Thursday, July 9, 2009

WS100 2009 Race Report

It is finally written! My report is a little lengthy because I used this as my journal entry; however, take your time, relax, and enjoy. I have included a photo album to the right and a short video clip on the bottom. I will add photos and videos as I receive them :)

The day before the race, Friday June 26, 2009:

It was a relief to finally have everything packed and ready to go for the race. As this was my first 100 mile run, I made sure I had anything and everything I could think of that I would quite possibly need while out on the course. I prepared one pack (which I called “The Orange Pack”) with extra clothes and an extra pair of shoes which were one-half size too large in case my feet swelled. I also prepared a small shoulder bag (which I called the “Little Red Bag”) which contained any medical related items that I may need. The last bag I prepared was the “Little Black Goodie Bag.” This one was my favorite; a small duffle bag that I stuffed full of treats such as: Clif Bars, Clif Shot Gels/Bloks/Electrolyte Drink Mix, Clif Mojo bars, Camelbak Elixir and an extra Camelbak bottle, mini Oreos, Nutter Butters, Gummy Fruit Snacks, etc. I also prepared five small drop bags to be placed at certain aid stations along the course where I knew I would not see my crew. In these I mainly placed my Clif products to replenish my supply I ran with.

With everything packed and ready to go, we left home for Squaw Valley around 8:30 am or so. We picked up my Sister-In-Law Emily, as she was going to help with the crew and help Holly at the start of the race. It was a wonderful feeling to be driving up to Squaw as all of the many long hours of training and preparation for the race were now complete. It was now time to focus on the task at hand the next day. From Squaw Valley to Auburn we climb approximately 18,090 feet and descend another 22,970 feet.

We arrived at Squaw around 10:30 am. I headed straight to the check-in area to participate in a cardiac study from the UK of which I volunteered to be in. They took my weight, height, three vials of blood, and took hundreds of pictures and readings of my heart with an ultra sound machine. Once finished with this, I went through the line to check-in to the race. There I received my “goodie bag “which was a nice back pack and several shirts and a hat. Upon exiting the first room, I was handed a slip of paper with my number printed on it and then I had my mug shot taken which would be on the race website. I left the picture room to continue the check in process. When I stepped outside, I was greeted by Emily and Holly with a camera pointed at me. With a large printed number in my hand, I instinctively felt like I was on American Idol leaving with my golden ticket, so I began waving it around. I then stepped over to the next check in area and received my yellow bracelet that would be worn throughout the race. I then had to weigh in (starting weight: 168 lbs.) and have my blood pressure and pulse measured. This vital information was then written on my wrist band as the medical volunteers at medical check points would use this information as a bench mark to determine if it is safe for me to continue on the course. This band is also important because if I drop, the aid station captain or doctor removes it and the race is over for me.

After the lengthy check-in process, we dropped off my drop bags at their respective location. There were mounds of drop bags. For some runners from out of the area with no crews following them, this is the only way they receive the supplies they need during the race. At 1:30 pm we went to the pre race trail briefing where we are given last minute instructions and an overview of the trail conditions. This is also where I found out that one of my friends and mentors Dan Moores, Owner of the Auburn Running Company, had lost his battle with Leukemia just two days prior. Phil Lenohen, a Western States Veteran, played his bag pipes in a moment of silence for Dan. It was hard to hold back the tears as memories of Dan and I on the trail together and at his store flooded my mind. At every race and when I trained on the trails I wore Dan’s jersey, the “Auburn Running Company,” to help support him by displaying his store name in hopes of having more people stop by his store. After I heard he had passed away, my jersey became a badge of honor and I dedicated my Western States run to Dan.

Dan Moores

After the meeting I met briefly with my pacer Mark Hartell from the UK, then we checked in to our room there close to the start line at the Village at Squaw and settled in. Around 4:45 pm we went downstairs and found a nice little pizza and pasta restaurant which was offering all you can eat pasta at a low price for Western States runners. We ordered a large BBQ chicken pizza for the three of us. I ate a couple slices and had three heaping plates of pasta to carbo load. I love pasta and pizza so it was a special treat for me. Once I was stuffed and could not eat anymore, we headed back to our room. Holly and Emily went swimming in the pool and spa while I took time to start mentally preparing for the race, tape my feet, and have everything ready to go for 3:30 am the next morning. I stayed in the rest of that night just visualizing over and over running through the different sections of the trail and feeling well. Before I retired to bed around 9 pm I placed a phone call to my training friend, Scott St. John. We chatted once more about the race, visualized some of the sections of the trail, talked a little strategy, and wished each other well as he was to pace Jez Bragg from the UK.

