Monday, June 28, 2010

Western States 2010 -- Race Report

Robinson Flat
Getting my buckle from The Legend. Only 18 more to go!
Michigan Bluff
The only two repeat top-10'ers
The top-10 assembles


For the past six years my goals for Western States have essentially been the same each year:

1. Run my own race.
2. Test the limits of my physical, emotional and psychological abilities without pushing beyond them.
3. Finish in the top-10.

I am thrilled to say, as I sit here in Auburn early on this post-race Monday morning, that on Saturday I achieved all three.

I knew going into the race that it would not be easy. The field was extremely deep and talented with both newcomers and veterans and the conditions were forecast to be benign, at best. Fortunately, I was coming off one of my best training cycles since 2007 so I was cautiously optimistic about having a good day. Plus, it was the Big Dance, after all!

My good friend Craig Thornley and I stayed together in Squaw Valley and after seeing my family off to Auburn on Friday afternoon we settled in for a good solid rest.

Race morning dawned clear and cool. The usual excitement was coursing through the starting area and I enjoyed spending the last few minutes catching up with friends and enjoying the environment. Also, knowing that I would not be in the top-tier of runners at this race it was also nice to experience the race, a bit, as a spectator in these last few moments knowing that the favorites for the win, Geoff Roes, Hal Koerner, Kilian Jornet, and Anton Krupicka, were about to blast off into Western States history. They certainly did not disappoint.

After the gun I settled into a relaxed pace and enjoyed the sunrise and the release of adrenaline that always seems to accompany the first hour of Western States. I also enjoyed chatting with Gary Robbins on the climb up and could tell just by talking to him that he was primed to have a good day. Once over Emigrant Pass we dropped into the Granite Chief Wilderness Area and encountered the first of a series of snowfields. It didn’t seem to slow the pace all that much but it was interesting to observe how different runners handled running in the snow. And, it was quite obvious, which runners had no experience in snow!

The snow section gave way to the new “Snow Route” which was really quite lovely. About a mile before the Lyon Ridge Aid Station on the Standard Course, the “Snow Route” turned left onto a muddy two-track and began a long, 7-mile descent to the French Meadows Reservoir. This descent, while quite gradual, made this course about 20 minutes faster for my split from the start to Duncan Canyon. And, the toughest part of this stretch, was the last 1.5 mile-climb to Duncan through a quickly warming exposed burn area on a trail that looked like it had been cut yesterday!

Once back onto the standard course on the descent into Duncan I settled into a nice rhythm and realized that it was not as hot as I thought it was going to be. I moved among a small pack on the descent to the canyon and the climb to Robinson Flat that included Mark Lantz, Rod Bien, Erik Skaden, Justin Angle, Troy Howard, Victor Ballesteros, and Glen Redpath. The race for M10 was clearly taking shape.

I met my crew at Robinson Flat, ate a nice Greek yogurt, grabbed some supplies, and hiked out of there on the snow covered road up to the top of Little Bald Mountain. Someone told me they thought I was in around 20th place. The section from the top of Little Bald to Last Chance, which is almost all downhill, has always been one of my favorite parts of the race and is usually a place where I reel in some of the earlier runners who may have gone out just a bit too fast. And, sure enough, when I rolled out of Last Chance at 11:35am I was in 10th place. I had passed 10 guys in 12 miles and for the next 57 miles I would need to, at worst, hold onto my position, something that has become more and more difficult each year.

I wanted to run Deadwood Canyon in 1-hour flat and I hit it right on. The river bottom was hot but the rest of the climb was surprisingly calm and I was able to eat a turkey, cheese and avocado sandwich on the way up. I was a bit frisky on the descent to El Dorado Canyon and hit the bridge there in 40 minutes flat. This was faster than I had planned to run and I could feel a bit of sauciness in my quads on the climb up to Michigan Bluff. I arrived at the Bluff around 2:15 and needed to re-group a bit. This was my first low-point of the day and I knew from experience that I would need to use the crossing of Volcano Canyon as a recovery section before Cal Street. I took in two cups of double strength chicken broth and headed out onto the Road to Foresthill. On the descent to Foresthill Glen Redpath and Rod Bien passed me. I was in 12th place.

Scott Wolfe, who would run the River to the Finish with me later on in the day, met me at the bottom of Bath Road with my last turkey sandwich of the day and helped me ascend the road steadily and calmly. We rolled into Foresthill at 3:18 and after a quick re-fuel I took off with Bryon Powell to the River.

