I learned that a waterproof backpack is a key piece of kit when running for 6 hours in the rain (weighed over 10 pounds!). I used none of the gear I had stashed in said pack, including a wool sweater, gloves, a thick winter hat, and waterproof trousers (that somehow manage to soak up water with sponge-like efficiency).
Oddly, the first 20 miles of the race felt quite manageable and I had a nice rhythm. Then, the climb to the top of Snowden happened and... well 3 more hours passed by as I careened up and down the edifice. Though the weather was quite sobering, the sheer cliff vistas while bouldering was certainly an once-in-a-lifetime experience. This race isn't meant to be a perfect analogue for my Ph.D. experience, but a few key components are consistent (this list is not a complete recipe for how to succeed in a Ph.D. or a long-distance race, just some general tips):
1) The critical support of my family, friends, and supervisors
2) Focus, determination, and grit to carry-on when things weren't going to plan.
3) Excitement and enthusiasm when things were going great (good planning).
4) Fueling the race with caffeine at strategic points (and chocolate at others).
5) Finishing the race* by thinking creatively, pushing myself through the tough bits, and focusing on positive things (like a post-race massage).
* I haven't finished my Ph.D., but I hope crossing that finish line will feel equally thrilling.