A benefit of ultra running - All you can eat until it won't go down anymore

Race Day, Saturday June 27, 2009:

My alarm went off at 3:30 am. I jumped out of bed, put on my jersey, and headed over to pick up my race number and a quick bite to eat for breakfast. I picked up my race number and timing chip on an ankle strap. I then went into the breakfast area and grabbed some strawberries, cantaloupe, and a bagel with cream cheese. I was there a little before 4 am, when it officially opened, so I found a spot to sit and watched runners slowly trickle in. The excitement began to grow as we were under one hour from the start. I met a nice man named Dan Holbrook from Knoxville, Tennessee. We both sat together and enjoyed breakfast talking about the feet ahead of us. He is 61 years old and his goal that day was to finish in 29:59:59 hours, just one second before the official cutoff. I was inspired by his drive as he began running just a few years ago and this was his first attempt at Western States as well. After breakfast I ran back up to my room where Holly and Emily had cooked up some scrambled eggs. I finished my last minute preparations, ate some eggs, filled my Camelbak bottles, and headed back down to the start line.

The excitement at the start line was intense. Runners, crews, and spectators were pouring in. I saw a few of the top runners doing short sprints and jogging around down a dark path away from the excitement, so I ran over and joined them to help get out some of the nervous energy building up from all of the excitement. I wished the best to Scott Jurek, Eric Skaden, and Mark Lantz. I took a brief moment away from the crowd of people to kneel down on one knee and offer a prayer. I took a couple last minute pictures with Holly, gave her a kiss, and headed to the front of the start with a minute to spare. By this time the starting area was packed with runners and there were hundreds of spectators lining the course heading up the dirt road climbing the face of the mountain.

Holly and Me at the start

I guess I really only had three main goals going into this run. As this was my first 100 mile run, I had several unknowns. I didn’t really know how my body would handle 100 miles especially given the fact that on my first ultra run, the Lake Tahoe 72 Mile Ultra, by the time I finished I showed early signs of renal failure. Every joint in my legs were sore and my body was swollen, I had to get two bags of saline through an IV after finishing, and after the first bag of saline, I passed out hitting my forehead on the wall. With this in mind, my first goal was to just finish in under 24 hours, although, a 20 hour finish would have been wonderful. My second goal was to beat Dean Karnazes, author of the Ultra Marathon Man. Looking up previous race results, Dean had a time close to what I wanted to finish in and he would be an easy person to recognize and run with. My last and most important goal was to have Fun! I wanted to enjoy every minute of it while pursuing my first two goals.

The gun went off and we headed up into the darkness on the dirt service road. I quickly found myself amidst a sea of runners towards the front. I took a few moments to look back and notice we looked like a long snake weaving around the turns up the dirt road. After about 6-7 minutes into the race I followed the front pack as we took a right turn up another dirt road. I didn’t get too far until I heard someone from the turn shouting “Wrong Way!” I looked back and saw runners turn around and head back to the turnoff. The leaders apparently took the wrong turn and instinctively, we all followed along but thankfully I didn’t go too far from where we took the wrong turn.

We continued up the face of the mountain. I soon realized that I was running next to Dean Karnazes, the person I wanted to run with. I stayed close to him and decided to do whatever he did. We walked the steeper sections and every once in a while Dean would throw in a one minute long spurt of a jog. When he did this, I would transition into a jog as well, not to let him get away. I also found myself running for a while with Simon Mtuy from Tanzania. We continued up the face climbing a total of 2,550 feet of elevation in the first 4 miles to Emigrant Pass at 8,750 feet above sea level. At the top we had to hike on some patches of snow. I took a brief moment to look back at where we came from to see Lake Tahoe off in the distance, and see the long line of runners heading up to the Pass. By this time there was a beautiful sunrise as well peaking over the mountains to the East. Once we crested the pass, we started our descent into the Granite Chief Wilderness. We traversed the terrain well above tree line for a while.

