Years ago I gathered notes for an article to be entitled Why I Will Never Run a 100-Mile Trail Race. As recently as last April I had abandoned the dream of ever perpetrating such a feat, having convinced myself that as someone who is slow to begin with, I'm too old to be a first-timer. As an ultrarunner my primary passion is for 24-hour and multi-day events, where I've done reasonably well, and where the stresses of coping with hills, wilderness, need for special gear, nighttime running, course navigation, time limits, drop bags, and surviving with minimal support are non-existent. In my heart I believed could never make the time cutoffs in a trail race.
In April, 2003, Geri Kilgariff, who was aware of these feelings, wrote to say she'd just gotten approval from Maricopa County to stage the Javelina Jundred on Pemberton Trail at McDowell Mountain park north of Fountain Hills, Arizona, on November 8-9, 2003, and thought I might want to consider it.
The idea gave me much food for thought over the next few days, as I had committed to running the national championship 24-hour race in San Diego on the same day. Knowing something about the statistics regarding aging and performance falloff, I concluded that if am ever to run a 100-mile trail race, this would be my best opportunity, and that I couldn't possibly be more ready next year than I could be this year.
One enormous advantage is that I live in Phoenix, so can train on Pemberton Trail, something I did nine times, including through the blazing heat of summer afternoons. It also meant that I could spend the night before the race in my own bed, and would be back home quickly, without incurring the expense of travel. Added together, these factors moved me to be among the first to sign up.
Geri advertised the race as the "ideal first 100, virgin 100, slowpoke 100, goof-off 100, DNF-redemption 100 and 100 for the helluvit". I'm not qualified to compare, so I took that description at face value, despite repeated training loops that led me to judge Pemberton to be a not-exactly-easy course.
For the record: the actual total course distance is closer to 101.2 miles, not 100, assuming the posted distances on the county map are accurate. (Geri's explanation for this is that Javelinas can't count.) We would run six 15.3-mile complete loops of Pemberton, plus a 9.4-mile shorter loop clockwise on Pemberton, then cutting back over on the shorter and quite runnable Tonto Tank trail. Every 100-mile runner I know would rather race on a course that's a little long than a little short.
Now that I've actually tried the race and heard the opinions of numerous experienced ultrarunners, the consensus I gleaned was that, while obviously no Hard Rock or Western States, the Pemberton Trail course is harder than advertised. Those who know the primary races in the US were generally saying it's harder than Rocky Racoon, maybe harder than Umstead, possibly also harder than Vermont, but not necessarily.
During my nine spring and summer training trips to Pemberton I rarely ever saw another human soul at the park, even in the parking lot. Until two weeks ago I never encountered another person on foot on the trail; that person was a local ultrarunner training for the race. The foot traffic jam I ran in at the pleasantly cool early morning start of the race made an amusing and pleasant contrast to my customary forays into a solitudinous inferno.
Having seen the parking lot, I was initially skeptical as to whether there is enough room for the 160 or so runners plus crews and volunteers to fit in the lot. My estimate proved short-sighted, as the reality is that there is abundant room for everyone, and plenty more besides.
Javelina Jundred was especially a gathering of subscribers to the Internet Ultra email list, a singular assembly of voluptuaries if there ever was one. As a member of that jaded assemblage, I took a list of names of many people I hoped to meet, but still missed most.
As the saying goes — on the Internet no one knows you're a dog — a proverbial way of saying even though many of us have communicated in email, we still can't identify each other by sight. It made me wish that we'd had little tags at the pre-race meeting that said: "Hi, my name is ..." Better yet, if names could have been printed on the race numbers, as they are at Olander.
Ulrich Kamm, center, who walked and finished under the cutoff
Geri would be quick to point out that it would have cost considerably more to do so. More pertinently, there wasn't room on the number tag to print names in a font big enough for passers by to read. We were supplied with numbers printed on rubbery cattle tags, which surely most runners thought was an original idea, though some may have been challenged to devise a way to attach them. Mine has gone up on the wall next to my marathon medals as a cherished souvenir of the race.
