If you want to see the video version of Western States 2013 Watch here! If you want to read the report, grab a beer and read on.
Wednesday June 26: Travel Day. All systems go. Meredith and I are at the Austin airport early for our 6:10am Southwest flight. We’ve bag-checked (no fees!) the same stickered Rubbermaid cooler and 3 cheapie camp chairs that we bought at the Truckee grocery store in 2006. Meredith’s already been up since 2am for her now routine 90 minute pre-flight bike trainer workout. Pacer #1 Bryan “BMort” http://rogueracingteam.wordpress.com/rogue-racers/bryan-morton/ is also at the airport, his girlfriend Sarah dropped him off. Crew members Justin and his girlfriend Jeanmarie are here too, they kindly reshuffled their Bighorn 100 travel plans for a taste of “Statesmas” after Justin got hurt earlier this year. Justin’s Jansport backpack has duct tape all over one of the shoulder straps and looks like he stole it from a 5th grader. It also has a race # sharpied on it from previous duty as an aid station drop bag. Classic. Team Terranova (all members) are first class and ready to go. The security line is virtually nonexistent, so much so that our acquaintance who monitors the priority line is surprised when we navigate our way through the general boarding maze. (We see her and other TSA employees so often at the Austin airport that they usually recognize us). I grab pre-flight coffee, and go for the Ethiopian blend because they’re the fastest runners offered. BMort has made some scones and they are delicious. Next, we see our friend Mike who’s off to upstate New York on a business trip and to catch some sightseeing of Niagara Falls (no he didn’t bring his own barrel). We share some laughs and he’s off to his gate. Our first flight to Vegas is on time as well. Exiting the plane in Vegas, we get partway to our next gate and BMort realizes that he left his carry-on bag ON THE PLANE. Oops. Mulligan #1. While he returns to the aircraft, Meredith, Justin, and Jeanmarie hit the Coffee Bean and the Wheel of Fortune slots. Like, what else is there to do at 7am in Vegas? When we arrive in Reno BMort remembers his bag this time J First stop: Whole Foods for group shopping adventure. My sole job here is to pick out the coffee. Peet’s Uzuri African Blend for more fast runners from East Africa. While Meredith mans everyone’s food needs she also has the WF pizza guy make us 3 giant uncooked pizzas for Thursday night pre-race dinner. Down to a science. 5 people, luggage, and groceries all stuffed into one Ford Explorer, off to Squaw! Somebody jokes about leaving the popsicles in the way back exposed to the hot sun, mulligan #2? We giggle as we pass through the produce checkpoint, it’s a beautiful day already and the mountains await. We make it to Safeway in Truckee for “economic stimulus” package #2, then to the Squaw Valley Lodge for check in. RD Craig Thornley is walking by as we pull up, calm, cool, and collected despite just learning that he’ll have to find a new start line location for Saturday’s race due to irrigation/landscaping work. We motivate for a post-flight shake out run up the mountain. I only go 30 minutes up and then head back down. I’m wearing the Bondi-Bs that will take me from the start to Foresthill (mile 62). Entirely comfortable in a long sleeve, short sleeve, and beanie. Unpack. Meredith and Jeanmarie head to Truckee bring back burgers, while the guys sneak off to the hot tub and work on our tans (GTL!). Dinner is awesome. Meredith goes over the remaining details of the race day crewing plan. Fueling plan has been nailed down for awhile now, so the biggest detail we have to go over is who is going to hand off which bottle. Jeanmarie takes notes like the accounting graduate student she is. Meredith has been gently teasing me the past couple weeks about my pathetic splits in the last 20 miles from last year’s race, comparing them to her 2010 sub-24 hour year http://www.wser.org/wp-content/uploads/stats/wser2010.xls . She makes it clear that there will be NO WALKING from Robie Pt (mile 99) to the finish. And no hissy fits. Tough love. Justin spills the beans about us hitting the hot tub without the girls. Busted. We say hi to Aliza http://alapierre3.blogspot.com/ and George just arriving from their, what has become standard, delayed flights from Vermont.
