Quad Dipsea Recap

The 32nd Quad Dipsea happened on a rainy November day just like the very first Dipsea race over 100 years ago. It was wet and muddy but not as bad as we feared.

DPMR board member Betsy Nye ran a little faster than last year, securing a top-10 women’s finish. Her sister Julie Nye completed her tenth Quad Dipsea.

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Julie and Betsy at the finish line party

Tahoe City’s Tom Eckert was there for his 8th finish on his way to getting the black jacket. I ran slower then last year and thoroughly enjoyed my time on the trail. The double out-n-back course provides runners ample opportunity to say “Hi” to friends and keep an eye on the competition.

Course record holder Dave Mackey finished second behind winner Chikara Omme. Mackey’s course record from last year however, remains intact as does DPMR member Kathy D’onofrio’s which has lasted 17 years!! Wow! The women winner this year was Caren Spore of Davis.

I encourage mountain runners in Northern California on Thanksgiving weekend to experience the “Quad.” But please note both the course and entry process can be challenging. The 300 entry limit was filled in less the 1/2 hour this year. For those of us technically challenged, be prepared to press”send.”

Also, when attaching the timing chip to your shoe the instructions say to loop the device around your lace into a “D” shape. You may think this loop looks awkward, weird or cumbersome, it could catch on vegetation and is aerodynamically inefficient. Resist the urge to squish it like a pancake and cram it under the laces. Apparently, this renders the chip useless. Oops.

P.S. It was great to see Peter Broomhall supporting runners and exploring the course. Maybe he’s got the Quad itch (or poison oak).

CIM 2014 Race Report


This won’t be a typical race report; for reasons about to be outlined I wasn’t aware of really anything that happened, I couldn’t tell you what the course looked like, or how much gain and descent I covered. I was part of the small percentage of runners to not run through 26.2 miles, and hitched a ride to the finish only to congratulate the illustrious Helen Pelster, and to get my drop bag and free Kind bar. 


Like many runners signed up for CIM, I thought a certifiably quick marathon time sounded like a great running accolade, and had pipe dreams of qualifying for Boston. A little less common to the running masses, I wanted to do it while dodging my friend, shadow, and ever-present running companion: Ulcerative Colitis. As ugly as its name, this autoimmune disease has my gut constantly attacking itself (nutrition was ALREADY hard, man!). In short, and without too much gory detail, if I don’t eat the right things or don’t rest enough or am under too much stress, I am subject to painful bowel movements of all varieties, intense stomach pain and cramping that radiates to my lower back, muscle spasms, fevers, and prolonged blood and fluid loss leading to severe anemia of different types. 

After moving to Truckee to escape the grind of Bay Area living, and enter a more balanced lifestyle while I trained for the Bear 100, I was still suffering from the worst my disease had ever been. After a few wonderful months of carefree mountain running, my health took a turn for the worse, and I spent most of August in and out of the hospital, barely able to walk on account of malnutrition, anemia, and just plain pain. 

I was lucky enough to be a good candidate for an infusion treatment, which I receive over 5 hours every 8 weeks, and my strength SLOWLY began to return. The illness left my left leg completely decimated, as much of the muscle is newly rehabbed from a 2010 knee surgery, and I signed up for CIM as a motivator through dark times to work on being able to walk without a limp, jog, and finally run for real. 

I worked back up to 70 mile weeks with decent speed workouts, and my marathon prospects looked good! The night before the race was spent out at a restaurant with family, and despite my cruel demands of the waitress on the ingredients in all of the food I ate, I got very sick. This carried on through the night, through my 3:45 wake up time, and through the entire CIM slog down lovely, scenic Fair Oaks Blvd. 

I hopped out of the car at the water treatment plant near Folsom Lake at 6:30AM that morning not feeling well, but hopeful that some awesome sunrise running, and kind words and support from my wonderful (and speedy!!) boyfriend, Lucas, would turn things around. Seeing a DPMR sticker on another car in line was so cool, and helped to raise my spirits. However, from the time I crossed the start line, every step was increasingly painful. Knowing the power the mind can have over physiology, I tried to boost my own morale by thinking about the pain I endured in the hospital, all of the treatments I had to tolerate, and about how far I had come to even toe the line. This, and some pocket fuel, helped me out from miles 9-10, but darkness prevailed and I had to stop to walk by mile 12. Crossing the half marathon mark at sub-2 hours came as a surprise, and would normally have been enough to rally my spirits, but my stomach would not cooperate; the intense pain began to have a dizzying effect. At mile 17, I called it quits and a wonderful CIM volunteer medic let me use his phone so I could arrange a pick up from my awesome family who came to cheer me out of the wall at the elusive 20 mile mark. 

While it was sad not to cross the finish line and get burrito-wrapped in festive aluminum, I always race knowing that my body might not cooperate. Even runners without disease or disability encounter that reality all the time! It was incredible to be surrounded by family, including my mother who drove down from Truckee to surprise me at the finish! 

Nobody was disappointed in me, and despite the initial cathartic release of tears at the medical aid station, I was not disappointed in myself. Although I have only run a few ultras and trail races, I now call that community my home, and everyone I’ve encountered speaks to the soul searching and emotional transcendence of hard efforts in beautiful places on rough terrain. In that medium, pain endured feels meaningful and beautiful, and running is nothing more than movement with purpose. The prevailing wisdom, even among many elites, is that if your heart isn’t in the race, or your body isn’t working for you, there will be more mountains to run if you take care of yourself. This isn’t necessarily the best athletic mindset, just the one I choose for myself. I didn’t feel that during CIM, and it feels easy and righteous enough to say that IMG_2646I had a bad day because road running isn’t my thing. The truth is, had I felt better I might have found beauty and purpose on that course, too. My body was simply saying, “no” to the effort, and there is no glory in silencing that. I run to feel strong and empowered, and I strive to train my body to be able to do the things I love. Working against it will accomplish nothing. If I had killed myself to finish, and had more complications with my disease, that would have been the true disappointment.


