Photo Peter Daspit
I usually thank my my pacers and crew at the end but they did such a great job and I am so thankful for there help I think they deserve to be ahead of my race report. Erik and Christian were both invaluable to my finish time and overall making the run way more enjoyable than it would have been with out them. Erik helped me reach my goal of running a 6 hour fourth loop and Christian got my through the last loop that seemed so slow. A big thanks to both, I am sure they were worth 1-2 hours on my finish time. My wife Marge did a great job crewing for me again. I wanted for nothing and was completely taken care of. She even drove to a aid station that she was not scheduled to because she thought she had shorted me some gels. She literally went the extra mile to make sure I had the best possible race. I can't thank her enough.
I was nervous at the start, I was not fully trained for a 100 mile race let alone a race like the HURT. I was hoping that I had enough fitness left over from the summer that I could at least finish the race and hopefully go under 30 hours. I knew to get a finish and a decent time I couldn't make mistakes. I was determined to stay on course, stay hydrated, fueled and not go out too fast.
Just before the start the R.D said something about having a nice little climb to start. He wasn't kidding, about 5 min. later we were headed up a fairly steep climb, nothing to bad but it did seemed to go on and on and it was overrun with roots and rocks. I noticed allot of people already seemed to be working way to hard so early in the race. I am always tempted to tell these people to slow down, but I know it would come across wrong and people should run their own race anyway. After climbing a total of 40 min from the start you cross over a guardrail and you get to run a nice road for 100 yards and then its back to the trails, though at least now it was a really nice trail, very runnable for a mile or so. The weather was nice, a bit muggy for me but there was nice breeze on the ridges. This would be the pattern for the rest of the race. Muggy in and around the aid stations a nice breeze on the ridges. Completely different than Wasatch where the aid stations always seem cold.
As I descended toward the first aid station called Paradise I saw the first place runner, it was a women which I thought was cool and unique to see, turns out it was Tracy Garneau the eventual winner of the women's race. I was around 20 min behind the first place runners and figured I was somewhere in the top fifteen plus I knew some of these people were running the 100k. I had no crew at the first aid because they don't allow it which is fine as your only 7 miles into the race. I had a quick turn around and headed back up. I really enjoyed the bamboo forest section at the top of the climb, when the wind blew all the bamboo stalks whack into each other and makes a really loud sounds, I kept looking up expecting to get clubbed by a bamboo stalk.
I made it to the second aid station no problem. I was finding the course to be very well marked and I followed the advice of the race pamphlet that you just follow the color your on to the next aid station, I was now on green so I just kept repeating stay on green stay, on green. It sounds easy but more than one person in the past have blown it at this race by going to the wrong aid station. I met Marge at the 2nd aid station Jackass Ginger and headed back toward the start finish line. You cross a really nice river just before and after this aid station, they had a rope set up to help you cross it and you could make it with out getting your feet wet. The climb out of the second aid station is very hard and there are even ropes in certain sections to help you get up or down and it has a real kicker write at the very top just to rub it in. There is a bench at the very top and it was very tempting to stop and take a quick rest. Soon after you go through a nasty root section in the middle of the course and then its really nice trails all the way back to the start finish. I ran into a racer that had taken a wrong turn and had to tell him he probably lost at least two hours going the wrong direction. I felt so bad for him he was obviously a back of the pack runner and now he had just made a huge mistake. I made it back to the start finish in 4:30 right on target. Christian and Marge were both there and had me in and out within 3-4 minutes. I told them my plan was to slow down a bit,it was getting warm so I was aiming for a 5 hour loop.
Nice and easy was the theme for this loop, my legs still felt great and I knew I could do a 5 hour loop with out pushing hard at all. Turns out I was right, the miles passed quickly and I had a chance to really get to know the course. I tried to get time markers on the climbs so later I could judge my pace. There was only one section I had problems on, somebody had stripped a short section of the course of all the ribbons so I waited for another runner, luckily he had run the race before and helped keep me on course through a few critical intersections. Other than that I chatted with a few people but mostly just ran to some good tunes and just tried to make decent pace. Marge and Christian met me at the Paradise aid station took care of me and sent me on my way. Marge ended up driving over to the next aid station Jackass Ginger to give me some extra gu, because she had shorted me a few at the previous aid station. I thought to myself how lucky I was to have such a dedicated wife. I finished up this lap in close to 5 hours so at 40 miles I was on pace.