Thursday June 27: Prep Day #1. We meet Aliza and her Salomon teammate Cassie for an early morning run. George is going mountain biking and the rest of my crew is heading back up the mountain for some fun time on their own. Cassie, Aliza, and I do a short out and back on the paved path out of the Olympic Village, enjoying the quiet morning and catching up. The ladies head up the mountain, I opt for a shorter (and rolling) route over by the golf course. I’m wearing a different (newer) pair of Bondi-Bs that will hopefully take me from Foresthill to the finish. Entirely comfortable in a long sleeve, short sleeve, and beanie. Back to the condo for breakfast and coffee. Relax. Pray. Read. Stretch. Repeat. Bryan returns and we hit the Western States Store. I bring back a couple patches, stickers, and ’09 WS Program with Graham Cooper on the cover, and the ’82 and ’83 Desperate Dreams documentaries for some pre-race entertainment. (In my opinion, Graham’s the only other athlete I’m aware of who’s capable of becoming the second person to complete the Grand Kona Slam.) The crew returns and Justin commences eating. His eating will not stop for the next 4 days. If I have one tapeworm (Jacques), Justin has two (George and Jose)!!! Lunch. More relaxing. Pray. Read. Meredith meets Aliza to go over her fueling plan. Quick dip in the hot tub. Dinner, remember those 3 pizzas from WF?! A friend from Massachusetts Sam joins us for dinner. We head over to the pool for some chill time and for Meredith to catch a swim. The ’82 Desperate Dreams viewing leaves us longing to watch the ’83 version (and for the invention of the sportsbra), but we opt to save it for tomorrow night.
Friday June 28: Prep Day #2. Bryan, Sam, Meredith, and I meet Aliza and George for a morning shake out run. Aliza and I pose with Meredith pretending to “quarter” her and keep her each as our own pacer. We both know how good she is! Aliza has Adam and husband George as her pacers; she’s in great hands. Nothing fancy: warm up, some pick-ups, stretch out, done. Today, I’m wearing a pair of Pearl Izumi Emotion N1s that might get the call somewhere in the last ¼ of the race. I’ve worn them for up to 50 mile races so I know they are up for the task. They are fast. Entirely comfortable in a long sleeve, short sleeve, and beanie. Same outfit I’ve been wearing all week and it’s getting a tad bit rank. My short sleeve is the bright green Pearl Izumi 2013 Quadrock 50 shirt. Despite a 20 minute PR on a slightly longer course, this is the race that could have “shaken my confidence.” http://www.irunfar.com/2013/06/2013-western-states-100-mens-preview.html Karl gives me a nod: http://karlmeltzer.com/2013/06/6-days-till-we-sprint-around-in-a-circle/ Andy gives me decent credit: http://www.irunfar.com/2013/06/andy-jones-wilkins-pre-2013-western-states-100-interview.html I head back to the condo for a quick snack and coffee before check-in/weigh-in, getting there just before 9am, thankful to have missed the rush. Stan Jensen http://www.run100s.com/ is there to greet me. Suddenly, I’m in a zone already and small talk evades me. Blood pressure high on the first try, tech tries again and it’s back to normal, maybe it’s the automated cuff machines she remarks? Weigh-in is good, no issues. Very cool Mountain Hardwear duffel bag, brown WS100 hoodie, stainless steel WS100 mug this year, and Udo’s Oils Samples (a staple in our house). Shoe/equipment survey is the bottleneck so the questions get shortened to: Brand of shoes? Brand of socks? Bottles or pack? Handheld or headlamp? (can you