I’ll try to keep this one short. For starters it happened an eternity ago. There’s no such thing as an easy hundred miler, and this summer’s choice of races proves that point. What the hell was I thinking signing up for 2 of these brutes, especially as S7 cones a mere 3 short weeks after Bighorn. Bighorn was a suffer fest of mud and rain - my slowest finish yet; time to redeem myself and nail this distance, I thought as I accepted Stoked Oats’ generous offer to race as their guy.
Here’s what goes down.
HEAT: I’ve run Western States but this was brutal. Somehow the brain is psyched and prepped to be fried in the canyons of the American River. I’m not ready for the heat of Crowsnest Pass. Should’ve been in the sauna more, and should have treated the conditions with more respect. I don’t drink enough early on, and you know how that goes...schoolboy errors.
PACING: Evertone knows this. It’s all too easy to go out full gas at the start of 100 miles. I should know better. This was no. 7. I’m a veteran, no? There was a lot of big talk from runners who shall remain nameless as to who was going to do what to such and such a course record. Unfortunately what you plan to do and want to do, don’t always come to fruition. I have my own goals, but I’ll keep them to myself pre-race. I was hoping to step on the podium, to run strong in the second half and finally break the curse - jeez, how many times have I finished 4th or 5th now - just missing out on a podium spot in a 100 mile race - it’s getting a bit silly, really! Mmmm, poor fuelling early on, and a pace a bit too fast a bit too soon after Bighorn...you live and learn. Good bye podium finish.
HALLUCINATIONS OR NOT: 70 miles in I come into an aid station - ridiculously dry, nauseated but thirsty, lightheaded and woozy, I lay down for a few minutes. I try to chug down some lemonade - it looks good but tastes barf-worthy (is that a word?); still it’s better than the lukewarm water on offer everywhere else. I sip a bit, lay down with my feet up - trying not to pass out. Yup, definitely dehydrated and low on BP - I need to get moving otherwise I’m done, and what will the crew chief say; so I stand, stagger and shuffle my way down the trail. A minute later I dash into the bushes and empty the guts. A brief reprieve from the nausea but wow, that’s not good. Woozy as anything I lift my head ....... a clown stares down at me. “Yard Sale” is emblazoned across a sign he is holding. A full sized circus clown with a yard sale. Good grief I’m hallucinating.....that’s a first - I chuckle and stagger off down the trail wondering if it’s time to pull the plug.
THE TALK: Donato has paced and crewed me before. Saira - aka Crew Chief - knows the scoop in 100 mile racing. Wise words like “you need to HTFU” have been whispered in my ear at Leadville. “You are not gonna teach your kids it’s OK to quit” - she knows how to get me moving. Unless there’s a bone poking out, there’s no way to quit on her watch. After a miserable 20 minutes at TA5, during which time I attempt to eat a donut (spitting it out of my bone dry saliva-free mouth after an eternity of chewing), consider drinking a Radler beer (I should have) and then drink everyone’s coffee from Timmies (man, I love coffee), Donato in his infinite wisdom informs me that the pain of dropping will be with me for a long time, and that another 5 or 6 hours on the trail won’t be that bad. Crew chief tells me I can’t quit. Hell you have enough time to walk every step to the finish. OK man I’m off. With a renewed vigor (short lived) I head out.
SLEEPY HOLLOW: Stage 6 sucks. It sucks bad. It is steep and loose and never ending. I’m dehydrated and hypoglycemic. An aid station materializes in the darkness. There’s a comfy looking thermarest over there with some kid asleep on it. He grumbles as the Aid Station captain drags him off to make room for me and I sleep. Timmies obviously doesn’t have much caffeine in it I think as I drop off. First time ever in a race - I’m sleeping - that’s another first. I startle after 30 mins. Time to move on - dropping here means a long descent back to TA5. Much easier to pop over the pass and drop at the next aid there I’m informed. Mike Hamilton passes me looking strong. I no longer care about placing (funny how the goalposts are always moving). I plod on - so much for the ‘power-hike’ - ha.
RECOVERY and CLOWNS AGAIN: The recovery comes. It always does. I’ve learnt this much. Slowly at first, creeping up on me like that creepy clown in the bush. For me it’s always the same. It seeps into my legs and belly, almost unexpectedly. I’m thirsty. I’m hungry. Man, that gel was good. Vitargo tastes great. I love running hundreds. I gotta catch those lights ahead. The night is still and I am enjoying this dark vista. I crest the pass then down, down, down, it seems to fly by. Quads are good, I’m running. I can switch off from the pain in my feet. Oh - look, it’s the clown again. He’s pretty creepy at this ungodly hour, but he’s real. I chuckle again, and keep chugging along.
I FINISH: the finish arrives, sweet as always. I feel like I’m flying down the final stretch of pavement - Strava disagrees. RD Brian and my crew cheer me in. I stop running and that’s it. Another one in the bag. I always find it’s a bit of an anticlimax - except the States finish of course. I sit, grin, and chat to my supporters. The sun is coming up - it’s going to be hot; glad I’m done I muse. The buckle is sweet and bigger than the Leadville Sub 24 buckle. The bottle of Red is a nice touch with my name and time on the label - I’ll enjoy drinking that tomorrow. Man, that was tough, I hate hundreds; still the record is intact, 7 finishes, all sub 24, no podiums - 4th or 5th again I think...wonder which one I’ll do next......
Starting leg 4. Baking.
Donato pep talk - start leg 6 - feeling good, but it didn’t last!