The Red Footprints

The Red Footprints of The Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run

The Red Footprints of The Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run

A couple times a week my run will take me along the last mile of the Western States 100 mile run. If I have time for a 1 hour and 10 minute run, I can hit the Western States trail at the Overlook for a couple miles and then catch the last mile from Robie before passing through downtown and heading home. I love this run. And when I take Dylan, we stick to the pavement and connect to Robie after stopping to visit the horses and can be home in 1 hour. Either way, my feet follow the red footprints painted on the street that lead runners home after they’ve run 99 miles, and most of the miles were not easy ones but the kind that leave an impression on your body that it will never forget. About 6 or 7 years ago, local running legend Rae Clark started painting the footprints to help the Western States runners find their way to the finish line at the high school stadium. Most of the runners will take this last mile in the dark and will be so tired at this point, they will not even notice the steps leading them home. Out of 100 miles, only a few are on pavement and this is one of the them. This last mile goes through the neighborhoods and into the stadium and then does one lap around the track before crossing the finish line. It’s an amazing place to be in late June.

Now we are back from Denver where I paced the 3:40 group at the Denver Marathon. Yes, that’s right: 3:40. I was scheduled to pace the 3:30 group but Dave Bea kept pestering me to change times with him and how he couldn’t even run that slow and how he could miss his flight and so I switched with him. Normally, I pace 3:10 and he paces 3:20 (although, yes Dave, you can run much faster), the fastest pace group Denver offers is 3:30. I had a great time pacing the 3:40 group. Denver has a nice course through downtown and then through many of the Denver parks. Weather was perfect (unlike the snowy weekend before) and Nicole, Dylan and I had a good time Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday, Dylan ran the kids race and had his picture taken with Frank Shorter.

1972 Olympic Gold Medalist Frank Shorter, Dylan and me.

1972 Olympic Gold Medalist Frank Shorter, Dylan and me.

I guess I should feel lucky even making the trip after Frontier Airlines overbooked our plane and I had no seat on the flight out to Denver. When we arrived at the airport less than 1 hour before take-off, all the seats were taken. But when one passenger didn’t show up to board, I was able to use the vacant seat. From now on, we will always try to check in before even leaving for the airport. Lesson learned.

The jet set life isn’t all that it is cracked up to be. Sure the private jets are nice, the 5 stars hotels are a luxury, the all night parties the night before can be dangerous, and you can’t beat all the CLIF bars you can eat in a weekend and a bright pair of Nike shoes. But it always comes down to helping someone finish their first marathon or getting someone to a new PR. When we cross that finish line and see the joy in those red flushed faces, it means we’ve probably been able to tag along on a journey that someone will never forget. Back at the hotel after the marathon on Sunday, we tried to sneak a 30 minute nap in at the hotel before grabbing lunch and then walked around the 16th Street Pedestrain Mall before catching our flight back home.  

Here’s my Garmin data from the marathon.


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