It’s been virtually a yr since I have written something, that’s actually a disgrace. Tonight I opened a bottle of New Belgium La Foile, and determined to let the cards fall the place they may. What follows is a little bit of prose on my personal expertise operating 100 miles for the first time, and a bit of race report. I can respect that some misplaced souls may be looking the net for details about the Ute 100 questioning if it’s the proper race for them. In that vein, I will happily provide some details about the course and different logistics. We could?
Into the Darkish, Into the Light
Should you’re only enthusiastic about the race report, it gained’t harm my feelings for those who skip right down to it. In any other case, please, let me share a number of thoughts about what operating 100 miles in the mountains meant to me, and what I took away from it.
2018 has been a yr of problem. Melancholy is a standard bond that, for whatever purpose, too many of us in the extremely group seem to share. Explaining how melancholy feels to someone who has by no means skilled it, is a bit like explaining why you run 30, 50, 100 miles to somebody who doesn’t run. Perhaps there, we discover one thing reassuring in others who do endurance activties, something that says “hey brother/sister, I get it. I know. I’m searching for something out here too”. None the less, it can be onerous to talk about, with all the associated stigmas which are hooked up. I am an open individual though, and the judgements of others fall on me as leaves in the wind.
Relationship struggles and melancholy left me in limbo, in consequence my coaching for this race fell by the wayside. I stored up with my operating, but I by no means made it to the Sierras for the 2-Three weeks to acclimatize, that I hoped for. It was by way of a really probability assembly with a couple of different runners that the Ute 100 turned potential for me. It’s a type of long tales, so I’ll attempt to shorten it right here, as a result of I do want to speak about it. It was a day of dangerous weather, on prime of Mt. Tam, that I discovered myself operating with Julia Millon, whose identify you may know in the event you have been present when Western States honored her with a memorial this yr, or perhaps you’ve also shared some miles during a race, or just out on the trails. She and I crossed paths a handful of occasions that day, waving to at least one another, finally our paths joined as we headed up the East Peak for the second time. In just a couple of miles I used to be capable of glean a lot from this younger lady. She had a spark for life, and for operating, that was fiery. Her openness and charismatic nature was, merely put, fantastic. There isn’t a faking being fearless, and I recognized that in Julia immediately. When she and I reached the parking area at the East Peak, we ran into Ginny LaForme. Assembly Ginny up there wasn’t the pivotal moment although. Another runner came down from the summit, yelling and laughing about hail and nasty weather. His identify was Dan, and Julia says, “hey, I know that guy! I haven’t seem him for a year!”. In order that they hug, and we all begin speaking. Dan and I exchanged info since he was local, and ultimately we all went our separate methods.
Several months later, I get a message from Dan out of the blue… “Hey man, I saw your name on the roster for the Ute 100, I’m running it too. I have no pacer, and no crew, you should ride up to Utah with me and do this thing!”. It was a type of dangerous concepts that you simply just know is the only thing that makes any goddamn sense! I used to be hesitant although. I referred to as Dan up and as we talked he mentioned how tragic it was about Julia. I was floored to seek out out that she had died simply a couple of months prior. I felt a bit awash in emotion right then. Julia had touched me in a method that day that I didn’t understand, her passing was a wake up name that life is fragile, and spending time aside from chasing your goals have to be some type of travesty, because we’ve so little time as it is. Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. Dan was a catalyst right here, however I feel Julia can be each stunned and over joyed that it was an opportunity meeting together with her that inspired me to run my first 100 miler. I can see that she touched the lives of so many people, and I think about myself fortunate to be one in every of them.
I actually didn’t anticipate to complete this race, being very underneath educated for it. One or two other operating pals inspired me, saying “the 100 miler will change you”. This type of considering isn’t overseas to anybody who has been around the ultra operating scene long sufficient. The mysticism that shrouds the hundred mile distance is the sort that swirls into your goals in thick, billowing clouds, and steals your focus at any moment in your waking hours. In operating films we hear others tell of their shamanistic journey into the darkish, going into the ache cave, finding bottom, and so on. Yeah, for those who run 100 miles something ought to occur! Right?
