I’m finally getting to recapping the race from this past weekend. I’ve also put together some of the footage that I took that day.
Week Leading Up:
Last week, the forecast coming into the race was not favorable. It was calling for 45* - 50* temps and rain all day. In the interest of safety, the race organizers decided to change the course from Point to Point to an Out and Back. This would remove some of the major river crossings and keep everyone safe. The challenge this posed was that my coach would now be all on his lonesome for 20 miles in the middle of the race. No crew support and no pacing.
The race was about 1 hour 30 minutes from my house and I wanted to be there by 5:30 am the latest. Needless to say it was a very early wake up call for me. The weather wasn’t too bad as I was leaving the house and I was hoping things would stay that way for a portion of the day. WRONGO!! About 20 minutes into my drive I hit rain and it was a steady annoying little rain. As I got to the start location, the rain was still coming down and you could already tell this was going to be a long miserably wet day.
Runners started to show up about 6:00 am and shortly after I found my coach as he was getting himself ready for the day. We headed out to the start line, the MC counted down, and away they went. I caught the start on the GoPro then we immediately jumped in my buddies Jeep to head off to the first aid station.
We weren’t meeting our runner at the first aid station as it was only 7.5 miles into the race. We still passed through as it was on our way to the second aid station where we would see our runner for the first time. As we crossed through the first aid station, I got my first glimpse of extreme trail running and the facts of what I would face later that day. Every runner we saw was covered from foot to knee in mud. Not little splash spots from running through puddles, this was caked on thick mud. Yikes!!
We got to the second aid station, parked, grabbed the stuff we needed, and headed towards the aid station tent. Honestly, there was about 15 minutes of waiting where we thought we missed our runner. Finally he came slogging through and we got to work for our first crew stop of the day. He was in great spirits, we only changed his jacket, and we sent him off. We grabbed the gear, jumped back in the Jeep, and headed off to the next aid station.
We were only 20 miles into the race, about 4 hours of running time, and the aid station looked like a tough mudder station. The picture below is from a bit later in the race but this is how it was all day.
We grabbed our runner and headed into the aid station tent. Things were pretty miserable for the runners. We decided to focus on getting him into dry clothes, refilling his fueling and water, and not really asking him about how he was feeling and how it was out there. Get him in, get him out. This was the big sendoff, he would be out there for a long 20 mile stretch without crew. He did have one drop bag along the way which was a huge bonus but that’s a long time not seeing your crew.
As soon as he headed off, we jumped in the Jeep and headed into town to grab some lunch. We had about 4 hours to kill before we would see our runner back at the same aid station. Grabbed lunch and even got to do some adventuring around the desert. The area was gorgeous.
About 40 miles, and about 9 hours into the race, and we picked up our runner again. There were some low moments in those 20 miles but overall he was in pretty good spirits. We did a full clothing change, changed shoes, restocked fuel and water, and got him ready for the next section. The good news, I was jumping in with him to pace through the next two sections.
The next two sections of running could only be described as…Incredible!! With 40 miles on his legs, this guy was clicking off miles like crazy. We were picking off other runners as we cruised along through the mud and rain. We ran the runnable sections, hiked the major climbs, and the whole time I was just amazed by his strength and determination to not only keep moving, but really run very strong when so many other runners were falling victim to the elements.
Our buddy picked him up at the last aid station to bring him home. I got back to the finish line location, changed into dry clothes and headed out to wait for them to come into the finish. Again, as I saw them come around the corner headed to the finish, it was amazing to see the strength as he finished up this tough day.
I ended up with about 11 miles running, but honestly this was probably the biggest learning experience in my running life so far. Not only my runner, but seeing all the runners out there giving it everything they had to fight through the physical demands and on top of that was the horrible weather conditions. Completely inspiring!! It was a long day but it was definitely worth every second