If there's one thing I've learned about running 100 mile races it's this: THEY ARE EFFING HARD! They may look sexy while sitting in front of the computer but don't be lured unless you want to be pushed to the edge. I keep thinking it'll get easier the more I do but each one is just as as tough as the last. And maybe it's the short term memory of the long distance runner. Which reminds me of an excerpt from the book Once a Runner, "Though the toil was arduous, they rarely spoke of the discomfort of training or racing in terms of pain; they knew that what gave pain its truly fearful dimension was a certain lack of familiarity". Whatever the reason I know I'll be back to toe the line at 100 mile race again because I love not knowing what's going to happen, I love the fact that I get to spend a whole day in the beautiful mountains with family and friends. If it were easy, well, you know what they say....
Tim, JT, Rick, and myself at the start
Anytime I get a chance to race in Utah, I jump at the opportunity - it's a homecoming for us. We get to visit with family and friends and I get to run in some familiar mountains. So this weekend in the Cache valley was good times all around! With my last couple of races being very mediocre, I had expectations of capping the year off with strong finish in the 20 hour range. It didn't go quite as planned, and it never will. So here's my report:
We drove into town on Wednesday with the Hessek's and Tim Long, went for a run on the Wasatch course to blow out the carbon, and then spent the night at the in-laws. We traveled up to Logan where my sister was kind enough to let us all crash her pad, which was only 5 myles from the start. With a fully belly (thanks Mom) we hit the sack around 8ish. The 6 A.M. start was perfect and the weather was going to cooperate, probably in the upper 30s to start.
Start to Cowley Canyon (29.97)
I was committed to starting slow - period! I settled into a pack (myself, Jon Allen, Eric Pietzch, and Mike Foote) around 10th place going up the first climb. We were very conservative, getting into the first aid around 8:15 with 5000 ft of climbing and 10 myles gone. Next up was a rocky jeep road that took us down about 2000 ft and at this point Mike started to open it up. I was alone when we started the Leatham trail which turned out to be one of the best single tracks of the entire course. Just over 4 myles long and about 2500 ft of descending lead us right into Leatham aid station (19.6). Half of my crew were there (Rick and Josh) where they quickly took my extra clothes and light and I was off now right behind Jon Allen.
Running into Cowley with Josh (Dakota just behind)
Pretty decent 3 mile dirt road leading to Richards Hollow (22.5) where we turned up a single track to get up to Richards Summit. Very gradual 5 mile/2000 ft climb in which Dakota and I ran together. I was surprised Jon didn't join us but later found out he wasn't feeling the best at that point. For me, it's usually about 25 myles in that I start hitting a little groove. Sure enough, it was up this climb that I felt the best all day. Dakota and I descended a two mile road into the Cowley aid and to my surprise, Jared Scott and Mike Foote were still in the aid.
Leaving Cowley with Jared and Mike in front of me
Cowley Canyon to Franklin Basin (61.5)
Shortly after leaving the aid station I passed Jared Scott. I was feeling even better now with solid energy so I was running everything. Dakota was now about 20 seconds in front of me and right before we hit the single track going into Right Hand Fork we passed Leland Barker (who had started one hour before). Leland is a veteran, not to mention he designed the course, so I knew I'd see him again. I caught glimpses of Dakota who was now running with Mike about 30 seconds in front of me. I was content to take it easy on this gradual descent.... and maybe taking it too easy cost me a pretty good digger. Only fall of the day but it took me a few minutes of hobbling along to get going again.
