It was was a long evening of preparations. I had to go through in my head all the possible scenarios and make sure I didn't forget anything important. Flash light, water bottles, extra pair of trail running shoes, sun block, hat, electrolyte (sodium) capsules, and the list goes on and on. I went to bed as early as possible, but when my alarm went off at 3:15am it felt like I hadn't slept for even 5 minutes. But I had to get up and get going as fast as I could.
The plan was to get my race packet and number at 5:00am at the entrance to the Antelope Island State Park. A friend of mine, Marc Sanderson, had just missed picking up his number the night before and was sleeping in his car on the island. He called me to ask if I could possibly pick up his packet and number for him so he wouldn't have to get up early and drive back off the island. 5:00am I was there and picking my mine and Marc's packets. By 5:15am I was at the race starting area waking up Marc and his wife.
It was a bit windy but not freezing. Just cold enough to give you the shivers before a race. I left my drop bag in the area to be taken to the Ranch Aid Station, which would serve two chances if I needed anything, about mile 15 and again at mile 37. At 5:45, Jim Skaggs, the race director gathered all the runners together (about 65 of them) for a pre-race meeting. He exlained a last minute change to the course that would ensure a full 50 miles of trail running from Start to Finish. Finally the time came and the countdown began. I stayed next to the fire instead of getting up to the front of the starting line. There's really no need to worry about how close to the starting line you are in a race that will eventually take you litterally all day to finish.
It was very dark out, no moon, but millions of brilhant stars. I soon found myself in the middle of a dusty cloud with runners all around me shining their flash lights on the dirt road in front of us. Right after about one mile we all heard some very strange wildlife sounds, like a pack of coyotes trying their best to scare us off (it worked). I don't know what it was for sure and I made it clear to the guy running next to me that I didn't want to know what that was either. After a steady climb we had a quick descent off the dirt road which took us near the shoreline of the opposite side of the island from where we started. As soon as we began running the single track trail we had to take a quick, 2 mile, out-and-back section to add the extra distance we needed for the course change. It was interesting to see the people directly in front and behind you as we made the turn aound an orange cone.
I rember counting 17 people in front of me (this was only about the 3rd of 50 miles). The person immediately in front of me was Birgitta Johnson, a 30 year old woman with a very strong and fast run. I stayed with her for the next several miles. The day light finally started to break and we could see the reflection of the Rocky Mountains in the Great Salt Lake appear. It was a beautiful morning. We finally got to a more open field and there was room to pass several runners. Eventually Birgitta slowed down to chat with a friend and I ran on ahead trying to catch the groups of lead runners, that were about 3 or 4 minutes in front of me.
I hit my first big low point on my way back to the 2nd Sentry hill climb. I remeber thinking, "Man, I've got 20 more miles to go and that big freaking mountain climb to do again". I really started doubting that I'd finish the race. But deep down I knew I would. I know very well that I "feel" like quiting several times during these long runs. So I kept going hoping my energy would spike again. I was probably getting low on fuel, I was hydrated pretty well but hadn't had enough to eat to keep my muscles and body happy.
I made the Sentry climb again, a bit slower this time, but at the top I sat down and had a Peanut Butter sandwich, some Coke and about 4.5 minutes off my feet. It felt so good. I tried massaging and stretching my legs and then re-filled my bottle and left to make the loop around and descent again. I was surprised how well I felt after eating. I think the sodium tablets I took and the food gave me some energy and hope back.
I made it down the mountain and back to the Ranch Aid Station in no time at all. I got some Hammer Gel and more potatoes and drank a cup of beef broth (mmmm). For the next 3 miles (37 - 40) I took it pretty easy knowing that by mile 40 I might start hitting a low again. To my surprise not one more runner passed me the rest of the way back to the finish.
(Picture: Me changing tunes on my iPod shuffle and wondering if that buffalo is going to charge me....aaaahhhh)
At mile 40 I saw my dad and sister driving on the road near the trail. I waved my arms and they waved back and told me that my pacer (my brother-in-law) wasn't able to make it. "Great!", I thought, since I was really looking forward to having a human windshield for the last 6 miles. There was a fairly strong headwind coming from the north and the entire way back to the finish was pretty much DUE NORTH. My dad got on his bike and road up and down the road following me to different places where the trail met or crossed the paved street. We talked for a bit at the last aid station and then he took some pictures of me at about mile 46. I was pretty much alone again to the end.
(Picture: Some pictures my dad took approximately mile 46)
(Picture: My finishing time and place according to the RunnerCard Timing system)
I ended up as the 11th overall finisher and in 10th place since they don't count the women with the men. Brigitta Johnson finished a whopping 33 minutes ahead of me and 40 minutes ahead of the next woman finisher. She took the women's first place overall by several miles. My friend Marc finished 4th place overall with a very fast 08:04:19. He was hoping to break eight hours, but that's an amazing accomplishment even for a 50 mile road run, let alone a trail run with two 1,000 foot mountain climbs. My other friend, Davy Crockett, finish about 20 minutes behind me in 13th place and with a time of 09:16:52.
For the next two hours I just sat down in a chair and hoped that I would be able to get up again to drive home.
(Picture: Me after 8 hours and 57 minutes and 50 miles of running....give me a chair and some water please)
You can see the final results here: http://22.214.171.124/runner/data/13593/961/result/Buffalo_Run.htm
You can see more photos here:
You can see some other pictures and read my friend, Davy Crockett's, experience here: http://www.crockettclan.org/running/buffalo2007.html
Here’s a list of some more events I plan to do this year:
*June – Squaw Peak 50 Mile Mountain Run (Provo Canyon, Ut)
*July – RANATAD (Ride Around Nebo And Timp in A Day) 155 mile bike race over two of the biggest canyon passes in Utah, Nebo Loop and Alpine Loop. Sundance to Sundance.
*July – Pacer & Support Crew at the Kheil’s Badwater 135 Mile Ultramarathon (for Monica Otero, the first South American and Brazilian woman EVER to qualify and be accepted in this world renown foot race. One of the toughest in the world.)
*August – Katcina Mosa 100km Mountain Run Challenge (62 mile, 4 mountain summit run, Hobble Creek Canyon, Springville, Ut)
*September – Mid Mountain Marathon in Park City, Utah.
*September – HooDoo 500 mile bike ride in 48 hours (actually it’s 512 miles)
*And Definitely lots more in between that are just for fun and training…
Here’s a list of some events I’ve done in the past years:
*St. George Marathon (5 times)
*Salt Lake City Marathon (2 times)
*Ogden Marathon (1 time)
*Moab Marathon (1 time)
*Mid Mountain Marathon (1 time)
*Valley of Fire Marathon (2 times, once with Dean Karnazes during the Endurance 50 where he ran 50 marathons in 50 days in 50 states)
*Squaw Peak 50 Mile Mountain Run (1 time, DNF at mile 33 after hours of urinating blood)
*Katcina Mosa 100km Mountain Run Challenge (1 time, 11th overall. 16:40:00)
*Nebo Loop Run (60 miles from my house in Payson thru Payson Canyon to Nephi and back to Mona, Ut. 12:13:00)
*Pony Express Trail 100 Mile Run (My first attempt at 100 miles ended at mile 93 after 21 hours of running. I learned a lot that day about myself. But I’ll do another 100 again and finish)
*West Mountain Run for my birthday in Feb… I ended up with 34 miles in 5 1/2 hours.
Stay tuned for more great adventures