Well it has been a little over 48 hours since I finished running the Bear 100, and it really hasn’t settled in yet. I don’t think I ever had my mind fully wrapped around the task of running that kind of distance. Actually I still don’t think I have my mind wrapped around it, I mean 100 MILES! That is pretty darn far to cover on your own two feet, let alone doing it in one push. I have to admit that several times (too many to count) before the race I openly admitted that it was a crazy thing to attempt, but I felt justification in the fact that 100’s of other people run these every year.
Disclaimer: this is a very long and detailed report, if you just want the finish details scroll down to the last paragraph, also over the next couple of weeks I will be posting photos, gear lists, and other thoughts about the running of my first (but definitely not last) 100 mile ultra.
Fast forward to Thursday night before the race, I went to the pre-race meeting to get the info on the course. When I was dropping off my drop bags I joked with Leland Barker the race director that I wasn’t sure if I would be capable of finishing, to which he threatened “if you don’t I’ll have to kick your butt!” I wasn’t entirely convinced that he was joking so I made sure to deepen my resolve to finish. To those of you who have been around me much during the last two summers since I started trail racing you know very well how nervous I am the day before the race, well this was no exception, the butterflies were in full effect from the moment I woke up on Thursday until I trotted off of the line on Friday morning. I slept poorly, I had a hard time eating, I was anxious, my resting heart rate was up- frankly I was a mess. All I wanted to do was start running so I could get to the task at hand.
Considering the race as a whole I had an absolutely awesome day overall, I got a little queasy a couple of times but never threw up, even at the thought of downing another gel after having eaten 40+ I was able to keep my stomach contents down. I suffered for a while when I got too hot and couldn’t cool down, but none of this really brought me down too far.
I had the opportunity to run the first 9ish miles with ultra-running hot shot Geoff Roes, who turns out to be a pretty nice guy. Geoff, Eric from Montana and I ran together behind a small lead pack, we went pretty conservative and enjoyed the steady climb up and out of the dark while chatting about other races and fun runs that we have done. Just before the Logan Peak aid station Geoff pulled ahead and that would be the last time I would see him. I think Eric stopped at the aid station, and I didn’t, so I was alone. As a matter of fact, that was pretty much the last time I saw any other runner on the course. I cruised into the Leatham Hollow aid station a few minutes off of the split that I had hoped for, but given my number one goal was to finish the race I didn’t let it get to me. I was glad to see my mom and dad just before the aid station ready to try there hand at crewing for the first time. The had everything ready for me to switch shirts, drop my headlamp, grab my ipod shuffle, switch bottles and be on my way. It was energizing to see so many familiar faces and have them cheer for me as I went by. Things were pretty unremarkable through the next aid station. At the Richards Hollow aid station Pat took good care of me and hurried me on my way.
Just after the aid I caught another runner, he wasn’t carrying any water, pack or anything, I don’t think he even had socks on, and honestly he didn’t look real well. He surged a few times but I eventually passed him and didn’t see him again. This section of the course was beautiful, the temps were nice, and the trail very runnable. There was a pretty long section of dirt road that had pretty deep moon-dust that I didn’t love but it went by pretty quick. At the Cowley aid station I took a couple extra minutes to try to get some food down, as well as extra water because it was starting to get hot, again my parents took awesome care of me. I cruised out of the aid pretty fired up to push for a while. There was not a lot of shade for the next several miles and my stomach started to complain a little about how I was hitting it with gels so regularly, I slowed a little to try to get it to settle down which it did. As I approached the start of the out and back coming into Right hand Fork I saw Troy Howard just finishing that section meaning he was about a mile ahead. I quickly got to the aid, ate, poured water on my to try to cool off, and just before I left, Casey (my wife’s brother who lives in Logan) warned it was a tough section ahead. Great, I thought, a tough section in the hottest part of the day- this is going to be awesome!
Casey was right, it was a pretty tough section, there was very little shade, and my body was starting to complain a little about what I was doing to it. This was pretty much the hardest part of the race for me physically, I was bonking and had a hard time getting things back under control. I ended up jumping in a beaver pond at the top of Temple fork to cool off, and then tempted fate by drinking out of the same creek because I had ran out of water and needed more fluid. I had to dig pretty deep to keep running to the Temple Fork aid Station. Once again my parents were awesome, crewing me like experienced pro’s, and with a little extra help from Karl Meltzer about what I needed to be eating I started out feeling a little better. The climb from Temple to Tony Grove was more difficult than I expected and this is probably the lowest point of the race for me, I let things get to me mentally, and really fell of the wagon for a while. It ended up being pretty emotional for me coming into the Tony Grove aid station, I guess for a couple of reasons: I had just gotten over a tough stretch, my feet hurt, I had just broken my PR for the furthest I had ran (previously it was 50 miles in 10:13) now at 51 miles that I covered in 10:13 meaning I also PR’d for a 50 as well, and also my wife and daughter had now joined my folks as my crew. There is nothing quite as awesome as having your 2 1/2 year old daughter say “daddy runnin’ fast” as you hobble into an aid station. After a few minutes of foot repair, eating and drinking I headed out, eager to get to the next aid to pick up Ryan Mcdermott who would be pacing me.