I have found a treatment that has me feeling pretty great, pretty much every day. Here’s to a lifetime of adventure overrun with the unrelenting warm embraces of soul, purpose, camaraderie, and aluminium blankets, covering us on frozen wild peaks and marathon finish lines.

Race Report: Hark the Herald Angels Run, Angel Island

Saturday, December 13, 2014

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This race report is all about the importance of persevering until your second wind kicks in. I headed to the Bay Area to do a 25K with a good friend of mine after we both decided to skip the NorthFace Challenge due to other demands on our time (and a lack of interest in running in the mud). I have only trained sporadically this Fall due to the demands of school so I didn’t have any aspirations and figured I could pound out 25K largely on the residual fitness from this Summer’s Ironman Lake Tahoe training (yet another race I didn’t do, although not by my own choice).

If you’ve never run on Angel Island you are in for a treat. It’s a short ferry ride from Tiburon and there are gorgeous views in every direction, with a nice mix of fire roads and single track. Enviro-Sports puts on fun, family-oriented events and before the race began we all sang “God Bless America” while standing under the American flag. There were two races, a 12K and a 25K, with the 25K being two loops of the 12K course with a little extra to account for the remaining 1K. The 25K runners left first and when we gathered at the start line there couldn’t have been more than 30 of us, with the usually mix of age groups you see at every trail race.

The route was basically a mile or so of climbing to the top of the island and then a rolling fire road that went 1 1/2 times around the island before descending back to the start. Then you did that again.

As is typical for me, I went out too fast, thinking that running at sea level would be a breeze after training in the mountains. I stayed with the lead group for about a mile but then started to fade and was eventually caught by some of the 12K runners who started 10 minutes after I did. At that point I settled into a steady but unimpressive pace and ran by myself for most of the first lap. Once I was at the 6-mile mark and was descending back to the start/finish, I started to think about not doing the second loop and just dropping out. I wasn’t feeling particularly inspired to do the climb back up and I figured my friend, who was ahead of me but had said she may not go the entire 25K, would be waiting for me and we would just catch an early ferry back to Marin.

But as I was approaching the turnaround, I saw her coming at me on the start of her second loop saying “go! go!” so I didn’t stop, just grabbed some pretzels and trail mix and started the second loop. Since most of the 12K runners were done, this part of the race was pretty lonely, but I kind of like running by myself (expect when it comes to Monday night trail teasers). And something odd happened, my whole attitude changed and rather than glancing at my Garmin to see my pace and distance, I got into that nice dreamy zone we all know when the running seems effortless.

At about 13 miles I noticed a few runners ahead of me so made it a goal to catch them. When I did that I saw a few more so started to focus on picking off each runner ahead of me, one at a time. With about a mile to go and my legs fading, there was one guy ahead of me but I had to walk a short climb. So did he and once he started running I started running and maybe he was more tired or just didn’t hear me but it took me about 2 minutes to catch up to him and make the pass with less than a 1/4 mile to go. From there it was a fast downhill to the finish.

So I was glad I didn’t drop out at the halfway point. Better than that, and the real point of recounting this story, is I won my age group. Granted, it was a small field and there were only 3 men 45-49, but #2 finished 16 seconds behind me. Yep, it was that last pass I made. And #3 was only 3 minutes behind him. So in about 2 miles I went from last to first.

As Lenny Kravitz would say, it ain’t over ’til it’s over.

UTMB Race Report

Its 4pm Friday evening and its go time!  Paulo and I make our way to the start line and contemplate where to cram in to the hoards of runners.  As we approach the church a race official motions us and proceeds to move one of the barriers to allow us in.  Then as we enter I am stopped short as the race official points at me and says “NOT YOU!”.   You see, Paulo had a low bib number that qualified him as an elite and making him eligible to move up to the very front of the start line.   Our plans to start and try to finish together were suddenly in jeopardy.   Paulo looked at me, then looked at the head of the line, hesitated for a second and looked at me again.   “Have a good race man!” he said with a smile as we hugged and said goodbye.  Not that I blame him I would have done the same thing if I had the opportunity to stand just meters from the likes of Anton Krupicka, Timmy Olson, and others!.  Plus he worked hard for that bib – having a great race at AR50 and Western States the last year.

 

Shortly after our goodbye I squeezed myself squarely in the middle of the pack of runners.  “So this it what sardines feel like” I think to myself.   Gray clouds loom above us.   The  UTMB theme plays loudly (Conquest of Parradise – Vangelis) as the French announcer speaks indecipherably but commandingly into the loudspeakers.   I hear bits of French and German from the other runners surrounding me representing over 70 countries.    As the countdown clock approaches five  minutes to the start, suddenly the clouds open up and fat, cold rain drops begin to fall creating the perfect landscape for one of the hardest ultras in the world.   Could it really get any better than this??  The runners around me quickly reach into their packs to grab their rain jackets.   Finally the countdown begins “CINQ!,  QUATRE!, TROIS!, DEUX!, UN!” and the crowd cheers loudly as 2300 runners and I begin are slow march through the streets of Chamonix towards Les Houches.

More to come! Check back soon!

Lost Sierra Race Recap

It’s been a little while since I’ve posted a race report. The Lost Sierra 50km deserves some attention because of the challenge, support and great course that it provides. And, that it is in a section of the Sierras that are less traveled by trail runners. Several founding membIMG_4225ers toed the line (Kathy Hess, Ben Tedore, Carol Walker, Susan Reynolds, Javier Castellar, Paul Sweeney), though Javier was the only one proudly wearing his golden “Unafraid” jersey.

IMG_4822It was a chilly start. I was wearing a beanie and gloves till moments before the start. I shed the extra warmth and moments later we were off running down the highway. A mile and half of pavement (felt longer) and then we were in the woods. This gradual climb of about 10 miles varies between fire road and single track. It was all in really good shape and easily runnable. I ran the first 1/2 marathon with Ben Tedore and one other dude. We reached the top of Mill peak together which would be the end of the social part of the race. The fire road descent to Gold Lake was just to0 fast for me this day.