Photo Peter Daspit
I knew this was going to be a hard loop, the legs were just starting to feel the miles, I was getting sick of the humidity and heat and I was finding one of the mentally tough parts about this race is after you leave every aid stations you get to climb one of the three major climbs. I was also starting to feel a little nausea, nothing terrible, just enough to remind me to not push the climbs too hard. Part of this loop was also going to be in the dark so I expected a slower time. My goal was to just get through the loop to the safety of my pacers and hopefully slightly cooler temperatures of the night. When I made it to the first aid station after talking to Marge a bit I could tell she didn't think I looked very good, she asked me if I had been peeing and that I needed to drink more and take in more gels. I made it through the rest of the loop with no drama, I was still climbing well but noticed my downhill speed was getting slower and I was really looking forward to the company of a pacer.
Erik was going to be my pacer for the 4th loop. I explained the ribbons to him so he could help me stay on course in case I got nutty later in the race, I also told him I wanted to do a 6 hour loop. It had been a goal of mine to stay under six hours for any of the five loops. We climbed strong out of the start finish area and soon after we were on the shallow climb up to the road and Erik started his first request that I try to run, I remember thinking perfect this is what I need someone who can read the trail well enough to know when I should be running and when I should be walking. He was also throwing in some really bad jokes. They did help pass the time and the were so bad I couldn't help laugh a little. We made decent time and Erik kept prodding me to run the easy part of the climbs when needed and most of the time I could oblige at least for a little while. Between Erik, Marge and the volunteers I didn't need to do anything in the aid stations but sip some broth or coke, they would get my Nathan packed filled and off we would go. Erik got me back to the start finish line in just 2 min over my goal in 6:02.
I have to admit at this point I was getting pretty tired of going over the same terrain, not only do you do five loops but there is two out and back sections per loop so some sections I had already covered eight times. I was ready to say good bye to this course. Christian was my pacer for my last loop. Before I left the start finish line Erik was trying to convince me I could do a 5.5 hour loop but I was just hoping to stay under 6 hours. I didn't trust my legs on the descent anymore. I was getting really paranoid about pitching over in the dark and falling on rocks. This is one of my weak points in a hundred, but it was just worse than normal because I just didn't have the good miles in my legs like I do in the summer. I was climbing okay but just really crawled on the descents. I also didn't realize that my headlamp had been slowly dimming and I found myself struggling to see the trail. Christian did a great job of helping light the way and keeping my spirits up, every time I tried to wallow into some low point Christian would snap my out of it tell me I was doing fine and to just keep moving. I got fresh batteries at the first aid station which helped allot. Erik had stuck around to make sure Christian's knee was good so he helped out to get me out of the aid station. This was one stop were it really took allot of will power to get my tired butt out of the chair. I was even getting tired of the climbs. I was a little better descending into the next aid station, the light was coming up I could smell the end and I really like the last part of the loop. Made it in out of the last aid station and just kept on moving though slowly. It was already warming up as Christian and I hit the last big climb, Christian asked if I had anything say to this last hill. I did but I kept it to myself and certainly can't repeat it here. I did a slow ultra shuffle on the long descent back to the finish line only checking over my shoulder in the last half mile to make sure no one would pass me. I finished in 27:48 good enough for 8th place.
Just after touching the sign for a finish
Christian and I at the finish
I have been thinking over the race and comparing it to Wasatch. I think it is as hard especially if the course is wet which lucky for me it wasn't. What makes it so hard? The footing is truly terrible though there is some sections of really nice runnable terrain. The relentless climbs wear you down, Wasatch has a little more gain but it comes in longer more sustained climbs, most the climbs at the HURT felt like going up a longer version of the Grunt just past Ant knolls aid station over and over again. The race is in January when most of us are not as well trained as in September and you are doing freaking loops! I liked the race and would recommend it to anyone but I don't see me ever going back for another go, too many other great point to point races out there on the list to do. I believe Christian is going to do a post on the 100k option at the race which should be good for some discussion. One last comment, Gary Robbins tore this course up with a course record of 20:12, I don't care if the course was dry or not I am sure he will be nominated for performance of the year. It was a fun to cheer him on out on the course as he blew past me. You can see full results here