Simon Mtuy, Dean Karnazes, and Me at Emigrant Pass - Joe McCladdie photo

There was still quite a bit of snow melt runoff. In some sections, the trail was like a small creek with the snow melt running down. This was a beautiful section to look around and see many panoramic vistas as far as the eye can see. An experienced ultra runner told me during a conversation during some training runs that hydration is key in this first 30 mile section in the high country because it is easy to forget to drink since the weather is cooler and the body is not as thirsty. He told me to make sure I drink often in this section because many runners actually suffer later in the race because they fell behind in their hydration during this section. Hydration is essential in ultra running. Thanks to my Camelbak hydration systems, I always had plenty of fluids with me. I decided to only carry my two Camelbak handhelds for the first 38 miles. Up in the high country the aid stations were spread apart about seven miles so I ran out of water in between; however, this was not a big deal as there were plenty of small streams from the snow melt of which I was able to refill my bottles. Scott St. John recommended that I set my timer on my watch to beep every 20 minutes to remind me to drink as to keep hydrated. I followed this drinking pattern the whole race.

I ran with Dean for about nine miles until he tripped and fell in front of me on the trail. He rolled a few times. I quickly took my water bottle out of my right hand and extended my hand to Dean to help him up. He refused my help saying thanks, but he was fine. I then continued on my way and that was the last I saw of Dean Karnazes the rest of the day. After the race I later found out he had dropped at the Foresthill aid station around mile 62.

I continued on the rugged high Sierra trail to the Lyon Ridge aid station and Red Star Ridge aid station. I had to be careful about foot placement as there were many large rocks and some sections that could prove to be fatal if I tripped and took a fall down the side of the mountain. By this time I found myself alone for several miles at a time. I was gradually catching up to runners and passing them. At the Red Star Ridge aid station (mile 16), I took a few minutes to go through my drop bag and replace the Clif products I had already used up to that point. In between aid stations I was using my Clif Shot energy gels and also my Shot Bloks. At the actual aid stations I would always refill my Camelbak bottles and usually grab a few strawberries.

From Red Star Ridge I headed down to Duncan Canyon (mile 23.8) where my friend Mike Maxfield and his two sons were waiting with some more Clif products for me to replenish my supply. The last two miles approaching Duncan Canyon were very dusty. Each step would send a plume of powdery dust into the air. I knew I was not too far behind another runner because I could see the dust in the air and I could taste it when I breathed in.

From Duncan Canyon I headed across a small canyon and up to Robinson Flat (mile30). On my way to Robinson, I passed Jenn Shelton who was hunched over on the side of the trail. Jenn is from Oregon and was listed as one of the women to watch to potentially win. As I approached her I asked if she was okay and she replied that her hips were very sore. She dropped once she reached Robinson. I came to a large creek that was too wide to cross just rock jumping so I had to walk through the water, but it felt great as the day was starting to heat up. In the middle crossing it, I paused for a moment to get my visor wet and splash water on my face and jersey.

At Robinson I weighed in with a good weight and an older lady volunteer at the aid station lathered my arms up with plenty of sunscreen. This is the first aid station that I was able to see my crew so I weaved through all of the crews to find Holly and the others. I sat in the camping chair they had for me and chowed down on some food real quick. I ate a Clif Bar, a slice of pizza, mashed up strawberries, and a gogurt. It was an interesting concoction with all of that mixed in my mouth at the same time trying to get it down. Holly had a sponge and dowsed me with water on my head and legs. I also switched my visor for my hat and covered my neck with a handkerchief as I prepared to enter the hot canyons.

At Robinson trying to get some food down

The canyons are a critical section of the race as the trail becomes very rugged, ascending and descending greatly. This is also where many runners spend the hottest part of the day. I headed down from Robinson through Miller’s Defeat (mile 35) and on to Dusty Corners (mile 38). Miller’s Defeat was the first aid station I started to see runners dropping out. Per prior recommendation of my pacer Mark Hartell, at each station I filled my hat with ice and I had the volunteers dowse me with water before taking off again. The ice cooled my head and also melted slowly to keep my core body temperature cooler and my body wet.