A few minutes behind I came into the aid station where Helen was waving the jersey for me to wear (because I asked), but I declined, just stopping for a small bit to eat and drink before heading into the super scenic and challenging portion of the race. I tried to keep my head up and enjoy the area. But the trail is so darn rocky that I was more concerned about falling.

Miles of up, down, around numerous lakes before we reached the Long Lake dam. A small aid station and the climb up Mt. Elwell began. The climb started by maneuvering over a large boulder strewn trail before it hitting dirt again where it just got steeper and steeper. The switchbacks and the top seemed to never come but when it did, the start of the decent was so technical that it seemed to be just as slow to go down as it was going up.

The toughest sections were behind us but there was still a 7-mile downhill to tackle. As we progressed down the temperature gradually got warmer. Wth 5 miles to go we got to the last aid station where the Castellar Crew was waiting. With a quick stop, some ice to cool off we departed for the final, seemingly never ending, last 5-mile stretch. The finish line was changed from the first year I did the race. This time we finish in a big open grassy park. We were greeted by an enormous amount of festivities, food and the biggest bounce house I’ve ever seen.

The small town of Graeagle really makes a great venue for ultrarunning. The small town and its vibe exemplifies so much of what ultra runners look for in racing. I’ll be back again for this race.

 

Tahoe 137.7 Mile Fun Run, Martis AS Shift & Ramblings About My Year in Running

I could write a short book about all of my thoughts and experiences from the Tahoe 200 Mile Endurance Run and the months leading up to the first ever single loop 200 mile race in the United States. However, I will just share a bullet list of highlights from the race, after some ramblings about the last year of running for me.10639654_291591154379317_7273935876725203020_n

The funny thing is that I never really considered myself a runner until I completed The Bear 100 in the fall of 2012. Sure, I had run the Lake Tahoe Marathon a couple of times back around the turn of the millennium and completed the Silverman Full(Iron) Distance Triathlon in 2009 and 2010 just to check them off my list, but running was still only something to distract me in between climbing, skiing and biking. I always felt like running was really hard and didn’t actually enjoy it as much as one would think for how many miles I had run in my life. It always made me uncomfortable when people called me a runner and I certainly did not have running at the forefront of my mind like I do these days.

 

Oh yea, did I mention I was actually a running model before becoming a real runner?

Oh yea, did I mention I was actually a running model before becoming a real runner?

Shortly after completing The Bear, having let my mind and body heal from those nearly 26 hours of being on the move, I decided that I should probably start calling myself a runner. I also was tired of the dumb-founded looks people would give me when I would tell them that I am not really much of a runner, probably managing to offend a few runners in the process.

Not only did I become comfortable saying “I am a runner”, but I had become hooked on running and signed up for several races in 2013. After going into a few races over trained and suffering more than need be at the end of them of all of them, I made a very conscious decision about running in my life. I decided that every day I hit the trails for now on, whether for a race or just to get out in the woods, I would make sure that I was always having fun. If I was not having fun or feelin’ the trail love out there, then I would call it a day or turn my run into a hike or a peak bagging mission.

My new attitude about running seemed to have worked well as I went into my last race of 2013, Founding Member Sean Ranney’s infamous Euchure Bar Massacre, feeling rested and ready for some fun. This was a race I was excited for and scared of at the same time, because as near as I could tell from the vague info Sean provided on the FB event page, he was going to have us going straight up and down the trail less and cliff strewn mountainsides of the American River Canyons, provide us with no course markings and a couple of pages of written directions on how to navigate your way through the course. As the day and the course unfolded, I managed to survive the massacre better than most (less than 10 people managed to even complete the course)and made it out of the canyon depths and to the finish before everyone else.

Winning a race for the first time since middle school sure made running seem a lot more fun and fueled the competitive fire in me. Then along comes the Tahoe 200, a race and a distance that suited my strengths on a course that runs right through my backyard trails.

This is something I felt I could be competitive in!

So I started training like a mad man. I also volunteered to organize an aid station in exchange for  guaranteed entry into this sought after event that went to lottery in its first year because so many people were interested in giving it a go. For those who have not heard the story yet, the AS became the catalyst for the Donner Party Mountain Runners.

I now was part of a running club to train and motivate with, made lots of new running friends and had an incredible race around our beloved Lake Tahoe to look forward to. Running was becoming more fun by the minute!

Enter the 2014 race year. My first race,  The Me-Ow Marathons, went great. I was pleased with my results and despite getting lost several times on this unmarked, and often trail less course, I had more fun than I had ever had in a race. 1 for 1 on the year so far.

Injured... but still having fun as I hobble into Foresthill and my dropping point at States.

Injured… but still having fun as I hobble into Foresthill and my dropping point at States.

Next up, the iconic Western States 100 Endurance Run. Ideally, I would not have gotten picked in this year’s lottery because I already had a lot on my plate for the season, but who in their right mind turns down their ticket to States?!? I felt rested, confident and like a caged animal going into States, but my body rebelled only 34 miles into the race, and I ran/hobbled another 28 miles before dropping and barely being able to walk by that point. Sure it was disappointing, but I managed to keep things fun and enjoyed the full experience(minus the finish and the coveted buckle), sleeping on the track with everyone else and attending the awards ceremony. Helen told me I was the only person that stood when they asked all those who DNF’d to stand for an ovation. DNF’ing and the resulting injury were something that never crossed my mind before starting the race. 1 for 2 on the year now, with my first DNF.

2014-08-08 15.46.33After States, I was having difficulty walking and working, and running was not even a possibility for the next almost 2 months. That was definitely not giving me any confidence of being ready for the rapidly approaching T200. 6 weeks after WS100, I finally felt just slightly confident enough in my injured leg to not cancel the 2 week backpacking trip I had planned in the High Sierra with my wife, Liz. The backpacking was awesome and I felt like I was not doing anymore damaged to my injured leg, but I still could not fathom running yet. After 2 days rest from our backpacking trip, my leg was still talking to me and it really started to sink in that I might not be able to start the T200, that was now less than 4 weeks away.  I mentioned to Liz how I was feeling and we decided I would continue resting and wait at least a few more days before making the call.