Bryon has paced me on this section a couple of times and he really knows how to get me through the heat and the challenge of Cal Street and this year was no different. After cruising the descent to Cal 1 we proceeded to run the critical section between Cal 1 and Cal 2 quite well. The highlight of this particular section was Bryon’s all-out face plant on the “Elevator Shaft.” He did a full frontal Superman dive into the dust and jumped up without breaking stride, it was classic. Also, through this section we passed Rod and Phil and were playing leapfrog with Glen. I could tell from running with him many times before that Glen was having a really good day and that he was likely the stronger of the two of us today. As we crested the hill on the sun-baked road just before the River Crossing this was confirmed. Nonetheless, we shared a boat across the river and once across Glen took off. I would not see him again until Auburn.

I also felt some angst leaving the River as two of the great guys in the sport who had been out in front of me all day were apparently through for the day. On the near side, Leigh Schmitt was sitting in a chair, apparently done and on the far side Hal Koerner was hanging out where the boats dropped us off. On the one hand, it was nice to know that I had jumped from 10th to 8th place. But, on the other hand, I was bummed that these two great runners would not be finishing this year.

I returned to the matter at hand and began the climb to Green Gate. Scott had come down to the River to make the transition with Bryon and we hiked steadily up to the Aid Station running a few sections but mostly just using the climb to recover from the heat and pounding of Cal Street. After a quick turnaround at Green Gate, Scott and I rolled out of there at 6:30 and in 8th place.

The relatively easy run from Green Gate to ALT was actually pretty disappointing. For some reason I was just in kind of a lull and actually rather complacent. As a result, by the time we arrived at ALT I had done the section in an hour (typically I shoot for 55 minutes) and Ian Sharman had caught and passed me. 9th place.

Ian’s pass gave me the shot of motivation I needed and I ran much more smoothly from ALT to Brown’s Bar hitting that split in about 50 minutes and staying on top of nutrition and hydration the entire time. I had also given myself added motivation to run hard by intentionally not picking up my headlamp at ALT to force myself to get to Highway 49 before dark.

We descended out of Brown’s Bar at 8:25 hoping to get to Highway 49 by 9:10. At this point, Scott really raised the bar as a pacer. Knowing that downhill’s are my strength he got me rolling fast on the descent and forced me to carry the momentum onto the Quarry Road. As a result, I ran the section from Brown’s to the base of the climb to Highway 49 in a Race Day best of 23 minutes. This, I spite of Scott’s best intentions to distract me when he donned a Nacho Libre mask about halfway up the river road.

Sure enough, Scott’s efforts, Mexican wrestler’s masks notwithstanding, got me to Highway 49 at 9:10. And, it was still light out. I know this may not seem like a big deal to some people but for me, getting to Highway 49 without a flashlight has always been a benchmark of a good race. In my previous six races I had only managed to do that twice, 2005 and 2007. So, I was in good spirits leaving Highway 49 at 9:11 hoping to get to the track by 10:30.

We settled into a nice hike/run up to the Cool Meadow and then kept things steady until the descent to No Hands. Scott said, along the way and knowing my obsession with microsplits at Western States, that “tonight we’re going to make the 15 minute switchback into the 13 minute switchback” and, while we didn’t exactly do that, it did seem to me that we made good time to No Hands Bridge and crossed at 9:50.

Now, as one might expect, given my experience last year of being chased up Robie Point and getting M10 by 23 seconds, I was a bit concerned about what was going on behind me at this point. So, as we crested the first little hill above the river Scott looked back.

“JizzleWizzle, we have two sets of lights coming down the switchbacks. Probably three minutes back. You need to move.”

Scott brilliantly urged me to think of the climb up to Robie in three segments; the Flats, the Rollers, and the Climb. It worked like a charm and by the time we hit the pavement the lights below were out of range. We powerhiked the final climb and then settled into a hard tempo effort to the track. The finish was, once again, a huge thrill and I was really psyched with how it all evolved. 17:31:24, 9th place.

Guess it’s time to book our rooms for next year☺

Monday, June 21, 2010

Men's Poll - Final Tally

There were 264 votes cast in the poll and the Big Four played out this way:

Anton 75
Kilian 66
Geoff 61
Hal 37

Seems like the readers of this blog just don't have confidence in the 2-time champ. We'll see how things play out on Saturday but, just for the record, in last year's poll Hal finished second and, well, we all know what ended up happening.

