June 16-17, 2006
At the prompting of some friends, I signed up for the Bighorn 100 near Sheridan, Wyoming. This event warns to be extremely challenging due to the rugged terrain of the Bighorn Mountains. The course is an out and back with elevation gains of 18,300 feet. The course features three major climbs and winds in and out of forests and fields full of wildflowers. As for its beauty, I believe it is probably the most scenic 100-miler in the country.
I made the nine-hour drive from Utah with my 22-year-old son, Kevin, who came along for what he hoped would be a restful all-expense paid vacation while serving as my crew. He had no problem figuring out the “rest” part, as he slept almost the entire drive up! As we approached the Bighorn Mountains near the Montana border, my anticipation grew. I couldn’t wait to run the trails. We eventually found Dayton and checked into a motel room at the campground right next door to the location of the pre-race meeting to be held on Friday morning. We drove back to Sheridan, picked up my race packet, did the medical weigh-in, and delivered my drop bags. There were only three drop bag locations, but because the course is an out-and-back, two of the locations would be visited twice. The drop bag locations would be at miles 13,4, 30, 48, 66, and 82.5). In addition, my son would crew for me at three of those points, miles 13.4, 48, and 82.5.
My goal for this race was a 30-hour finish. I’ve had poor success at finishing 100-mile races. I’ve run in six of them, and have only finished two. My last 100-miler was a success finish, The Bear 100, held nine months ago. I have continued to train hard. For 2006, I’ve logged 1,000 miles of training so far. I felt pretty confident that I could finish, but you never know. 100-miles is such a crazy distance. All sorts of things can go wrong. For me, I usually break down with a low-energy bonk after 75 miles.
This race would be very unique because of its 11:00 a.m. start. The reason for this is to allow the 50-mile and the 50K races to finish about the same time on Saturday afternoon. Because of this late start, I hoped that I would have more energy than usual when night arrived. I believed this would be helpful for a successful finish. I carefully put together a spreadsheet of split time goals. These goals are very helpful for me to stay focused and stay away from long lazy spells. I planned to reach the 48-mile turnaround point at midnight (13 hours).
Kevin and I went to the pre-race dinner and fed our faces. It was nice to meet again a few old faces and meet some new faces. The dinner was great and the energy level was high among these very talented athletes. After returning to the campground/motel, I enjoyed a relaxing evening talking to friends and getting to bed with the comforting thought that I wouldn’t have to get up early. Usually I sleep very little the night before a big race. This time I had at least a nice five hours. I woke up with the sun and took a leisurely walk along the quiet streets of Dayton, enjoying the sunny, peaceful morning.
At 8:45, I woke up my son Kevin, who must have slept another ten hours! Wow. I think he planned to sleep the entire trip if he could get away with it. Oh, the life of a college student on vacation! I made the usual race preparations (taping feet, etc.), and at 9 a.m. we attended the race briefing. We greeted friends and received some helpful information from the race director. With still an hour to kill, we went back to check out of the motel and then to drive about four miles to the start location in Tongue River Canyon. I sat in the car until the last possible minute, knowing that I would not be doing very much sitting for the next 30 hours.
Start to Dry Fork Ridge (mile 13.5)
Runners anxiously making their way to the starting blocks
Photos by Matt Watts
It seemed very odd to start a race in the late morning. I commented to friend Tom Jackson, from Moses Lake, Washington, that I was concerned how hot it already was. He assured me that we would quickly climb out of the canyon and it would be cool in the breezes on the high ridges. I joked with Kevin about how many people were pushing their way to be on the starting line to get in the starting blocks (no one was). Instead, about 110 brave souls just milled around talking until we heard a countdown from 10. Off we went up the road and trail along the beautiful Tongue River.
Trail climbing out of Tongue Canyon
One runner (Sean Andrish) quickly broke into the lead. I settled into the second pack of runners, probably in the top-25, and remained there for many miles. We had a very pleasant run along the river, on a rolling trail and then began a long, steep climb out of the canyon trees, into fields of green grass. The small bunches of runners began to spread out. I could see all the runners ahead, even the lead runner reaching ridges above.