guess what my answers were?) J Back to condo for full breakfast and then packing. Drop bags for Red Star Ridge (mile 16), Last Chance (mile 43), Devil’s Thumb (mile 48) and Auburn Lakes Trail (mile 85) have been packed for weeks, but they get double-checked, and then zipped up. New batteries all around, but deep inside I’m hoping not to need lights for very long. “Better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.” Relax. Pray. Read. Lunch. Drop-bag drop off. Meet the Pearl Izumi Team for some pre-race photos and chit-chat. Meredith jokes with Nick (Clark) http://irunmountains.blogspot.com/ that the most commonly used word in pre-race interviews would make a solid drinking game: how many times did runs talk about the weather and the “suffering?” Drinking game for Saturday would be for: “carnage in the aid stations.” I present two of the PI Grand Slammers that I know, Clark, and Pedatella, each with envelopes that read “2013 Grand Slam of Ultrarunning – Golden Tickets.” Inside are 4 Southwest airlines drink tickets, each sharpied with the names of the 4 races: WS, Vermont, Leadville, Wasatch. They’ll need them for the flights home, nothing takes the edge off of swollen feet and ankles like a Wild Turkey bourbon! Pre-race meeting. New location is great, and Jeanmarie has graciously pre-staged the 3 camp chairs in the shade with a good view of the “stage”. A bird craps on my hand. That’s good luck right? We see Ian Sharman and Jonathan Shark, and wish them good luck on the start of their Slams. Meredith and I crewed and paced Ian at his Rocky Raccoon 100-mile record and again at 2011 States where he ran his way into the top-ten. Jonathan, a Major in the Army stationed at Joint Base Lewis McChord (Washington), was deployed overseas last year with my brother-in-law Ryan, and we have him largely to thank for passing the ultra-bug onto Ryan. Dinner – my pre-race usual and Meredith has a feast prepared for all of us in no time. It doesn’t stand a chance. We slide in the ’83 Desperate Dreams movie, grab my pre-race DQ tradition and go back in time 30 years. They were pounding the Coke and Pepsi even back then! Scott Wolfe drops by to share the last of some local pre-race homebrew. I jokingly ask, “Is this laced with something that is going to make me piss hot tomorrow?” Haha.
Saturday June 29, Go Time!
2am wakeup for my usual pre-race breakfast. It goes down fast and easy by the light of my headlamp. Try to go back to sleep but I’m already wide awake even without a sip of coffee. Get dressed, stretch, roll out with my TriggerPoint Grid foam roller http://www.tptherapy.com/ It’s rarely been far from my reach these past 2 years, along with a massage stick and lacrosse ball. Bib # and chip pickup, gorgeous morning already. Weigh-in #2 done, about 5 pounds heavier than yesterday, no issues after a huge dinner and breakfast. Contacts in, nipple band-aids on, thinksport sunscreen http://www.thinksport.co/thinksport_LIVESTRONG_sunscreen.html on, lube in all the right places. I’m relaxed and at peace. Sipping on a bottle of raspberry Skratch http://www.skratchlabs.com , we make our way to the start line. The Boss, Bruce Springsteen is playing on the sound system when I enter the starting corral with about 10 minutes to go. Always a good sign. Share some pre-race handshakes and hugs with Pedatella, Aliza, the Queen, and RD Thornley. I’m as excited for Craig as he is for us, yes, “it’s really going to happen!” Kiss from the wife, hugs with the crew, please drive safe to Auburn y’all. Time to go piss with the big dogs.