A few other tidbits:

-After last year's international explosion in the top-5, I have recently learned that both Jez Bragg and Tsuyoshi Kaburaki will not be starting the race this year. This means, for the first time in recent memory, only six of the previous year's top-10 will start (Jasper Halekas and Kevin Sullivan did not choose to return).

-The 5th place vote-getter in the poll was first time entrant Nick Clark. After an amazing spring during which he racked up 15 consecutive 100-mile training weeks he appears to be primed and ready.

-Sometime in the next day or so we should learn about the course for this year's race. In the event that there is too much snow to access the Lyon's Ridge and Red Star Ridge Aid Stations an alternate course will be used. The race will, regardless, follow the standard route from Duncan Canyon to the Finish.

-Latest weather forecast indicates below average temperatures for race weekend.

-I've posted a poll for the men's Masters' Race on the sidebar. Without Tsuyoshi in the race it looks like it'll be wide open!

And, here's a really timely post on confidence I found over on Hang Nine.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Flow

My first pacer, Andy Roth, has always inspired me with his insights about running and life. In particular, his notion of 100-mile races as “secular pilgrimages” has consistently fascinated me and continues to gain traction in my mind as I prepare for my 7th attempt at the Western States 100.

One of the most compelling thinkers Andy and I have discussed while pounding out the miles on the trail is Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced chick-sent-me-high-ee). Csikszentmihalyi is most famously known as the architect of the notion of flow; in Csikszentmihalyi’s research he has discovered that humans enter into a flow state when fully absorbed in an activity during which they lose their sense of time, place and often experience overwhelming feelings of satisfaction. Csikszentmihalyi describes flow as "being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you're using your skills to the utmost."

Obviously, and not surprisingly, this notion of flow is important in athletics and, I would suggest, particularly important in endurance running. In fact, I would argue that the achievement of the flow state is what draws many people to long-distance endurance running in the first place. Call it the “runners high” or endorphins or whatever, regardless of the name, the feeling of being completely absorbed in the act of running is at once alluring, addicting, and empowering. Add to that the component of competition on ultrarunning’s greatest stage and you have the makings of a downright flowfest.

In my experience, those runners who enjoy the most success at Western States are those that can get themselves quickly into the flow state and remain there throughout the day. It is intensely exhausting to stay focused for so long but to do so is to truly revel in what is, to many, the crowning achievement of their running lives and in the process of this revelation the event actually becomes secondary.

As I sit here five days into my taper with itchy legs and an overly active imagination, I find myself visualizing next week. I find myself negotiating a way into that flow state and staying there for 18 hours. Honestly, in that moment, there is no place I’d rather be.

In 2005 when I finished my 3rd Western States I distinctly recall finding that place of flow relatively early on (I think around Red Star Ridge) and carrying it with me all through the day. By the time I reached the Green Gate Aid Station I literally could not wipe the smile off my face and, upon reaching the Highway 49 Aid Station, I was in such a state of flow-induced euphoria that I needed my crew to point out that it was still actually light out and that I had completely dropped my pacer!

Obviously, in nine days time, I hope to get back to that place once again. Time will tell and many variables will come into play but, rest assured, standing on that starting line in Squaw on June 26th I will be doing everything I can to channel the energy of flow to find my way successfully down to Auburn.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Grand Slam!

Seven years and counting!

Joe Kulak

WS 18:14:59

VT 14:55:26

LT 20:03:25

WF 21:53:10

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

WS Synchroblog #5

Here is the final installment of the WS Synchroblog for 2010.

Dear Ask an Ultrarunner,

I'm new to the sport and have been watching any relevant ultramarathon movie and reading every popular ultrarunning magazine article and blog that I come across. Rather than winning lots of high profile races every year, it has become clear to me that the quickest path to stardom and sponsorship is developing a top-notch training gimmick. Heroic feats of endurance, competitive eating, barefoot running, and sexy, high mileage training logs are already taken. Can you recommend a gimmick for a budding young ultra star? I am confident that given an appropriate publicity stunt, I can easily handle the second requirement --
criticizing other gimmicks as such.