Runners climbing up to Horse Creek Ridge
I reached Fence Spring (mile 6.25) at 1:40 and quickly filled a water bottle from the spring. So far, so good. I was six minutes ahead of my goal schedule and still feeling fine. I enjoy tough early climbs in races, and this one was indeed pretty tough. We had already climbed about 3,000 feet with still more to come.
Looking back down to Tongue River Canyon
I was having a couple early problems that concerned me and started to slow me down a bit. A neuroma problem in the ball of my right foot started to bother me. At first it just felt like a little pebble in my shoe, but it progressively got worse. Pain would shoot up into my toes. Several times it was so intense, that I let out screams of pain. I did my best to alter my foot pronation a little to minimize the pain. I’ve had this problem before, but never this bad. I believe I didn’t have enough room in the toe box of my shoe. (I taped the ball of my foot and put in a new insole.) Usually the problem goes away after ten more miles. I knew that I must just “grin and bear it.”
As that problem started to calm down, I started to develop a blister on my right heel. As I reached a fence line, I finally decided to stop and check things out. I sat down for a couple minutes, letting several runners pass as I tried to fix the problem. Back on my feet, I made the final steep climb to the top of Horse Creek Ridge. I felt a sense of accomplishment finally reaching the top of the ridge and started a fast steep run down into the Sheep Creek Drainage. I really enjoyed running on a rolling single-track trail winding its way through amazing wildflowers.
Dry Fork Ridge (mile 13.5) to Footbridge (mile 30)
We soon were dumped out on a dirt road and made our way to the Dry Fork Ridge aid station (mile 13.5). I arrived at the 3:05 mark, about 15 minutes ahead of schedule. Kevin was there waiting. He had my drop bag in hand and wanted to help me. I quickly told him what I needed and went to work on retaping my heel. The station volunteers were very kind and brought me food to eat as I worked on my foot. Kevin gave me a handful of Twists, which I tucked into a bottle holder slot on my waist pack. I bid Kevin goodbye and thanked him for all his efforts, less than ten minutes. It was 2:15 p.m. I told him that I would see him again at midnight, at the turnaround point. He would go check into a nice lodge at Burgess Junction, located nearby.
The next stretch was a nice long downhill section through the Dry Fork drainage. After a mile or so, I reached back to grab some Twists and I was surprised to see that only a couple of them were left. How embarrassing! I had lost a bunch of them somewhere back on the trail. I traveled through an area that had been burned by fire. The branches of shrubs left behind were black and looked stunning against the deep green grass around them. The color contrast was amazing. For the next 15 miles, I kept up a pretty good pace. No one would pass me. Usually around the 20-mile mark, I start to fade, but today I felt strong and I concentrated hard on my fueling to make sure my energy level stayed high. I reached Cow Camp (mile 19.5) at the 4:23 mark, 17 minutes ahead of my goal schedule. At this station, as the volunteers filled my bottles for me, the pacing chart that I have taped to each bottle fascinated them. I explained how I used the chart and told them that I was about 20 minutes ahead of schedule.
Goal – split
The next seven miles was my favorite section of the course. The trail was single-track and went in and out of forests, through spacious fields of wildflowers, and rolled gently up and down. I was able to get into a nice fast rhythm. It was a lonely section, because no one caught up with me and I didn’t catch anyone ahead of me. At one point I just stopped in the middle of the trail, gazed up at the red cliffs reflecting the sunlight, and said out loud, “This is beautiful.” I thought to myself that this had to be the most beautiful 100-mile race in the country. This course had a great mixture of everything: Mountains, rivers, forests, and meadows. With an early summer race, the grass was an amazing green.