From Robinson to Dusty - Photo by Mark Hartell

When I arrived at Dusty Corners, I met up with Mike Maxfield and his sons again. Here they replenished my Clif products and I also picked up my Camelbak Stamina 1 waist pack with an extra insulated water bottle to head into the canyons. I used this extra water bottle strictly to pour water on myself. By this time, it was starting to heat up quite a bit and the sun was starting to really beat down. I headed off to Last Chance (mile 44). At this point I hit a slump where I was just low on energy and motivation. In a marathon runners usually experience this around mile 18 or so, but in a long race such as 100 miles, runners break through many walls. At Last Chance I weighed in fine and replenished my supply from my drop bag. I also saw that the volunteers were cooking up some grilled cheese sandwiches so I grabbed half of one for the run. I dowsed myself with water, filled my hat with ice, and headed down into the first very large canyon down to the swinging bridge before heading up the tough climb to Devil’s Thumb.

At the bottom of the canyon I crossed the swinging bridge and saw Simon Mtuy and Nikki Kimball wading in the cold mountain river. The water looked very inviting so I dropped my bottles, waist pack, and Ipod on the side of the trail and climbed down the river bank to join Simon and Nikki in the water. The water felt wonderful as the temperature outside was now well over 100 degrees. The three of us remained in the water up to our heads for about 7-8 minutes. Nikki, who won the year before, talked about how bad of a day she was having, and Simon talked about looking for gold nuggets. Too bad we didn’t have any gold pans! We had fun conversing, and then we all got out and continued on the trail up the steep climb to the top of Devil’s Thumb (mile 48). I was low on water so I filled my handheld bottles in a waterfall spring near the bottom when we started up. I stayed with Nikki for about 20 minutes, and then I saw a large inviting rock to sit down on and enjoy a Clif Bar. I was still in a slump so I sat there on the side of the trail for about five minutes to eat my Clif Bar in hopes of regaining more energy. The Clif Bar gave me the boost of energy needed to continue to the top. When I got to the top of Devil’s Thumb, I weighed in at 175 lbs. which was 7 lbs. higher than my starting weight. Since my weight was up the medical crew began questioning me to help determine the cause of my weight gain. They determined I was retaining too much fluid from my salt intake, so they told me no more salty foods or gels for a while and I could only drink plain water until my weight came back down, and I would also have to force myself to use the bathroom since it had been a while. A volunteer sprayed more sunscreen on my, dowsed me with water, and I was off to conquer the next canyon.

My next stop would be at the Eldorado Creek aid station (mile 52.9). It was a long descent from Devil’s Thumb to the bottom. Shortly after leaving Devil’s Thumb I started coming out of my latest slump and started picking up my pace down the trail. This is another section of trail that is very rocky at times and the single track hugs many drop offs. This is another section where a wrong move could have fatal results. Just as I was starting to feel good and striding out, my right foot kicked a small rock which rolled directly under my left foot. My left foot stepped on the rock causing me to roll my ankle. It all happened in a split second. I heard a faint “pop.” I quickly stopped for just two seconds or so to do a quick analysis. I did not see any major problems and I was not in any excruciating pain, so I continued down the trail. I have learned from past experiences that once I roll an ankle, if I stop it will swell up, but if I keep going it may be a little uncomfortable but still manageable. I cruised down to the bottom of the second canyon and refilled all three of my bottles at the Eldorado Creek aid station. I later found out it reached over 105 degrees there at the same time I passed through. I dowsed myself with water and headed up the next long and hot climb out of the canyon to the small town and aid station of Michigan Bluff (mile 56).

On any normal day training up in the canyons the small town of Michigan Bluff resembles a ghost town with no one in sight. On race day however, this small town becomes a bustling city with the main street packed with crew members and supporters. I had to weigh in when I arrive at the aid station and I was pleased to find out I had dropped three pounds. I was closer to my starting weight, but I still had a little left to loose. Given this, I did not restock any of my supplies from my drop bag and I just refilled my bottles with water. I was out of the aid station in a short amount of time and headed past the crowds lining the street through the small town. It was a wonderful energy boost to have hundreds of people cheering for me as I passed by. I saw several familiar faces cheering me on which was a special treat. Leaving Michigan Bluff, I passed through Volcano Canyon and climbed up to the Bath Road aid station (mile 60.6). This is the aid station that Dan Moores traditionally sponsored and ran, but this year the only sign of Dan was a large picture that was blown up on a large poster board. My Father-in-law Mike and family friend Rico were at the aid station waiting for me with some food to eat as I walked up the 1 mile climb up to Foresthill Road. They walked with me as I ate and once I reached the road, I once again transitioned into a jog downhill almost one mile to the Foresthill School aid station (mile 62).