Race Director Geri Kilgariff addresses the condemned
Knowing that nobody sleeps well the night before a race, I slept 8.5 hours the previous night. I was able to get home and into my bed following the pre-race meeting by 7:06pm. Everything I needed in the morning was either packed or laid out and ready to use. Contrary to the norm, I fell asleep immediately, and slept soundly until 10:58pm, then sporadically, but with more periods of sound sleep. My eyes popped open at 2:57am, three minutes before my alarm was scheduled to go off, so I turned it off and popped out of bed, amazingly well-rested and ready. I've rarely felt as good on a race morning.
I allowed an hour to get out the door. The most tedious part of preparations is the taping of my feet, which takes some time, but is worth every second of the effort.
It was while performing this task that I discovered my first mistake of the day. With feet taped, greased with Bag Balm, overlaid with half-height nylons and brand new Ultrawool socks, and the new and barely broken-in pair of shoes on my feet, I realized I'd neglected to glue Velcro strips across the heels of the shoes to which to attach my Joe Dana gaiters. Grrr. There was no time to do it then, so I had to make a decision: wear gaiters with the pair of shoes that already had 340 miles on them, or wear the new shoes without gaiters. It didn't take long for me to conclude that running a race on a rocky, sandy trail without gaiters was unthinkable, so the new shoes went into the closet for another time. Because I normally put 700 miles on a pair of shoes before retiring them, this was not too big a problem.
The timing of my preparation couldn't have been closer, as I walked out the door at 4:01am. With no traffic, I arrived at the trailhead at 4:38am.
It was already time for mistake number two. On Friday I put fresh batteries in both my 3-LED headlamp and my halogen flashlight. When I got to the park I was upset to find that the batteries in the headlamp seemed to be down to nothing. I could barely see my hand using it. I carried the flashlight on the first lap, because we needed light for the first 15-20 minutes, and made a mental note to ask my wife Suzy to change the batteries for me when I came around. (She was coming later.)
Shortly before 6:00am Geri conducted a brief pre-race meeting, which I didn't know was happening until it was nearly over. I arrived in time to hear her say: "The race will start in about two minutes over by the tree."
What tree? There were several trees in the parking lot, and no banner or official start/finish line had been erected. Geri passed right by me as she headed over there, and I wisely concluded that of all persons, Geri knows where the start is, so I followed her. With less than a minute to go only a few people had come over. Geri said, "It's almost time to start. No one is coming." I said, "I don't think anyone cares."
Soon a dozen or so people had arrived, and a few more had started to move over. The entrance to the trail was obscured by some inconveniently parked cars, which were subsequently moved, but since I knew the trail I knew within one or two car widths where we were headed, and said so to the people at the front. "Just follow me!" I said, blithely hoping to be in the lead at the end of the first lap.
Seconds later Geri looked at her watch, and without ceremony, gun, or arm signal, said in a voice discernible no more than ten feet away, "Okay, go." Go? That was it? Not GOOO!!!?? Oh, okay. So those of us at the front who heard it took off toward and between the cars, and the rest caught on quickly. And so we were off. Now I can claim that I held fourth place for almost 30 seconds in a 100-mile race.
There are always concerns about what the weather will be like at races. As recently as the day before the race the forecast predicted mostly sunny with a temperature range between 52-77. At the pre-race meeting late that afternoon the sky was thick with clouds, on the verge of rain that never happened. When I peeked out the door on race morning, I was surprised and delighted to see it had completely cleared off. It was 52 in Fountain Hills when I left the house, according to weather.com. Sure enough, it turned out to be a spectacularly beautiful day for running — never too cold, and only briefly a little too warm, although some runners from northern climates thought it was a lot too warm.
