Awake at 3am. I brewed some Four Barrel coffee through the French Press and quickly relieved myself in the restroom. While continuing to get ready, shaky from the caffeine, I somehow managed to spill most of a vile of Persian Garden essential oil on me (the cap was barely screwed on when I picked it up to move it out of the way, ugh… nervous morning). I quickly grabbed a new shirt and we left frantically. My wife was equally excited as myself, she would be my crew for the day (pretty certain she had less sleep than I going into this), she was quite focussed on getting me to the start in Kaysville on time!
The starting area was raw, real and unfeathered. No hype. An old piece of flagging strewn across the trail marked the initial step. An old street lamp illuminated the area in a golden hue, but the electricity from the runners were bright and high. Headlamps beamed and then the 10 second count began. Mark Hammond and I started close together, though neither of us were anxious to be up in front, so we filed in somewhere around the first 1/4 of the field and just jogged easy while watching the front row blaze off on the rolling Bonneville Shoreline Trail. I put in a scrub more effort around the 4 mile marker to ensure that I wouldn't get caught in a line of runners on the first climb up Chin Scraper. I followed along with some veterans of the race and figured I was in a good spot for the morning.
Our effort was good, not too hard, just consistent. I arrived at Francis Peak aid station with "The Matts" (Van Horn and Schrier), we were just a few minutes behind Phil Lowry, who has more finishes of Wasatch than I do of races (he has 18), so much respect. We were all out from Francis Peak aid station within 1-2 minutes and moving along well over rolling dirt roads and single track. We all stayed within a few strides of each other through Bountiful B and Sessions aid stations. Matt Schrier and I got a little spun around at a campground leaving Sessions. We searched frantically for the markings before MVH jogged by and shouted to us "up left!". The marking had blown around the backside of a fence post, I took a few seconds to reposition it for the runners behind us. Heading up through the Sessions was a great thread of trail that went through huge pines and aspen groves that were already donning bright yellow canopy's, which was by far my favorite part of the entire course. There were a few runnable climbs, but I knew better than to exhaust my effort this early in the day. The Sessions area is one aesthetic little bit of land.
Out towards Swallow Rocks and Big Mountain the sun was starting to smother me. I was still feeling good, though, I was getting nervous since I tend to have a bad patch around the 6 hour mark of a run. I get lazy with nutrition/hydration and become helpless prey for the sun to have its way with. I clipped along at a good cadence all morning and knew that I was now a prime candidate for a death-march. I met Macee at Big Mountain, which was quite comforting. I wanted to chat with her about the start, but knew that had to get out of there. I left with far too little water and very little food. It was a real kick in the nuts to leave there with only a 20oz UD bottle and a 17oz soft flask that wasn't even close to being full. The soft flask was drained and stored in a pocket within a quarter mile. I had about 8 miles to go in 90º temps …with 20oz of water. I definitely didn't dance my way along the trail to Alexanders Ridge, not by any means. I grunted it out and made it to the aid station. Sitting in the shade I thought I would pull the plug and call it a day at Lambs, but after taking 12 minutes to eat, drink and cool off, it really helped me regroup. I departed Alexander's feeling good enough to jog lightly. My pace increased and I felt good arriving at Lambs Canyon aid station. I met back up with Macee again and picked up Brody, who would be my pacer to the finish.
I tossed on a fresh pair of Fitsok CF2 stealths (heaven), grabbed my UD vest and left with Brody. He was giddy and anxious to run, I was tired and thankful to have his company. We punched it pretty good up Lambs Canyon road to the trailhead. I caught a lot of runners that slipped past me on Alexanders Ridge, but fatigue was starting to become vividly present again while climbing to Lambs Pass. My heart rate was far too high and breathing was inconsistent. I did my very best to hang with a small group coming off of Lambs Pass down onto Mill Creek road, where I took a minute to wash my face and arms off in the creek. We hiked fast and even put in a few little sections of jogging. We caught Tom Diegel and had a pretty comical and chatty hike/jog about skiing while making our way to Upper Big Water. I fueled up well and headed out. The cooler temps gave me a gratuitous boost and we were quickly through Desolation aid station and up to Red Ridge to catch the very tail end of sunset. We jogged well along the rolling crest trail and were quickly through Scotts Peak aid and headed down the pavement to Brighton Lodge, which absolutely shredded my legs.