At Foresthill aid station keeping cool

This was another exciting aid station as hundreds of people line the main road of Foresthill to cheer on runners as we pass through town. When I arrived at the aid station I had to weigh in again. This time I was back down to my starting weight. Once again I was able to drink electrolytes, my Clif Shot gels and bloks. This is also where I met up with my pacer Mark. From Foresthill to the finish we are allowed to have a pacer run with us mainly for safety reasons and also to keep us motivated to keep going. I was looking forward to sitting down for a few minutes and enjoy some food that Holly and Emily had. I found them, but Mark was eager to get me out of the aid station and on my way again. I grabbed a slice of pizza and started walking off right away. An older lady got a kick out of dowsing me with water and we took off again. We headed down the main road through Foresthill to the sound of hundreds of cheers and many familiar faces. We then met up with the trail again and started our descent to the American River. At this point the bottoms of my feet were starting to get sore and my left hamstring was starting to tighten up. Mark and I passed the Dardanelles aid station (mile 65.7), the Peachstone aid station (mile 70.7), and Ford’s Bar (mile 73). At Ford’s Bar I was now in uncharted territory for myself as that was officially the furthest I had run since my first 72 mile race. It was exciting to know I was now pushing into a distance I had never covered before in the same day. Mark was very good at making sure I ate my gels and bloks in between aid stations. I found out I did not have much of an appetite for solid foods at the stations anymore. With this in mind Mark had me drink down some soup and soda at the aid station. This seemed to give me a good pick me up and was easy to digest. We left Ford’s Bar and headed to the next stop, Rucky Chucky Near aid station (mile 78).

I wanted to cross the American River when there was still some day light left so I pushed myself to get to Rucky Chucky with some daylight to spare. We arrived at Rucky Chucky around 9 pm with a little light left to spare. I had to weigh in and I was pleasantly surprised to see Holly and the crew waiting there. Mark had me drink down two cups of soup and two cups of soda followed by a Clif gel. I would follow this routine for the remaining aid stations eating Shot Bloks and gels in between. We climbed down the river bank to cross the river. There was a long rope stretched across the river to hold on to as we crossed so as to not be swept down the river. At this time, the volunteers had already placed green glow sticks at the bottom of the river in a straight line across to show us the way. There were also some dedicated volunteers in the water on the other side of the rope telling us when we reached a deep spot or a large submerged rock to be careful to climb over. The water was cold and felt good. The sun was down at this point, but it was still warm and a great opportunity to wash off my dirty legs and rinse out my sweaty, salty jersey. On the other side of the river a family friend, Jan Engelbrecht, his son, and a co-worker were waiting with some supplies I had asked him to bring. There is a long walk from the river up to the next aid station Green Gate (mile 80). We talked and I tried to eat some pizza as we walked up. The pizza was very hard to chew and swallow. I think I managed to get down four bites and then I gave the rest to Mark. I also picked up my head lamps and put those on. I decided not to change into any dry shoes because my shoes seemed to dry quickly.

Mark, my Father-in-law Mike, and Me at Rucky Chucky Near before crossing

From Green Gate we headed off into the darkness and worked our way to Auburn Lake Trails (mile 85.2). We could now see the large spot lights dancing across the sky coming from the finish line. By this point it was getting harder for me to stride out as I ran because the bottom of my feat were starting to hurt, my left hamstring was getting tight, and my left ankle hurt when going up inclines. I almost dreaded coming up to aid stations because I would have to stop running to drink down two cups of soda and two cups of soup. This was just long enough for my body to get out of the running rhythm and it would take me about half a mile or so once I started down the trail again to get into a running pace after the previous stop. At night volunteers placed green glow sticks in the trees every quarter mile or so to be sure we were on the right path and making the correct turns. The air was still a little warm, so every once in a while Mark would still grab my extra water bottle and dowse me with water. Sometimes I wouldn’t know it was coming so it was a welcome surprise.