I cruised into Bear Camp (mile 26.5) at the 6:04 mark, now 26 minutes ahead of my schedule. I considered that it had been a pretty slow marathon, but I still felt great. A family was manning this remote station and warned me that ahead was the steep trail down to the Little Bighorn River. During the first mile of this next section, a woman runner surprised me, caught up and passed me. She was running strong. I, on the other hand was plodding along. After several minutes I realized that I felt fine, that I was just being lazy. I could pick up my pace, so I did. I caught up with the runner, following closely behind for a while. As we reached the steeper downhill, my legs didn’t want to slow down, so I re-passed the runner and pushed on pretty fast down the hill. I caught up and passed another runner who did his best to keep up with me. The steep trail started to take its toll on my quads. I slowed down a bit and offered to let the runner pass me, but he refused, commenting that I was really helping pull him along. So I kept it up, going much faster than planned.
Nearing the bottom of Little Bighorn Valley
The decent in the Little Bighorn River valley was amazing. I didn’t realize how high we were. The views along the ridges were wonderful. Finally, we reached the bottom, a footbridge across the roaring river. I arrived at Footbridge (mile 30) at 6:51, 29 minutes ahead of my schedule.
Footbridge (mile 30) to Porcupine (mile 48)
The first thing I noticed was how many runners were sitting around this station. There were about ten of them looking pretty tired. One of them commented about the long 18-mile climb ahead. I hadn’t really thought of it that way. Next, I quickly determined that I was pretty badly dehydrated. I didn’t drink enough during the fast downhill run. I weighed in with the medical staff and was down about three pounds. I did my best to drink plenty and changed into a clean, dry shirt. Unlike the other runners there, I didn’t stay long. I grabbed my night gear, including a long sleeve shirt, flashlight and headlamp, gloves, and my coonskin hat that I tucked into my belt until the sun went down. I still felt pretty hot as I started the run along the river. Another problem was that my sinuses were badly congested and my left ear was clogged – all due to dehydration and hay fever.
Little Bighorn River
I felt pretty rotten for the next several miles. Runners passed me for the first time, but I didn’t care much. I tried hard to recover, but I knew that once you are dehydrated, it just took some time to pull out of it. I reached Narrows (mile 33.5) at the 8:03 mark, now just 17 minutes ahead of schedule. I believe it was at this station that I overheard a volunteer asking how many runners had passed through so far. They guy with the clipboard replied, “about 30.” That perked me up. I was doing fine.
As I continued, a runner with a chatty pacer passed me. I was envious. A pacer sure would be nice to have. I tried my best to keep up with them for a while but soon faded back a couple hundred yards. The sun was setting and with each step the temperatures were falling. My congestion started to clear and I finally decided to try to kick it back into gear. It worked! I could run again. Not only did I run the flats, but I could run many of the uphill sections. I quickly caught up with the runner and pacer. They stepped aside, complementing me, and I shrugged saying that it probably wouldn’t last. But it did. I stretched my lead and never saw them again.
With the cooler temperatures, I put on my warm Davy Crockett hat and my gloves. I arrived to cheers at Spring Marsh (mile 40) at the 10:12 mark, only 8 minutes ahead of schedule. The volunteers loved my hat. Their dog got excited too. We concluded that he could smell the real coonskin. I pulled out my green flashlight and put on my red headlamp. Dusk had arrived and it would soon be time to turn on the lights. I thanked the fun volunteers and continued on with my MP3 playing tunes in my ears. Something made me turn back to look at the station. It was a good thing I did, because they were calling after me. I had forgotten my water bottles! That would have been a disaster.
Night arrived and my spirits soared! I love running at night with lights. I thrive in the challenge of spotting runner lights ahead and reeling them in. The cool temperatures made a huge difference. I was really having fun. I was able to catch several runners and kept up a pretty decent pace. We had been warned that a bridge had been washed out and that one of the stream crossings would be up to our knees. I hit the stream, didn’t lose pace, and just cruised through it. The wet feet were heavy but I knew they would dry out. I didn’t let it bother me.
