Father’s Day gave me a couple presents. Nicole gave me drum lessons so that I can actually start to know how to make something other than noise. I can’t wait. Nicole and Dylan drove Bob and I high up the Western States trail so we could run from N44 to Foresthill. I missed a turn at Last Chance but a couple miles later we were back on track. The run provided a good warm-up to the canyons of WS. We took a break before climbing Devil’s Thumb and took a few minutes to jump in the river (see picture above). Saw one other runner coming down from Michigan Bluff and a couple horseback riders. Even after refilling our bottles at the pump at Devil’s Thumb, we still were out of water at Michigan Bluff. So we hitched a ride back to Bob’s car at Foresthill. Saving us about 6 miles. Good decision.
Nicole and Dylan took me out for some rice at Fat’s for dinner. A great time with the family.
Feels like we’ve spent more time the past couple weeks on the road than at home. Last weekend we were in Wisconsin and Chicago. This past week we were over in Santa Rosa for work on Thursday and Friday. Then stayed through Saturday for a graduation party. I spent Saturday morning up in Annadel on the Lawndale trail. My legs are feeling the miles today and I decided to take the day off from running.
What were we doing in Wisconsin? Crewing for Julie Fingar at the Kettle Moraine 100 Mile Run. Quite an experience…
It’s about 55 miles into this 100 mile Kettle race and we are waiting for Julie. It’s been about two hours since she ran out of the last major aid station. Nicole headed back to the hotel with Dylan a few hours ago. It’s probably after 4 PM, we’ve been up since 4 AM after having came in from California at around 1 AM. I’m going on 3 hours sleep and not sure if we will be getting any sleep tonight. Julie should be arriving any time. I’m waiting with Julie’s sister Sally. The skies are starting to darken and the wind is really picking up. Earlier in the day, we were seeking shade in the hot sun and humidity that drenched you. We were hoping for a shower or two, but this is looking ominous! As we wait in the car in a grassy field, a lady approaches us and says we can head over to her house and use her basement. I guess these tornadoes can be dangerous. We opt to wait and take our chances. Suddenly, the rain starts to fall, first a few drops then the skies unload. Then we hear the thunder and see the lightning. Pretty soon, it is absolutely pouring and the lightning is everywhere. We hear lots of tornado watches are in effect and wonder if they are going to stop the race. Negative.
Pretty soon, some runners start arriving, some not wearing shirts from the earlier heat. Most looked a little shell shocked. They come in, load up, then head out the other side. For those running the 100K, they have another 7-8 miles to finish. Close but not in these conditions. Julie comes in with a small group of a couple other runners. We take her MP3 player and tell her to stay with the group. There’s nothing she could change into that will keep her dry in this kind of weather. In a minute they are out on the trail and on their way to the 100K mark.
Sally and I grab some coffee at The General Store which is a tiny store in the country that has everything from lattes to high end Trek road bikes. We head over to the next aid station and wait for Julie. It’s at this next aid that she can start to run with a pacer. As her pacer, my job will be to run with her the last 37 miles, keeping her motivated and moving towards the finish. She comes in, still in 1st place and spend a few brief minutes in the aid station then we say goodbye to Sally and Julie and I turn around and run out. As we leave, a couple of the other lead women runners are coming in so she has about a 5-7 minute lead. The rain has let up but is still coming down. Mosquitoes are a nightmare. We run the flats and walk the climbs. We are moving pretty well but Julie’s stomach keeps giving her problems. Around mile 69, a female runner passes us along with her pacer. For a few minutes, Julie has a new surge of energy. We pull into the next aid station and the stomach issues start taking center stage. Julie’s not having a good time and keeps debating whether or not to stop. I try to encourage her to continue on and that there is still enough left in the race for lots to happen. This race is not over. The next few miles are shifts from wanting to run to wanting to stop. We are now running in the dark, the trail has turned very narrow and we wind through some dense wooded areas. Julie’s not having a good time and the conditions are not helping. It’s raining. It’s hard to see the trail as it is very narrow and the wood is pretty thick and overgrown. After we arrive at the mile 77 aid station. It must be somewhere around 11 PM. A policeman talks to one of the aid station volunteers, something about we should all be inside. Another volunteer hunches over his computer looking at weather images and I can hear it is only going to get worse in the next few hours. Other runners are coming and going. Another female pulls into the aid station along with her pacer and she takes some time before heading out again. The 2nd place male is already heading back to the finish (as this section is and out-and-back), in good spirits and shirtless. We take some time for Julie to assess the situation and her decision is to stop. Soon enough, we climb into the Sally’s car and make our way back to the Janesville.
A race we will never forget. Even a week later, the area is being hit with severe flooding. It’s hard to imagine they even were able to complete this race.
Less than 2 weeks to go until the Western States 100 Mile Run. Here’s a link to the story of the 1995 race, one of the toughest. Here’s a link to the story of the 1995 race, one of the toughest.