Monday, March 31, 2014

Antelope Island Buffalo Run 100: By Scott Wesemann

The 2013 Buffalo 100 was a total disaster for me. I complained. I whined. I froze. I limped. I struggled. I did finish, but I was not happy at all with my race and time and knew that I would have a much better race this year.
Photo By Lori Burlison

My strategy was simple: Cut out time spent at aid stations, run an hour faster on the front 50 and run everything but the hills on the back 50. I knew by doing this I would shave 2-3 hours off of my time from 2013. I just needed to be more efficient and not allow myself to get lazy.

The first 50 miles went very well. Four front runner guys went out pretty quick and I was with a group of 5-6 runners in the next tier that stayed together for most of the first 14 or so miles. I was able to run with my good friend Jennilyn Eaton for a good chunk of the miles. The group we were in was very quiet, but Jennilyn and I laughed and joked and had a lot of fun and the miles just clicked on by. I thought she would drop me for sure on some of the downhill sections, but I picked up my pace some and she held back a little and it worked out well. I led the group of 5-6 strong runners, including the second place finisher, Tomokazu Ihara up the switchbacks out of the Split Rock valley. I kept waiting for someone to pass, but they must have liked my pace because nobody passed and we finished the switchbacks together.

Photo by: Lori Burlison

I could tell that Jennilyn was struggling the last 5 miles back to the start/finish. We ran with Jeremy Suwinski for some miles and he was pushing a nice pace and looking strong and he eventually dropped us with a few miles to go. At the start/finish (mile 19) Jennilyn sat down right in the dirt and didn't look well. We managed to make the stop pretty quick, but I was feeling bad for her. I have never seen her struggle like that and I was worried.

Photo by Derrick Lytle

After the short out and back on the Mountain View trail things only got worse for Jennilyn and eventually I dropped her. My heart sank when I turned around and saw her about 1/4 of a mile back on all fours just off the trail. Turning around and leaving was very hard, but I knew I had to keep running. I felt so bad for her because I knew how hard she had worked. I turned on my iPod for the first time and cranked out the next 12 miles to the ranch by myself. Those were the toughest 12 miles of the front 50 for me. I had a few close encounters with some buffalo, but performing the Craig Lloyd technique of yelling at them like a cowboy seemed to work every time and had them scrambling off the trail. From the ranch back to the Frary aid my heart kept sinking when I wasn't seeing Jennilyn and I thought for sure she had dropped and then she showed up running strong with smile on her face. I told her to catch me and my spirits really picked back up.
Photo By Kelli Stephenson

I ran by myself for the next several miles. After the Frary aid stop I picked up my mojo and ran really strong back to the Lakeside aid. I ran into Kendall Wimmer and he ran with me for a few minutes and really picked me up. I felt strong and things were going well for me. At the Bridger Bay aid station Erik Storheim was there to take care of me and I quickly downed some Coke and potatoes. I saw a light coming from behind and it was moving very fast. It was Jennilyn and she had caught me after I had been ahead by about 45 minutes and running very strong. Amazing. We ran the last 4 miles together back to the 50 mile mark. It was a real boost to see her doing well and I knew she was going to win the race. I came into the 50 mile mark in 9:12, right where I wanted to be.

Photo By Lori Burlison

At the start/finish there were several friends there to help me grab what I needed. I took more time than I should have and it was hard to get out of the tent, but I finally did. Rachel Moody paced me the next 19 miles. My stomach had some issues right out of the tent and it took me a few miles to get past that, but the miles flew by as Rachel told me story after story. I was much slower on this loop and hiked just about all of the hills, but ran everything else. Rachel was exactly what I needed during that section and I was feeling great with only 31 miles to go.