I was kind of surprised that I had not yet seen the front-runner returning. Finally I greeted the first runner coming toward me. I think he was about 15 miles ahead of me. The next runner was a couple miles behind. I arrived at Elk Camp (mile 43.5) at the 11:25 mark, five minutes ahead of schedule.
The runners I met coming back were very kind offering lots of “good job” comments. Many of them loved my green and red light combination. The red headlamp was doing a great job reflecting off the flags marking the trails. This race did a super job marking the course. Never, ever, was I worried about being off-course. The flags were frequent. At night the glow sticks were plenty and were a very cool sight glowing across the fields. One of the volunteers mentioned that an elk had taken one of the glow sticks and dumped it in the middle of a field. Unfortunately it confused a runner. Mud started to become a problem. I knew I had shoes at the next station, but I decided to stick with the muddy shoes. New shoes would only get muddy again on the return trip. My gaiters were doing a fine job keeping the grit out of my shoes.
As I neared the turnaround point, the runners started to come toward me with more frequency, many with pacers. I felt very good and kicked it into a higher gear. I arrived at the Porcupine Ranger Station (mile 48) at the 12:55 mark, ten minutes ahead of schedule. Kevin greeted me at the door. It was wonderful to see him. I felt fantastic and excited. I barked out instructions, asking for my warm vest and some food. I was starving. I weighed in and was back at my starting weight. The medical volunteer asked how I was doing. She said I looked great. I said I felt great. I looked around me and saw several tired, wasted runners. I heard comments about runners dropping out. A runner across from me was taping his sore toes with duct tape as a newspaper photographer took pictures. I ate two wonderful grilled ham and cheese sandwiches and took an extra one for Kevin to eat. He had checked into the lodge and just spent the afternoon and evening sleeping and watching T.V. He was happy about it. After a long 15-minute stop, I gathered my things and was on my way.
Porcupine (mile 48) to Footbridge (mile 66)
I really looked forward to the upcoming downhill and the opportunity to greet all the runners behind me. After about ten minutes, I ran into my friend Tom Jackson, who stopped to talk for a minute. He had been struggling with stomach problems but was doing better. I encouraged him to try to catch up and wished him well. I considered that I was about 30 minutes ahead of him. I greeted more and more runners, offering words of encouragement. I was able to kick it into gear and enjoyed reeling in several runners ahead of me. I was doing a good job maintaining my overall standing since the very early miles of the race. Usually I have a bad stretch where dozens pass me. This had not happened yet.
I did realize that my main probably now was being low in carbs. My stomach started to rebel and I just didn’t feel like eating. The sports drink for this race was Hammer’s Heed. It was working quite well for me, and even during this bad stomach time, it was probably the thing that saved me. At times it was the only thing that I could intake.
I arrived at Elk Camp (mile 52.5) at the 14:28 mark, seven minutes ahead of my schedule, and arrived at Spring Marsh (mile 40) at the 15:31 mark, 14 minutes ahead of schedule. I was still doing fine. The back of the packers, who were 3-4 hours behind me looked cold and tired. They weren’t moving very fast and I knew that they probably had little chance in finishing. I’ve been in their shoes, so I felt their pain and wished them well.
The night sky was amazing. First there were all the stars. Next a half moon rose over the ridges and poured light into the valleys. The temperature was fine. It probably was pretty chilly now back up at Porcupine (9,000 feet), but where I was, it was pleasant.
The next stretch would be a long 6.5-miles before the next aid station. I knew that I was in danger of falling into a major bonk if I wasn’t careful. I planned to stop half way there, in about 45 minutes. I followed this plan and found a rock near the trail. A woman runner who I passed earlier, came upon me. I think she was embarrassed, thinking I was “doing my business” right there next to the trail. No, I was just sitting there eating peanut butter cups. The five-minute stop seemed to help quite a bit and I felt more energized to continue on. It was a lonely time. No one else passed me, and I couldn’t catch up to the woman runner. No more back-of-the-packers were heading up the trail.