Two more days of rest and with a little too much time on my hands to kill before my next physical therapy appointment , I decided to spend that extra 30 minutes that I now had, by taking a walk in the woods. As usual, I tried running a few steps, but for the first time in almost 2 months, my leg felt OK. I ended up going about one and a half miles that afternoon, running probably 1/4 mile of that distance. Not bad.

I then went to my appointment with Physical Therapist and Founding Member, Kristan Walstad, and got the yellow light from her to start testing things out.

The next morning before work, I put in 3.5 miles on the trail and ran about half of it. Still no pain! My thinking changed and I began considering starting the T200. Later that morning, Sylas Wright from the Sierra Sun, gave me a call and put me on the spot as he is was about to write his pre-race article on the Tahoe 200 and is always good about featuring our local runners. Without really thinking, I told him that I decided I was going to toe the line and see what happened.

I felt mildly confident that I could at least, maybe go out and hike the 200 miles, but would drop from the race in a heartbeat if I felt anything even remotely close to an injury going on with my body.

Tahoe 200 Race highlights:

~ I ran more in those 49 hours than I had in 2 months! I did not suffer at all while out there in comparison to the MANY sufferings I have put myself through in life. Only 2 tiny blisters that did not show up until the end of my race at Tunnel Creek AS. The flare up in my foot/ankle that took me out of the race did not start talking to me until the top of Tunnel Creek Rd and did not cause me any pain until a few minutes after I stopped at the AS. It did not become an injury because I stopped as soon as it told me to!

~ I was 45th out of 90 at the first AS 10.5 miles into the run. Just where I wanted to be and running my own race. I had some good conversations en route and was really soaking it all in, including a few minute stop at a rock outcropping overlooking the Lake about half way up Homewood.

~ Spent some quality miles with Founding Member, Jon Arlien, out on the Rubicon/McKinney Trail and the most remote part of the course.

~ The first real break took place on a comfy and large log on the Rubicon with UltraPedestrian Ras, Willie McBride, Jon Arlien and another guy. No hurries and no worries.

~ Great time with Rob French, Mark Cangemi and Kent Dozier making our way to Sierra at Tahoe from Wright’s Lake. We decided to stay together through a large portion of this stretch for safety reasons, as it was so remote and Rob and I had gotten off course for about a mile at one point. Mark, Willie and I would continue to leapfrog each other all the way to Tunnel Creek AS where I dropped from the race.

~ Picking up my good buddy, Mike Ehrlich, at Sierra at Tahoe and having him pace me to Big Meadow. The stretch from Showers Lake to Big Meadow was my strongest in the race and I really enjoyed those miles with Mike. It had been a lot of years since we had spent that much quality time together.

~ 20 minute nap in the sand on the side of the trail during the heat of the day as I ascended out of Big Meadow and suddenly couldn’t keep my eyes open. I just hoped that no one would come along and disturb my rest and no one did. Felt great again after that.

~ Chillin’ at Armstrong AS with my friend, Tattie Baily (who was volunteering there on top of all the course marking and cleaning she did), Willie’s crew and my pacer/crew extraordinaire Mike.

~ Skinny dipping in Star Lake, moments before the sun went away for the day and while still warm enough to go for it.

~ Text from Founding Member , Jeff Brown, as I was dropping down into the Heavenly AS seeing if I wanted him to pace me at all since his runner, the current TRT Unsupported record holder JB Benna, had unfortunately dropped early in the race. “Hell yes, how about picking me up at Spooner?! I should be there around dawn”

~ 3 hour nap and half of a cold, yet gourmet, burger that I got to enjoy in bed before dozing off. Damn, that thing hit the spot.

~ Heavenly to Spooner section. Mike was back on pacing duty and I felt rested and strong. Fun miles with some solid running in between the fast walking.

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Getting ready to depart Heavenly with Mike Erlich after my gourmet burger and 3 hour nap, Photo Credit: Jerry Gamez

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Just grin and bear it! With Jeff Brown at Tunnel Creek AS having completed my 137.7 Mile Tahoe Fun Run.

~ Spooner to Tunnel Creek with my new pacer, Jeff. I have known Jeff and his wife for many years, but never had the chance to spend this much quality time with him. Good conversation sure makes the miles go by faster.

~ Hugging it out with Willie in the middle of the descent to Twin Lakes on the TRT just before Tunnel Creek Rd as he and his pacer, Yassine Doubin, passed Jeff and I on the long  and gradual downhill. Willie is a good friend of Mike Erhlich’s, and someone that Mike told me I should look out for and hopefully meet while running the Bear 100. Willie happened to be the first person that I spent miles with at the Bear and after chatting for a few, we finally introduced ourselves and were psyched that at the small world moment of our meeting. Willie is also a climber, so we got to talk climbing while running 100 miles. Good times.

~ Gearing up mentally for what it would take to finish the race since everything was going so well up until the top of Tunnel Creek. My pacers and I both thought I had it in the bag as we ran from Heavenly to Tunnel Creek. That part was really fun and satisfying for me since it had been so long since I could really run.

~ My awesome wife and our good friend, Marianne Klemm, showing up at Tunnel Creek AS shortly after I arrived. I realized only about 15 minutes after being their that my foot/ankle had flared up on me and was likely going to force me to drop, so it was great to have them there for comfort and a ride. Surprisingly, Liz was not letting me pull the plug as easily as I would have liked, but she knew how important this race was to me and wanted to make sure that I was making the right decision for ME. Jeff was the perfect pacer to have at this point and put no pressure on me to continue as he understood what I had just been through with my injury at States. He understood that I was not going to let anyone talk me into continuing if I thought an injury might to occurring. I was in a fair amount of pain while at the AS, until the ibuprofen really kicked in. My foot/ankle was super sore to the touch and swelled to softball size. I really appreciated the Reiki work Marianne performed on me while there.

