Here’s most of an email I sent to a fellow ultrarunner who is running the Wasatch 100 in two weekends. It’s rambling, but sort of conveys a sense of the race. Take note that I spend almost the email discussing the final 25 miles … this is most of the race. Settle in and make it to Brighton, then the fun starts. This email was written for someone with a sub-24 hour run in mind, but the sentiments contained therein are equally applicable to all racers.
Except for folks way out of our league (not that I should put myself in your league), breaking 24 at the ‘satch takes a smart, consistent, patient effort. I should have done it two years ago and ended up with a 28:15 because I wasn’t patient. Mind you, I don’t think it take a remarkable, flawless race [for you or someone of your caliber] to break 24. Had I suffered through some low spells and been patient with the fact that they happen, I could still have made an attempt at induction into the ROotCC (Royal Order of the Crimson Cheetah). Unfortunately, too much of a smoke ‘em if you got ‘em mentality had me sitting on rocks and leaning against trees for a good 13 hours. Look at it this way, if you run conservatively, and take 16 hours to get to Brighton (9 pm)…. you have 8 full hours to bring it on home in sub-24. That said, while there may be exceptions, I think one needs to be out of Brighton not much after 9:30 to have a reasonable shot at sub-24.
In sum, my Wasatch advice is be smart/patient/conservative for 75 miles and then hold tight because the final 25 miles will be damn tough.