Sunday, September 13, 2009

Wasatch 100

On Friday, September 11 I had the opportunity to help a friend who was running the Wasatch 100 ultra-marathon. For those unfamiliar with this race or this type of racing the Wasatch is a 100 mile trail race run through the Wasatch Mountains on the east side of the wasatch front, starting in Kaysville and ending in Midway, UT. This particular ultra-marathon is almost 30 years old and is run by up to 265 competitors every year. It is one of the more difficult 100s in the nation and is considered one of the four 'grand slam' ultras to do. Because of its difficulty the race organizers put a 36 hour cap on finishing it. Upwards of 40% of all entrants don't finish. Those who do; well, you can imagine how they feel when they are done.
Heading down Bald Mountain
Many racers will have crews to help that at certain points of the race by providing a change of clothes, food, or other types of care to help get them moving better. They will also utilize pacers. In road marathons pacers are common to help runners maintain a certain speed for such a long distance, but in an ultra-marathon pacers are generally just there to give the racer someone to talk to, help keep their spirits up, and mostly just to keep their mind off of what they are doing. Running for 24+ hours straight is hard enough, doing it alone would make it much harder. I had the opportunity of helping my friend Davy Crockett run in his 2nd Wasatch 100. He did it the first time in 2006 in just over 34 hours. This year he wanted to finish it in 28 hrs 30 min. I got to pace him for 14 miles, from Big Mountain aid station to Lamb's Canyon aid station (comprising miles 39 - 53 of the overall race). This is a challenging section because it is during the hottest part of the day on an exposed ridgeline and through a sweltering valley. Davy was tired and dehydrated when I met up with him, but he was still in good spirits. We had a good time trying to catch and pass other runners. We were successful in catching quite a few and only got passed by 2 over the 14 mile stretch. Half way through our leg together we came to Alexander Ridge aid station. Davy took a short break to rehydrate and eat some snacks. While we joked everyone else there looked like living death. We got out of there fast.
The 2 mile long hill from Alexander Ridge. This was a tough section.
I left Davy at Lamb's Canyon aid station, but would help crew him at two other stops along the way, once at the top of Millcreek Canyon at 8:30pm and the other at Brighton Ski Resort at 1am. Davy would go on to finish the race in 28 hrs 33 minutes, right around his goal time. It was an awesome experience for me as I learned a ton about running ultras and also how to help others do so. My congratulations go out to Davy and the work he put in. It was a great time.
Davy at Lamb's.

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