Finally, a glow started to appear in the sky. Morning was approaching. I was now running through sections of the course where it had been sunny the early evening before. It was a funny feeling to realize that I had been running all night. Time had passed by very fast. With lights still on, I arrived at Narrows (mile 62.5) at the 17:35 mark, now five minutes behind my schedule. I knew I was fading. At this station I saw a couple runners who I had not seen since the afternoon before. They were struggling worse than me. I was at a low point, but was confident that I could pull out of it. I tried to eat, and pushed on. I didn’t move very fast, but kept the pace going. Soon I could turn off my lights.
My plans worked out well. I could dump off my lights, coonskin hat, and warm clothes at my drop bag at Footbridge. I arrived at Footbridge (mile 66) at the 18:35 mark (5:30 a.m.), only five minutes behind schedule. When I checked my pacing chart, I was bummed out because I detected that I didn’t account for any time to stay at this aid station. No doubt I would fall further behind my schedule.
The morning finally arrives (my photo)
Footbridge (mile 66) to Dry Fork Ridge (mile 82.5)
I weighed in and was still at my starting weight, doing just fine. I cleaned up, ate as well as I could, and finally pulled myself out of my chair and pushed on. I knew what was in store for me – the tough 2,000-foot climb over the next 3.5 miles. It was affectionately referred to as “The Wall.” I dug in and pressed on ahead up the hill. My pace wasn’t very fast, but only two runners passed me during the climb.
My morning view looking back down Little Big Horn Valley
Each time I stopped to take a photo, a runner would pass me. I decided to just quit taking pictures and move ahead. I was discouraged that my stomach was still very acidic. I was starting to run out of Tums. When I would push my pace harder, my stomach would complain and make me slow down. It was very discouraging because my legs felt just fine.
Picture I took near the top of this climb
The morning views were incredible as the sun rose over the Little Bighorn River Valley. The climb was tough, but I just visualized that I was doing another Grand Canyon double crossing. This climb was nothing compared to that. No problem. The top of the climb came sooner than expected. I returned to Bear Camp (mile 69.5) at the 20:25 mark. I was 25 minutes behind my schedule. I ate a bunch of chips, trying my best to keep the fuel intake coming. I looked forward to the next rolling section, but just couldn’t kick it into gear because of the stomach problems. My pace was still OK, but I really wanted to run fast and couldn’t.
As I was arrived at Cow Camp (mile 76.5) at the 22:37 mark, 37 minutes behind schedule, I was greeted by a host of 50K race runners at the point where our courses converged. I was the first 100-miler they had seen. They were lively, energetic, and very complimentary. They would make comments about how I’m their hero, and that they were amazed how well I was doing. As I arrived at the aid station, the volunteers turned their attention to me, instead of the 50K runners. They had a pile of bacon cooked. I craved for some and thought that it couldn’t make my stomach any worse. It tasted great and I ate about four pieces. It did the trick! After that, I didn’t have any more stomach problems!
I tried my best to keep up with some of the mid-pack 50K runners, but I just couldn’t find the energy. The next section was mostly uphill and it was difficult to keep a jog going for a long time. Way off in the distance, I could see light reflecting off of the cars at the Dry Fork Ridge aid station. It seemed like it was so far away. Several 100-milers passed me during this stretch. It was a low point. The heat of the morning started to pound me. I worried that I had not put any sunscreen on yet, and I could see that I was starting to bake. As I crossed streams, I dipped my hat in the cool water and let it drip all over my head. That felt great. I did have some short stretches where I maintained a strong run, but they didn’t last. I thought about Kevin, waiting at the top of the hill for me. He was expecting me at 11:00 a.m. I would miss that by almost a half hour.
Finally, I arrived at Dry Fork Ridge (mile 82.5) at the 24:25 mark. I had been at this for over 24 hours. I weighed in and was just fine, but I felt wasted. It was great to see Kevin’s smiling face. He was very helpful and offered some good suggestions. He took a look at my shoes and suggested that I change them. We didn’t find shoes in my drop bag, but Kevin remembered that there were shoes in the Porcupine drop bag that was now in the car. He went to retrieve them. I had started to have some bad blister concerns and I believe that a change of shoes and insoles would do the trick. It did. They felt much better.
