Nov
12
2013

Race Recap: Cuyamaca 100k (My First 100k & Video!)

It was early in my second loop that my world started to crumble. Almost in an instant, I went from feeling strong and confident to pure death-march. My legs had felt like lead pipes dragging giant cinder blocks being hammered by pick-axes from below for miles. My stomach wanted to wretch all of it’s contents across the beautiful tall golden grass that surrounded me for miles in every direction. I had a decision to make: slowly crawl the next 3 miles to the closest aid station and asses the rest of my race or turn around and hope the downhill 4 miles back to Cuyamaca Camp didn’t kill me before I hung in the towel. While I dragged my feet forward, still clawing towards the next aid station, I replayed earlier stages of the race in my mind, almost like an old VHS tape, inspecting every moment to pinpoint where I went wrong. I was jarred back to reality when I heard the footsteps approach me from behind…

PRE-RACE

OK, it’s been almost a month since I raced the Cuyamaca 100k. While I have posted my race recap video, I haven’t been able to sit down and crank out this race report. While I was worried I would have forgotten much of the details of the race, I’m relieved that much of the pain, joy, misery and heartfelt emotion are still engrained in my memory. So, let’s do this.

The Cuyamaca 100k sat like a calendar-demon, haunting me every day as it approached, mocking my training, pointing and laughing as I tried to increase my mileage in preparation for the October 10th race date. Months earlier on a whim, after talking to a few members of my SoCal Running Tribe about their future races, it seemed a few of them were going to run the Cuyamaca 100k. I had two 50 mile races and two 50k races under my belt, so I weighed my ability to complete a 62 mile race. Not having dialed in my 50 mile distance, I doubted I could finish in one piece. But, as one who fully embraces standing face-to-face with one’s own fears, I signed up, taking into account the months of time I still had ahead of me to train as best as possible for this particular race.

Got my game face on!

Got my game face on!

Coming off of my Squamish 50 finish and how miserably painful that course was, I really wasn’t too excited for the next challenge. Regardless, the weeks of training went by, my mileage stayed consistent, and I prepared my mind for the undertaking. I will say that there was a small part of me that knew if I could finish something like Squamish, I could finish this measly 62 mile race. Sure it was 12 miles longer, but no where NEAR as technical and with a few thousand feet LESS of vertical. I figured I was going to be as ready as I’d every be.

The day before the race, my good buddy Billy and I met up to make the drive southward together. We chose to save some cash and camp out at the start-line the night before and after. I have to say, the fact that the race directors allow this is awesome. While it might seem a nightmare to some to campout the night before a big race, I love me some campin’ and looked forward to my cozy sleeping-bag and camping grub!

With a quick stop in San Diego to meet up with my bud Russell over delicious java, Billy and I continued our adventure eastward. Camp Cuyamaca sits about an hour east of San Diego in Rancho Cuyamaca State Park. I had never been to this part of the state before, but was surprised at how lush and green the area was. While there are peaks covered in the typical SoCal desert flora, many have woods and plenty of coverage to protect you from the daytime heat. It was beautiful.

Billy and I set up our tents within feet of the start/finish line, grabbed a beer (pre-race carbo necessity. That’s a pro-tip right there.), and started to make our pasta dinner when we were joined by a 3rd member to our crew, Guillaume. He arrived well after sunset so watching him set up his tent and gear was perfect dinnertime entertainment. After hanging out for an hour or so, we explored the grounds, found the (clean and WARM) bathrooms, and opted to get an early rest for the early race start. The chilly night air soon became frigid desert freeze so I was happy I had brought an extra blanket and down jacket to keep me warm.

Our home for the next 2 nights.

Our home for the next 2 nights.

As my head rested on my memory foam pillow (Fine. We were GLAMPING), I checked in mentally and prepared myself for what tomorrow would bring. I was surprised at my lack of nerves and my body’s willingness to fall asleep so easily. Honestly, before any race I run, it’s typical for me to toss and turn like a mother fucker, sleeping nary a wink. But on this night, I was out. It must have been my mind and body giving up on having any preconceived notions as to what would happen the next day. They were ready to deal with whatever would happen. So I slept. All night.