Lynn Newton on the road, lap 1 — Picture by Peter Bakwin
My goal was simply to finish within the 30 hour limit. With the help of a running mathematician friend I worked out a lap schedule that looked reasonable, which if followed, would have gotten me to the finish with 41 minutes to spare:
[*]Calculated as 61% of a full lap, the 9.4-mile Tonto Tank loop needed to be run at the end to put the distance over 100 miles. The one time I ran that loop by itself I did so in under two hours.
That schedule quickly went out the window. Fired up by preparedness and adrenalin, I ran strong with the middle of the pack the entire first 15.3-mile lap, being careful not to push hard, walking the uphills, but moving well the rest of the time. When I crossed the line, 3:06 had elapsed. I was an astounding 54 minutes ahead of schedule, enough to be worried. Had I pulled the newbie's mistake of going out too hard? I didn't think so, because I felt fabulous, had avoided outright hard running, and knowing what was ahead of me, was glad to be able to bank the time for later. I had never run the loop in less than 3:26 in training, but that was in much warmer weather.
Three miles into the race I tripped and fell on the sharp rocks on the south rim section, the most tedious portion of the course, which had everyone griping while trying to prance over them, going deedly, deedly. Ouch!!! It took only a couple of minutes for the sting to go away and to start running again, but I was bleeding, and my sense of abandon had been tempered by caution. Here are some statistics. (Yes, I actually counted.)
It seems our Creator has a sense of humor, and likes to keep us guessing.
Both instances of (b) were in the same rocky section on the south ridge of the trail, during broad daylight, while I was still relatively fresh.
The second lap life continued its merry course with all bodily systems reporting in copacetic. I filled my bottle with Ultra sports drink at every single aid station for the duration of the race. The Ultra was generously donated by aid station chief Anthony Humpage (a.k.a. Woofie) when it became known that only Gatorade would be supplied. The Ultra was my primary source of nourishment the whole race, and though I got as tired as usual of the taste, I was able to keep drinking it, supplemented by Succeed! electrolyte capsules every 90 minutes when it was cool, and every hour when it got warm.
The attention given to me personally each time I entered an aid station was superb, and I tried to remember to thank everyone vociferously each time I departed.
By 11:00am it became apparent that the temperature would rise a little higher than ideally. I don't know the official number, but it seemed to reach 80 degrees, perhaps slightly more — hotter than the predictions, for sure.
I'm acclimated to running in heat from having trained on Pemberton Trail and elsewhere in Phoenix all summer long, where the temperature often goes above 110 degrees. Being acclimated does not make it a whole lot easier or more pleasant, even in the 80-degree range. By the time I pulled into Javelina Jeadquarters the second time, my stomach was churning. The heat saps the wanna right out of a person.
Still, it wasn't bad, and I'd had another bravura lap. At 3:45 I was still banking time, and beginning to entertain visions of finishing sub-28. Silly me.
The third lap was run during the hottest part of the day. I wore long-sleeve shirts, a sun hat, and kept my face and legs covered in sun screen. By 2:30pm the temperature had already dropped once again into the comfortable range, leaving hours of comfortable daytime running in paradise still ahead. That third lap took me about 4:45, as in addition to being slowed by the heat, by then I'd been reduced to much more walking than on the first two. From then on, I paid little attention to the time other than to make rough estimates, and even forgot to press the split button on my watch.
The heat and continuous supply of Ultra continued to gnaw at my stomach, and as I went on, little that was offered at the aid stations had much appeal.
When I pulled into Jeadquarters again, it was roughly 5:15pm, and Suzy was still there, but anxious to see me off and leave. I stripped off my shirt, toweled off, put on a warm, clean shirt, my most excellent Marmot coat, dumped my Oakleys, had a delicious cup of hot chicken noodle soup, and headed off feeling genuinely refreshed and anxious to tackle the night.
Oops. I got slightly more than 0.1 miles out when I realized I'd charged off without my headlamp and flashlight. Good grief! I'm glad I didn't go any further than that. When I came back, Suzy was headed out to meet me with them, new batteries installed, figuring I'd be back for them soon. After 25 years she's gotten to know me and anticipates my every need. What a girl!