Otto Indulgence

Otto,

This is an excellent question and your assessment is spot on. Indeed, with the tremendous growth of ultramarathon running over the past few years, gimmickry has become synonymous with success in the sport. With many of the more clich├ęd gimmicks already taken (extremely high training mileage, owning running stores, going on “Quests”, and seeking online donations for entry fees) there are still ample opportunities for you to find your niche. Here are three suggestions:

1. Race Naked – While this is, of course, commonplace in San Francisco, it has yet to take hold on the trails. With all the attention being paid to the minimalist approach this gimmick could really catch on. I mean, how much more minimalist can you get?
2. Don’t sign up for races, just run them – With the increased popularity of the sport, lotteries have become commonplace and the biggest races are nearly impossible to get in to. My suggestion to you is don’t bother signing up. Just run whatever races you feel like running. Sure, you won’t end up being on the official finishers list but who really cares about that anyway. Plus, having the reputation of being the “Ultra Bandit” would be very cool.
3. Run 100 milers without drinking any fluids – Just think how famous you’d become for this. You would essentially shrivel up to a shadow of your former self and you could actually be seen as normal for pretty much peeing blood all the time.

I am sure there are plenty of other possible gimmicks but these three will certainly get you some exposure.

Dear Ask an Ultrarunner,

I recently read Douglas McChristopher's "Freedom to Run Free Like You
Really Should Run." What an awesome book! In this Homeric tale,
McChristopher recounts how he traveled to Chico to run in the footsteps of the Sierra Nevada Pale Feet, a reclusive group of runners descended from an ancient warrior tribe whose existence revolved around running. The Sierras don't just run, they ran backwards. They drink massive amounts of malted beverages, fuel themselves with pumpkin seeds and fashion their own "toe shoes" out of pumpkin vines. After reading McChristopher's operatic ode to running, I decided to follow the author's lead and adopt the Sierra's methods. Amazingly, ever since I started running backwards, I've been completely free of injuries. I've finished five ultras, running them all backwards and using pumpkin seeds and pumpkin pie as my only fuel. My times are slower than they used to be, but I feel better than ever! I'm wondering what you think of McChristopher's book. Have you read it? Have you tried running backwards? Any plans to attempt a backwards Western States?

Sincerely,

Ass Backwards

Dear Ass Backwards,

That is incredible! A bunch of people I’ve worked with have asked my if I’ve read McChristopher’s book and I must say I have not. However, now that I’ve read your question I am going to run right out and get it. It sounds simply amazing!
I have tried running backwards myself and I really do like it. I am thinking that the success of this book will spawn a whole slew of new products and it is quite likely to bring quite a few more elementary school teachers into the sport as they are, of course, equipped with eyes in the back of their heads. Not sure about attempting backwards Western States but it could revolutionize the sport in much the same way gels, electrolyte tablets and Vibram Five Fingers have.


Dear Ask An Ultrarunner,

I am so excited about the field this year. Seems like each year Western
States has the best field ever and this year is no exception. You guys all being students of the race (and one of you the two-time defending champion) who are your top five picks for the men and women?

Thanks.

Jimmy The Greek

Dear Jimmy,

It will be great race up front and I think the spectators will have quite a bit more fun than the runners. Here are my top-5 men and top-5 women:

Men

1. Hal Koerner
2. Geoff Roes
3. Anton Krupicka
4. Killian Jornet
5. Tsuyoshi Kaburagi

Women
1. Devon Crosby-Helms
2. Nikki Kimball
3. Meghan Arbogast
4. Tracy Garneau
5. Bev Anderson-Abbs

Should be an awesome race!!!

Check out the other synchrobloggers below!

http://roguevalleyrunners.blogspot.com/
http://runningmegleg.blogspot.com/
http://ix.cs.uoregon.edu/~thornley/conduct-the-juices/

Monday, June 14, 2010

A little top-10 recent history

In recent years quite a bit of attention has been paid to the top-10 finishers at Western States due to the fact that those who make that standard are automatically entered in the next year's race. I have done a bit of research over the past couple days and noticed a few things.

Below are the top-10 men’s finishing places and times for the Western States 100 over the past five years (actually, six but 2008 was cancelled). It is interesting to note that there have been 32 different men in the top-10 over that five-year period.

Of those…

20 placed in the top-10 once
9 placed in the top-10 twice
1 placed in the top-10 three times (and won the race twice)
1 placed in the top-10 four times (intentionally sat out the 2005 race and had two 2nd's in '06,'07)
1 placed in the top-10 five times (in 2009 made the cut by 23 seconds! It'll probably be even closer this year)

Based on the recent poll, more voters think this year’s M10 time will be in the 18:00-18:30 range than in any of the other three ranges. Over 15% of you think a sub-18 will be necessary to get into the top-10 and about 10% think top-10 could be reached with a time in excess of 19 hours. We’ll know definitively in 12 days time!