From Auburn Lake Trails we continued down the trail to Brown’s Bar aid station (mile 90). I was actually looking forward to this aid station as I had heard many things about it in the past and I was curious to see it. For the most part, the aid station captains have a lot of flexibility to do what ever they want at their aid stations and the volunteers at Brown’s Bar took full advantage of that. This aid station is located in the middle of nowhere and it is a mystery how they got all of their supplies there. This aid station was notorious for having a great time and was like a big party. I heard stories about how approaching runners could hear their music from a mile away echoing through the canyons. I found this to be true. Mark and I could hear the music about a mile before we arrived. As we came in sight of the aid station, Mark took off in front of me to enjoy a drink at the aid station. The group that runs this aid station is made up of hash runners, basically runners with a drinking problem. I just learned about this, but there is a sport called hash running. I don’t understand it too well, but they put on races where part of the race is to drink a certain amount of beer, which people usually end up drunk by the time they finish. Anyways, you can imagine the fun these people were having out in the middle of the forest at night with plenty of beer and loud music. There were Christmas lights strung all over and many different off the wall props that had nothing to do with the run. All of the men were wearing red dresses and an older woman was more than happy to give me a real sponge bath. It was very nice of her to offer, but I politely rejected the offer. I grabbed my two cups of soda and soup and then took off.

From Brown’s Bar we descended down to the American River, but this time we did not cross it. When we reached the bottom we saw a few glowing eyes. We noticed they were some very large deer. We were glad they weren’t mountain lions. Close to Auburn Lake Trails we pass a bench in memory of a woman who was killed by a mountain lion about ten years ago or so. There were a few mountain lion sightings in the area a couple weeks before the race so thankfully we didn’t run into any this time. We ran along the river for about a mile or so and then we climbed for two miles up and around a limestone rock quarry just below the town of Cool along Highway 49. We came into the Highway 49 aid station (mile 93.5), quickly refueled and took off again. We had a routine down of Mark having my Camelbak bottles refilled while I enjoyed my two cups of soda and soup. In between the aid stations I was still eating some Clif Shot Bloks and Gels. This mix seemed to keep me fueled perfectly. We could see the large spot lights at the finish streaking across the sky, but they didn’t seem much closer than the first time we saw them.

From Highway 49 we climbed another mile and a half or so up close to the Cool fire station, then headed back downhill towards the American River and No Hands Bridge aid station (mile 96.8). Getting so close! It was a nice surprise to find Holly and the crew waiting for us at No Hands. I refilled my bottles, drank my usual soda and soup, and took off again. At this point I was getting very excited as the finish line was only about three miles away. It was very close, but we still had to climb out of the canyon those last three miles. It was even harder now to get into a rhythm running and striding out, but I was able to muster up the motivation to run. It still took a while to get up to speed again after stopping briefly at the aid station. I was able to walk quickly and then move into a quick shuffle which eventually turned into a trot. After running 97 miles or so my feet and left hamstring were pretty sore and it seemed like each muscle in my whole body was sore from a very long and hard workout. Even though I hurt, I made an effort not to let it show to Mark or anyone else watching me. Soon after Mark started pacing me and I was in a little slump someone at an aid station asked how I was feeling. I wanted to tell them the truth, but Mark right away replied “he’s doing great!” This taught me the importance of having a positive attitude no matter what the circumstances were. After Mark said this, I adopted this mentality the rest of the way. Even though I may not have felt like it, when people asked how I was feeling I simply replied “I’m feeling great!”