I was feeling great arriving at Brighton. I got some encouraging words from Roch Horton and headed into the lodge. Inside the lodge was far too hot and muggy. My body temperature went haywire and I started to sweat and shake badly. Too much time in there would mean a DNF, for sure. I met with Macee, grabbed gloves, a jacket, more nutrition and water. I ate some broth and drank some Coke. I definitely over-welcomed my stay in the lodge, even at 9 minutes. Climbing the hill to Lake Mary my legs felt like they gained 50lbs, I was freezing (walking with hands in my armpits too), I felt a strange bubble rolling over in my stomach, my left eye became blurry, balance was off and I simply couldn't move or breathe well. Cresting the high point of the course and then rolling down the dry-fork dive was my lowest point. About a half mile before Ant Knolls I had to pull the trigger and self induce the increased feeling of nausea. Getting to Ant Knolls I was slightly more settled and ate some Ginger Miso soup. I grabbed some salt pills and we marched out. Leaving Ant Knolls is a pungently steep climb, I was happy my legs were far more responsive here than leaving Brighton. Cresting over the top and heading down I clipped my right foot on a tree root and tore my big toenail mostly off, a quarter mile later I would do the same to my left foot. My senses were definitely heightened (wide awake) but the pain was intolerable. It forced us to hang out at Pole Line Pass aid station for a bit to do some alterations to my insoles, tape down my right toenail (thanks Brody) and actually eat some real food. Another surprise was seeing Brian Tolbert volunteering for a bit too (thanks Brian)! The crew there was cooking up all sorts of great comida. I scarfed down 4 perogies a bunch of other food in a hurry.
From Pole Line to Stanton my spirits were lifted, but the descending became relentless and my toes felt like they had lit matches held under them. Every downhill step was borderline tears. The saving grace was a half mile climb that relaxed my toes for a few minutes before immediately falling back to descending. I wanted to walk leisurely, but my A+ pacer wasn't having anything of it. He pushed me to keep my cadence consistent, reassuring me the pain would be over soon. I was doubtful. The service roads became more rocky, dusty and technical before dipping into a cow pasture toward the final aid station at Decker Canyon.
Leaving Decker Canyon was going to mean business in order to get this done under 24 hours, and Brody knew that. It was 3:47am and we had 1 hour 13 min to run 6.75 miles on some torched legs with bloody toes. I wanted to walk, or to be done, happy that I chose the latter. We picked up the pace on the long and straight path down to the groomed, and very runnable, Decker Lake trail. This groomer section has to be the most difficult part of the entire course. The up and down grades are ever so slight. Every turn and rollover looks just like the last one (in the dark at least). I questioned what our pace was to Brody and he thought maybe just a touch under 10' per mile (though, it felt like we were running sub 5 min splits on the high school track), but indeed we were right around a 9'30 per mile. My head was buzzing, my legs felt like metal bars and my heart rate could've jump-started a John Deer. We were nearly to the road and nearly out of time. There were .80 miles remaining. Happy to slide into Soldier Hollow at 4:50am, where I was surprisingly greeted by my gorgeous wife, Macee, and a handshake from race director, John Grobben.
Absolutely elated to be finished 10 minutes under the 24 hour mark and receive a Crimson Cheetah buckle award. 12th overall.
I'm endlessly thankful for Macee's help and support with crewing (also dealing with me before, during and after the race), and for Brody's passion for keeping me moving as fast as possible over the last 48 miles. The race volunteers and course markings were spot on. What a race!
Mileage - 100
Vertical gain - 25,750'
Time Elapsed - 23:50:20
Moose - 2
Deer - 6
Vomit - 1
Toe Nails - 2
Shirt - Adidas
Shorts - Merit Endurance Cadence Shorts (prototypes)
Socks - Fitsok, CF2 Stealth - 2 pair
Shoes - Nike Lunar Tempo (with adidas insoles)
Cap - Discrete Moto Mesh (all mesh trucker cap)
Bottles - UD 20oz kicker top and 17oz Soft Flask (before Lambs). UD 'AK Race' vest after Lambs.