Sunday, September 13, 2009
this weekend was the Wasatch 100 ultra marathon. 100 miles of "heaven and hell", a running race mostly on trails through the wasatch mountains near salt lake city, from layton to midway, utah. my friend Cheryl Meltzer was signed up to run the race. i've tried this race twice, and twice dropped out for various reasons at Brighton, utah which is at mile 75. it's a really tough race.
Cheryl did great. i saw her at mile 40 at big mountain, and she looked strong and was in good spirits. this was at about 4pm. (already 11 hours into the race). i went home to feed the dogs, get some rest, and eat some dinner. my plan was to meet Cheryl at mile 63 at the upper big water aid station in millcreek canyon, and take her to the finish line in midway.
i caught a ride with my friend Butch Adams who was crewing for Eve Davies and was also going to run with her from Brighton to the finish. we got to upper millcreek canyon at 10pm. eve arrived just after 11pm and was in rough shape. she laid down on the floor of the eurovan with my sleeping bag for 10-15 minutes. she'd been puking and was really cold and tired. her s.o. Charlie Vincent arrived a few minutes after she got there. Charlie was attempting his 4th 100 mile race of the summer. we got some food into both of them and they both started looking a lot better. both left the aid station looking strong. it was quarter after midnight. Butch left around then and i stayed, wrapped in my sleeping bag, wondering how Cheryl was doing and how long it would be before she arrived.
Cheryl and her pacer, Kristin, got to upper millcreek at around 1:30am. Cheryl looked upset and cold, and i wrapped her in my sleeping bag and got some warm liquids into her. she started feeling better, and i was thinking i could get her into shape to keep her going. it was then that she told me that she had had a really rough time on the millcreek road, feeling sick, coughing, and just being really cold, and had flagged down a car to take her up to the aid station so that she could drop out. her race was over. and so was mine. i would not be running the last 40 miles with her. she had set a personal record of running 61 miles in about 18 hours.
we all drove over to Brighton, mile 75, to try to catch some other friends of ours and see how their races were coming along. Carly Varner, fiancee of Hal Koerner, came through brighton looking fresh and awake. she was running without a pacer, and i considered running with her to the finish, but honestly she was looking way too strong and i was afraid i'd be more of a hindrance to her than a help. i waited. butch texted me, "where r u?" i replied @brighton. he was on his way up the canyon to crew Eve and pace her to the finish. he invited me to join them. how could i say no? it was my opportunity to run with a couple of great people on a tough 25 miler, one of the most beautiful courses in the world. my stomach was tweaking, i was tired from lack of sleep, and i really just wanted to go home and go to bed. but i said yes.
it was an amazing 25 miles. we caught the sunrise from Catherine's Pass. Marty, Eve's pacer from big water to brighton, went to the top with us and then carried our warm layers back to the car. she coaxed Eve into continuing when Eve wanted to stop and puke on the side of the trail (Eve has a notoriously tweaky stomach). Butch and i got Eve through the Ant Knolls aid station, got a pancake into her, and she cruised up the first climb of the Ridge Trail 157. she was on her way.
shortly before Pole Line Pass aid station, Eve slowed down and started to get really weepy, thinking she couldn't continue. she was at mile 83. Butch and i both told her, "what do you mean you can't do it? you ARE doing it. you're doing it right now. let's keep going." and she did. she got some food and her secret weapon skim milk in her water bottle and she motored across Point of Contention and the Forest Lake treadmill to Rock Spring aid station. mile 87. only 13 to go.
the weather got hot and Eve kept motoring. she got nauseated and kept going. she never got weepy again, rather she started chatting and telling stories with me and Butch. i knew she was going to make it. Pot Bottom aid station, at mile 93, she was so fast in and out of there, i never got to take my shoes off to shake the rocks and dirt out of them. we just kept motoring.
quick dip in the creek after Pot Bottom, and Eve was refreshed. we had a hot 2 mile climb and then 5 miles of single and double track through the scrub oak to the finish in Midway. Eve ran so fast on that last 5 miles i thought she was going to drop me. the heat was getting to me and my feet were aching. how could she be running so fast after 95 miles through the heat of the day and the cold night? she was smelling the barn...
we hit the road for the last mile and i hung tough and kept up. Butch ran ahead to snap a photo of us. i could see the finish line and i got tears in my eyes. i put my arm around Eve and said, "look at that. you did it, Eve!" and she got tears in her eyes too. She crossed the finish line with a time of 33 hours 37 minutes. very respectable.
we stayed for the finish ceremonies at the Homestead Resort. ate food and drank beer. got a shower. hung out and recounted our tales. Speedgoat Scott Mason told me i had more issues in my mini-epic of 25 miles than most people had in their whole 100 mile race. i like to think i just like to tell a good story. this story was made possible by the Wasatch 100. what an amazing couple of days.