2004

1 Scott Jurek 15:36:27
2 Dave Mackey 16:30:17
3 Hal Koerner 17:17:16
4 Erik Skaden 17:39:37
5 Joe Kulak 17:43:12
6 Nicholas Bingham 17:59:59
7 Dean Karnazes 18:09:41
8 Andy Jones-Wilkins 18:26:48
9 David Terry 18:41:37
10 Craig Thornley 18:46:26


2005

1 Scott Jurek 16:40:45
2 Andy Jones-Wilkins 17:07:13
3 Joe Kulak 17:16:12
4 Guillermo Medina 17:56:26
5 James Kerby 18:01:33
6 John Ticer 18:03:17
7 Dean Karnazes 18:14:17
8 Tom Nielsen 18:18:00
9 Jim Huffman 18:22:41
10 Craig Thornley 18:25:41


2006

1 Graham Cooper 18:17:28
2 Erik Skaden 19:08:39
3 Tom Nielsen 19:41:41
4 Jim Huffman 19:59:46
5 James Kerby 20:03:18
6 Andy Jones-Wilkins 20:04:52
7 Jon Olsen 20:07:08
8 Ian Torrence 20:17:39
9 Tim Twietmeyer 20:33:25
10 Glen Redpath 21:03:16

2007

1 Hal Koerner 16:12:16
2 Erik Skaden 16:36:49
3 Graham Cooper 17:11:41
4 Andy Jones-Wilkins 17:20:29
5 Phil Kochik 17:26:59
6 Glen Redpath 18:05:32
7 Tracy Moore 18:09:05
8 Hiroki Ishikawa 18:14:16
9 Jeff Riley 18:22:12
10 Jae-Duk Sim 18:44:54

2009

1 Hal Koerner 16:24:55
2 Tsuyoshi Kaburaki 16:52:06
3 Jez Bragg 16:54:35
4 Jasper Halekas 16:56:25
5 Kevin Sullivan 16:59:36
6 Zachariah Miller 17:34:12
7 Leigh Schmitt 17:49:38
8 Erik Skaden 18:22:44
9 Mark Lantz 18:45:55
10 Andy Jones-Wilkins 18:46:51

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Big Four Poll -- And stuff

Thanks to all who wrote in on the Big Four Poll. Given the fact that more folks thought three would make it to the finish than any other choice it does beg the question; who do you all think won't make it? We'll find out in a couple weeks. No matter what, it should be an interesting race up front. And, for the rest of us, things are shaping up to be snowy and hot. Latest long-range weather has the typical June high pressure system parked off the coast and it should be there a while. I am not a betting man but if I was I'd say we're lining up for a race day high in Auburn of 93 with snow in the High Country. I am guessing they'll go with the snow route (easier than the normal course) and boats across the River.

And, lastly, I thought I'd throw in a list of the other guys thinking top-10 after the Big Four.

Who'd I miss?

Leigh Schmitt
Todd Walker
Tsuyoshi Kaburaki
Andy Henshaw
Nick Clark
Zach Miller
Phil Kochik
Ian Torrence
Rod Bien
Josh Brimhall
Erik Skaden
Justin Angle
Lon Freeman
Nick Lewis
Troy Howard
Mark Lantz
Chikara Omine
Victor Ballesteros
Tom Nielsen
Gary Robbins
Ian Sharman

Thursday, June 10, 2010

M10 over the years

Year 10th Man Time
2009
2007
Andy Jones-Wilkins
Jae-duk Sim
18:46
18:44
2006 Glen Redpath 21:03
2005 Craig Thornley 18:25
2004 Craig Thornley 18:46
2003 Mike Sweeney 18:49
2002 Tom Lyons 19:18
2001 Dean Karnazes 19:45
2000 Dean Karnazes 19:32
1999 Mark McDermott 19:45
1998 Mike Tupper 20:09
1997 Kevin Rumon 19:50
1996 Jeff Hines 20:50
1995 Madero Herrera 21:07
1994 Rudy Goldstein 20:16
1993 Alfred Bogenhuber 20:52
1992 Bernd Leupold 20:17
1991 Dana Miller 18:35
1990 Bernd Leupold 19:30
1989 Alfred Bogenhuber 18:53
1988 Doug Latimer 18:43
1987 Jim Pomroy 20:08
1986 Dave Stevenson 19:29

short course
1985 Tim Twietmeyer 18:42
1984 Gard Leighton 18:49
1983 Charles Hoover 18:44
1982 John Kanieski 19:41
1981 Bill Davis 20:35
1980 Tom Zavortink 21:46
1979 Sid Christie 19:05
1978 Gordy Ansleigh 22:40

