I did the ever-loving sisterly thing and told him I needed him to pull it together. I needed a complete wardrobe change and only he knew where my crew bag was. (sorry, Homer – luv ya!) With Homer cranking up the heat and closing his eyes I did a full wardrobe change (the works: sports bra, top, buff, gloves, pants, sock, shoes, and raincoat) all while Q hand delivered me hot cider, broth, eggs, hash browns, bacon, and pancakes. OMG - I’m still dreaming about those pancakes - almost made some for dinner tonight. Thank you, Q!!!!

The chafing was real - definitely time for a new pack

Ted and I were fresh, and I was out of Homer’s car – then Q told me that I was now in 2nd place to a girl named Rose. I sank a bit. Ted and I were gearing up to take off after that news, and then Q told me he was kidding (Thanks, Q – I needed that to get out of there!) It was still raining and cold, though not as hard, and we took off with fresh clothes and lighter spirits. I was still in pain, but with only 6 miles to go and a place in the field that I was determined to keep, Ted knew exactly what needed to be done. No frills, no stopping, we needed to move. I was determined and so was Ted.

We took off from Toofy running when we could, walking more than I wanted (wishing my body could handle more, which looking back I think it can). Past the rocks and beyond the slippery sections we picked up our pace again for what felt like forever. Where is the f*&%ing bridge, we both were saying. Ted was motivating me the whole time: “you’ve got this.” We finally found that glorious bridge – I’ve never been so happy to see a slippery bridge before. And we were off across that final bridge and up to the finish. We crashed into the finish with a time of 23:01, a first-place female finish, 6th overall and also setting the 2nd fastest female record for that course!

After you have run 100 miles, you truly can sleep anywhere.

At the finish line, with all my grace, I bent forward to catch my breath and then stood up, where I proceeded to fall on my ass. The RD came to collect me off the ground and stood me up, where I almost fell over again. He then grabbed my arm – steadying me and walking me into the pavilion. I saw Bob and sat down with him. They got me into the Camp Remi sauna and handed me my bag of warm clothes.

Warm, dry and DONE!

After the race everyone took such great care of me! Ted got me into the mess hall, where I tried to scarf down too much too fast, and proceeded to fall asleep over the trash can. Don’t worry – I didn’t leave any calories in the trash, and Homer made sure to take pictures of the goofy moments.

The best might have been me trying to get into Ted’s Jeep to go home. In my defense I’m short and Jeeps are high, and my legs were not working like that. I’m holding on to the driver seat with one arm and the center console with the other, but my butt and legs are flailing and I’m trying to pull myself into the Jeep. Ted’s trying to help get my legs up, and what is Homer doing? He’s taking pictures and snorting!

Dani gracefully clambering up into Ted’s Jeep.

Final note on my favorite gear from the day: Salomon sports bra!!!! Finally, a bra I don’t chafe in. My fleece lined tops (changed my top at Remi Loop 4) – warm and unexpectedly dry!

Devil Dog Race Website

2023 Devil Dog 100 Mile Results

[Final editor’s notes: Having partaken in the perogies that Ivory’s crew at Toofy were cranking out in the latter half of the Devil Dog races, I can personally attest to their excellence! Definitely up on the Perogie Podium, with those crafted by Stephanie Danahy at Boyers Furnace 40 Miler, and Alex Papadopoulos at just about any of his many timed Athletic Equation events.

As Dani notes in her report, she finished her very first 100 mile race first among the women in the field with a time of 23:01:46, also good for sixth place overall. The only woman to ever run the Devil Dog 100 faster than Dani in its seven year history is Tara Dower, who did so on a dry track in 2022. Tara also was the overall winner that year, nearly three hours ahead of the second place runner.

There were 44 finishers out of 71 starters in 2023, a strong finishing percentage considering just how unexpectedly wet and coooold it got in the overnight hours.

First place overall went to Karl Meltzer, in the third fastest time in race history. Karl finished in 19:04:41, besting his time from 2019 (his only other visit to the Devil Dog 100). Karl also was able to notche a remarkable achievement as a result of his 35 minute win at the DD - this victory now keeps his streak of consecutive years with at least one overall 100 mile triumph alive. He has won 100 mile races each year for a mind-boggling 21 years in a row. His streak of winning years is now old enough to drink.]