The only problem at this time was that I was well ahead of the anticipated schedule I'd given to Jerry Nairn, my pacer, and with darkness approaching, he hadn't arrived yet. They were letting pacers take off with their runners by that hour, and if he'd been there he could have gone with me. With regrets, I took off alone. It meant that I was about to attempt extended night running in a wilderness entirely on my own, something I had never done. I really hoped to have someone with me the first time. As it turned out, this would not be a problem at all, and I'm glad that I had an opportunity to find that out.
On this loop we were treated to the sight of a much anticipated full lunar eclipse, a phenomenon I had never witnessed. When the moon rose, within minutes after I took off on the fourth lap, it was already close to fully covered by earth's shadow, somewhat earlier than I had expected. Regrettably, the direction I was running at that time was such that I had to cast frequent glances over my shoulder to see it. But it was undeniably a stirring sight. It also made the trail considerably darker for the duration.
Because of the location of the hills and type of terrain on the Pemberton Trail, the even-numbered counterclockwise loops are harder to run than the odd-numbered clockwise loops. The three miles of smooth jeep trail on the north side, a steady low-grade hill, is a sheer pleasure to run down coming clockwise, but a seemingly interminable grind going up.
By this point in the race my primary concerns were managing my energy, fluids, and nutrition, and getting used to running on a trail in the dark.
Soup is one of my favorite foods. Almost any kind will do. At almost every aid station during the night I consumed hot soup, which I took out on the road with me, leaving me toting a styrofoam cup from station to station.
The greatest revelation I experienced during the race was that when the moon is full, it's so bright you hardly need lights at all!
An LED light makes everything it shines on appear two-dimensional. I used it to light the road in front of me, but would frequently flip on my halogen flashlight to get a brighter view of details, such as rocks and holes, also to interrupt the hypnotic view of a line across the bottom region of my peripheral vision.
I looked out upon the panorama of beautiful scenery around me and realized that I could still see it well, in all its glory — all the mountains, the cactuses and other foliage, and even the contour of the road ahead. So I experimented — I turned off my lights entirely to see if I dared to go without them. It took me just a few minutes to conclude that I was likely to run the rest of the night virtually without lights, using them only to guide me over rocks and scary stretches.
As I ran on, I found that perhaps a third of the runners I encountered had also turned off their lights. The extreme beauty of that cool but comfortable night, with the earth lit up for as far as my eye could see by moonlight, is a sight I'm unlikely ever to forget, but hope I get to experience many more times.
Another fun feature of this race is that we ran loops in alternate directions. This not only served to even out the physical challenges and give us a different look at the scenery, but also gave us a chance to view every other runner in the race. As things got spread out, runners were traveling in both directions. Each lap we got a chance to see who the leaders were, and the leaders got to see who the losers would be. We would all say hi again to people we knew, and also to those we didn't. I believe I at least grunted a greeting to every single person who came my way, and must have heard the expressions "Good job!" and "Looking good!" uttered at least 500 times during the race. Those of us who remained out there also got a chance to get a sense of who had dropped by noting we hadn't seen certain ones we'd been expecting along the way. By the fourth lap things had thinned out noticeably. I did not yet know that many people had dropped out already.
We got to witness what became an exciting race for the win. When I first saw the lead pack come by, the usual suspects were leading, with Karl Meltzer ahead, followed by Carolyn Smith, who I was told later is a miler, then local superstar Dennis Poolheco, and Stephanie Ehret.
A truth that runs contrary to expectations is that in the world of endurance sport gender differences tend to disappear. In the right field, on the right course, on the right day, the best ladies have a good shot of running off with the win outright. Arizona star Pam Reed is recent living proof of that, and of course the great Ann Trason.
With all due respect to the others, particularly Dennis, I began rooting for Stephanie, whom I know from three editions of Across the Years, when she ran and won the 24-hour race outright twice; the next year her husband Peter Bakwin set the course record.