As I ran, I found myself coming again to these words “the 100 miler will change you”, and I stored waiting for that second. Whatever it was, I was positive I’d know when it arrived. The miles got here and went, and by some means the great religious experience eluded me. Was I too broken to permit myself to have it? The thought was deflating. I wouldn’t accept the concept that in the midst of a personal disaster, I might exit and run 100 miles in the mountains, and it will be identical to another day. Then the epiphany got here. What I noticed was: this is me, this is what I love to do, and this is where I love to be. It wasn’t a transformative experience I was having, it was an affirmative expertise. In a way, it was also a sort of transformation, because in the last yr I’ve been slightly distracted from what I love to do, and it was a reminder to get back to being who I’m.
Many occasions I have pushed hours to arrive at some dusty trailhead, sleep in the dust, wake up early, throw down some espresso and a fast breakfast, then hit the trails for what often turns into an extended and troublesome day in the mountains, desert, or wherever. So yeah, this was a bit more mileage than my typical self supported jaunt, but kind of it was that have that I do know and love. My considering turned clear at that time, and I really dug in. I turned very present and stopped waiting for something to happen, it was occurring!
I got here away from this sense I have by no means had a more clear understanding of the place my middle is. The instincts and actions that come from that middle are these that may be trusted and relied upon. On too many occasions in the previous yr, I’ve not listened to my instincts and acted in ways in which have been contrary to how I felt about conditions and different individuals. I allowed myself to be just a little off stability, and it brought a whole lot of struggling into my life. Now, my ft are back beneath me. I’m reminded to reside by my beliefs, and to act from my middle, to be genuine in all I do.
I’ve already deliberate my subsequent mountain operating (self supported) adventure, and I will greater than doubtless join Javelina Jundred. Tramping around the trails is the place I belong. The Ute cemented that concept with me, I don’t assume it is going to ever be something that may be shaken.
The Race Report
Okay, so let’s do the race report now. I’m not likely going to cowl info that you could simply discover on the Ute 100 web site. It is best to know that this race is in the La Sal Mountains of Utah, it has about 20,000 ft of elevation achieve, loads of time spent over 10,000 ft elevation, and peaks out above 12,000 ft elevation. This is already a critical course. Add to that, climbs which are typically steep, trail surfaces which might be incessantly coated in giant, unfastened rocks, some help stations which are 12-14 miles aside, no pre-packaged food at assist stations, and temperatures that may vary from warm to scorching. Now you’re getting the idea that this race could be very, very robust… or no less than you need to be.
The minimize off was 40 hours. Sean is holding that for subsequent yr. Only one runner finished sub 24, and that man have to be robust as nails, because damn, the effort required to try this is herculean! On this course, 30 hours or less is an effective time. I recommend operating the Speedgoat 50okay earlier than signing up for Ute. For those who can cling with that, you’ll have a good idea of what awaits you at the Ute 100.
Moab is a cool (scorching as hell) desert town with numerous outdoorsy stuff to do. Dan and I rented an enormous ol rowdy Jeep and went 4 wheeling out on the slick rock. We had a blast. I nonetheless can’t consider the shit we crawled over, dropped into, and bounced off of in that jeep! We also checked out Arches, which is 20 minutes outdoors of Moab.
Heading to ArchesYup, Arches!Dan pointing the jeep at the sky!At the Colorado River Overlook, La Sal’s in the distanceTesting the Colorado
I might advocate staying in town for the complete journey. The “campsite” at the start end is a scorching dustbowl. Air conditioned rooms at the Inca Inn, Super eight, or whatever can be what you need the night time earlier than, and especially the night time after operating!
Both the bib pickup and the pre-race assembly have been late into the evening on Friday, which was not superb. After a 40 minute drive back to the race start / camp, we set into remaining preparation for the next morning, and obtained to bed around 9:30. Automobiles have been trickling into camp all night time, individuals opening and closing doors, speaking, and so forth… I’ll have got 2 hours of sleep. The day began early, we have been awake at 1:30 AM for the 2:30 AM obligatory pre-race verify in. The race begin is at Three:00 AM. That’s an early start!
CampThe cleanest porta potty ever! Thoughts BLOWN!