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Catching up


Needless to say, things in my life have been a bit crazy over the past month. As such, while my running has not suffered, my blogging has. That said, for me, today is officially the first day of summer as I have successfully launched the graduating seniors on the road to college and all of our faculty meetings concluded yesterday. So, it's time for a deep breath and time to get ready to roll at Western States.

And, I thought I'd celebrate the beginning of summer with a nice three-hour run through Adam's Gulch this morning which was really nice. I got up over 8600 feet for the first time this spring and even had a mile or so of post-holing at the top to get me in the mood for the High Country. Based on the weather reports and the snow updates this could be the snowiest year since 2005 and may possibly mean the "Snow Route" could be used. I think that would be kind of fun as I have never done the snow route and it might be nice to mix it up. Of course, it also means my course record assault would be meaningless:) since there is absolutely no way to compare the Robinson Flat Course with the Snow Route. Anticipating the snow route, however, I have been running a bit more on the roads these last couple weeks (if I recall correctly from films and race reports the Snow Route has about eight miles of pavement on it) and I did a half-marathon on Saturday that I actually won and will do a few legs of the Sawtooth Relay this coming Saturday.

And, according to the poll I posted a couple weeks ago, the women's race at Western States will be a three-way battle between Nikki, Anita, and Devon with Meghan lurking around at 4th position. Should be a pretty good race on the distaff side.

Finally, a bit on my training this year: I have been pleased that I have been able to stay pretty consistent throughout the spring and I am in as good a shape as I have been in the past few years. Keeping the long runs under control and working hard at the track seems to have paid off with a nice feeling of cautious optimism. Just where I want to be with a couple weeks to go. I can't wait to get to Squaw!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Pocatello 50 -- DNF

My family and I traveled to Pocatello for Memorial Day weekend where we were looking forward to spending a little time away from home and I was excited to run the Pocatello 50. Friends of ours had offered us the use of their beautiful house in the hills outside town and the long weekend promised to be a fun break from all of the end-of-year school activities.

Leading up to the race, the biggest thing on our minds was the weather. The month of May in Idaho has been characterized by cold weather, strong winds and incessant precipitation and there was, indeed, the potential for more of the same on race day. However, when my friend and training partner Brad Mitchell and I arrived at the starting area on Saturday the sky looked promising. Unfortunately, the promising weather did not last long.

After a nice relaxing first three miles it started to rain lightly. Tucking into a small pack, I made my way through the very runnable first 8 miles in a comfortable 1:15 and only fell once in the mud on the descent into the first aid station. Upon filling my bottle, Race Director Jared Campbell excitedly told me, “You’re going to love this next section, it’s just like Hardrock.” He was right except for the snow, sleet and 50 mile per hour winds.

By the time I got down to the 16.9-mile aid station I knew I needed to re-group. Fortunately, Jared had a warm jacket for me to borrow and the lower elevation made things a bit more manageable on this stretch. So, I loaded up on food and headed out into the wilds. The race was on!

The second section proved to be tougher than the first. While the terrain was some of the most gentle we would face all day, the weather made it difficult to stay on the course and the footing got worse and worse as the precipitation increased. What was particularly challenging was running in the muddy slush that accumulated on the course as each step thrust me into the unknown.

About a mile before the 32-mile aid a race volunteer who was hiking up the trail told me that the race had been canceled. At first, I was disappointed, but as I began to think about it, I realized that it was the right thing to do. While I had been caught up in the excitement of my own experience, I failed to realize what might be going on elsewhere on the course. And, as it turned out, there was some serious suffering going on out there. Jared and Ryan did the best thing they could have done in the circumstances.

So, in the end I didn’t get the 50-mile training run I was hoping for but perhaps that is for the best. It’s just that now I’ll need to push a bit harder over the next ten days to make up for it. That will be fun!

And, I certainly plan to return to the Pocatello 50 next year. It’s a great race, in a great place put on by great people.