My good friend Josh Greenwell paced me from mile 69 to the finish. We did very well keeping my goal of running as much as possible and we made decent time all the way to the turnaround at the ranch (mile 83) where we took a longer break. After the ranch things got tough. I was very tired and ready to be done and it was a total grind back to the Frary aid and it got even worse when the wind picked up and we had to run into it all the way back to the Lakeside aid station. Those were the toughest miles of the whole 100. While hiking the steep hill out of that aid Josh mentioned that we could still go sub 23, but we were going to have to push and it was just the motivation I needed. We pushed it pretty hard all the way to the finish. I blew through the Bridger Bay aid stop and we cranked out some really decent miles to the end. I finished in 22:42 which was good for 14th place and a PR in the distance by almost 3 hours for my 6th 100 mile finish.

Photo by Craig Lloyd

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Redemption - Antelope Island Buffalo Run March 21 2014


On my first attempt to complete the Wasatch Front 100 Mile Endurance Run 2012, I had decided to quit at mile 65. I was walking up the road to the next aid station where I intended to sit in a chair, get warm, and call my wife to take me home. With the decision to quit, I was no longer moving with a purpose other than to get to where I needed to be to quit. Other racers and their pacers passed me, and I envied them. Each one asked if I was alright. I complained of not feeling well. One of them told me in sincerity, “Don’t quit. You will get it back.” I did not believe him. The sun had gone down and I felt cold. I looked forward to sitting near a heater, pulling a blanket over me, and sulking in regret.

Start of the 2014 Antelope Island Buffalo Run 100 Mile. There were a few early 50 mile starters in the group, including my older brother Peter. At 12 noon Jim Scaggs drew a line across the dirt road and counted down. 'Run you fools!" photo: Joe Dean

On the last hill before the aid, a vehicle coming toward me stopped, and Davy Crockett jumped out. He immediately assessed my condition, ignored my complaints, then addressed my immediate needs. I sat in a chair, he pulled a heater close, brought me food, and helped me dress some stinging, watery blisters. Then I got up, walked out, and finished the race. I got it back, as promised.

 First Mile, All Smiles. Experienced 100 mile racer Jeremy Bradford and I lead out the 100 mile runners. Jeremy stayed close through the first half but had to drop out due to an injury.
Photo: Kelly Agnew

I used to hate running. There was a brief season in middle school when the physical education teacher had us running laps around the school track. The mile run was to me the ultimate distance. I remember how it hurt, how it intimidated me. I even competed in the mile race in the ARCO Jesse Owens Games one season. After that. I stopped running. I played no sports in high school, nor did I do much of anything productive throughout high school. I must have slept for months. I became severely depressed and acted out in foolish ways. I hated myself.
Trying to make it look easy

 I lost friends and became isolated from family. I wanted to disappear completely. I dropped out of school at age 17, and wandered through young adulthood with no future plans. My parents, struggling to understand, and praying for my life, did anything and paid anything to help me get on my feet. I saw a therapist for several months. In each hour-long session we discussed what was on my mind, what I was afraid of, and what I wanted. He taught me to identify irrational fears. He taught me to identify negative self-talk. He taught me also that physical exercise will destroy depression. He encouraged me to go out and try it. So I did. I had a bike and I rode trails. I hiked. I swam in the reservoir. I was alive again. I volunteered to serve a two-year church mission. Back home, I earned the G.E.D., then enrolled in college courses. I graduated university with high grades, earning a B.A. in history. I married a beautiful and special young woman, and became the father of two boys. The three of them are the light of my life.
Mile 38 "No time to chat!" I did not stop at most aid stations, just ran through them. A let-down for my friend Brenden who came out to spectate his first ultra sport and maybe chat about music or history.
photo: Brenden Rensink