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Good times! Photo Credit: Jerry Gamez

~ Putting in an approx. 24 hour shift at the Donner Party Mountain Runners’ Martis AS. That was an amazing and humbling experience on so many levels. I am so appreciative and proud of everyone that helped out up there and wound up working way longer hours than they expected. We were much busier up there than anyone could have ever imagined. Not one single person involved with the race could have ever guessed that 67% of the racers would have made it the 152 miles to our AS, let alone the 202 miles to the finish. Everyone I talked to, including myself, guessed about a 30-40% finishing rate. We had 62 runners with their pacers and crews come through. It was all handled smashingly well by the DPMR, with many “Best AS yet!” comments from runners and crews. However, we all learned a lot about what it really takes to run an aid/sleep station that is 152 miles into a 200 mile race and open for 45 hours.

~ Showing up to the finish line in Homewood with Liz, 2 minutes before the 100 hour cutoff, and witnessing Koishi do a head first “Pete Rose” slide across the finish with 4 seconds to spare!!!!!!!!

~ I am going into the end of the running season injury free! I have never injured myself like  I did at States and will not be letting something like that again

~ THE DONNER PARTY MOUNTAIN RUNNERS!!!

The Blue Bunny gets it!

The Blue Bunny gets it!

Next Year? There is a good chance that I will attempt the T200 again next year. I have my own entry for helping out with the race beyond  just our AS and the DPMR will still get a free entry for running our AS. I WILL NOT run, though, if my body is telling me “No”. So we’ll just have to see how she goes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DPMR Aid Station at Tahoe 200

IMG959738Warning! Humble Bragging Content Below

I’m not exactly sure what it takes to run 200 miles (ultrarunners are sooo crazy), but I have a pretty good idea now of what it takes to handle a 48-hour aid station during a 100-hour race.

It takes a solid group of enthusiastic, untiring, caring ultravolunteers and a kick-ass Aid Station Captain. The Donner Party Mountain Runners 152 (ish) mile aid station had all of these, led to success by our fearless leader, JP Prince.

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JP and Joel, all business.

We were fortunate to have Mike Tebbutt have the advanced vision and organization of the aid station in the months prior to the event, which was conveniently held the week after Mike returned from Burning Man.

Tahopia, his camp at Burning Man, came straight from the playa and was converted to what we were later told (multiple times by runners, pacers and crew members) was “the best aid station yet”.

The Wednesday prior to the event, Mike,Liz,  JP, Kathy D, Pete,Erin, Siri and Joel set up all of our structures.

Stephanie, Mark and Kale spent the day on Saturday at a west shore beach and then stopped by Homewood to pick up all of the AS food from the organizers and drove it up to join the rest of the opening crew for the final setup and the long day(s) ahead. This included putting the rest of the playa dust covered tarp walls on the sleep station, making creative and fun signs for the racers as they neared and entered our AS and arranging the station in a way to create a good flow and get runners through efficiently.

Covered in Playa Dust, our opening crew had everything set up and ready for runners by 6:00pm on Saturday night. For fun, we put together a little pool to bet on various items like:

1. Time the first runner will pass through (we were all WAY off)

2. Number of drops at our aid station (we were all off – it was ZERO!)

3. Number of runners to reach our aid station (we all under-estimated this one by a lot)

4. Number of runners to cry at our aid station (none- we were all wrong)

5. Number of runners who would arrive a) happy or b) angry (we were off- more were happy than angry)

6. Number of runners who say this is the “Best Aid Station” (almost everyone did!- and a lot of them without our pointedly asking the question) :)

We had a little meeting to go over the aid station instructions, runner tracking, protocol etc. JP said we should do a trial run to prepare for the first runner. His line of questions:

“What’s your bib number? Ok. Do you want to drop?”

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Mark setting up camp

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Mark and Stephanie

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Kael Blume and Siri Broomhall helping with signage (artwork courtesy Stephanie Blume)

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Stephanie with one of her killer signs

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so we later changed the word “facts” to “science” and added a couple “ish”es as we were learning that our numbers were not quite correct.

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Mark. Unafraid of playa dust.

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ready, set , wait….

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Diana, Sam, Mark, Stephanie, Jenelle and JP (not pictured)

Diana, Sam, Joel, Stephanie, Jenelle and JP and Mark (not pictured) the first night.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The waiting game began, and around 12:30 a.m. we decided that the 1st place runner was at least 4 hours away, so we shut down the generator and took a 4 hour nap.

After a restful few hours, we were all up, lights, music, bicycle horn  ready as the first runner, John Burton, came into the station at 5:03 a.m. (11 hours after we had arrived at the aid station).

He took a one-hour nap, refueled, and was on his way at 6:50 a.m.

Shortly after he left, crews began arriving for runners. Our kids on hand made friends with Jackson, from Australia, who was waiting for his dad Ewan.  We decided to go for a little hike to watch for his dad, expecting to see him in about 1 hour. He surprised us by showing up within 5 minutes, and the kids helped run him in to the aid station.

He was pretty stoked when I told him he was less than 2 hours behind the leader. He left the aid station running in a matter of minutes, and gave Jackson a high five on the way out.

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Race winner Ewan Horsburgh is second runner in to our station as his kids Jackson and Avian, along with Siri Broomhall, pace him for the final bit in. With the good news  that he is closing the gap on the leader, the race is on!

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Ewan getting some love from his son Jackson

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welcome sign by Avian

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hoping to clear up any confusion at the hwy 267 crossing

We were expecting more runners, but no one was coming. I took off down the trail to see if I could see anyone, and found a few runners, who were distraught that the aid station was further along than they expected (which would become a recurring theme). So, we increased our signage and did our best to let everyone know they were getting close.

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Runner Kerry Ward with the Blue Bunny. Kerry just got back from Burning Man also so he felt right at home with us!

As the day went on, business picked up at an increasing rate.

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JP leading Gia, first female, into the aid station

Our first female came through, noting that she had dropped her pacer. She left after a couple hours rest, pacer free, and ready to win.

Pete Broomhall went from working the AS to pacing the second place female finisher, who was in a little rough shape upon her arrival, to Tahoe City. Pete loves that kind of work! He then hitched a ride from TC back up to the AS  to continue his shift.

At one point, we had a runner from Australia, who was solo without pacer or crew. Looking a little scared and super stoked to have “people to talk to”, until JP asked him, clipboard in hand, if he could show him his visa. After a panicked look he relaxed and laughed with us.

