Basically, this was the most enjoyable 100 mile run I've ever undertaken. Right from the start, the weather was perfect, there was good company to run with, the scenery was spectacular and I felt great.
Weather- Cool temps in the morning calling for a long sleeve shirt and light gloves, then sunny skies, a light breeze and perfect running temps the rest of the day-I didn't even get hot running the "oven" from Big Mtn to Lambs Canyon. Night time was cold, but not unbearably so.
Company-I had the pleasure of running with Dave Toone, Darcy Africa, Mick Jurynec, Neal Gorman, Matt Hart, Kevin Shilling, and Jared Campbell to name a few. Then I got to run with my pacers which were out of this world. My cousin Alex Matteson flew out from St Louis for his first exposure to the Ultra scene. He ran from Big Mtn to Millcreek with me and was just what I needed to run a steady pace and keep my head in it. Alex was having such a good time that he decided to continue on to Brighton on a pleasure run with us. I have a feeling he would have done just fine all the way to the end if he had wanted. My good friend Jesse Harding ran from Millcreek to Brighton with me. Jesse has paced me this section before and it is always a treat to run with him. During previous sessions he has seen me run quite a bit slower, get violently sick, and even had to had to accompany me as I DNF'd. I'm glad he was along for a good ride this time. Ken Jensen ran from Brighton to the finish and what an adventure we had. Ken has 11 finishes under his belt, and he could get up off the couch without training and run this section easily-which is essentially what he did. Ken was an anchor as I hit a rough patch and I'd still be in a sleeping bag at Pole Line Pass if he wasn't there to keep me moving. How can I not mention the company of my incredible wife Brooke and all the family and friends that were at each aid station to cheer me on. What an inspiration they were and they need to be recognized for all their hard work!!
Scenery-Man, I wish I had a camera with me on this run. There was a blanket of snow covering Chinscraper, there was fog with 20 feet of visibility, then it would open up to reveal a whole canyon in misty early morning sunlight, there were crimson red maples, quakies with a hint of gold, bluebird skies and the most spectacular sunset I have ever seen while running the Crest between Red Lovers Ridge and Scotts Pass. I'll never forget the images from this race.
Feeling Great- I really did. For 75 miles my stomach was solid, my legs felt fresh, and my head was clear. I never felt like I was really pushing it too hard, yet at every aid station I was ahead of last year's splits. Talk about a perfect day.
Feeling Not So Great-Then, of course, I left Brighton, passed Lake Mary and the wheels came off. A total and complete blow up (and blow out). The one bright spot during this section was seeing my good friend Preston having a beach party just before Sunset Peak. I should have sat down and had a Corona or three with him. After that, I spent a lot of time walking, some time sitting in aid stations, and with Ken's support and encouragement, things finally turned around and I still managed to squeak out a sub 24 finish. I got passed by 10 people in that section, and I was psyched for every one of them to be running so well. Which brings me to what I really want to write about-the other runners.
I wish that at the finish line, as every runner crossed under that banner, there was some way to flash on a screen-for all to see- everything that individual had overcome to finish the race. I'm sure there are some stories out there that are movie quality that not many people will ever know about. Here are a few things that stuck out to me.
Nick Clark finishing in an amazing 20:20, despite missing the turn to start down to Alexander's Ridge, running 40 minutes out of his way and adding an estimated 4 miles. Talk about keeping your head in the game. Psychologically, I'd be done.
Neal Gorman taking 2nd place in 21:19. An incredible time to be sure, but did you know that with this time, he broke the record for the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning? He was 8th at Western States, 2nd at Vermont, 4th at Leadville and 2nd at Wasatch. Amazing!
Luke Nelson was ready to drop at Brighton. I passed him coming off of Scott's Pass and he could barely even walk, let alone run. His knee was shot. At Brighton, he scrounged up some trekking poles, and continued on, walking backwards down the Dive and other steep sections, to finish in 23:30.
Luke Jensen persevered with an unofficial finish time of 37:01, to the cheers of his family, and everyone at the awards ceremony. He will never be recognized officially, so I thought I'd better do it here.
Mick Jurynec in his first Wasatch and first 100 miler ran a smoking 22:21.
Phil Lowery, after 14 finishes, gets a Crimson Cheetah!
Lex Curtis broke his finger just before Big Mountain, but kept going. He said it never really hurt, I think he's lying. He finished in 27:44
Troy Robertson managed to beat his goal of 30 hours by 5 minutes, and he did it without knocking any braces off. A dentist's dream patient!
Martin Fritzhand finished in 34:19 and James McGregor finished in 35:44. They are both 67!!
Brent Palmer and Karsten Solheim both dropped, but they are 70 and 73 years old, respectively. True inspirations to everyone!!
There are so many other amazing runners with unique and one of a kind stories, and I wish I knew more of them. If you are reading this and know of anything similar-whether it be comical, inspirational or just a downright "Spirit of the Wasatch", then please share! I, for one, would love to read about it. See you at next year's Wasatch, (Lottery Gods willing, of course).