Monthly Archives: November 2018

T-minus 92 Days

November 30, 2018

98.  Chris Bronson

I first became acquainted with Chris after the 2015 Angeles Crest 100M.  That year, Laura Sohaskey was an aid station captain for Mile 89 and a number of us AREC runners volunteered for about 24 hours there.  A unique circumstance of this race was that we were supposed to mark the trail between our location and the previous aid station, so Chuck Sohaskey and I marked the trail.  Part of the instruction said to put the ribbon visibly and not too easy for random hikers to remove, so… I tied ribbons as high as was feasible.  Turns out that Chris was one of the people tasked with removing the ribbons.

The following week, he was a new runner at Team Runners High, and we were talking about both volunteering at AC, and had a good laugh about that.  Since then, he seems to run about 10 ultras a year and do pretty well.

97.  Antigone Dudder

This year, I made my first attempt at the Wild Wild West 50M with Darrell and Alan.  We started about 50 minutes early (which I needed for the Whitney Portal portion) and runners started catching up to me as I was struggling just to finish.  In the Alabama Hills section, I was mostly walking but stayed with a 50K runner off and on for a few hours.  I found her name was “Tig,” (and then later figured out the entire name from the results) and we had an unusual talk about early music.  (I should clarify that the conversation was unusual in that few ultra runners know anything about pre-1700s classical music.)

That’s the nature of an ultra conversation.  It’s fleeting and too soon, one runner soars ahead or turns off to finish the race while you continue on alone.  Hope to run into Tig one of these days again and talk more music.

96.  Kevin Mak

A few weeks ago, I completed the Chino Hills 50K.  This was a “substitute” ultra, because I DNF’ed a 50K in Hong Kong in October.  (Think I had said, “never again.”)  There are a lot of hills in this event, so I am walking quite a bit from the get-go.  There were a number of people I was back and forth with, as they would jog past me on a short section, and I would walk past them on the uphill.

I kept encountering this Chinese kid (37 years old, apparently) in green shorts for the first 10 miles, and then he got way ahead of me.  I nearly caught him again at Mile 24 until I started cramping, and he ended up finishing 30 minutes ahead of me.

We had zero conversations ON the run, but afterwards, I hung out with him and his parents who came out to celebrate his completing his first 50K.  They were super excited about his accomplishment, and it’s always a highlight for me to meet someone who tries a first ultra and then is excited about trying another one.  A lot of people were doing Chino Hills as their first, despite it being a tougher 50K.

94 Days to 100 Ultramarathons

November 28, 2018

If you follow my posts, you’ll know that I haven’t posted anything since Wild Wild West 50M.  This is partly because I get motivated to do a few entries at a time, and because I was playing catch-up from the get-go (started the blog in 2012, but starting running races in 1996).  My other reason for not having many posts was my running “accident” in August when I tripped on a sprinkler head during a Hash Run and fell face first into the sidewalk, lacerating my lip and fracturing my wrist.  While I could still type, I was not motivated to sit down and write up a long account of my missing ultras (Bishop, Skyline, Hong Kong, Chino Hills) and the shorter races I also blog about (but do not post to Facebook).  I will get to those soon but I wanted to start up my countdown to 100 Ultramarathons before I get too close to the date and not get around to posting what I want to post.

So, Monday, on my drive back from visiting my family in Northern California, I was listening to the Ultrarunner Podcast and they had on some guy from Maryland and his 18 reasons to run an ultra.  It was very interesting and a lot of what he said paralleled my experience and why I like to run ultras.

Recently, one of my ultrarunning buddies, Alan Sheppard, told me that he enjoys reading my posts, but was more interested in the stories about the people I met while ultrarunning, rather than my statistics on pace and mileage (probably because my speed is not earthshattering).  And to be honest, I don’t think about pace all that much during an ultra (other than, can I finish under the time limit?), but I do cherish the experiences because of the people that are at the ultra (who sometimes talk to me and other times, I imagine what they are like hours before we ever utter words at each other).

Since around 2013, I create pace sheets for myself (and friends) to set goals (or to finish) a particular ultra, and since August 2013, I have done dedications to people (on the flip side of the pace sheet) to help me through (and sometimes to motivate them as well).

For my 100th marathon or ultra a few years back, I dedicated it to the 10 people who most influenced me to be a runner, marathoner, or ultramarathoner, but for the 100th ultramarathon, I want to do something for 100 people who I have gotten to know through ultramarathoning.

Now, obviously, this is impractical for a pace sheet (and I don’t want to carry a novel with me for 30+ miles), so think it would be fun to blog about various people in the 100 days leading up to the race.

As you can note from the title, dang, less than 100 days before my (proposed) 100th ultramarathon on March 2, 2019, so, as usual, I will be playing catch-up, maybe a few posts a day until I get caught up (or as I feel like it).

By the way, if you want to join me on any of these races, I am running the High Desert (Ridgecrest) 50K this Sunday (think registration is still open), the Coastal Trail Run 50K from Rodeo Beach in SF on February 6th, and Way Too Cool 50K on March 2nd.  For the last one, there is a lottery open from December 1st to 9th, with the drawing on the 10th.  (and I think everyone who wanted to got in last year – hope that is the case)  “Cool” is special to me because it was my first ultra and the terrain is beautiful.  Perfect for a 100th ultra.

100.  April Thorp

Besides running ultras, a way to give back or enhance the experience is by volunteering.  I ran a number of the Blue Canyon/DRTE/Santa Barbara ultras (50K/50M/100K, two 100M attempts) but also volunteered at the start/finish line three years in a row, experiencing the start and most of the finish (sometimes I crash out to sleep after 25 to 35 hours of being awake).  I met April at the Santa Barbara 100M in 2014.  I can’t really go into this race because it has changed so much over time, but in 2014, the whole race was jammed into a small camping area, and April had spent the night before the race in a tent at the start/finish (I slept in my car), and also chose to camp out the night after she finished, so she was still hanging out in her tent when we were cleaning up the campsite after the race was over.  Since she was running 100 miles, I didn’t really spend a lot of time with her, but we talked about her flower shop in San Diego and she just had a really great attitude.

99.  Madonna Bentz

As mentioned before, ultras are enhanced by the people you run with, because unlike most road marathons, you can have conversations with people (unless you are intent on winning the race) for a portion of your run and share in the suffering or the exultation.  I met Madonna at the High Desert 50K in 2014 when we ran a portion together. I’d like to take a moment to mention that many of these stories will be of older women, because I seem to run the same pace as women 10-15 years older than me.  Let’s say that’s less a dig against me and more of the accomplishment of older female ultra runners.  It’s probably also a theme that towards the ends of races, they leave me in the dust as my larger body cramps and they just keep on trucking.  I hope to see her at a future race, too.