Sleep…no…sleep will not come. Snooze.
Start Line. Nerves.
The night leading up to the ‘big race’ seemed to move at a blur. I appreciated the distraction, as I now seemed to find myself running along the very familiar Kaysville section of the BST. I’ve probably run this section of trail 100 times, nearly every time thinking about this day and wondering what it would feel like to run it on race morning, sharing the trail with 300 other runners. Well here I was.
Scott Wesemann and I had been training together quite a bit this year, and on our many runs had decided that we would try and run together at least as far as Big Mountain. As this would be Scotts 4th Wasatch finish, my plan was to just stick with him at least until then and never get ahead. I also planned a conservative start to facilitate a strong finish.
|Climbing to Chinscraper – Photo my Matt Miller
The climb to Chinscraper was fairly smooth an uneventful. I refused to increase my pace to pass someone. If my current pace happened to be faster than someone in front of me, then we would pass away, but I couldn’t justify the expended energy just so I could hike in front of someone rather than behind them. We passed a few people that were already pulling off to the side – hands on hips, eyes looking hopelessly upward toward the seemingly never nearing destination…I felt bad, it was much too early to be feeling that way. As we approached the base of Chinscraper, I heard my name and saw fellow WMW Matt Miller there snapping pics and cheering people on. Always a nice surprise to see a familiar face. Then, nearing the top, Lane Bird was hootin’ and hollerin’ Scotts name as we pushed the climb to the familiar ring of a cowbell.
|Topping out on Chinscraper – Photo by Lane Bird
Gathering our legs from the climb, we settled in to a nice rhythm and cranked out the rolling miles. At the base of Thurston I pulled off to adjust my shoe and Scott pulled ahead a little, but always remained in sight, me catching back up at Grobbens while he made some shoe adjustments of his own.
From Francis peak to the Francis aid station, you have several miles of perfect downhill dirt road. It’s a very easy section to let your legs go a little too hard, so Scott and I purposefully took it easy and joked around as we caught some runners and were passed by others. We ran just behind and with John Brown, who would be a familiar sight for much of the first half of the race. Brian Beckstead caught up to us here as well, so a good group of us all got to Francis aid together.
Francis Peak AS (18.4) – 9:27am arrival – Elapsed Time 4:27
I refilled my bottles, grabbed a spare bottle from my dropbag, had some Coke and grabbed a Nutella Quasadilla.
The next section is mostly Forest Service roads, and we took our time meandering along our way, chatting with a few familiar faces as they passed. Once we pulled off the road and onto some singletrack, I knew we were coming up to the section of trail where Scott and I (and others) had done our trailwork. It was nice to see it on race day – the switchback we had put in was still intact, and we spit on the rock that we had unsuccessfully tried to dig out of the trail. Having been here before, I was glad (in a weird way) to know that we had a decent climb up ahead of us. We just put our heads down and the Bountiful B aid station was in our sites before we knew it.
Bountiful B AS (23.8) – 10:52am arrival – Elapsed Time 5:52
The selection at the aid station was a little sparse, so I drank some Coke, grabbed a couple of pieces of fruit and filled my bottles. Kenzie and Kendall both showed up here, so we left together. Kendall has had a killer schedule this year and just wasn’t feeling the day, so was nice enough to hang back with us for a bit while Kenzie was feeling good and charged up a few of the hills on ahead. Kelly caught up to us here as well, so we had a nice little crew cruising along.
It always seems to be right around the marathon/50K mark that reality starts to set in. You’ve already been out for quite some time, done some good climbing, you’re body is kind of ready to be done for the day – and you realize that you still have over 70 miles to go! Well, today was no different, but just as I was letting my mind wander a little too far down that path, I see a living room in an open field. A living room? “What the…” As I’m trying to figure out what and who in the world has a living room set up at mile 27 of the Wasatch 100 course, it hits me – it’s MVH and he’s got a sign for each one of us! I don’t think he was planning on 4 of his friends coming through together, so it was fun to watch him frantically move through each one of the signs for Rocky Mountain Slammer Kendall, Scott and Kelly, along with one for me – Matt Williams “Your mom runs wasatch”. We stopped briefly to say hi and snap some pics, and left Matt immediately lifted. Running into Sessions I was now happy and feeling great – AND – they had Popsicles! My rule is to never say no to a Popsicle! I had at least 2 or 3, along with my usual helping of Coke.
