2005 Western States 100


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Yes, this would be the 'easier' of the two races. I never in any way expected this to be an easy race, but I felt like I would do much better, be smarter and stronger than last year, but in the end, Western States just about killed me.

I had my same super pacer, Chris Wedge from last year, and we both were looking forward to a fun night of running through the Sierra Nevadas. We had no intention of repeating the death march of last year. Well, I let my partner down, and death march it was, ending up with us running scared the last 15 miles trying to be sure we made it in before the official cutoff time of the race.

From the very beginning, I was somewhat under pressure and with the first 4.5 miles that climb 2500 feet, I was more winded that I should have been. That was followed by 25 or so miles of snow in the high country. I traversed that with no problems, previous training had me prepared to run in snow, but it does take a lot of energy and my time coming into the checkpoints was a good bit slower than last years pace.

Around mile 40 my stomach started bothering me, feeling somewhat nauseous from the large numbers of calories and fluids I was trying to take in. I slowed down, took a walking break, and let my body work. Devil’s Thumb, the steepest and most difficult climb on the course was coming, and I wanted to be feeling as good as I could when starting it. The rest break worked, and I floated up that climb like I had wings, passing people, feeling great like I was not exerting myself at all. I was very pleased and surprised with how that climb went. Devil’s Thumb is followed by about an hour of downhill, then the 1 hour climb to Michigan Bluff. With my stomach still not feeling real good I skipped taking any significant calories at the Devil’s Thumb aid station, and continued on. Here things started to get dicey. With the enthusiasm from such a great climb up Devil’s Thumb, I starting pushing the pace coming down El Dorado. Then started up Michigan Bluff. I was going through these sections, and getting fluids, but not significant calories at the aid stations.

Advice to those that don’t know, do not do that when you have 50 miles still to go in a race, EAT!

From Michigan Bluff on, I was simply running out of energy, and getting slower by the mile. By Auburn Lake Trails, mile 85, I was depleted, shivering and got in a cot under a blanket sipping chicken broth.

My pacer, Chris, wasn’t sure what to do, he couldn’t carry me and that’s about the only option I was giving him. After 45 minutes or so, the cutoff time came it was either get up and go, or quit. Quitting sounded pretty good to me and had the aid station crew and Chris made it easy for me, I would have done so, I was no hero at that point, I was done, and I honestly did not see how I could continue and make the cutoff, time was too short and my legs were too tired.

The Aid Station Dr. and another aid station worker got me to get up, suggested I go to the campfire for a few minutes. I got there, sat in a chair and immediately they made me stand. I explained that I needed to sit for a few minutes and get warm, I was exhausted. They said no, I could stand, I could not sit in their chairs. That pissed me off more than you can believe. I cussed a little, said if I was going to stay on my feet, I might as well leave, with which they agreed.

I ran off mad as a hornet, and was pretty much pissed at them till I got to No-Hands Bridge(mile 96) and realized I would finish with time to spare, ended up 29:38. 22 minutes under the cutoff. Chris, my friend and pacer from mile 62 on, did a fabulous job of keeping me going, and TRYING to get me to eat. I just wouldn’t do it. That was my own stupidity, but would serve as a reminder of something not to do at Badwater.

That physician at the Auburn Lake Trails Aid station was actually at Badwater on the medical team, so I got to see him there again. We had a good laugh.

I honestly did not think I would finish that race, I didn’t think I had it in me to run those 15 miles under the cutoff time. Between the aid station crew, Chris, and something inside me, we managed to pull it out and do it. Exhaustion and emotion took over at the finish, and I distinctly remember each of several people that had seen me on the trail, or knew from the time that I was having tremendous difficulty, come and speak with me and I know I was very emotional when they did.

My problem was, this was supposed to be the ‘easier’ of the two races. If I could not do any better than this at Western States, how did I have a prayer to finish 135 miles of Death Valley, 125 degree plus heat, and 3 mountain ranges?

UberPacer Chris Wedge


Link to photos from week