The hike/run up to the Escarpment is easy and pedestrian. Position myself near runners to benchmark off of, I don’t need to be at the front, just close enough to not be stuck in “no man’s land.” Meltzer, Uhan http://joeuhan.blogspot.com and Pedatella are good company to be in near the top. Bob MacGillivray with Drymax http://www.drymaxsocks.com catches some great shots of us. I top off my water bottle at the aid station and we’re up and over the top. MUCH different than last year’s freezing rain and horizontal wind. Music on. Uhan takes off like a speeding bullet into Granite Chief, I suspect he wants to win this race and can’t afford to let the lead pack get too far ahead. Patience, patience, patience. Jacob Rydman http://jacobrydman.blogspot.com comes by me and he appears to be running well too. Mile splits of “7-6-8” will get me to Duncan Canyon (mile 24), where my crew is headed towards. Take a gel before Lyon Ridge (mile 10.5), top off water, grab a gel on the way out that I drop while screwing the cap back on. Return to aid station to retrieve gel. Mulligan #3? Even though I’m on 17 hour pace, I’m somewhat leery that it’ll be a day like 2006 (HOT). At all costs, do not run out of water or fuel. This is the least familiar section of trail for me as I’ve only run it once during last year’s race, where it felt like such a scramble. Much easier this year. Music in my ears is great. Relaxed. Let’s do this Greg. My fuel bottles have “GB” sharpied on them, in remembrance of a great friend Greg Bourgeois who passed away over Christmas after a short 6-month battle with brain and spinal cancer. http://grandkonaslam2012.wordpress.com/2012/07/19/running-for-a-friend/ Amazingly, his wife Naomi has now taken up running and has her eyes on a first marathon next year, so proud of her!!! Red Star Ridge (mile 16) approaches. I reload my fuel and water bottles, ignore my drop-bag, it’s really only there as a back-up or if it’s a “2006-like” year. Off to Duncan Canyon. Mike Morton http://www.runmortonrun.com/ comes floating by me and is looking very smooth and comfortable. He’s a compact dangerous dude! More relaxed running. Absolutely stunning morning so far. Right on 17-hour pace. Crew is there. Vest swap, sunglasses on, ice water in mouth and on head, cold wet bandana in hand, couple swigs of cherry coke, 3rd bottle of ice water, efficient, we are on it.
Jacob and I leave Duncan together. He’s running great and I clumsily snag my left toe on a root or a rock, catching myself with my outstretched left hand and wet, now muddy, bandana. L Collecting myself, I let Jacob go run his race and reel in Joe and the other leaders. From here, I’ve memorized mile splits of “6-6-3” to get to Dusty Corners (mile 38) and my next crew point. Duncan Canyon creek offers the first opportunity to un-muddy my bandana and resoak my visor. Bondi-Bs are wet, heavy and I’m slow up the climb to Robinson Flat (mile 30). I’m looking forward to a porta-potty break there but realize I can’t make it that far so dash into the woods and take care of business. Back on the trail I am moving well and have not lost a position. Weigh-in at Robinson is spot on, and I top off 2 water bottles with ice and water, reload my fuel bottle, music still on. I’m outta’ there and pick-out Pearl Izumi’s Scott Tucker cheering me on, thanks Scott! The run in to Miller’s Defeat (mile 35) and then Dusty is rather uneventful, except for surprisingly coming back up onto Jacob who has slowed. I ask if he needs anything, though I’m not certain that intelligible audible words actually made it out of my mouth. By the time words are reformed and spit out, I am physically already only 10 feet downhill but my mind is already at the aid station, locked on. Sorry Jacob. Crew is waiting, my thumbs are up: vest swap, ice water, cold towel, cherry coke in the 3rd handheld this time, Meredith walks me out. My crew is doing amazing.
My next set of mile splits are “5-5-5-3” to get to Michigan Bluff. I’m feeling great, and then surprise Yassine http://www.yassinediboun.com/ standing and stretching in the middle of the trail. He must have had earbuds on because he jumped when I asked if he was okay! After leaving Last Chance (mile 43) I come upon the normally resilient Dave Mackey https://twitter.com/mackeydave . This time, I get some intelligible words out and ask if he needed anything. Nope. Wow, can the carnage really be starting already? This section of trail is burned into my mind, having run it backwards from Foresthill to Last Chance and then forward to Michigan Bluff on day 2 of Memorial Day training camp and again forwards on Day 4 from Robinson to Cal-2 with Joe and Jacob. It is easy, and I time a gel perfectly so by the time Swinging Bridge is in sight it’s fully absorbed. Quick stop at the spring to soak bandana, head, visor, and refill my 3rd water bottle. Off I go to Devil’s Thumb (mile 48). A hiker offers up this little nugget: “well you’re not alone out here, but the next runner is at least 10 minutes in front of you!” Not sure if that was supposed to make me feel better or worse… J It’s partly shaded here, so sunglasses go up on the brim of the visor. Regardless, I hike most of the Thumb, careful to bide my time and not burn any matches. Hydrate, fuel, hydrate, cool. The hiker was right, totally alone out there until reaching the aid station! My weigh-in is up a couple pounds from my morning weight, and I’m read the riot act about hyponatremia by the medical staffer, who continues to hound me as I go about my business of cooling off with cold sponges, accessing my drop-bag, getting bottles refilled, snagging a lime green popsicle (same color as the Quad Rock 50 shirt). Got it, thanks lady. A bright light off to the right catches my eye, it’s the bleach-blonde head of Cameron Clayton http://www.salomonrunning.com/us/team/clayton.html sitting against the trunk of an immense tree, more carnage. Trotting out, the popsicle dissolves in my mouth and the stick gets stashed away in my vest pocket for safekeeping, as maybe it has some kind of fortune or saying on it. I suck down an extra S! Cap and mosey down the trail, eager to keep making forward progress.