RACE DAY

With a race start of 6:30am, I wanted to be up-and-at-em by 4:30am, giving myself plenty of time to eat, prep my gear, and drop a deuce. My body naturally woke up around 4:15 and I could hear the sound of other campers rustling in their tents as they donned their race gear and packed their drop bags. One thing was for sure, it was FUCKING COLD.

I hopped out of my tent to see Billy and Guillaume already awake and taking care of business. We ventured over to the nearby rec center to pick up our bibs, bags and schwag when we saw there was food for breakfast, coffee for the tired, and plenty of goodies to fill our bellies before we raced. Awesome! I should have taken this as a clear indicator as to how well all the aid stations would be set-up for the rest of the day. Just top notch. I grabbed some grub and coffee and headed back to change into race gear. I plan on making a video soon outlining everything I bring and prep for my races, so stay tuned for that.

A brief gear rundown: I opted for shorts, knowing that while it was freezing now, the morning and afternoon sun would quickly heat up the trails and I’d regret anything longer or thicker (ew.). I rocked my Train.Race.Beer. singlet and my North Face arm warmers, knowing I could easily moderate temperature along the way. I grabbed my Salomon S-Lab 5L pack, two bottles (1 17oz flask, 1 24oz bottle) for upfront, and 1 bottle (20oz UD) I would stash in the back for emergencies (I wish I had had 3 bottles or a bladder during Squamish!). For shoes, I went with my trusted Salomon Mantras with my Hoka One One Stinsons as back-ups. Socks: always Injinji. Always.

Suddenly I could hear the race director, Scott, making race announcements inside the rec center, so I hustled in only to hear him say, “Alright, that’s it, have a good race!”. FUCK! What’d I miss?? As I walked around the now-chaotic room full of racers, I ran into our fourth run-crew member, Sally McRae. She assured me I didn’t miss anything and it was mostly announcements about the wrist bands for each loop. So the Cuyamaca 100k is cool in that the course is divided into 3 distinct loops, each of varying distances and new trails. Each loop starts and ends at the campsite and with each start/finish you swap wristband colors so you know which flags you need to follow on the sections of trail that briefly overlap. A creative solution that kicked ass. Simple and effective.

Early miles still bring smiles.

All of the racers started pushing out towards the start-line. There were a lot of bad-ass lookin’ mofos at this race and the intimidation factor was high. But, really, what I’ve learned in ultras is that you are really only racing yourself and your own demons (unless you’re fast, then you’re racing other fast people cause you’re all fast and fast people race. fast.). There’s no point in comparing yourself with others cause chances are you’ll be passing some of them at mile 50 when you all feel like shit.

As we crowded around the start-line, I hustled to connect my watch to my HR monitor and confirm the GPS was up. I also wanted to have my camera rolling so I tried getting that going. Within moments, the race was underway and I was still fiddling with my pack, my gadgets and my sleeves. I was a mess. Before I knew what was what, I was moving forward and under the start-line banner of my very first 100k race. I was off. Like a bandit slug on a slow, slimy mission.

Cuyamaca 100k Loop 1

Cuyamaca 100k Loop 1

LOOP NUMBER ONE

I followed the crowd of runners along the fire-road out of the campground and onto our first stretch of single-track. The sun had already started it’s climb on the horizon so there was no need for headlamps at this hour. A light mist hung low on the grass and brush as we wound our way along the flat early miles of the 31.5 mile ‘blue’ loop. It was perfect conditions and I started VERY slow and very easy. I really wanted to finish this race strong and didn’t want running too fast early on to be the culprit in a DNF. I’ve been told that, “you’ll never regret starting an ultra too slow”. Unless of course you miss a time goal by 9 minutes (*cough* Leona Divide *cough*).

The first section of Loop 1 is an out-and-back that leads you to the Aid Station 1 at mile 8.2. During this stretch you see the leaders heading back out the other direction (which is always fun!) so I let each one of them have it with loud cheers and high-fives. I was stoked to hear each of them return my greetings and meet my high-fives! It’s been my experience that this is RARE from leaders. Granted this was early in the race, but man, it was awesome. Within minutes, I saw my buddy Guillaume looking AWESOME and fresh up towards the front runners. He’s an outstanding runner and I knew he was going to decimate this race (also his first 100k, BTW!).