As I was working on my feet, someone said, “Hi Davy.” I said hi, but didn’t look up. After five minutes later, as I was feeling much better, I noticed my friend Matt Watts filling up a water bottle. I asked, “Where did you come from?” He replied with something smart like, “Colorado.” I asked, “When did you catch up?” He looked at me strange and asked, “Just now, didn’t you hear me say hi?” Boy, I was really out of it. He looked great, and quickly left the station. I put on sunscreen and did my best to get out of there. It had been a long stop and now Matt was way ahead of me.
Dry Fork Ridge (mile 82.5) to Finish (mile 100)
My thoughts now turned to the 50-mile race runners. I had a six-hour head start on them. (They started at Porcupine at 6 a.m., where I was at midnight.) I thought that by now the front-runner would have caught up with me. I kept looking in my “rear-view mirror” for any fast runners. There were plenty of slow moving 50Kers and 100-milers. No 50-milers yet. I have a good friend, Todd Holmes, running in the 50-miler and I wanted to make sure I saw him. I knew he would be among the front-runners. It gave me some good motivation to push on ahead.
Finally, after about a mile, the first-place 50-miler passed me. Gee, he wasn’t running that fast, but I couldn’t keep up. About a mile later, I started to feel very good again. I looked behind me, and thought I saw a fast runner catching up that looked like my friend Todd. I really kicked it into gear. It was great motivation. My legs worked great! I was running at about an 8-minute mile pace, weaving through the trail, passing many surprised runners, and creating some distance between me and the 50-mile runner behind. Pretty funny, a 100-miler running faster than a front-running 50-miler. I was able to keep that fast pace going up some steep stretches until I reached the next aid station. I could see Matt leaving the station.
I arrived at Upper Sheep Creek (mile 87.5) at the 25:56 mark, now only 16 minutes behind my schedule. I quickly filled up, and tried hard to again kick up the speed. It worked as we reached some single-track and I soon caught up to Matt. He offered to let me pass, but I said that I wanted to run with him for a while. He said that he was starting to suffer from blisters.
As we reached the last very steep hill, someone behind me caught up and said something about us being slow pokes. I turned around, and he said, “Davy!” It was Todd. It was great to see him. I told him that he was second place in the 50-miler, but that first place was way ahead of him. Some 50K girls nearby were very impressed to hear that they were running near the second-place runner. I had a good time sticking with Todd during the tough climb referred to as “The Haul.” As we climbed, I shared my adventure stories with him. Finally, near the top, my heart rate and respiration were off the charts and I told Todd that he better go on ahead. He wished me well and said he would see me at the finish line. We only had about 12 more miles.
At the top of Horse Creek Ridge again, I could see the massive downhill that was ahead. I love to run downhill, but I quickly discovered that my kneecaps were screaming and my feet were on the verge of getting some bad blisters. I tried to keep the pace up, but the steep downhill was very painful. The next hour was pretty slow and hard. With each step, the temperature rose as I descended into the canyon. I was surprised that no one was passing me. Everyone else was struggling too. Finally, the third-place 50-miler passed me. A few more would pass my by the time I reached the Lower Sheep aid station (mile 92.5). I arrived at the 27:32, 22 minutes behind schedule. The heat was killing me. The volunteer fed me water and I downed some e-caps. I needed to quickly cool down, but I could see my 30-hour goal slipping away. After a hundred yards further, I had to sit down in some shade and cool off. It felt like it was pushing 90 degrees. There were still many hot miles ahead of me. All I could think about now was just finishing, no longer how long it would take. I had no thoughts of a DNF, but I hated this heat.
