Monthly Archives: February 2019

2 Days

February 28, 2019

2.  Laura (Chaides) Sohaskey

I met Laura at an AREC run around 20 years ago.  At that time, AREC was a handful of runners who met once or twice a week around Long Beach simply because they liked to run and liked each other’s company.  The club had been big in the early 90s but participation had fallen off to just the loyal few.  Laura ran races occasionally and had run LA Marathon a number of times with a best time of just under 6 hours.

Laura and I ended up doing a number of long training runs in Huntington Beach and we got her time down to 4:48, and then in November 1999, she ran an astonishing 3:51 at Long Beach Marathon (her Boston qualifier at the time was 3:50).

By 2002, Laura had gotten more consistent, did 3 or 4 marathons a year, and had run her Boston qualifier at LA Marathon.  After I ran my first ultramarathon, she was interested in trying one and so joined me at my second ultra, the Skyline 50K in August 2002.  Besides flying up together and staying with my folks in Piedmont, we never see each other in the race until she shoots by me at Mile 30 (and beats me by a minute).

Like me, the experience is transformative.  We decide on a “rematch” at Bulldog 50K one month later, again, don’t really run together, and I finish 15 minutes ahead.  It must be my months of extra ultra experience that does it.

At her third ultra, Bulldog once again, Laura cements her status as an ultra runner:  It was a hot day and all of us struggled on the second half of the course.  As I am returning from the turnaround on the Backbone Trail, I encounter Laura.  She tells me she puked multiple times heading up the hill.  We discuss briefly and agree she should stop at the next aid station, because her health is more important.  After I finish, we are waiting around for the drops to be delivered to the finish, but Laura is not with those folks.  The aid station captain says that while she was waiting to get a ride back, she was drinking cupfuls of Coca-Cola, and after a bunch, she suddenly had a burst of energy and bounded off… and finished with a few minutes to spare.  This is the ultra mindset.  Keep going no matter what.

Over the next few years, Laura and I ran several ultras together, and over this time, I decided I would try 50M (and 100K).  Laura was not particularly interested in the longer distances, plus she was running 10-15 marathons a year besides the occasional ultra.

When she finally did have a (slight) 50M bug, we targeted the North Face Challenge in San Francisco as our goal race, but she got cold feet on race eve and dropped down to the 50K.  (She would have been the oldest female in the at 51, and thus have won her age group.)  She cited “inadequate training.”  But what is adequate training anyway?

About a year later, I conspire to have Laura complete her first 50 mile race.  The requirements are that it be 50M only, so it is either finish, or DNF.  As usual, we do not really run together, but do finish within about 10 minutes of each other.

In 2011, we finally did get to run together for almost an entire race, at the Santa Barbara Endurance Challenge.  I convinced Laura to come up for this race mostly because I had finagled a complimentary entry for her (by assisting the race with the web content and other stuff).  Laura would do the 50M and I would do the 100K.  The courses pretty much did not overlap except the first and last 10 miles, but, due to high winds, they re-routed the 100K course, and it basically followed the same course (except I would do an extra 12 mile loop).  The result of that was that I ran around 42 miles with Laura and 20 by myself.  In such a small race (about 20 50M finishers and 7 100K finishers), it was wonderful to have someone you know well with you all day.

In 2012 and 2013, Laura and I conspired to do Avalon 50M and Ridgecrest 50K, the latter being a return to a race that I first ran in 2002 and 2004.  Avalon had been something I wanted to try for several years, but never followed through.  Laura was the impetus for going and my goodness, I love these courses.

In 2013, we drove together to San Diego for our friend’s 12 hour event, Rohring Around the Clock (in Rohr Park).  It is 5K loops, mostly dirt, changing direction every three hours and seeing how far you can go in the time allotted.   Laura was super consistent, whereas I went out too fast and got bored.  After 25K, I pulled out my book and read and walked, and said I would stop when I finished my book, which ended up being 60K.  I said, “Laura, ready to go?”  And she replied, “Just let me finish one more loop for 50 miles.”  And she did.

Laura also turned me on to the Dirty Feet Productions races, particularly Harding Hustle and Twin Peaks, where I have 7 finishes and probably 5 times volunteering.

In the present day, Laura and I do not run together as much as we used to, but we still have adventures on some weekend mornings when she and Chuck call and say, “Can you be ready in an hour to go check out some trail?”  And I’m off with them for whatever.

In terms of ultras, Laura and I are pretty close on the number of completions (though she has done maybe twice as many marathons as ultras).  She has also shepherded a number of friends through their ultras, selflessly pacing them and comforting them through emotional lows.  Like me, she is (criminally?) responsible for a number of friends trying out new trail distances, particularly ultra-wise.

Who knew that 20 years ago our occasional runs with AREC would blossom into around 400 ultras and marathons combined?  I am so glad that I met Laura and continue to be good friends on the long road of ultras and of life.

3 Days

February 27, 2019

3.  Mitsuye “Mitzi” Morrissey

I met Mitzi close to 20 years ago through Team Runners High in Long Beach.  In Fall 2000, she told me about this race she had run the previous year, up in the Sacramento area (where I moved from 2 years earlier) that she thought I might enjoy.  But she warns me that the race fills up pretty fast once they open it up for registration, so I will need to mail in my entry ASAP.