Minutes after Guillaume, Sally came screaming by, smiling and cheering, in first place for women. I don’t want to spoil anything, but she fucking won the top female spot in am amazing 12:09:34. Girl is a BEAST and will be dominating the Ultra scene, mark my word. Ok, so I spoiled it. Whatever, just stoked for the girl cause she deserves it!

And a few minutes behind her came Billy, stomping up an incline like nobody’s business. We high-fived, cheered for each other and continued our run. I was stoked to see my friends and hoped we’d all cross paths again at some point along the trails. I ran into the next aid station quickly, assessed what I needed, and quickly ran back out. The rolling terrain continued for another 5.5 miles or so until the next aid station (Green Valley) which would mark the beginning of the biggest climb of the day, Mount Cuyamaca. In my mind, this mountain was going to be the biggest physical challenge of the day so I wanted to make sure I attacked it hard, but not TOO hard so I had plenty left in the tank.

As we started our last mile-long climb into Green Valley aid station, I came upon a group of 5 ladies who loved talking about asshole chafe and lady bits during ultras. Listen, as much as I love talking about the gross stuff, I don’t know a single dude who could have hung in this conversation. Honestly, it was hilarious, but we had a long day ahead of us and I started to have flashbacks of the ‘trailside shitter’ from my Leona Divide race which haunts me to this day. This convo was far too descriptive and full of personal anecdotes, that I had to either push on faster or take a break at the aid station. I chose the latter and took the opportunity to use the Green Valley’s campground facilities.

With a fresh outlook on life, I ran out of Green Valley with a handful of watermelon, freshly refilled water-bottles and plenty of energy for the climb. It was going to be a near-9 mile hike up to 6,000 feet. As the views got better and better, my feet started to get more and more pained. I didn’t know what was happening but my feet were abnormally sore for this stage in the race, especially for the level of effort I was exerting. I wasn’t nervous, just curious as to what I was doing that was causing the pain.

Cuyamaca Peak Fireroad

Cuyamaca Peak Fireroad

 

As we climbed higher up the mountainside, I was able to take in my surrounding environment. It was spectacular for as far as the eyes could see. We even ran into a large group of SAR rangers practicing techniques and procedures deep on one hillside. Needless to say, their questions as to why we would consider running that far were fun and a humorous distraction from the long climb. A climb that quickly shoved us back into forest and tall brush that showed a little remnants of the snow the region had received 2 days prior. The single-track dumped us out onto a paved road that seemingly plunged straight up into the sky for a good half mile. At the top of which waited a glorious view and magical aid station full of everything my stomach and bottles could handle. I took this moment to relax, breath in my surrounding beauty and beg the kick-ass volunteers for sunscreen I had stupidly forgot to apply early on.

With the monster now behind me, I could really just focus on finishing the mileage. I knew there would be 2 more big climbs, one in each remaining loop, but neither compared to Mount Cuyamaca – on paper that is. This next section of trail was probably my favorite simply because it was so technical. The descent off Mount Cuyamaca is a good 5 miles of Squamish-like rocks, roots, knots and mayhem I had plenty of experience on. While my feet were really beginning to bother me, I tried to carefully rip my way down this roller-coaster of a section into the next Aid Station. Once there, I dove into the watermelon (my new Ultra fav!), thanked the pink-skirted volunteers (majority dudes) and readied myself for the last 4 miles back to base camp.

Our buddy Josh at mile 31.5!

Our buddy Josh at mile 31.5!

That last stretch is a bit of a blur, a pain-filled, feet and leg cramping blur. By the time I did roll into Camp Cuyamaca, I wanted to rip my shoes apart and continue barefooted, knowing it would be less painful. No idea what was going on but I wanted it to stop. When I came down the fire-road towards the Aid Station captain that would swap my wrist-bands, I saw our good friend Josh Spector come running towards me with smiles and open arms. I knew he’d be there at some point during the day seeing as he was going to pace Billy for the last 18 miles, but I didn’t think it would be this early! He snagged and refilled my bottles, grabbed my drop bag and helped me tear the Mantras off my feet to let the dogs breathe. It was at this point that I decided to do something I haven’t done in any of my ultras: I swapped shoes.