Sessions AS (28.16) – 12:01pm – Elapsed Time 7:01
A month or two ago I had run this section with Aaron, as we summited Grandview Peak, so I knew we had a nice little climb ahead of us, and was mentally prepared for it. As we approached the climb, a nice guy named Woody pulled in and asked if he could run with us for a while, to which, of course, we agreed. The climb was good, I felt just fine as Scott and I joked our way to the top. I absolutely love this section as it winds you through a dense stand of aspens. We topped out on the climb and then had a quick, steep decent, followed by an immediate and equally steep climb.
I could see Kenzie moving up the hill just ahead, and looked over to see a runner laying in the grass off the trail. Too early to be feeling that way. Again, I felt bad and trudged on. We caught up to Kenzie and she fell into line with us. John was nearby as well, and set a good pace throughout this section, as I chatted with Woody. Once we passed Grandview I would now be in new territory until Lambs, and that certainly made this section feel a lot longer than the 6.5 miles it (supposedly) is.
While it was much cooler than usual, the exposure and time of day was taking it’s toll, and we rolled in to Swallow and took a few extra minutes to cool things down (Popsicles!).
Swallow Rocks AS (34.6) – 1:57pm arrival – Elapsed Time 6:57
Scott was still feeling a little rough as we pulled out of the AS, but we still headed out with John, Kendall and Kenzie in tow – the group of us roughly hung out for the next few miles. Only 4.5 miles to major milestone AS Big Mountain, the first opportunity to see family and crew, as well as pick up a pacer, seemed to fly by. A mile or two out we caught up to Ryan Lauck, and spent some time enjoying the views and talking about the race.
You start to see the road and know you’re getting close, and then you can hear the crowd and see the radio towers that are near the AS. I was feeling good and just floated down the handful of switchbacks until I was crossing the road and getting weighed in at the AS. I was happy to see that my wife Alicia, two boys and brother Aaron were all there.
Big Mountain AS (39.1) – 3:07pm arrival – Elapsed Time 10:07
|Picking up Pacers – Photo by Taralyn Summers
We had agreed to spend a few extra minutes here to make sure everything was right before heading out on the hot and exposed section to Alexander. I ate some, drank a bunch, hit the bathroom and changed my socks. Then finally made our way out. Aaron would be pacing me, with Tara joining in the fun as Scotts pacer.
The climb(s) out of Big Mountain surprised me. I don’t know why – typically in Wasatch if you’re not going up, you’re going down. As would become familiar, I just put my head down and marched up the hills, then ran down the others. This section contains some particularly steep and rugged descents, with large rocks filling the v-shaped trail. Somewhere in here we caught up with DJ (or he caught up with us…) so we had a pretty good train going for a while, with Tara telling stories to keep everyone entertained. To keep up with it’s reputation, this section was HOT. No wind, exposed running along the ridge in the hottest part of the day. I could see the AS below and the legs were feeling good, so I gave myself an extra minute or two at the AS by showing up a little early.
|Photo by Aaron Williams
Alexander Ridge AS (46.9) – 5:31pm – Elapsed time 12:31
These guys were great, and they treated us right – Aaron and Tara were doing a bang up job running back and forth grabbing stuff to cool us down. There were a couple of runners there that had the look of defeat in their eyes. Hopefully a little of our irreverence cheered them up and got them back out there.
|Leaving Alexander – Photo by Aaron Williams
Again, we left in a bit of a train with Kenzie and Kendall (and Scott and I) and the group of us made the monotony of that powerline trail go a little quicker. A mile or two into it, DJ came flying by, looking good and moving strong…until a few minutes later we heard some yelling and went over a rise to see that DJ had missed a critical turn and another runner was yelling to bring him back. Well, DJ had his headphones in and was just cranking. Aaron was feeling spry and sprinted off after him while the rest of us made the turn and the small climb up and over. Topping out we had a nice couple of miles to run it into Lambs. I was feeling really good and we set a pretty good clip for being 50+ miles into a run. We caught up to Ryan again, who was moving well, but out of water, so I shared some of mine – he appreciated the Camelbak insulated bottle that was able to give him some ice cold water even after an hour in the heat. Kendall was up ahead and moving well, so I settled in behind him as he took us right to the base of the AS. A couple hundred yards before we could see the aid station, we startled a yearling moose, and it sounded like momma was nearby rustling in the bushes.