Through my 30s I stayed physically active and became familiar with the Central Wasatch mountains and canyons. I built my leg strength in day-long ridge scrambles and dozen-mile routes. I pushed for greater distances with my hiking partners until it occurred to me that I could go further if I learned how to run instead of hike. Some of my hiking partners where ultra-runners. One man, who goes by the name Grizz, had astonished me with his strength, speed, and endurance as he topped the highest granite Wasatch peaks. And he was in his mid-sixties! He had run and finished the Wasatch 100 eleven times. I wanted what he had. I began to run instead of hike. 
My brother Peter Van Horn finishing his first ultra, the 50 mile Buffalo Run. Peter was burned over a third of his body in 3rd degrees in a work accident several years ago. He finished the 50 miles in 8 hours 46minutes

Two years ago I marked my 41st birthday in the middle of the night, at mile 56 of my first 100 mile race, the Antelope Island Buffalo Run. I finished later that morning in a time of 23 and half hours, for 12th place. My wife and boys, and parents were there to welcome me in. I returned the next year and ran it better, capturing 5th place. 

Kendall and ginger ale, mile 45

Everyone struggles. Everyone has good days and bad days, and many more days that are merely “meh”.  Sometimes we lose sight of who we are, believing our present struggle will define us for entire lives. Sometimes we give into irrational fears and hide, or go to sleep, or drive people away. Sometimes we hate ourselves for what we perceive as failure. Sometimes we go for years believing there is no way to change. 

My crew at 50 miles

Sometimes we get a glimpse of those who love us, whose hearts bleed for us. Sometimes they walk with us to the next aid stop, bind our wounds, get us fed and warm, and do everything they can to get us moving again. They can’t carry us because it is our journey and we must each walk it, or run it if we can.
Going back for the second 50 miles

And sometimes, if we work hard, and if we want it bad enough, sometimes we win.

 2014 Antelope Island Buffalo Run 100, first place 100 mile, 16hrs 40min

I’ve observed that as in a hundred mile race, in which I experience highs, lows, and every sensation in between, in life I will follow much the same pattern. I will savor the days when I feel strong and fast. When I am low, all is not lost. It is not time to quit. I trust the words I heard on the road up to Big Water at mile 65: 

“Don’t quit. You will get it back.”

Happy and relaxing with Jennilyn Eaton, women's 100 mile champ and course record holder of 20:18.00.
photo: Kelly Agnew

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Buffalo Run 100 Race Report - by Craig

I'm walking down a hill at mile 59, a hill I normally run tired in the 6s. I'm walking and shaking and shivering because if I try and run I know I'm going to fall over and likely not get back up. On a course that has loops and short out-and-backs and passes by the start/finish at least 4 times I am, by far, in the most remote and difficult place to get out of. It is also freezing. Well, at least I think it's freezing. Maybe that is because only a half mile ago I was bent over dry heaving my guts out only 20 feet from the Split Rock aid station. I can either curl up into a ball and wait for someone to come save me or keep walking. I choose to keep walking because I know I have the longest climb ahead of me and maybe it will warm me up. All I know for sure is that my race is over.

My race didn't start that way. The first 50 miles were pretty much a breeze. Other than a short stint of dehydration and some leg cramping it went just as planned. I came into 50 at the start/finish feeling good and ready to run fast on the back half. The next 8 miles got progressively worse. My stomach started to turn and I was finding myself unable to put down any gels or electrolyte bites. But I was still in a good mood. Even after my dry heaving session I yelled "puke and rally" and walked into the aid station and ate some food. And then that downhill where everything went "downhill".

Mile 9. Photo by Cory Reese 

I walked 98% of that 5 mile loop back to the aid station. I had decided that if I couldn't run the 5.8 miles back to the start/finish I would DNF. I didn't come out here to walk my way to 100 miles and this race didn't mean enough for me to gut it out. I knew I had to eat and feel ok about it before leaving or I would be resolved to walking again. Then Jennilyn showed up. She put her arm around me, comforted me . . . . for about 11 seconds, then made me eat some plain white bread and leave with her and her pacer. And we started running. And that felt pretty ok. On a long stretch of cruiser downhill we even set a pretty good pace. Well, until I had to step off and start dry heaving again. For no reason at all I was unable to stop from wretching. Jennilyn and pacer ran on ahead and I worked to not get too far behind as we all rolled into the start/finish. 30 more miles. Can I do 30 more miles feeling like this?