During the first laps I was surprised to see Hard Rock legend Karl Meltzer fade back, but by the fourth lap Dennis had what looked to be an insurmountable lead.
By fortuitous coincidence, I came into Coyote Camp aid station on my fourth lap at precisely the same time that Dennis came rocketing in on his sixth, and also, to my great astonishment, Stephanie Ehret. She'd caught him!?? I was non-plused. Dennis looked tired, but was in good spirits. Stephanie looked like she was anxious to finish so she and Peter could go out for an evening of dancing or something. And she was still smiling as always.
It was unnerving to realize that at that point they had 14.5 miles to go, whereas I still had 45. How do they do it!??
I took a little more time at that aid station than usual, as I tried to do what needed doing while sitting down, which actually made it a bit harder, except on my legs and back. Soon I was off again, soup in hand, into the bright night, where I found that even on the tedious rocky terrain that followed I rarely needed my night lights.
When I came off the trail at the end of the loop, my pacer Jerry Nairn was waiting for me at the trail exit. My being ahead of schedule had saved him some work.
I didn't note the time I came in, but I'm sure I was still running somewhere around a half hour ahead of my proposed schedule. This turnaround I wasted little time getting what I needed and heading back out. I was glad Jerry was there, because I had spent the bulk of the day running alone, and had a lot stored up in my head that I wanted to share with someone.
By then I was aching. My quadriceps were trashed to where running downhill was trialsome, but I could still do it after a few steps of getting used to having knife blades thrust into my legs.
The first lap I soared on the wings of Apollo. The second I was more my usual self. By the third I looked like Howdy Doody. Now it was more like Flubadub.
It was beneficial having company on lap five. Jerry wondered just how valuable a pacer is in a run like this. By coincidence he'd stood around talking to Gary Cantrell (a.k.a. Lazarus Lake) about pacing while waiting for me to come in, not knowing that Laz is the RD of the grisly Barkley ultramarathon, nor his staunchly held (but friendly) anti-pacers opinion. Companionship aside, the greatest value of having Jerry along became abundantly evident near the end of my race.
Gary Cantrell / Lazarus Lake at the Barkley
When we arrived at Coyote Camp again I made my next big mistake — I took two caffeine tablets, having never tried using them before. It didn't take long for them to get them into my system. Before long I was jazzed and charging down hills, and walking the ups hard. Jerry said I was making it look easy. Ha!
The truth is, I was still feeling physically just fine. I never once got discouraged or remotely considered dropping because I had no reason to do so. My goal was to finish the race, and all I could think about was getting on with it. As we traveled on, I babbled on about trivialities while Jerry patiently indulged me, all the while making frequent inquiries and suggestions as to what he could do to help. He even offered to carry my soupless styrofoam cup to the next aid station, but I told him with amusement that to do so would be considered muling, which is against the rules, so I carried it myself. I never explained that to him until days after the race.
Before long, though, the amount of caffeine I had ingested, the equivalent of having chug-a-lugged four cups of coffee in a single quaff, upset my stomach more than it already had been. I'd taken some ibuprofen a few hours before, which I use sparingly, to ease the stabbing in my quads, and it helped, but this too can have a deleterious affect on a stressed digestive system. My burst of enthusiasm waned, as for the next several hours I resisted the urge to put my finger down my throat for relief, something I've never done, but have given serious consideration.
NOTE TO SELF: Next time try only one caffeine tablet at a time, and do it on a training run before poisoning myself during a race.
Soon afterward the nagging problem that eventually killed my race began to assert itself. It became increasingly obvious that my back was getting intolerably sore.
The solution seemed easy. When I straightened up and ran with good posture, I felt fine. When I let it go, I fell into a slouch where I leaned a good 15 degrees forward, putting a huge strain on the muscles that hold me up, exasperating the situation. It must have looked like Quasimoto had joined the race to anyone who saw me as well. Which is not to suggest that by that time many other runners were looking much better.