While not a big deal to most, for me, I’ve had nothing but amazing experiences with my Mantras. This was the first time I’d even considered a change. I pulled them off and grabbed my Hokas. Still skeptical of the Hoka technology and all that cushioning (I had only been reviewing this pair for a run or two at this point), I hoped they’d at least give me a small amount of relief in the miles ahead. Josh helped me with my pack and bottles, I swapped my wrist band to orange, and headed out onto the 12 mile second loop with a flash of optimism.

Cuyamaca 100k Loop 2

Cuyamaca 100k Loop 2

LOOP NUMBER TWO

The difference was almost immediate. As I ran back out onto the course, I remember two things: passing by Guillaume as he finished his 2nd loop in a blazing time with smiles and high-fives, and feeling like I was floating on a cloud of fresh, pain-free, foot absorbing love-cake. That’s not to say that it was COMPLETELY gone. After running 32 miles over mountains, you’re bound to feel something. But, boy, had it been decreased exponentially. It was amazing and I had this newfound resurgence of life! Knowing that this loop started with a typically manageable climb, I harnessed the power of the Hokas and cranked upwards.

This is where shit hit the fan.

By mile 4 of this loop (race mile 35.5), everything in my body wanted to quit. Literally, like a light switch, my stomach turned south and my body became weak and depleted. I had kept up on my nutrition, salt, and water so I had no idea what was going on. The worst part was that this section of the race puts you smack-dab in the middle of nowhere. The East Mesa – as I’ve come to realize it was called but will continue to refer to it as HELL GRASS – is tall, thigh-high grass growing for as far as the eyes can see. I couldn’t see a single person ahead of me for miles, nor anyone behind me. I was by all standards completely alone. This is where the race depression started to kick in.

I was forced down to a lethargic mope. My feet barely making it past one another as I inched forward. I shit you not, I was going THAT slow. I tried sucking down a gel, but got the gag reflex. I tried getting more water in me, but that was met with resistance as well. My body wanted nothing to do with me, with this race or with anything I was trying to force into it. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for myself and go to that dark place in a race where you are surrounded by doubt, by fear and by panic. I felt desolate and helpless. I thought about letting down my family and my girlfriend, all of whom were sitting in front of their computers hoping to get a tracking update from the next aid station. I thought about why I was even attempting to run a stupid fucking race like this. I feared what I was doing to my body and of what might happen if I continued. I panicked when I thought about how I would quit if I wanted to and how the fuck would I let anybody know out in the middle of nowhere. I worried about the logistics of getting a helicopter to come pick my dying body up out of the tall grass, if they could even find me. My whole world was crashing down on me for close to 2 hours as I meandered through the endless HELL GRASS.

HELL GRASS!

HELL GRASS!

 

It was by far the worst I’ve felt in any of my ultras to date. And I may never know why. But I do know how I climbed out of it.

Her name was Jenny. I could hear her footsteps before I saw her come up from behind. I must have been so out of it that I had completely lost track of my surroundings and who was in it. As she came up on me, she said, “Hey there! How you hangin in?”. I told her, “Not well. Pretty tough spot right now.” I told her about the last few hours of struggle and how I hated this HELL GRASS. She agreed that it was a tough section, but assured that it would be over soon and we would be headed into the best aid station in the entire race. I thanked her and as I expected to see her continue ahead without me, she told me, “Let’s just take it easy. I’ll hang with you if that’s cool. You’re really going to LOVE this next aid station!”. It was as if someone reached a hand down into a dark well and yanked me back into the daylight. Nearly in tears, I said, “Hell yeah. Let’s do this.”