Scott and I gave a little jog up part of the hill to show we were still feeling good, but hiked in the rest to the Lambs Canyon AS.
|Saying hi on the trail – Photo by Taralyn Summers
Lambs Canyon AS (52.5) – 7:10pm – Elapsed Time 14:10
Craig and Jennilyn were waiting and cheering for us, along with my wife and her mom. Everybody helped get us weighed in, fed and changed. This was another major aid that we had planned on taking some extra time to reset and get ready for the trek to Brighton. I changed my shirt, hat and used the POP, regliding while I was at it. I was starting to get a little chilled, so I knew it was time to head. Scott had already left, so Craig and I jogged up the road to meet them. Scott and I had been talking all day about getting to Lambs feeling good. While we had arrived a little later than I thought, we had achieved that goal, so I just hoped it would pay off.
|Heading up Lambs – Photo by Craig
We hiked most of the road, with a few pacer-forced running spells, until we reached the top of the road, where some bum was there offering free body massages. Sicko! Actually we knew it was just VanHorn showing up again, bringing smiles to our faces as we turned off the road and hit the trail.
We were able to make it nearly to the top without headlamps, but turned them on shortly before the pass. Near the last switchback, I noticed my energy wasn’t great. I still felt OK, just a little depleted. Craig had me try to eat some cherry cola Honey Stinger chews, and my stomach wanted nothing to do with it. In the past I would have hiked on and tried to fight the feeling. Not anymore. I pulled off the trail and just let the puke fly (some appropriately timed inappropriate comments from Scott did help). One minute later I was done and felt like a million bucks. I jogged to the pass catching up with Scott and Jennilyn, and then we cruised on down the other side. Craig and I ran through a full volume rendition of “Stars” from Les Mis, which had me a little out of breath by the time we finished the song, but it was a quick jaunt and we hit the road at Elbow Fork in Milcreek.
Hats off to the runners that can run this road at this point in the race. For me it seems to be just too steep to run without expending more energy than it would be worth. We did run a few sections and eventually (as happens as long as you keep moving) we found ourselves at Upper Big Water.
Upper Big Water AS (60.94) – 9:58pm – Elapsed Time 16:58
I love this AS. I think it’s the grilled cheese. Ate one of those and had some hot broth with noodles, a couple of Cokes and some water. We saw DJ here, he was having some knee problems, but continued on. Probably spent a little too long here, and I started to shiver – that’s my alarm – time to go.
After all of the climbs you’ve been through (and still have) this climb from Big Water to Dog Lake was rather pleasant. We certainly weren’t pushing the pace, but we kept moving well and before I knew it, we were running down, and passed Dog Lake. The steep descent from Dog to blunder fork was slower than a normal run, but that was expected. As we turned up the trail towards Deso, I was very happy with the trail work that had been done – it took a little bit of the sting out of that climb. We told stories as we moved along and it seems like just a few minutes before I looked around and realized we were in the meadow just below Deso. Sweet! We passed DJ here and wished him well as we ran into the aid station.
Desolation Lake AS (66.02) – 11:58pm – Elapsed Time 18:58
On the climb up to Desolation we had all made an agreement – no more than 2 minutes at Deso and Scotts would buy us a couple of extra minutes at Brighton, where it really mattered. So that’s just what we did. Craig refilled my bottle while I knocked back two cups of Coke, grabbed a cup of hot soup, and started walking. Jennilyn and I chatted our way up to the sign at the bottom of red lovers ridge, and then waited for a minute while Scott and Craig caught up, before tackling the ridge together. We made quick work of it and were on the Crest trail in no time. Scott was out front and just started laying it down. We walked only briefly on some of the steeper uphills, but otherwise ran almost everything to Scotts, getting there almost exactly an hour after leaving Desolation.