There was nothing I could do about it. The reason I was slumped over was because those tired muscles were no longer able to hold me up, no matter how much I concentrated, and the longer I walked or ran, the worse it got. It was around halfway through the fifth lap that I stopped running altogether, and could only walk. I found that disappointing, as I had hoped to run at least partway down the long jeep trail on the north arm.
NOTE TO SELF: Work more on maintaining good form when tired!
By the time I pulled into Javelina Jeadquarters at the end of lap 5 at whatever unholy hour it was, the problem with my back dominated my thoughts. There was absolutely nothing structurally wrong with me — nothing that a chair wouldn't fix. Since the problem from the caffeine had subsided I took two more ibuprofen in hopes that it might prove to help my back as it had worked for my quadriceps earlier. It didn't.
Things were pretty quiet at the camp by then, as I learned how many people had dropped. A fresh cup of hot cocoa proved to be refreshing. It seemed a bit colder, so I put on a sweatshirt under my coat, knowing there was no way I would get overheated from it, because I wasn't moving very fast. In fact, I had slacked off considerably on drinking and taking electrolytes, but I was feeling fine on that score, so wasn't worried about it.
From this point there was about 24.5 miles to go — less than a marathon. Could I tough it out? No plan for quitting had been written into the agenda, so I set my jaw and off we went into the early pre-dawn night, with the moon still shining radiantly.
Sitting for that few minutes did little to give me more than momentary relief. For a while I tried walking with one arm behind my back, firmly clenching the other arm's bicep, applying pressure from behind like a brace and forcing me to remain more upright. It did help, but was extremely difficult to keep the pressure on. Later we found a long stick by the side of the road which I slid up my jacket and tried to use for support. It didn't work.
QUESTION FOR MEDITATION: Was using a stick in that way a case of using a "mechanical device" in a way that is contrary to USAT&F rules? (Which, if so, makes me wonder exactly how many moving parts there are in a stick lying by the side of the road?) What if I'd used it as a walking stick? (A.k.a. "trekking pole".)
We got a mile or so past Cedar Tank where there's a short road that leads off to the 158th Street Gate. By this time the ache in my back could no longer be ignored.
I did not want to drop out of this race. My intent was to finish it, knowing I may never again attempt a 100-miler.
For a while I tried to reason my way out of the inevitable. I thought I should just be able to put mind over matter and tough it out. Then I thought about how there was still about 21 miles left. If I gave out on the tougher, inaccessible second half of the loop, what would I be able to do about getting out of there?
Finally, the decision was made for me. It became obvious that I couldn't make it even to the Jackass Junction aid station another mile down the road without subjecting myself to a great deal of discomfort. In fact — I was done right there, and could do nothing more than to pull up short and bend over with my hands on my knees. I asked Jerry for a suggestion: "Okay, how do I check out of this thing? I don't think I can continue any further." He was still fresh as a daisy, and said he'd run up to the aid station to see if he could get some help. Fine. I was done. We were on the northeast service road, the safest and most accessible part of the trail, so getting out would be easy if a vehicle could be sent.
For the first eight or ten minutes I just stood there with my hands on my knees, but knew I'd be more comfortable lying down. I just wasn't quite sure how I would get there. I threw my waist pack on the ground for my head, and found that easing on down wasn't as hard as I'd anticipated. Once I laid down and was able to stretch out and enjoy the beautiful moonlit sky I was comfortable once again. I was glad I put on the extra sweatshirt, an extra layer of insulation against the cold ground. It was a bit chilly, but far from unbearable, and I knew I'd be okay.
Fifteen minutes later another runner happened by who asked if I was all right. (Did I look all right lying on a dirt road in the wilderness in the middle of the night? Somehow I was moved to think about Jesus' parable of the good Samaritan.) Oh sure, I was just super. Merely resting up a bit. Actually, I told him my pacer had run ahead to the next aid station to see if he could fetch some help, so satisfied with this, he headed on his way.