She kept the conversation going the entire time as we walked and ran up and out of the HELL GRASS towards more downhill single-track. She reassured me every step of the way that the worst was behind us. She asked if I had a pacer for the final loop (something this race allows but does not require) and when I told her that all my pacer options were RACING or no where near San Diego, she immediately asked if I wanted to hang with her and her pacer, Anna. Fuck yes. As we marched on, she told me stories of her first ultra back in ’93 (which I believe she WON) and all the badass races she’s run since. The woman was awesome, lives by her own rules and seemed to epitomize the “party hardest” part of my mantra, “Train hard. Race harder. Party hardest.”. She was AWESOME and exactly what I needed!

When we did finally roll into the East Mesa aid station (code name: GatorAid) all of my expectations were surpassed. Trays and bins of every type of food imaginable. Cold drinks, candy, chips, snacks, to-go baggies with tons of goodies, KEGS OF BEER. The list was endless and I didn’t want to leave. Jenny was quick to refill and mentioned she was gonna head out if I wanted to join. I told her I’d catch up and wanted to graze a minute longer. As soon as I saw her leave, I regretted the decision. She was my saving my ass with inspiration and I wasn’t about to fuck that up. I grabbed a to-go baggy and headed back out on the final 4.6 miles to base camp. I caught her about a mile later and we ran into Camp Cuyamaca together.

Cuyamaca 100k Loop 3

Cuyamaca 100k Loop 3

LOOP NUMBER THREE

When I rolled into base camp, I didn’t know if I would see any of my friends. I think the first and second place males had already finished and I didn’t know how well my Guillaume, Sally or Billy were running at that point. I gathered the gear I’d need for this last 18 mile loop, including a lightweight packable jacket, my headlamp and gloves. As soon as the sun set, it would be cold so I needed to be prepared for that. Jenny had grabbed her pacer and started back out when she yelled, “catch us when you can!”. I smiled and yelled back that I would. I grabbed more watermelon, refilled the bottles, and caught the 3rd place runner finish just as I was leaving. I gave him a huge high-five and congratulated him on an amazing performance! The dude was also holding a GoPro. I have since found his vids from the race and it turns out, it was HIS first 100k too! Damn. I have to step up my game!

I swapped my wristband to the final-loop-yellow, and headed out. The first few miles of this loop are relatively flat, but I knew there was a climb ahead. In order to avoid the disaster that was the second loop, I ran a reserved, calm pace. Just what my legs could muster, not much more. I still had a daunting 18 miles ahead. That’s a long ways and a lot could happen. The trail turned to beautiful rollers and I could see Jenny and Anna ahead by about a half mile. I kept my pace consistent in order to catch them reasonably quick. When I finally got there, their conversation was spirited, funny and I could tell these two ladies had been friends for a long long time. I was privileged to run along side them.

Just listening to their stories about their husbands, their party-RVs and their ultra races, I knew that if anything went south for me, these two would have my back and had more experience than anyone I’d met that day. I was in great company.

We continued our climb through Upper Green Valley towards the Sunrise Aid Station at mile 51. I looked down at my watch and got a bit emotional when it clicked over the 50 mile mark. While I know that the Squamish 50 was over 52 miles, I would classify this moment as my furthest run to date. The ladies applauded and cheered. I smiled and reflected on how better I felt then I did just hours before. Amazing how high the highs and low the lows in an ultra.

Heading up to Sunrise AS

Heading up to Sunrise AS

Sunrise Aid Station greeted us with screams and grub. I could smell the bacon from half a mile away. Being a vegetarian, we all have one meat-kryptonite. Mine is bacon. While I did not sample the goods, I could imagine those who do eat meat would just about camp-out here for a good hour before continuing on. Before I took off, the ‘chef’ demanded I take some sort of fresh made food. He folded a hot cheese quesadilla into a plastic sandwich baggy and shoved it into my backpack. At the time, I couldn’t fathom eating something so thick and rich, but man, my mouth is watering just thinking about that smell that followed me for miles.

The three of us, satiated by AS snacks, ran out onto the second to last leg of the course. This was all Pacific Crest Trail and all gorgeous. While the sun was setting to the left, we could see the flat desert far below to the right. It was a spectacular sight that I wish I had more time to see and experience in the daylight hours. It was time to break out the headlamps, jackets and warmth. As quickly as the sun rose in the morning, it set beyond the mountains.