We climbed up to Robie Point aid station (mile 98.9) where the trail ends and we come out onto a paved road. I couldn’t believe it, but standing there at the top waiting for me was my dad. Around the time I started the race 22 hours prior, my dad boarded an airplane in the Ukraine and flew to San Francisco. He had been over in the Ukraine for one week on a military assignment. He landed in San Francisco just a few hours prior to meeting me at Robie and drove straight up to come see me finish. Once on the road, we still had another climb ahead of us. My dad ran with Mark and me. It was great motivation to have my dad running with us the last 1.5 miles or so. With half a mile or so left we started descending towards the track at Placer High School in Auburn where the finish is. Knowing I was almost done, I picked up the pace as fast as I could. I wanted to push myself all the way to the end. The track was now in sight and I felt a surge of excitement run through my body. The three of us ran into the stadium and my dad and Mark peeled off to head toward the finish line across the grass infield. I continued on my 300 meter “victory lap” to the finish in front of the empty grand stands. I ran as fast as I could. I felt like I was going at a fast pace, but I watched the video after to find out it wasn’t too fast at all. As I came around the last turn to the finish, the announcer announced some facts about me and the few spectators still awake started to clap and cheer. What an emotional feeling approaching the finish line after running 100 miles and finishing my first one.

I crossed the finish line with my arms spread out in the air with a big smile on my face at 3:20 am, 22 hrs and 20 mins. in 39th place overall. Tim Twietmeyer placed a finisher’s medal around my kneck and volunteers immediately directed me over the weigh scales. My weight was 171 lbs. just 3 lbs. more than when I started. I stayed very hydrated the whole race thanks to my Camelbak hydration system and stayed well fed from my Clif Bar products. Besides my sore spots I felt very well. After my weight was taken, another volunteer guided me over to a chair where I sat down and had my blood pressure taken. Once that was all out of the way I was finally able to celebrate with Holly and the others who were there to support me. My mom and sister Rachel were able to make it up there to see me finish. They had a bouquet of sun flowers for me and a sunflower balloon to help celebrate my accomplishment. We all shared this special moment for about 15 minutes or so taking photos and talking about the journey I had just finished. After we celebrated I had to go over to the booth where the research team was set up to do post race tests on me. I gave them three more vials of blood and then they had me lay down on a table for 15 minutes while they took more pictures of my heart with the ultra sound. Laying down felt so good! After only five minutes or so I was fighting to stay awake. Once the pictures of my heart were complete, the helped me stand up. My legs stiffened up a little while I was laying down so it was a little hard to walk. They wanted to get my weight, but as I was standing up, my ears started going mute. Having passed out before I knew what was going to happen if I didn’t sit down. I told them what was happening so they laid me down on my back on the grass in the infield and put my legs up on a chair. I figured I was close to passing out because of the blood they just drew and the fact I stood up quickly. It felt great to be laying down again. They put a blanket on me and I dozed in and out of sleep laying there for about an hour and a half or so. Mark fell asleep sitting in a chair to one side of me and Holly stayed close to me in another chair. She conversed with one of the researchers for a while. Around 5 am or so we went home and slept for a few hours. I finally took my socks off and noticed I had several blisters. None were really too bad and a couple days later I had two more toe nails turn purple, making four in total that I may eventually lose.

Awards Ceremony, Sunday June 28, 2009:

Jez Bragg, Scott St. John, and Me at awards ceremony - Photo by Mark Hartell

We had a few hours of sleep until we had to wake up and head back up to Placer High School at 11:00 am for the awards ceremony. We had to find a spot to squeeze into underneath the large canopy to escape the hot sun. The awards ceremony was a nice way to finish off the weekend’s events. The trophies were awarded to the overall winners for Male and Female and the runners who finished in under 30 hrs. were awarded belt buckles. Since I finished in under 24 hrs, I received a silver belt buckle. I also receive a nice jacket for finishing 3rd in my age group (18-29). Looking back at my original goals, I finished in under 24 hrs, I beat Dean Karnazes, and most important of all, I had a blast! I was asked several times if I would run this again or if it was a one time thing. Of course I said I’d be back! Look for me again in the years to come! A big thank you to Holly for supporting me in my goals and for all of her love and support! Another big thank you to Camelbak, Clif Bar, the Auburn Running Company, Scott St. John, Mark Hartell, the Johnson's, and my many support crews (the Boberg's, Engelbrecht's, Maxfield's, and Rico) for keeping me fueled and hydrated out on the course. Happy Trails!

1 comment:

  1. I was fortunate to get selected in this year's lottery and found your report as I'm reading as much as I can about Western States so that I"m as prepared as possible and put myself in a position to succeed. Congrats on a wonderful experience and thanks for sharing.