NOTE TO SELF: Add more back extensions to my weight training sessions. Lots of them. This must never happen again!
Help arrived in the form of an SUV before too long. They were bringing back another runner who had dropped at the aid station and also needed a lift, along with a bunch of drop bags. Ten minutes later I was back at Jeadquarters, turning myself in, confessing ignominious defeat.
Don Lundell, Steve (Someone?), Lynn Newton —
shortly after I dropped
When I stopped my watch a couple of minutes after becoming a loser, it said 23:44:06. I have run 24-hour and multi-day races, with only one or two brief sleep breaks in the two 24-hour races I've done, but this was the first time I had ever gone hard and steady for 24 hours straight (or close enough to it in this case) with no rest breaks or sleep whatever. Nor did I need any.
As I assessed the situation, one thing became clear to me: I DID NOT GIVE UP — and I never wimped out. I've likened the experience to a defeat, wherein I did my very best, but was conquered by something greater than I was, namely my back muscles. The decision to drop was made for me by circumstances beyond my control, when I found myself physically unable to continue.
I arrived at the race having trained the best I could, I was well rested, confident, and as ready to run as I have ever been. Other than my aching back I was fine. I wasn't suffering at all from lack of sleep, I felt strong, my head was screwed on right, my enthusiasm for continuing was still at a peak, and I wanted nothing more than to get up and continue.
There's not a doubt in my mind that if my body had not failed me uncontrollably, I would have finished that race smiling, and with time to spare. But that's how it goes in the world of ultrarunning.
After reporting in and hanging around the heater for a while with some more hot cocoa and a couple of other road warriors, I tried to call my wife so she wouldn't have to get up and come get me. I would sleep a while in the car and get myself home. But most people's cell phones couldn't work out there, which was the case with the one I tried.
So after some small talk, I thanked Jerry Nairn for generously volunteering to sacrifice his own night's sleep and time away from home to hang with me, whereupon he headed home, after which I went to my car and made myself as comfortable as I could. It wasn't hard to fall asleep for an hour or so. Suzy pulled in with ARR activist Frank Cuda, who gave her a ride in, just as I was starting to circulate again. We hung out and talked to people, especially ebullient victor Stephanie Ehret, who looked ready to go out and run it again, thanked whomever we could find that helped out, and took off for home, where I showered, slept about two hours, then went out to eat guilt-free steak and beer with all the trimmings. My trips to and from the car had to be traversed with assistance of a trekking pole.
Stephanie Ehret, being the bodacious babe that she is, won the overall race, with a final time of 17:38, which is a slow winning time as these things go. First, third, fifth, and sixth places all went to women. I'm so impressed I'm beyond words. Dennis Poolheco came in 27 minutes after Stephanie.
Eventual winner Stephanie Ehret, left, and Andrea Feucht
There were 179 people signed up for the race. Of those, 159 actually started. In the end, only 81 finished and 78 people DNFed. That's a drop rate of 49%, high even for some of the toughest 100's. Easy race?
My conclusion: Javelina is not an easy race for wimps. Did anyone really show up thinking it was? If so, you have my deepest sympathy.
Here is a Monday morning damage assessment:
Here are thoughts on two issues that are frequently hotly contested on the Ultra List.
Would I / will I do another 100-mile race? Lying on the road last night I swore that I would not. I already know I lied. But any way you look at it, going 100 miles on foot is hard.
I sorely wanted to finish Javelina, to earn the satisfaction of being able to say I'd completed a trail 100, even though I believe my heart will remain everlastingly with fixed-time track races. I still want to complete a 100. But who's to say — if I had finished Javelina in good shape, would that not embolden me to go on and try Vermont, Rocky Racoon, or Umstead? Time will tell.
Last but not least, I want to express publicly my gratitude to RD Geri Kilgariff for the great party, and especially for thinking to invite me personally even before the race had been officially announced. As I told her, I might not have even considered it otherwise.
As long as we have life and breath, there's always next year.