Shake n Bake!
The crew of every ultra runner needs an anthem. A rallying cry if you will. Words that have special insider meaning creating a camaraderie and bond that bring out the best performance in all.
For Darcie Gorman and crew at the Bear 100 – it was Shake n Bake!
But first some background. Several months ago I was invited by Darcie to help crew her on her first 100-mile attempt. “How lucky am I?” I thought, at the prospect of being a part of someone’s first 100. For those who have a run a 100 miler, there is always something magical, even mythical about the first time you go the distance. To be both a participant and voyeur in Darcie’s adventure, well let’s just say my answer to her invite was “count me in!”
Darcie is an Alabama girl, and as we planned for how we would best support her, it seemed fitting that our Team Gorman crewing efforts take on a NASCAR theme. Somewhere in the planning, perhaps influenced by testing a variety of energy based barley drinks, Team Gorman fell under the influence of one of our century’s greatest cinemagraphic accomplishments, Talladega Nights. Team Gorman soon consisted of our featured runner Darcie, crewed by Bobby Troy (her husband Troy) and Ricky Jay (myself), and paced the last 50 miles by Jeffry Buechler.
This crew report starts at Temple Fork Aid Station (mile 45) where Bobby Troy and I first caught up with Darcie. Darcie came into Temple Fork well ahead of our projected time. It was immediately clear that she had perhaps gone out a bit too fast, and had not been drinking adequately. We immediately determined that the focus of the next leg would be hydration and nutrition. While I was not planning on running with her, I thought it would be fun to run this leg and play the role of hydration taskmaster. The mostly uphill, 6.5 miles to Tony Grove flew by quickly as we chatted, drank and yes, finally peed!
At Tony Grove (mile 52), Jeffry assumed his pacing duties. Jeffry is one of those rare individuals who constitute the ideal pacer. An accomplished ultra-runner who with empathy and humility transfers his experience into foresight, prescriptive actions and encouragement. He flew out from Colorado at Darcie’s request to help her through the night. Wishing Darcie and Jeffry well, Bobby Troy and I raced off to Franklin Basin Aid Station (mile 61.5) to get ready to transition Darcie into night mode.
At Franklin Basin I witnessed a most inspirational nutritional experience. I was able to watch Dan Barnett consume almost 1000 calories in a single aid station stop. Simply amazing!! Pumpkin pie. Two cups of soup. Rice Crispy Treat. A Frapacino. And more… I have to believe Dan’s talent for putting down the calories contributed to his phenomenal sub 24-hour finish.
After being mentally fueled by watching Dan pack calories, I ran up the trail to watch runners come into the station. At about a mile out I was fortunate to run into Brian Kamm who let me run with him into to the Aid Station. I helped Brian get through the station and ran back out to meet Darcie. She looked great and was pleased to report that she had peed twice. Nice!
Next stop was Logan River Aid Station (69.5 miles). I’ve never experienced an aid station that had quite the energy as Logan River. It was a group of people from an LDS Ward and they were having fun! Singing songs written about the Bear 100. Serving Dutch oven rolls. And insisting that crew partake in some nourishment and fun. After scarfing a hot roll I ran up the trail to meet Brian. I had so enjoyed the run into the last aid station with him that I was hoping I could do it again. About a mile up the trail I met Brian and we ran into the aid station together. He looked strong and in good spirits. Another hot roll and I was out again, this time to meet Darcie. I met Darcie and Jeffry about a mile and half out. She was moving slowly on the downhill and indicated that her quads were a bit fried. I shared some encouraging words (Shake n Bake!), got instructions for what she wanted at the aid station and ran ahead, secretly concerned that the wheels might be starting to come off for her.
Bobby Troy and I got her turned, equipped her with the trekking poles she requested, and bid her and Jeffry off on the next leg. At Beaver Lodge Aid Station (76 miles) I thought it might be time for a little pick-me-upper, so I donned my Ricky Bobby costume and headed back out to meet Darcie and Jeffry. I think they enjoyed the diversion. Many thanks to the gentleman manning the radio at Beaver Lodge who had recently had rotator cuff surgery and had all sorts of useful tips and encouragement to aid in recovery.
Darcie was now pretty much walking. While her head was super strong – no lingering in aid stations, regular eating and drinking, positive outlook and confident about finishing – her legs were pretty much shot. I was concerned as I watched her navigate the stream crossing at Beaver Creek (85 miles) with some difficulty. Despite having not seen us for 10 miles and it being 26 degrees, she knew just what she wanted (glove warmers, Blocks with caffeine, an extra jacket) and was quickly on her way. I was impressed at how mentally alert and composed she was.
Darcie moved along well to Ranger Dip Aid Station (92 miles) where the transition was quick. You could tell she knew the finish was close and just wanted to get on with covering the final eight miles. Shortly after leaving Ranger Dip Jeffry excused himself for a pee and retuned wearing a tutu, which he would wear to the finish.
At the finish Troy went out to meet Darcie and Jeffry and run the final mile with them. Darcie ran across the finish having completed her first 100-miler in 26:45. She was the third place female. Shake n Bake! And, congratulations Brian and Dan for sub 24-hour finishes!
As Team Gorman drove back to SLC I reflected on what a great day I had just had. I had shared in Darcie’s accomplishment of completing her first 100. I had been able to spend time both on the trail and at aid stations with many of the runners, their families and friends for whom I have such respect. And, I had been able to be outside in beautiful country at a spectacular time of year. Thanks Darcie for inviting me to be a part of your adventure!
Photos courtesy of Troy Gorman