At the crack of crack Saturday morning I was lined up with about 375 runners at the start line. We were reminded why the Sierra Nevada mountains are known as the Range of Light being treated to a beautiful sunrise as we crested the pass. This was a massive snow year and we had to suffer 10-11 miles of snow in the high country. We don’t get much snow travel here in Las Vegas and I was pretty miserable on this section. I fell probably 20 times and my legs got pretty tired managing the terrain.
By some miracle I finally made it through and was able to run again. My plan was to keep a good steady pace for the first half of the race and see how I felt from there. However, I started having some stomach issues pretty early. At about mile 25 I was almost an hour ahead of the 24 hour finishing pace which was my main goal for this race. But by mile 50 or so I lost that cushion and fell behind another 15 minutes.
After pounding a whole can of Coke at the top of the big climb up Devil’s Thumb I unleashed a deep guttural belch that would have made Booger from Revenge of the Nerds proud. I immediately started to feel a bit better and a bit later I evacuated the last of the stagnant volume in my stomach.
It was a huge pick up when I came around the corner and saw Shane waiting for me. I was also glad to have largely overcome the stomach issues I was having and was running pretty well. Time and miles flew by. Maybe my favorite part of the race was the decent down to and then the few miles running along the American River. The river was flowing several times above normal flow this year so we were boated across the river this year.
I was started getting a bit tired and probably could have used some solid food, but I didn’t want to risk having more issues. From about mile 52 to the end of the race I subsisted almost exclusively on Coke, water, and salt pills. I don’t exactly recommend this but it was working for me and I was feeling pretty good.
With Shane’s help we made up a lot a time on my 24 hour goal. I knew we were making good time, but didn’t pay too much attention until the last few miles. We reached the No Hands Bridge aid station at about the 20 hour 28 minute mark with 3.2 miles and one big climb to go. At this point I was pretty out of it and didn’t really care about finishing times I just wanted it all to be over with. However, at the top of the climb from hell we saw the sign indicating 1 mile to go at 20 hours 50 minutes and some seconds. I said I didn’t think it was going to happen but what the hell. The flat terrain helped and we picked up to what felt like a pretty good pace. Reaching the Placer H.S. track was a pretty cool experience and we crossed in 20 hours 58 minutes 10 seconds.
This was a pretty enjoyable race for me. The Western States Trail is quite stunning visually and is incredibly diverse. Beating my previous 100 best time by over 7 hours was pretty cool and it was fun to have Shane along to share the experience with.