I was able to reach back, grab my Petzl NAO headlamp and put it on without stopping. Before I knew what was up, I turned around and the ladies had stopped to get theirs. Rather than running on ahead, I slowed down in hopes I wouldn’t leave them too far behind. As I walked on, I turned around from time to time and saw that they hadn’t moved forward. I continued to slow my pace in hopes they would catch back up to me, but once I saw them moving again, I could tell they were taking it far easier then previous. I was torn. Do I wait and run with the ladies who had gotten me to this point or do I take advantage of my newfound strength and continue on, knowing they would catch me as I had caught them? I opted to keep trucking forward and wait for them at the next aid station a few miles ahead.

This beast turned night to day!

This beast turned night to day!

When I came down off the PCT and into the frigid valley below, it was pitch black, but you could see headlamps miles away up on hillsides and trails ahead and behind. I turned to take one last glance for the ladies and saw their lamps at least a mile back. They were still moving so I knew I should as well.

My legs, now just absolutely FRIED from the entire day, barely moved with each step and I found myself correcting almost every stride to avoid aches and pains all over my hips, groin, quads, knees and ankles. It was all I could do to just keep an even pace as my feet were just shuffling. I continued to down one of my last GU gels as I cranked into the final aid station, which was essentially a trailer and some rad volunteers parked alongside the Sunrise Highway. Here I was offered chicken noodle soup, but opted for the veggie broth instead. Holy crap. How have I never tried this in an ultra before? INSANE salty, insane delicious JUST when I needed it. Hot, salty broth makes a freezing ginger body happy. Noted.

Sitting in a chair, also downing some broth, was a young girl who had passed myself and the ladies some 10 miles back. She was looking strong back there, but now, not so much. I don’t know how long she’d been sitting there, but I’m sure she knew that the longer she stayed there, the less likely she’d be to get back up and run on. As I readied my pack and gear again, she stood up and asked if we could run together. I nodded and commented that it would be great to run the last stretch with someone. We said our goodbyes and thank yous to the rad volunteers who would be out there for HOURS more, and we took off on what was to be our last 7 mile stretch of the Cuyamaca 100k.

I shouldn’t say we “took off”. More that we “sauntered on”. It was evident pretty quickly that we both wanted this crazy day to be over as we steadily marched up the final climb and talked about how much our days sucked, how badly we wanted to be at our respective homes with our comfy beds to sleep on for a few days. While my body was pure pain and damn near destroyed, I could tell that I was moving a bit more fluidly than her. I asked if I could lead for a bit and she agreed. We didn’t talk much for the next mile or so, but by the time we crested the climb and I picked up the pace to run the last 5 miles, she was spent and waved me on.

These are the miles that never ended. All day I had been waiting for the last 5 miles which were supposedly downhill, fun and the extreme relief from a long hard-fought day in the mountains. Well, they were downhill, but they did not want to end. My mind never steered away from the moment I was in. There was no mental drift where you can zone-out for an hour. It was all I could do to keep my eyes from staring at my watch to count down the tenths-of-a-mile as they clicked by. I was getting frustrated with my body’s inability to move any faster, to finish the mother-fucker of a race sooner than later. I hated myself for doing it, but loved myself for dealing with it. I was emotional, but focused and driven. I knew I was going to finish, I just couldn’t wait to do it.

Loop 3′s elevation profile

 

The trail turned to fire-road. This was when I knew I was close. The last 2 miles are on fire-road and downhill. The road was riddled with huge rocks and cracks so my footing was sketch, especially in the pitch-black night. My headlamp provided plenty of light, but the fog from my breath caused a flickering effect that made seeing the ground challenging and dangerous. Before I knew it, I could see another headlamp ahead. I made it my goal to catch this orb of hope and run in with another human. By the time I came across the guy, he was so defeated and destroyed he could barely run and waved as I passed.