The run from Tony Grove to Franklin Basin was gorgeous, I was feeling pretty good, and was super stoked to see Ryan waiting for me just outside of the aid station. Ryan quickly took inventory of how I was doing, and started lining things up to make a quick aid station that would meet all of my needs. I can’t express how grateful I was to have Ryan to run with for the next fifteen miles, he was very energetic, extremely supportive, and really helped me to get my head back in the game to start moving quickly again. He snapped things into place at the Logan River aid station, making sure I ate enough, and then hurried me on towards Beaver Mountain Ski area. Ryan’s continuous support and watchful eye got things in place and trending the right direction to make the last part of the race a success.
My super crew was ready to rock again at Beaver, they had things already for me, they even rubbed vaseline on some hot spots on my feet while I sucked down some chicken noodle soup- they were awesome. Before I knew it I had left Ryan behind and started out on the last 25 miles with “Fast Evan Honeyfield”. I had told Evan before the race that when I got to him we would be leaving it all out on the trail, he had some mercy at first and let me move slow to get my stomach under control from the soup and things that I had eaten at Beaver, but before too long we were pushing right along. We made pretty good time to Gibson Basin, where we were treated to smoked lentil soup, but we didn’t stop for long. Just outside of the aid I thought I saw lights coming up on us, and the hammer went down. We ran every step to Beaver Creek aid, where my dad and wife were still diligently crewing, at this aid station we were in and out, I made the mental decision that everything hurt as bad as it was going to so I might as well push. We made good time running and power-hiking pretty quickly to the final aid station- ranger dip.
This time a sucked down soup, tucked a red bull into my Ultimate Direction Pack, and went out ready to bring it home. Evan did an awesome job pulling me forward in this section. He would run just a little ahead, if I sped up, so would he, always just pulling me along. When we crested the hill and looked into the valley one thought came into my mind-shit- it was a long ways down and my legs were trashed. As we came out of the trees Evan spotted a light moving down the trail a ways ahead, without saying a word it was obvious we were going to try to catch up, again Evan led , pulling me on as I tried to keep my sore legs turning over. The descent was long, steep, and loose, but we motored right along.
Just as the trail turned and leveled out, we rounded a corner to come upon a runner with a hand held light- it was Leland. I was glad to see a familiar face, and as we all pushed down the atv trail together he turned to me and said ” well I guess I don’t have to kick your butt!” I was so happy to hear him say that, it lifted my spirits and tired legs. Leland took point for our running group and led us to the stream crossing just before the finish. As we crossed the river we saw another set of lights ahead, the three of us all sped up a little and in short time we caught up to Phil, who was pushing along having an out-of body-experiencing and on his way to crushing his 100 mile PR. We ran past Phil, he called to Leland who dropped back for a minute then caught back on. As we got to the corner 100 yards or so before the finish line, Leland said his foot started to hurt and he dropped back, my dad was waiting at the corner and he ran the last 1/4 mile in with Evan and I. I was stunned that I had finished 100 miles and all I could really do was sit down on the grass exhausted.
I finished at 3:55:19 am or in 21:55:19 good enough for fourth place. I am very happy that I never threw up, didn’t get lost, and not once did I ever think of quitting. My crew-my dad, mom, Tanae, and Casey were the best I could have asked for, THANK YOU. Ryan and Evan were amazing pacers, I am sure that I wouldn’t have done it without their support and encouragement. I owe a special thank you to my wife for putting up with all of my eccentricities as I trained and prepared for this, and for my daughter for always being excited for dad to go running. There are so many people from the ultra-running community that shared very valuable advice and encouragement- you know who you are- thank you. I need to also thank all my friends and training partners in Pocatello and beyond who supported me and ran with me this summer, including those who came out to the Tuesday night runs on a regular basis. Also thanks goes out to all of the cool people I met at all the races we went to this summer, thank you for making us part of your extended running family. Finally, I send a huge thank you out to Buzz Burrell, and Laura Fryer at LaSportiva who took a chance on a kid from Idaho and provided amazing sponsorship throughout this summer. Look for more info and pictures from the Bear 100, as well as some fall adventure runs that are in the works in the near future.