Scotts Pass AS (69.94) – 1:05am – Elapsed Time 20:05
Another quick 2 minute stop at Scotts and we were on our way again. Spent a minute or two walking to let the food start to digest, and were on our way again. Took a brief stop just before the pavement for Craig and Scott to take advantage of the bathroom. We had an absolute blast joking around and telling stories all through the night. Made pretty quick work of the pavement, not walking a step of pavement until we made it to the canyon road heading up to Brighton. Craig and I pulled a little ahead of Scott and Jennilyn on that last stretch to Brighton, running part of the hill and then through the flat parking lot on into the AS.
Brighton AS (74.63) -2:06am – Elapsed Time 21:06
I love the Brighton AS. So many friends there either running or pacing, and my wife was there to support me. Said hello to everyone while Craig brought me a plate of food (amazing), reapplied some glide and took a minute to regroup. My feet felt good, but I could feel my toes starting to argue with each other a little, so I made a change into Injinjis, which kept everyone playing nice. I heard of a few friends that had been far ahead of me that were still here at Brighton. Derek Ward came and said hi – he looked like he wasn’t sure he would continue. I tried to say something encouraging as I finished up preparations. I was now starting to shiver, so I knew it was time to get moving. Luckily we would later find that Derek suited up and finished like a champ.
Leaving Brighton you start right up one of the biggest climbs of the day, especially considering it’s 75 miles in. It was one I had been thinking about all day. The first time I had ever made this climb was two years ago, while pacing Craig. At that time it felt like it went forever. Today I knew what I was getting into, and told myself it really wasn’t that big. One foot in front of the other. Keep moving.
Before I knew it, we were heading towards a light at Point Supreme. There he was again, MVH had set up a beach party right at the highest point of the course – complete with umbrella, frisbee, sunscreen (at 3am) and a beachball somewhere down the mountain. We spent a minute here to hang out and dance with the beach music until Scott caught up.
From the top of the climb your work is far from over. Dive and the Plunge be damned, this is the hardest, nastiest decent on the entire course. My second step on the steep trail sent my foot jamming into the front of my shoe, smashing my toe…ouch…I guess I should have tightened that up at the top. I didn’t push super hard going down, just took my time and kept running. I could hear the clinking of Scotts poles not too far behind. The light to Ant Knolls showed up in our sights and the aid station itself appeared a little sooner than I thought.
Ant Knolls AS (79.13) – 4:03am – Elapsed Time 23:03
I barely remember being here. We popped in, Erik Storhiem hooked me up with some sausage and I downed a coke and we were back on the trail. I knew this climb ‘the grunt’ was coming and I just wanted to get it behind me. I charged that thing with everything I had, marching hard to the top. Said hello to Kelly as we went by on our way up. At the top, we turned our lights off for a minute and enjoyed the bright stars in the dark night – at least that’s what I told ourselves we were doing – I needed a breather after the climb!
With Scott and Jennilyn caught up at the top, we headed towards Pole Line. I was leading the train and really feeling great. We ran nearly everything here, especially since it’s mostly flat to downhill. I have yet to see this section in the light (from previous pacing duties) and I aimed to keep it that way. This is one of the few places where the trail seems almost buttery smooth as it weaves in and out of the aspens. We arrived at Pole Line less than an hour after leaving Ant Knolls.
Pole Line Pass (82.31) – 4:58am – Elapsed Time 23:58
Pole Line is one of the best. We were happy to see some familiar faces, including that of Davy Crockett. We spent a couple of minutes here. I ordered up a breakfast burrito and felt bad that I could only muster two bites before feeling full. I reluctantly handed it back and we took off, heading down the usual trail until we broke off onto the new part of the course. In no time we were at the turn down to Pot Bottom – the upper section of this trail is a rutted, rocky mess. It’s no wonder I had forgotten about it from the last two times pacing. At this point in the race you’ve been doing so much nasty downhill, you just put your head down and continue on. I was happy to reach the road where the old Pot Bottom aid station used to be, and begin the ‘last’ climb up to the ridge. We took this climb in stride, and I was actually surprised when it ended – I was expecting it to be a bit longer or harder. As we ran down towards the next aid station, it was starting to get light, so we were beginning to be treated with some spectacular views as the sun began touching the mountains.