My plan was to go tremendous conservative. I needed to finish and never blow up. I assumed 32 hours seemed affordable. After climbing to Mann’s Peak at 12,300 ft, I was starting to feel more spent than I imagined. A female runner that I passed on the means up joined me, proclaiming in a considerably nervous, but completed tone “This is my first mountain… AND I’m scared of heights!”. Sean had left a growth field enjoying Beastie Boys on the summit, earlier than he para-glided off (yes, that happened), so I informed her to take pleasure in the music, absorb the views, and then we might descend. A very good plan, besides she had fallen earlier in the day and banged her knee up pretty badly. I saw that she was having hassle scrambling down the talus subject (that might be a jumble of massive, chunky, unfastened rocks) so I provided to stay together with her, just to make sure she didn’t take a fall, making her state of affairs even worse, or probably ending herself permanently. After accompanying her to a manageable part of path. I ran down the switchbacks, back into the scorching temps at decrease elevation.
Nice forested part of the courseConsidered one of the better rocky trails, they worsen.Path up to Mann’s PeakNonetheless smiling on Mann’s PeakThe boombox, hahaha!Some views from 12,000+ ft upMore views
The scene at the mile 43 assist station was a grim one. I appeared around… that woman appears dangerous, that man is hurting, that guy dropped (a Onerous Rock finisher that I had met the day before), that man is puking… and on and on. I sat down, feeling way more spent than I assumed I must be, and now behind on time. I lingered for a very long time, questioning if I had perhaps gotten in over my head for my first hundred. A man that was laying down, and regularly puking, ultimately talked to me: “Hey man, are you injured?” he asked. Nope, I’m simply wiped out, I replied. “Well, look how effed up I am right now, and I’m about to get up, and walk back onto that course. You better be right behind me!”. Wow! That was what I needed to listen to. A moment to remind myself to stop wallowing in self pity, and to remember my inspiration. That man is Stormy Phillips and the grit he confirmed in that second, and once more later in the race was one thing special. I am just one guy with no expertise at this, however his words and actions have been to me, the distillation of what this is all about. For sure, I received up, and acquired back on the course – and I by no means considered quitting once more. We shared some miles collectively and talked with depth and sincerity, it was getting dark, but the mild would return. (Thanks Stormy!)
One thing about the hundred miler, it gives lots of time I discovered. That point can be utilized to relaxation and get well, and things can completely flip round over the course of a long term like this. From speaking with many runners during my race, I observed another widespread thread; lots of them had returned to races a number of occasions earlier than finally getting their end. Wasatch, Leadville, Angeles Crest… these are robust races, and to have the psychological fortitude to return after not one, however 2 or 3 DNF’s is an inspiration. Lesson discovered? The 100 mile distance is a wonderful screed if you want to spend time with some really good individuals.
The night time got here and went. I paired up with Peter and his pacer Michael so we might all assist encourage one another via the dark, and the longest climb of the race. Sunday arrived with the sunrise, and was scorching once more. I simply stored operating the downs and whatever else I might muster. I had been surviving on bacon, potatoes, and watermelon, plus about 30 gels that I brought. My abdomen was okay, amazingly. There was a poop break in there somewhere, which value me another 20 minutes or so. After the last huge climb (and what an ass-kicker that was, gaining 800+ ft per mile, ~85 miles into the race) I ran most of the approach in, passing about 12 runners earlier than ending in 36:22. I had lived to tell the tale. When Sean gave me a high 5, a hug, and put that buckle into my arms I used to be entire. I went and located Dan, who completed in 31:44. Extra high fives and bro hugs, then we broke down our dusty camp and acquired a lodge room again in town (I’ll NEVER break down camp after operating 100 miles once more, complete exhaustion!). Dinner, sleep.
Monument Valley views from the Devil’s Anus loop!Finished, and accomplished!
Rose and Thorn
Would I run this course once more? I dunno! That was punishing! The volunteering was nice. Prime notch displaying, it’s clear there’s loads of love for Sean and his races, because individuals came from throughout to volunteer this and maintain us. There was also the typical awesome camaraderie out on the course; different runners and their crews have been excellent to me (Peter, Stormy, Sean and Brenda… taking a look at you all). I in all probability would run it again, only because now I have run 100 miles and I know what to expect of the Ute course. I might undoubtedly push for a finish time nearer to the realm of 30-32 hours. If the climate was just a little cooler, it will have helped too. So yeah, that curiosity goes to be in the back of my mind, and you can’t complain about the surroundings in any respect; it was lovely which can make it that rather more engaging. I’ll in all probability be back! For now though, on to other trails!
“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage” ~ Anais Nin.