Well, I think the drop outs speak for themselves. Only 16 of the 52 elite “hare” runners finished the Run Rabbit Run 100mile (+)! Course. I hate to include myself in those who dropped, and the “100 mile +!” is because most runners with GPS’s who finished (or even at certain mileage points), claimed the course was at least 110 miles.
The Main reason for dropping…the course was not marked adequately or appropriately. Within the first 20miles, 4 of the 14 female elites dropped. . By the first 20 miles, most had gone the wrong way…and for some (including myself) it would add on 6miles or more.
Personally, the race started off rough with tummy troubles, an awesome steep 40% grade black diamond ski slope trail, and going an extra 6miles without aid (aka, fluids- it was hot at this point). Mentally, I was strong. I knew slowing down for tummy troubles now would save me for later and in a bit I’d be moving my way back up into the prize money (top 5). With my buddy Jordan Whitlock’s support, we cruised on.
Regaining optimism, Jordan and I managed to pick off a few more female hares and rocked Emerald Mountain….Only again finding ourselves lost and stuck on top trying to see course markings that would take us down to the next aid station-NO LUCK. At this point (15 extra minutes going back and forth on the mountain), I was nauseated. I needed fluids, food and progress quickly. The Olympian Hall aid station (at the bottom of the mountain) soon realized we were lost runners and flashed us down. Unfortunately, we ended up taking a different route down from what the course was marked, missing one of the toughest, steepest downhills of the entire course. I was not happy with this. I felt like we cheated (even though we did run an extra 6 miles earlier, as well as the few extra up top the mountain) …this would not sit well with me, after all…we missed one of the hardest descents that everyone else was required to go down. The aid station said it was okay and encouraged us to refuel and move on.
Soon we would arrive at the next aid station greeted by our crews. My support would be surprised at the state I was in at this time. By now, (because of the 1pm start) it had been dark for the last few hours and the little progress we made with the detours, it had now taken us 11hours to run 40 miles (not counting our extra mileage). A very VERY disappointing fact, not to mention we would later find out getting lost on top of the mountain would cost us to get passed by the female elite we left in the dust an hour or two earlier.
Mustering up what energy we had, we made the hike up to the Long Lake aid station. The temperature had dropped significantly and so did Jordan’s energy. Wearing the most suitable gloves REI could provide, a hat, and other Saucony gear- it was not enough to keep me warm. My upper lip and nose were numb, my hands would not function, and the slow pace we moved at would not be enough to keep my core warm either. Upon arriving at the next aid station, Jordan’s attitude quickly changed (something all ultra-runner’s know, there are extreme highs and lows throughout the entire race). We would be greeted by another slap in the face…this was only the 48mile mark! Trying to do what I could to keep warm, making extra layers with garbage bags, sipping on hot chicken broth, etc…we would soon be too discouraged to continue on. The volunteer would inform us that we would have to make the next aid station within an hour and a half. Cold, realistically thinking of the other cut off times we would have to make (especially another one with a 3,500 foot climb), and the most disturbing fact- that we did not make the correct descend off Emerald Mountain- caused us to drop. Such a disappointing way to go when some warmer clothes (my fault), an inadequately marked course, would be what does me in, even though my mind would tell me to go.
The only comforting fact was that most of the other elite runners felt the same way and would even voice their opinions profoundly about the course markings, lack of aid stations, and late start time. I wish things happened differently, I have 50% regret of not finishing (even under the circumstances), but then again- I didn’t even feel honest (extra mileage and all), about altering the course- and trust me the mind has PLENTY of time to dwell on it in an ultra.
I loved this challenge. I love the trail, I am hooked and I WILL be back….after all “WITH GOD ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE.” Approximately 60miles completed, only 48 accounted for, and already looking for my next Ultra. BIG THANKS: ICESPIKE THE SIMPLY BAR RISE BAR SAUCONY PETZL WYATT YATES (HEAD CREW) JORDAN WHITLOCK (PARTNER IN CRIME/MOTIVATOR EXTRAORDINAIRE!)