After another slow mile, my friend Tom Jackson passed me. That was depressing. He was running strong, looking good. I just couldn’t kick it into gear. I sadly watched him disappear on the trail ahead. I looked behind me. No sign of Matt. I finally reached the Tongue River Trailhead (mile 94.7) at the 28:27, 28 minutes behind my schedule. I knew that I padded in lots of time in my goal schedule for a slow finish. As I arrived at the station, I saw a sign that said there was only five miles until the finish. This got my attention — five miles in 1.5 hours. Even in my sad, hot condition, this was very doable.
Anne Watts greeted me at the station and acted as my crew. She had run in the 50-miler but had missed the cutoff at Footbridge, so she came here to run in with Matt. I told her that Matt was not far behind me, but was having blister problems. She helped me cool down, sent me on my way, and kept her eye on the incoming runners, hoping to see Matt.
I plodded along the hot dirt road. Five miles. This would be hard. I tried to run, but it just wouldn’t work. Several runners (most of them 50K and 50-milers) passed me, offering encouraging comments.
At the 29:05 mark, I looked at my watch, considered that there was only 4 miles left. A sub-30 hour finish was still possible. Right at that moment, I heard behind me, “Davy!” It was Anne and Matt walking very fast. They had caught up to me. Matt said, “We can still break 30!” I groaned and said I knew it.
At that point, I turned attention to the road ahead, digged deep inside me, and said to myself, “OK, here it goes.” I started running, not just jogging, but running, and running fast! I kicked it into higher and higher gears, leaving Matt and Anne far behind me. Wow! My legs felt great. I passed by many very shocked runners who had earlier passed me. My thought process was, “Let’s get this over with as soon as possible!” I knew I could beat 30 hours. I wanted to crush it with the little time I had left. At times I was running a 7-minute mile pace, legs feeling great. My only problem was overheating. I would splash myself with water from my bottle every couple minutes, but I kept the fast run going. I could see runners on the road far ahead of me. I set my sights on them and kicked it into an even higher gear as I approached them. Some of them would see me coming, and desperately try to run faster, but I was really running in the fast lane. I blasted past them and they cheered me on.
Me, sprinting to the finish line
At about the 29:22 mark, I reached the Homestretch station. The guy was very impressed with my fast arrival. I tossed him my water bottle from ten feet away. As he filled it up, I grabbed the garden hose and doused myself from head to toe in water. That was wonderful. With bottle in hand, the volunteer said, it was only 1 ¾ miles remaining, “25 minutes tops.” I thought, no problem, I have this sub-30 in the bag. I set my sights on runners ahead and did my best imitation of a sprint. My legs felt wonderful. My heart, and respiration were pumping like crazy. As I was running, I “lost my lunch.” No problem, I didn’t lose stride. I could see the houses of Dayton close ahead. I was almost there! I passed a couple more runners and then rounded the corner for the park and the finish. As I entered the park, I really kicked it into gear, into a true sprint. I heard cheers from the crowd. Kevin was very surprised, thinking he wouldn’t see me for an hour. He quickly scrambled for the camera, and snapped a couple pictures. I did it! I finished in 29:38:03! I had run the last four miles in about 33 minutes. Now that is a cool way to finish 100 miles.
I quickly went to get something to eat and drink and then sat down in the shade near the finish line waiting for Matt to arrive. I felt wonderful considering that I had just finished 100 miles. There were no thoughts of “never again.” I only had thoughts of, “I wish I would have kicked it into gear earlier.” Matt came in ten minutes later, also finishing strong, beating 30 hours.
Finally, I finished a 100-miler strong. I didn’t have a major bonk. I had low points, but pulled out of all of them. I experienced stomach problems, energy problems, and heat problems, but I pulled out of all of them in time to finish strong.
Me, receiving my finishing award
An hour later, I found Todd in the park. He hoped to talk some more, but I hoped to get to a motel, shower, and get some sleep. My wish was granted. Sleep came, but was very painful with every move. In the morning, I felt much better and we attended the wonderful breakfast and awards ceremony. I had placed 36th. I was pleased. I had a great experience and would highly recommend this race. Hats off to the race directors! Well done.