Just outside the Stanton aid we heard fast footsteps behind us along with a familiar voice. Andrea, who had been at Brighton earlier, was now feeling good and flew past us with Zac as her pacer. She was moving well and was in and out of the aid station before we even got there. I was happy to see her back on track.
Stanton North (87.28) – 6:26am – Elapsed Time 25:26
Again, a 2 minute aid stop here. Just enough to refill the fluids and grab some Coke. With less than a half marathon to go, we were really smelling the barn and just wanted to get done.
We were now in new territory here and didn’t really know what to expect. My mind had conjured up a nice, smooth road that blissfully led us to the finish line. While it was a road, it was quite rocky, which made it difficult to get a good pace going, even with the downhill sections. There were a couple of surprise uphills, including one just out of the aid station, and another short, steep climb a few miles later. At this point in the race you just keep going, and we did enjoy the fall colors and the views of Timp and the surrounding valleys.
My feet and body were tired, and I was ready to be done, but I appreciated the moment, savoring the time I had to spend with good friends in the mountains.
A short while later we turned off the road and basically into a cow field that led down the canyon. There was a trail, but it was rarely used and was full of loose rock. At this stage in the race I was trying to keep a good downhill pace going, but my beat up quads and tired feet were barely able to run faster than a walk on the steep downhill sections. Finally…finally we made it to the final aid station, Decker Canyon.
|Fantastic views of Timp in the early fall colors – Photo by Craig
Decker Canyon (93.89) – 8:05am – Elapsed Time 27:05
We took a few minutes here to refuel and get ready for the final push, though we didn’t take too long. The people there were friendly and had great things to say about the upcoming (and last) section of the course.
A mile or two more of the trail and then we met up with the recreation trail that goes alongside Deer Creek reservoir. This was a wide, rolling gravel track, that would be easily run on a normal day. We hiked the first few uphills and ran everything that was flat or down, weaving in and out of seemingly endless canyons. As we progressed, we started running more and more, and with a couple of miles to go we could see Kelly closing in on us, and that seemed to give us enough of a desire to finish this thing off.
So we started running. Running fast (at least it felt REALLY fast) and never stopped until the end. We rounded the mountain and could now see the finish. Down through some trees and a parking lot, and we were now on the road. Craig and Jennilyn pulled ahead to take pictures, so now it was just Scott and I together, as we had been all day, running side by side and pushing hard as the finish line neared.
I could hear my wife screaming from afar, and was flooded with emotion as we rounded the final corner to the finish line. I grabbed Scotts hand and we crossed the line together, now the second time doing that in 100 mile race.
Soldier Hollow – FINISH (100) – 9:29am – Elapsed Time 28:29:12
|Done! Photo by Jennilyn Eaton
Words can’t express the relief and joy I felt as I finished. It was not the simple joy of a tired body now able to rest, but the joy of knowing that the hours, days, months and even years of hard work had paid off. I had run what I felt was a smart and conservative race, and it turned into an awesome day. I was able to run 100 miles with so many friends, and with Scott for the entire time. The weather was perfect, the course was brutal and the aid stations and volunteers were stellar. I had the amazing pacing help from my brother Aaron, Craig and Jennilyn – all of whom have been an inspiration to me.
Above all, I couldn’t have done this without the support of my amazing wife – She is more than I could ever ask for, and certainly more than I deserve.
People ask if I will ever put in again – the answer is simple: without question.
Altra Lone Peak 2.0 Black/Red – single pair, ZERO blisters
UltrAspire Revolution – Best racing pack there is
Addidas tech tee – x2 – changed at Lambs
Hobie Rockpile Polarized glasses
Teko socks (40mi) – these were good, just started to get a little hot on the bottom
Drymax (35 mi) – Always good, toes were starting to argue with each other
Injinji (25 mi) – probably should have just worn these the whole time
Tailwind ~25 servings – filled a bottle at each AS, that was my sole source of calories between AS, then ate whatever looked good at the AS.
Aid station food (that I can remember):
– Nutella wrap
– Coke x20
– Ginger Ale x4
– Popsicles x5
– Turkey and cheese sandwich
– Grilled Cheese x2
– Sausage x2
– 2 bites of a breakfast burrito (it was tasty)
– Broth x2
Cherry Cola Honey Stinger chews