Throughout training the past 2 months, a 2006 NorthFace photo of Kami Semick http://kamisemick.blogspot.com/ dousing at Devil’s Thumb greeted me every morning to remind me of the importance of heat training, thanks Kami!
The 5-mile descent to El Dorado Creek (mile 53) is an absolute gift and I dial up the tunes a couple of levels and relish the heat building in the mid-day. The aid station volunteers greet me with ice cold sponges and towels on my head and shoulders, I bend over at the waist as the cold briefly takes my breath away. They say I’m in 11th place and looking great. Slamming cups of coke, I mosey my way out for the 3-mile section to Michigan Bluff. This is another 45 minute hike/run I’m not about to burn a match on. Densely wooded at the base, shades go back up on the visor. Suddenly I’m no longer alone and whip my head around to eye my competitor’s absent race number. The runner quickly identifies himself as the Michigan Bluff medical captain who I later learn from friend Lee is Kevin Sawchuck http://kevinsawchuk.blogspot.com/. “What’s going on, has somebody gone down?” I ask and he gives me a brief synopsis of how the race is playing out in front of me. Despite it being 2pm in the afternoon, Kevin easily runs the steepest sections on his way back to Michigan Bluff as I settle into a sustainable groove. Closer to 18-hour pace, the Bluff is here, it’s alive, and there’s no hyponatremia riot act this time after weigh-in. Meredith shepherds me through as I snag a couple pieces of Pay-Day bar from the aid station and get another thorough dousing. We are all business: the usual plus a swap of mp3 players. Headphones have already been unplugged on the run into the Bluff. Exiting, I’m stunned to see Uhan walking towards me, no way I took a wrong turn. His eyes are hollow and he declines my offer for salts or gel. Now M10, there’s still work to be done and I roll on, taking advantage of every tangent and shady area of the gravel logging road. Before long, I DO have competitive company on the descent into Volcano canyon, this time it’s Karl, man that guy is good. He takes his time reeling me in and we enjoy steadily traversing the switchbacks. Volcano is living up to its name – like an oven down there. Deferring to Karl, I sidestep the trail to let him by, noticing what I think are cut-down Bondi-Bs on his feet. (I later learn from Karl that these are the Rapa Nui Comps available in Europe). We get to the creek and I remind him (and myself) not to slip on the rocks, which I did last year landing awkwardly on my hip. Karl is gone up the climb as I douse with the cold water. Almost to Bath Road (mile 61). This feels longer than it should but finally it’s here. Justin greets me with two bottles of ice cold water and we hike up. He quickly gets a shuffle out of me that turns into a run all the way to Foresthill (mile 62), nice. Another good weigh-in, huge dousing, cups of sprite from the aid station. Trotting to the car, there is rich applause and plenty of camera time. My change of shoes and socks is waiting by the camp chair, Jeanmarie has the iciest coldest towel on my head, cold fuel, which is a welcome change to my palate, a bold spectator, who the crew later tells me they befriended, who at first I think is Lee helps peel off my soaking Drymax Trail Running v5 socks and gets a slightly thinner pair of road Drymax Max Pro Running v5 on as my feet and toes tend to swell late in a race of this distance. The lace work is on me and I’m aware to ensure the chip strap finds its way back onto my ankle. Thankful to have not had a Joe Kulak (2nd fastest all-time Grand Slammer) http://www.wasatch100.com/alltime/gsalltime12.pdf 2006 endurance “moment” at Foresthill, it’s onto California Street!