Mike Tebbutt joined the party after completing over 137 miles of the course in 49 hours. He was shut down due to an ankle injury, but his spirits were not hurt and he was excited to help and provide support for the other runners.

Shortly after Mike arrived, his pacer from Spooner to Tunnel Creek, Jeff Brown, stopped by to see if we needed anything. He made a grocery run for us, since more runners than anybody ever anticipated were making it this far in the race. We had more than 60 racers, along with pacers and their crews, come through the Martis AS. This is about 70% of the starters!

By the time I left for the night, the aid station was filled with crews, spectators, pacers, volunteers, and a steady stream of runners.

JP, Sam, Julia, Lucas and Mike worked tirelessly throughout the night and next day, on little or no sleep.

SuperCaptain JP made it on less than 3 hours of sleep (Saturday night), working the longest stretch, nearly 45 hours straight!!!

Responding to a post on FB, DPMR member Julia and her boyfriend worked the night and morning shift. Everyone was grateful for Julia’s expert blister treatments. Lucas also stepped up to pace Ingrid from Brockway to Tahoe City and played a crucial role in getting her to the finish as she chased the cutoffs!

Just to add to the bizarre atmosphere that racers were experiencing in their sleep deprived and hallucinatory state on Sunday night, they ran through a full blown and quite real “Full Moon Rave” out in the woods near Martis Peak and about 5 miles before reaching our AS. Most runners knew that it was too good to be true that they were already arriving to the Martis AS, and the bright laser show in the distance and the ground shaking beats heard from 1/4 mile away made them wonder just what kind of AS was coming up. Though disappointed that they still had further to go to find us, they were elated to finally find a use for their glow sticks that were a part of the mandatory gear.

On Monday, Helen, Joel, Dana and Stephanie came up and assisted with the final runners and “cleaning the shit out of everything” as JP put it.

It was an inspiring and exciting weekend and we can’t wait for the next T200!

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Aid Station crew Sunday afternoon with a few pacers/crew/other volunteers

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Mike Tebbutt, who had to drop after 137 miles due to an ankle problem. Not slowed down by 49 or so hours on his feet, Mike worked throughout the evening into the next afternoon.

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One of Sam’s famous tacos, prepared for the RD herself.

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Hey NICE SHIRT

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Ruby taking requests from her superstar pacer mom

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Liz ready to sprinkle unicorn fairy dust on the runners

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Joel and Pete with their new BFF

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Julia tending to a runner’s trashed feet. He later finished the race with 4 seconds to spare, in 99 hours, 59 minutes, and 56 seconds.

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Koishi, who finished the 200 mile journey with only 4 seconds to spare, spoke almost no English. He did however, very clearly communicate 2 things as he entered the AS, “number 1-4-6″ and “beer”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2 and a half beers and over an hour later, Koishi leaves the DPMR station only because it is 1 minute until the cutoff.

 

Speedgoat 50k Race Report

After the race, Sarah and I went back to our hotel room where I opened my laptop and re-read my Canyons 50km race report and had to laugh. I felt I had run a pretty good race in Foresthill and I wrote of “running with gratitude and smiling”. Speedgoat was a completely different beast, almost a different sport, and involved a whole lot of swearing, snarling and teeth grinding.

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Speedgoat elevation profile (without the new finish climb)

Once at the start area I tried to position myself sixty or so runners back as I had decided earlier that seemed like a reasonable place to start. Karl sent us off and we immediately began our first climb of the day.  It was close quarters for a while until the field sorted itself out over an hour later. Some of the running here was off trail, but nothing too rowdy yet.  We emerged out of a meadow and onto the rocky switchbacks leading up to Hidden 1 AS.  Sarah met me and got me in and out quickly.

The grind up to Hidden One

The grind up to Hidden One

The descent to Larry’s Hole is where the sun emerged and the wildflower extravaganza began.  Flowers I recognized like penstemon, indian paintbrush and phlox but then lots of other stuff I’d never seen before. I was quick through Larry’s Hole AS and after a short climb, began the descent to Pacific Mine.  I found myself at the top of what looked like a steep, boulder choked dry creek bed but was actually an ATV trail and part of the course. Mary Ellen Gulch…my worst nightmare. (I had popped my ankle at the end of training run three weeks earlier.  I had stayed off of it, cross trained a bunch, acupuncture, massage, etc. but hadn’t made the final decision to race until the Sunday before the race.)  My ankle was feeling great at this point, but what I saw in front of me made me feel like a hemophiliac in a razor blade factory.  The trail got progressively less techy and I was able to rejoin the pack and start picking a few people off. I moved into Pacific Mine AS quickly got water and bailed.  There were lots of racers milling around here and I gained quite a few places.

The climb out of Pacific Mine back to Larry’s Hole is largely in the aspens which afforded a fair amount of shade.  It was still hot, though, and a small group of us worked up the multitrack. Around this time I developed a blister.  At first I thought it was a rock in my shoe so stopped and emptied.  I stopped again shortly after because I thought the culprit was in my sock.  I swore as I put my shoe back on and at that moment a woman piped up, as she ran by, “Hey…I’ve got some second skin.  Jog along with me.”  Score! Stopped a third time to apply.  My new best friend and I rolled into Larry’s Hole together.  I refilled, ate a few oranges, grabbed a handful of potato chips, put some ice in my headband and I was out.

As I would soon learn, this is where the course gets serious. This climb up to Mt. Baldy was the second to last climb of the day and it was a bonafide chinscraper. Mostly off trail, I worked up the mountain like I would boot up a snowy couloir, occasionally throwing in some French step to give my calves a break. The slope was south facing, I was cooking at this point, and there wasn’t a whisper of wind to be had. I saw several people in front of me take a step up, struggle, wobble, list over and catch themselves. This section of the course was also choked with the brightest wildflowers imaginable. The beauty/pain dichotomy was too much to wrap my brain around. All I could do was laugh out loud to myself.