I was down to my last mile. Things started rushing through my head. I thought about my loving family, all of whom were watching their computers and cell phones intently, waiting for confirmation that I had completed my very first 100k. I thought about my loving girlfriend who always puts me first and is my biggest supporter. I thought about how much I do this for her and for them as much as myself and how much I love them all. I reflected on my friends and supporters who have gotten me to where I am, who continually challenge me to be better and stronger, faster and braver. I thought about the dark places that I spent so much of the day deep within and I thought about my ability to crawl out of the dark spaces, with the help of kind strangers and the simple words of encouragement. I thought a lot about a lot of things in this amount of time. And before I knew it, I was approaching the lights of Camp Cuyamaca.

I passed under the Cuyamaca 100k banner in 14 hours, 21 minutes, 42 seconds.

Earned the shit out of this medal!

Earned the shit out of this medal!

A LONG ASS DAY, that’s for sure. Scott, the RD, donned the medal around my neck, pointed to the hot food and hot showers and shook my hand in congratulations. I must say that I have to congratulate him on an amazing race, a beautiful course, incredible volunteers that saw to my every need at every aid station, and one of the best race experiences I have had to date. I was also surrounded by my dear friends who had been waiting outside for me to finish. As it turns out, Guillaume had a stellar rookie performance by placing 5th male in 10:33:44; Sally – as I mentioned – decimated the ladies field by placing 1st in 12:09:34, though I guess it was a gritty fight to the finish; and Billy – despite going off course for some crazy amount of time – finished in 13:33:40 with Josh as his pacer. Stellar performances by all and I am privileged to run with these guys and gal. Always impressed with their performances. Josh, you gotta RACE next year!

POST-RACE

Within minutes of finishing, my body went into shaking fits from the cold. But before I went inside, I wanted to wait for Jenny to finish. Soon, I saw a pair of headlamps heading towards the finish. Sure enough, Jenny and Anna, looking as happy and jovial as when I left them, came across the finish line in 14:29:45! Incredible! We hugged, clanked our medals together and thanked each other for the support to get us both through. I have to say I owe a huge part of my finish to Jenny and her ability to inspire and push me out of a tough spot that would have otherwise eaten me up.

She ventured inside to grab food while I quickly grabbed my shower-bag and headed for the hot showers – of which I spent no less than 45 minutes enjoying. Once my core temp was back up, I headed inside to the food stash. While there wasn’t much left at that point in the night, I tried to swallow anything I could muster. Billy shoved a cold brew into my hand and we sat on the soft couches and reveled in each of our day’s triumphs and close-calls. Before Josh and Sally had to head out for the night, we got in some great laughs and enjoyed each other’s adventures from the day. And just like that, Billy, Guillaume and myself cramp-walked our way back to our respective tents and bid each other good night. Between the legs constantly seizing from cramps, the frigid cold air and sleeping on the hard earth, I slept 2 hours that night. Then again, it could also have been the anal-chafe.

Again, I cannot thank you all enough for your continued support of this crazy running passion and I hope my stories help inspire you to face your fears and do something crazy one of these days. You don’t have to run 62 miles, you just have to have fun. Just make sure you train hard, you race harder and you  party the hardest.

The "Party Hardest" part of my motto is important!

The “Beer” part of my motto is important!

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About the Author: Ethan Newberry

Ethan Newberry is an actor/comedian/designer/bff that currently lives in Los Angeles, CA. You can see some of his work and other nonsense by visiting his website at EthanNewberry.com You can also find out more about why he put this site together by checking out his first entry on GingerRunner.com by clicking here. He can be seen performing live on stage in Los Angeles every week at iOWest Improv Comedy Club, Upright Citizen's Brigade Theater, and elsewhere. Watch some of hilarious sketch videos on his YouTube page here.

2 Comments + Add Comment

  • Love the video and love the race report. Totally inspirational.

  • congratulations!! i hope I run an ultra someday! A couple of friends have ran the guachochi in Mexico. They said it was mind-blowing! Ever heard of that one?

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10k (TRAIL): 00:58:10
11k (TRAIL): 01:08:51
15k (TRAIL): 01:24:01
21k (TRAIL): 02:29:27
HALF MARATHON: 1:47:42
FULL MARATHON: 3:43:58
50k (TRAIL): 05:47:54
50m (TRAIL): 11:09:00
100k (TRAIL): 14:21:00