Bryan and I take off and we joke about the 50km “yog” in front of us to get to Highway 49 (mile 93). He’s never run this trail so it’s my gift to him to share what I know and have learned along the way. During Memorial Day training camp, friend Ian Torrence http://iantorrence.blogspot.com/ entertained Emily Harrison http://emilyandbee.blogspot.com/ and me with stories of prior races and anecdotes of pacing this section of trail. My turn to pay it forward. We navigate the tricky little road crossing and I fiddle with Meredith’s mp3 volume button and accidently turn it off. Not knowing instinctively how to turn it back on, I quickly abandon resuscitation efforts and we proceed onwards. Two friends on a Saturday afternoon training run, right?! The past couple of months Bryan has endured 5:30AM pop-quizzes on the aid-station splits and times I’ve assigned him. The first couple he failed miserably. His girlfriend Sarah offered to help. An easily remembered “35, 35” will get us to the River at mile 78. After 2 sharp hairpin turns, my toes go jamming into the front of my shoes, OUCH that hurts. Laces too loose, my fault. STOP right now, sit, snug ‘em up. Done. Let’s go. We hit Cal-1 and I’m all over the Sprite and the sponge bucket. Leaving, we have company in the form of Jesse Haynes http://jessehaynes.blogspot.com/ and his pacer coming into Cal-1. Good times. I remind Bryan to stay with the pace we’re on, no need to react. This comes naturally to us, we train together and we’ve paced both the Austin and Houston Marathon 3-hour pace groups together multiple times. Jesse and his pacer blow by us and suddenly we’re M12. No worries, lots of running to go. A mile or so out of Cal-2 (mile 71), we sneak by Jorge Maravilla http://www.maukarunning.com and his pacer and as we reach the aid station, Jesse is back in sight. We leave first after reloading and dousing, but not for long, Jesse is soon back, running well, and by us in a flash. The next thing I know, 2-time WS champion (2007 and 2009) Hal Koerner is in sight and walking. We slide by without breaking stride. Elevator shaft, done. Cal-3 (mile 73) is a quickie stop, splash and go, locked into the siren call of the American River. Sandy Bottom, done. C’mon river! Before we know it, Jesse is back in sight again, and oh lookie here, somebody else (Jeremy Humphrey http://stayvertical928.blogspot.com/ ) is with them. I’m not sure if they see us. Bryan and I hold back while I get a gel down, shake out the arms and legs. The trail opens up to Jeep road and we briefly spread out before gently sneaking our way closer. How cool, virtual M8, M9, and M10 hitting the river all at the same time! We are on their six, and I ask out loud, “who’s ready to go for a swim?!” Heads turn. “I am!” J Around the gate we go and I remind Bryan that I’ll weigh-in real quick and to meet me at the crossing. I’m stunned that we’re crossing in boats again, but it is what it is and we’re first in, accompanied by Jesse. Immediately, I do my best 2010 Geoff Roes http://akrunning.blogspot.com/ impersonation of him repeatedly splashing water on his head, then I share a quick anecdote with our river guide of how in the ’82 and ’83 Desperate Dreams movies, they crossed in an aluminum boat with an outboard engine. His reply, “well, today I’m your engine.” Fair enough! On the far side, Meredith is waiting for us and yelling for Bryan to get wet as I am. Exiting, I lay down in the water for about 10 seconds and submerged my whole body and head, careful not to dislodge a contact lens. Wow, that feels good. Jesse has wasted no time and is up the climb to Green Gate (mile 80) in a flash. We are all in great spirits and I ask how Aliza is doing in the women’s race. We get to running, and updating from the adventures of the rest of the day, and before long Karl is back in sight, obviously going through a low moment. Meredith offers him cold coke, which he declines preferring to suffer without help. Through the aid station, fresh vest from Justin, sunglasses and earbuds off, Bryan has already reloaded his vest and smartly grabbed his headlamp too. I decline mine, opting to first get to Auburn Lakes Trail (ALT) (mile 85) where my drop bag has 2 small backup handhelds. Out the gate (which is grey by the way), Jesse is on his way back in, wanting to change shoes. Off we go…