After I crested the ridge I turned north and began the descent to Tunnel Aid Station. I entered the tunnel, which spat me out on the other side of the mountain, and I began my descent down to the Ridge Trail. Once at the bottom the course worked its way up the Ridge Trail to Hidden Peak 2.  This is where the real high quality swearing, snorting and teeth grinding went down. Karl had been sending us through stupid terrain, aggressively, all day, and it was beginning to grind me down.

But wait …more lactic acid and wildflower fireworks. One guy hung on to a pine off trail and wondered aloud why he kept puking and couldn’t keep anything down. More carnage littered the ridge as My Second Skin Hero and I slogged towards the tram station at Hidden Peak. I pushed up the last section of Hidden Peak to the applause and cheering of an almost European sized crowd.  I was in and out of Hidden 2 quickly and began the final descent.

For the time being, my quads wanted to cooperate on the downhill and I quickly picked off a few runners in the first few minutes out of Hidden.  I was in the groove, down climbing a loose ravine when I heard heavy, almost panicked breathing above me.  I looked up and saw a woman who I had seen earlier in the race.  She had an expression that is best described as desperate and crazed. “Oh hey!” I said, expecting either a wounded howl or a string of expletives as a reply. Nothing. Just the sound of loose rock tumbling down the ravine as she took the fall line.  We were soon running together and began talking about the new finish and the additional 100m of climbing.

On cue we left the trail and were routed into more subalpine mixed terrain. More steepness, off trail and totally demoralizing.  We had been hammering on fast multitrack for good while and now we had to deal with this crap?! We slogged onward and eventually thought we might be lost and running the beginning of the section of the course, not the new finish.  Line of sight on the final few miles was short and we hadn’t seen anyone at all in at least fifteen minutes. Soon enough we had convinced ourselves that we were lost.  Oddly there was no discussion of backtracking. We struggled through this last hateful bit of the course and got spat out onto some multitrack where I soon saw a photographer. Saved! I’m not gonna DNF after all.  The base area was in sight at this point so I unloaded, separated from Animal Girl and picked off a few more runners to cross the finish line in 8:08:20 and 82nd place.

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TRT50 – 1st 50 Miler Race Report

The day started not too hot, not too cold but my nerves were on OVERLOAD. I had self-doubt of the splits that I sent to my crew. Was I over-estimating my training? Was I being overly confident of how the day would go? I stood next to people with course records and friends of mine that I know are just going to kill it. I was feeling very much the novice. At 6am. we were off and I kept my pace conservative because I knew it was going to be a long day. At my first pass through Tunnel Creek A/S, I was met by my crew, including boyfriend Judd, and their homemade signs of encouragement in true marathon form. I was up until now, just a marathoner. My nerves and stomach still had not calmed down yet and was wondering if this feeling was going to go on all day. After picking up full water bottles, I headed out of TC on pace.

The morning started to get warm on the Red House Loop and my focus steered away from nerves and was more on just how hot would it get out there. The climb back to the aid station was really hot and exposed but I ran into fellow DPMR, JP. Asking each other how we were doing, there was talk of regret, guns and bullets, and other synonymous tortures we felt like we were going through. That all changed when JP reminded me what was up ahead… “I see your #1 fan is out here this morning…”. It made me laugh and I knew my crew was just a short ways ahead. That got me running again up the second pass through Tunnel Creek. I was now feeling so much better and was happy to get some ice in the water bottles and in a kerchief around my neck. Off I went, on pace, for the stretch of 13 miles before I would see my crew again. It was mostly downhill on the last 7 miles and downhill is not my forte. It was hot, my hamstring started to get tight and all kinds of people were starting to pass me, including Gordy Ainsleigh.

I arrived at mile 30, about 20 or so minutes behind schedule feeling hot and defeated. My crew was ready with sponges and ice plus an awesome guy with a hose was right there before we headed back out. I was so thankful for that aid station. I cooled down and was a new women! There I picked up my pacer, and quoted “#1 fan”, and we headed up the heinous Diamond Peak. It is considered the toughest part of the race and it was getting to be the hottest part of the day but we killed it. I had trained on that hill quite a bit and knew exactly what I had to do to get it done. Leaving myself an hour to get up to the top, I was able to gain some lost time by summiting in less time than I predicted. We passed a few people up that climb, even taking a few seconds to look back at the view of the lake. At the top, we ran into husband and wife DPMR couple, Laura and Kynan, who were running their first 100miler. The aid station there had no ice and was totally exposed to the sun and heat of day. I felt so bad for those volunteers, they likely didn’t sign up for such a brutal job but they helped us out with smiles and encouragement anyway.

So, it was now Judd and I running the last 20 miles back through to the Tunnel Creek aid station for the third time. I was hitting distances I had never ran before but felt surprisingly good. I made my last stop at Tunnel Creek quick to keep the momentum going. I was surprised at how much running I was still managing to do. I thought I would have been walking the rest of the way but we were doing alright. Then came the last climb of the race up Snow Valley Peak. I underestimated the amount of climbing involved in this section. The weather and my mood started to cloud over. The thunder was rattling our teeth and we were headed up an exposed peak…hello lightening!

We could see the storm coming towards us with a curtain of what I thought was rain. As we climbed up towards the summit, my breathing became labored and my legs were starting to feel the accumulated mileage. Here, I was reminded that even though I spend a good amount of time in Truckee, I am a flatlander.

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The amazing wildflowers on that peak gave me something else to focus on and we eventually peaked the last climb and were running downhill off the mountain before the lightening. I was off my time by about 30 mins and knew that a sub-12hour finish may not happen at this point. My pacer reminded me that the lightening was going to chase us down and we better get a move on. The thunder started getting super loud and I saw it as my dad’s way of telling me “Andiamo! Andiamo!”, translates to “come on, let’s go” in Italian. He was a long distance runner and passed away few years back before I became a runner.

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The storm moved directly on top of us just as we headed back into the trees. The course was all downhill from here but that was of no comfort to me. Downhill, again, is not my thing. Then the rain started to come down harder and my most awesome pacer asked if I thought we should put on jackets. I was not functioning at 100% and left it up to him. And he made a good call! Though the storm was rejuvenating at first, we were later getting pelted with hail. I saw the hail bouncing off the ground but I did not feel it too much because of I was dressed properly. I was thankful to have had a crew who made sure we thought of all the possibilities. I was also feeling grateful that I was blessed with the ability to run such distances no matter how fast or slow.