Being treated like a King. So undeserving.

This blog is built on a single foundation, that we never quit. People had sent me texts of support, were following me on Twitter and Facebook (not that I was posting anything, but others were), and then there is always the support my wife and family lend. I couldn't let them down just because I had an upset tummy. Off I went. Over that long 24 miles of out and back along the Mountain View trail I did whatever I could to run, but the cramping in my legs was severe from deydration and I couldn't put any fuel in my stomach. Over a 4 hour section I probably averaged fewer than 20 calories per hour. Good friend, Mike let me sleep for 20 min at the Lower Frary aid station, which helped me a ton. I was able to wander into the Ranch and sit by a fire, now only 17 miles left.

I can do 17 more miles.

While sitting by the fire a couple of aid station workers were talking about making burritos. All of a sudden a burrito sounded really good. Like really, really damn good. At the same time another friend Ashley showed up, pacing another runner. She gave me a pity hug (I assume any interaction with me during that time was out of pity), some words of encouragement, and was off again. The volunteers made me a cheese and egg burrito and I was amazed that I could finally eat. I left feeling better than any time in the last 8 hours.

I didn't push any more fuel for another 6 miles, but finally decided to force myself to take a gel. I needed energy and there was simply nothing else I could do. This time, no wretching. And I started to feel good. Then another gel and I was running, consistently. The last four miles are on my favorite part of the whole course. Technical rocky trail along the north shore of the Great Salt Lake, I love it. I found myself running fast and was in a good mood to boot. I was back, just in time to finish this thing. I even ran into Jeremy running the opposite direction who joined me for a couple of miles. That was fun. I finished in 22:05:00, not good, not even close to my goal time, but a finish none-the-less.

Finishing in a disappointing 22:05:00

I'll say this. I'm glad I finished. Had I DNFed however, I would not have regretted it. I wasn't injured, but I was in no position to conitue on the way I did. Racing just doesn't mean that much to me and I'm not sure I will gut it out the same way in the future. 

I really just want to thank all of my friends who were there supporting me. At the 50 mile mark - start/finish - I had so many people around me I felt like a celebrity. Thank you to everyone who was there and was so supportive. And thanks to my sponsors, Altra shoes, Ultraspire hydration, Gnarly Nutrition, and VFuel. They make the best products on the market and I am proud to represent them. Thank you so much.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Buffalo Run 100 - Pre-Race Post

by Craig

Wow, I've slack in posting on here. I apologize for that. My professional job has been overwhelmingly busy, but in a good way. At the same time, I've been extremely focused on the growth and development of I am very proud of what we havev done over there and see a very bright and exciting future on the horizon.

Training has been good, probably better than at any time in the last year. I feel like it has been very targeted towards running fast this coming Friday. I have laid off of steep vert and summits and focused primarily on runnable terrain and higher miles. I am hoping the dedication pays off in 2 days.

Training hasn't been all work, however. I have had countless long runs and amazing experiences with my friends- out on Antelope Island in the middle of the night, down in the San Rafael Swell, and on nearly every trail between Draper and downtown Salt Lake City. Is it really training if I am having this much fun?

I am going into Friday's race confident and excited to run my first 100 miler without a crew or pacer. It will be a new experience for me, but one I'm looking forward to. Wish me luck, I think I'm going to need it. Until then, enjoy some recent photos.

Jennilyn and Scott running down Tibble Fork

Running the foothills above SLC with a few Altra elite athletes

At the top of Hidden Peak very late at night with great friends

Flipping at the Good Water Rim Trail

Noz, at the Swell

Brent, Instagram style on Corner Canyon trails

Running solo on dry trails in Corner Canyon