“6, 5, 4” to Highway 49. We have been flirting with just over 18-hour time and the running is still good at 7pm. Training camp weekend, Lee and I rolled this section to No Hand’s Bridge (mile 97) on Day 4. Lee is pacing Don Freeman http://trailrunnernation.com/ today and I wonder how they’re doing. Jesse and pacer #2 catch back up to us in the run-in to ALT, Bryan skooches off to the downslope edge of the trail as they come by and nearly takes a tumble. I jokingly thank them for trying to kill my pacer! J Weigh-in, drop-bag, handheld light, and we’re off, beating Jesse out of the aid station again. For real? I like a good game of cat and mouse but this is getting ridiculous. They are smartly on us again and Bryan is more careful this time. We stay motivated by running without lights until we get to Brown’s Bar (mile 90). Christmas lights, music, it’s all good. Lights on, quick feet on and around the rocks, grind up that climb, lots of American flags flying at Hwy 49 (mile 93). Before getting to the aid station, I tell Bryan that I’ve secretly stashed a Texas and American flag in the crew backpack, and to pull them out for the finish. We smile. Visor in hand, headlamp on. Let’s do this. Get it son! (inspirational words from our friend, Brad)
Meredith assumes the pacing duties here and immediately lets me know that we have some work to do to come in under 18 hours. “3, 2, 1” to the finish at Placer High track. She strings me along until further than I wanted and I beckon her to stay closer. It doesn’t motivate me to have her so far in front. We’ve danced this dance before at Vermont and Wasatch. We hit the meadow and see headlamps. Just a bunch of kids. Unlike last year, the downhill running is great and I am now on her heels to No Hands Bridge (mile 97), which we hit with a growing cushion towards breaking 18. Mer knows the trail likes she runs it everyday and knew just how hard to run up to Robie Point (mile 99). No walking this year, no hissy fit. Steady hike on the steep pavement and then we’re back running. Jeanmarie, Justin, and Bryan meet us on the road and we enjoy an evening run with friends in the Auburn darkness. Mission accomplished. Jeanmarie hands me the flags and I give her my vest and headlamp, we have plenty of time. My sub-14 minute split from Robie to the finish bests Mer’s 2010 split, and proudly trumps my 23min split from last year.
“1987: Out of Stater Wins – Unfazed by the stifling heat (114°F recorded in El Dorado Canyon), Mary Hammes of Fort Worth, Texas, became the first non-Californian (man or woman) to win the Western States. Herb Tanzer overtook Steve Warshawer in the last six miles to win overall.”
To the best of my knowledge and easily searchable Western States 100 information, my 2013 8th place finish is the first ever top-ten finish by a male Texan, something I’m incredibly proud of and will not soon forget.
I’m amazingly thankful for the running and triathlon “gift” that God has allowed me to explore. Words cannot express my gratitude for the selfless contribution of Bryan, Jeanmarie, and Justin. Once the finish line was crossed they continued to “crew” and deliver some well earned In n Out burger to the track as we cheered on finishers for a little while. Meredith – the TEAM effort was once again a winning one. Huge thanks as always to Jack & Adam’s Bicycles and High Five Events, Pure Austin Gym, DryMax Socks, Bonk Breaker Energy Bars, Soleus Watches, Advanced Rehab, thinksport, RunSmart, Rogue Running, and Eating & Living Healthy for enabling me to train and race at my potential.
Thanks for reading y’all!