Got into Right Hand Fork (36.9) at 12:15, right on my split. I felt easy up to this point so it was a total shock when I left Right Hand and started to climb out to Temple that I started to feel funky. I ate more. I drank more. While the sun was getting hotter. I know this feeling and it usually turns out to be a full blown bonk. I was determined to minimize it but when Jared passed me a few minutes later I knew I was going slower than I wanted. Now in 5th place I hobbled into Temple aid (45.1), although still on my predicted split. Up to this point nutrition wise I was mixing one bottle of EFS diluted and Carbo gain diluted. I didn't think much of it until I was on the climb to Tony Grove where I could feel my stomach getting distended. Josh had run down the trail a couple myles to meet me and get a full report. For the first time all day, I was behind on splits and it didn't look good. Jon passed me at Tony Grove and I could not keep pace. Not too far out of Tony Grove (51.4) I sat on a rock and puked a couple times. It felt awesome! Vomitus Euphoritus was exactly what I needed to get back on pace. So for the next 6 mile descent into Franklin I was moving pretty good but still behind. I arrived into Franklin about 20 minutes outside of my splits but my spirits were up.
Leaving Right Hand Fork
Young Money at Tony Grove
Coming into Tony Grove with Josh
Franklin Basin to Finish (99.4)
At Franklin I picked up Josh Brimhall, my pacer for the next 38 myles and what turned out to be 10 hours. Things were looking up for me; I got a charge off of having Josh, my energy was good, and my climbing legs felt great! Right away we took off for a 1700 ft climb over the next 4 myles. Once at the top Josh put me on a schedule of alternating running and walking. I was feeling really good so it turned out to be running and no walking most of the way to Logan River aid (69.5). I thought for sure we would have caught someone or seen someone leaving the aid, but we saw no one! To be quite honest, it took the wind out of my sail because I knew how hard I was working. Josh did an amazing job because even when my energy fell back down he kept stern with the schedule, which I stuck to. It wasn't until Peterson pass (72) that I started to feel sluggish again. The legs started to go AND we caught sight of a lone runner behind us, seemingly catching us. Sure enough when we got to Beaver lodge the lone runner caught us and passed up for good going up to Gibson Basin (81.1).
Myles was there to greet me every time until it was bed time
My boys enjoying the day
My crew had been telling me that Dakota was consistently leaving the aid stations 10 minutes before us and was wanting to run in with us. We left Gibson (after some beans) and ran/shuffled the entire upper open meadow and then descended down into the Beaver Creek aid (85.2). Finally we met up with Dakota Jones (19 year old phenom running his first 100). We took him in and now Josh had both of us on a run/walk schedule. It was good though because both of us were going the same pace, both of us content just to finish at this point. I had lost the sense of catching anyone and knew I was in for about a 22 hour finish.
Finally down to Ranger Dip (93.5) where my faithful crew (Nicole and Rick) were there to greet us. They had been to every aid station possible, weathering the nasty roads and cold. I am very fortunate to have them every time I turn around. They kicked us out of the aid and we started the last grunt (about 1000 ft in a mile). I didn't mind climb at all, it was the 3000 ft descent I was more worried about. Sure enough it went on forever with dusty, rocky, and rooty ATV trail. Dakota had paced this section before so he was giving us the turn by turn so it didn't seem so bad. As we got to the final 2 mile road section Josh and I took off at what seemed like a 5:40 pace.... Not really, it was a nice steady pace. We took an inadvertent right hand turn off this road where there were utilities marked with the same color of ribbons as the race. This took us into someones backyard..... Dakota caught back up and yelled "hey guys, this way!"
So Dakota and I held hands and happily crossed the finish line together.
It was a pretty amazing journey and one that I am very happy about! My support crew (Nicole, Jaxon, Myles, Rick, Rae Jean, Mom, Dad, Patty, and Josh) were amazing the days leading up to and all day. I know I cannot do this without them! I had heard stories about terrible course markings in the past but I tell you what, I thought the course markings were better than most. Outside of our final stretch wrong turn, I didn't get lost and that's saying something. I could have done without that nasty final descent but other than that it was a beautiful course with very nice aid station volunteers. Time to eat some food and beverage!
CRUD finishers - JT completed the Rocky Mountain Slam!
So what's next? Originally this concluded my racing season that started last November but since things didn't go as well as I wanted, I'm gonna head back East to Mt Masochist 50 mile in November. Then I'll take some time off.