DSCN0382Then, my mind went back to the task at hand and the last aid station was all I cared about. Spooner Lake A/S was only 1.7mi from the finish and I just wanted to be passed it. Around every bend, I was anticipating to see the tent, not that I needed it, I just wanted to be past it and on my way to the finish. It seemed like many grumpy miles before we finally hit it. A little boy from the aid station called out to us, “Do you need any of our stuff?” He was so cute that I wanted to stop and grab something but Judd had said a short time before that we had about 22 mins to get under 12 hours. I was not able to run all the way in at this point. As Judd tried to encourage me to keep running, I kept walking, then I would start running again and change to walking. I was almost home and the pain was at it’s peak. I knew if I didn’t push, I’d have to settle for a time over 12hrs and then I’d have to run another 50 miler to reach my goal. Not having looked at my watch since we put on jackets, I really didn’t know the exact mileage or time at this point.

After whining and whimpering and fumbling through single track with puddles of various depths, we made it to the last turn. Judd told me that he knew how much it hurt but I had to give it hell to get my time. I could hear my friends in the distance cheering and yelling and I did all I could to finish in 11:58:22. I was so happy to have made it through unscathed and to have felt the love from my crew who braved the hail storms waiting for me to finish.

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Daniela and Judd at the finish

Runners Take on TRT Endurance Runs

The Donner Party Mountain Runners had a strong showing at last week’s epic edition of the Tahoe Rim Trail Endurance Runs! With 23 founding members toeing the line in all three distances (50K, 50M, and 100M), we had a lot to cheer for all weekend.

(Photo by Jenelle Potvin)

(Photo by Jenelle Potvin)

The 100 mile runners endured multiple lightning storms, which included hail and flash flooding on the course. Leading the way for us was Chaz Sheya, finishing 11th overall. This was Chaz’s 3rd TRT 100, and with a time of 22:35:31, he nailed it this year, earning that coveted sub-24 buckle. In the under-30-hours club, we had two Truckee runners going for their first 100 mile finishes: Jeff Brown (28:12:09) and board secretary Helen Pelster (29:10:34). I made Jeff’s acquaintance at mile 67 where he was looking strong. Helen was smiles all night when I saw her pass several times through the Tunnel Creek Aid Station, paced by her husband Javier and board member Betsy Nye. Speaking of husband and wife, Kynan and Laura Matz made a great team out there! They’ve been posting solid race times all season, and their hard work paid off this weekend when they crossed the line together in 30:52:48 to earn their first 100 mile buckles. (Laura also earned herself the worst case of 100-mile cankles I’ve ever seen. I hope they’re gone by now, Laura!) And yet another first-time 100 miler was Paul Berquam who made his debut in 32:26:31. I’m so proud of how many first-time 100 mile runners we had out there! And no less awesome were those of you who gave it your best, but it just wasn’t your day. Carrie Hyatt, going for her 3rd TRT 100 finish,  had to drop early due to some mysterious but severe quad pain. Cheryl Lloyd gave it her all in a strong attempt at a first 100, but was timed out at mile 80.

Team Matz! (Photo courtesy Laura Matz)

Team Matz! (Photo by Alvin Lubrino)

 

In the 50 mile event, board member Jenelle Potvin crossed the line in 9:41:28 finishing 3rd female in a race with strong competition. Rumor has it Jenelle blazed the last 7 miles from Snow Valley Peak in a 7:47 pace! Abe Haen of Truckee finished his first 50 miler, finishing in 10:55:26. Also out of Truckee and new to the 50M distance, Nicholas Martin struggled through some queasy low points to bounce back for a strong finish in 11:21:09. Given his enthusiasm for the race, the volunteers, and the camaraderie among DPMRs, I have a feeling Nicholas will be back to TRT in the future! Joel Tebbut overcame a lack of training due to injury to cross the line in 11:43:12 for his first 50 mile finish. Daniela Porri snuck into the top ten in the women’s race with a time of 11:58:22. It was also Daniela’s first 50 mile finish. Joe Sellner, who downgraded from the 100, crossed the line in 13:02:29. Before the race I invited him to join me up at Tunnel Creek to help out on the night shift, but he declared his firm intent to be intoxicated by about 7:30 PM. Given that he crossed the line at 7:02, I’d say that was an impressive goal. (How’d it go, Joe?) Jennifer Hemmen, coming off a strong finish in her first 100 at Bryce, enjoyed her day, finishing in 13:43:26. And our president, Peter Fain, really went for it but had to call it a day at mile 40 due to severe dehydration.

Nicholas Martin climbs Diamond Peak.

Nicholas Martin climbs Diamond Peak.

Nicholas and Joel Tebbutt at the top of the climb.

Nicholas and Joel Tebbutt at the top of the climb.

 

Jenelle Potvin looking strong at Diamond Peak. (Photo by Bruce Aldrich)

Jenelle Potvin looking strong at Diamond Peak. (Photo by Bruce Aldrich)

Crossing the line first overall in the 50K division was new member Donald Montgomery with a time of 5:08:36. Congrats, Donald! Right behind him was Reno’s Ben Tedore, finishing second in 5:12:09. I managed to take first female honors after downgrading from the 50M due to injury and lack of training. I finished happy in 6:31:41. I was also lucky enough to share some trail miles with JP Prince who kept me entertained and finished with a time of 8:00:8. JP and I shared some post-race food and drink with Sharon Fong, who finished in 9:09:35.

After my race, I spent some time on the night shift at Tunnel Creek AS where I witnessed the endurance and heart of all those 100 mile runners. I especially enjoyed spotting all the DPMR gold shirts, and meeting some club members for the first time. TRT is always an excellent event, but seeing so many familiar faces and sharing the trail makes it even sweeter. I’m guessing next year, there will be even more of us hitting the trail together there!

(Photo by Jenelle Potvin)

(Photo by Jenelle Potvin)