I am a little concerned because mail from SoCal probably doesn’t travel as fast as it does locally, so hope that doesn’t prevent me from getting into this race.  We both get in, and it turns out to be an amazing adventure that I want to repeat.

Flash forward three years.  After finishing the brutality that is Santa Barbara Nine Trails 35M, I decide I am up for trying the American River 50 miler.  Guess who is gonna be there?  Hwa Ja and Mitzi!  While we never end up running together, the three of us finish within 30 minutes of each other (all under 11 hours), and I now have a new distance under my belt.

Throughout most of this time, I see Mitzi at Team Runners High track training runs as well as more Way Too Cools, Ridgecrests, and even more American Rivers.

Our most recent adventure together was at the 2011 Javelina Jundred in Arizona.  This wasn’t a race I had intended on doing, but somehow I got it in my head that I could do a “double cycle” (something I made up) in 2011, which would be 2 sets each of 5K, 10K, Half, Full, 50K, 50M, 100K, and 100M.  All I needed for the “double” was one more 100M (only!).

Mitzi and Hwa Ja were going but debating whether to fly or drive.  If they had one more person traveling, they would drive (i.e. I would split driving with Mitzi).  I ended spending a lot of time with Mitzi that weekend while Hwa Ja did hours (like 10-12) of race prep at the start line the day before.  We saw a movie, drove around, and so on.

At that time, Javelina 100 was only a 100 mile race, but had an option for a 100K finish if you had a bad day (now, I think they have both distances but there is no drop-down option for the 100K from the 100M).  Both Hwa Ja and I went for the whole 100M distance but ended up doing the 100K, whereas Mitzi took it as an opportunity to have 100 mile time to finish 100K.  (Smart.)

In the past few years, however, I have not seen as much of Mitzi out on the trails, though I did run into her at Way Too Cool back in 2017.  She has always been wonderful and kind to me and honest.  She is one of the most important people to me in ultrarunning because she planted the seed that got me started, and I am eternally grateful for that.

4 Days

February 26, 2019

4.  Darrell Price

I met Darrell at the High Desert 50K in 2014.  I believe it was his first ultra and he was struggling a bit on the downhills (not my favorite, either) so we ran together for a few miles and had a nice chit-chat.  It turned out that he was local to Ridgecrest, but… spent about half his time in Long Beach for his work as a Geriatric Life Coach.  We became Facebook friends and resolved to meet up for some runs in Long Beach in the next year.

But, that never transpired. (Boo, hiss.)  And so, in 2015, Darrell and his fiancée, Megan Stone, invited me (and Angela Holder driving up with me) to stay with them in their house the night before the race.  This was perfect because they live about a half mile from the start line.  This repeated itself in 2016 as well, and I have gotten to know Darrell and Megan a whole lot better because of it.

In 2017, Darrell reached out to me and said that he and Megan would be running Shadow of the Giants 50K in Fish Camp.  It would be Megan’s first 50K and wondered if I could provide any advice about the course.  At the race, we talk over some of the course and I provide them with a laminated pace sheet (which always works well for me).  Megan finishes within a few minutes of me and Darrell a little further back.

Later that year, back up to Ridgecrest again to stay, but Angela is working a race in Laughlin and decides not to go, so instead, Alan comes with me.  He just met Darrell but quickly becomes great friends.  This is a testament to the kind of person Darrell is, not just his Southern charm, but his gregariousness and inspirational qualities.  (Plus, a beer or two at the finish line goes a long way to ingratiate yourself to your host.)

For 2018, we make arrangements to do the Wild Wild West 50 mile race.  Alan and I think we will probably sleep in my car (partially due to Alan getting permission to go last minute), but once we are in Lone Pine, Darrell resolves to “make it work.”  At 9pm, we sneak over to his Airbnb rental and take up all available floor space.  In the morning, the three of us drive up to the Start, park Darrell’s truck wherever seems non-illegal in the dark at 3am, and then start the race early.

Even with three brilliant minds, we can’t find the start for 45 minutes, get lost in the first half mile, and I fall and cut myself in that same span.  We mostly stay together until the first few 50M runners pass us, around dawn, and encourage each other on the climb up and down to Whitney Portal.

Alan surges way ahead, but Darrell and I are back and forth all day, and the biggest part of the adventure comes when we are in the last 5 miles.  A lady we are with is saying that she cannot find the path back, that she keeps running in circles, and we end up doing that, too.  We decide we will find the road (even though it’s probably a longer run) and take that back into town, but we end up running into the race director in her car.  She is picking up aid station tables, and she tells us that she will drop us at the correct spot (someone had messed with the markings).  It was a short drive and Darrell got stuck in the back with the tables. By the time we get to the final stretch, we are a few extra miles in, but mostly keep one another in sight and finish close together.

Of course, in December, Alan and I are back in Ridgecrest for another night with our wonderful hosts, Megan and Darrell.

Probably what I like best about Darrell is that he is a younger version of me.  Well, except for the Southern part, the engaged part, the having a kid part, and the Geriatric Life Coach part. (Ha ha.)  But what I really mean is that he is a tall, consistent, and not overly speedy ultra runner.  He is there for the accomplishment of the feat, the adventure, and to meet all of the wonderful people that our sport offers.

5 Days

February 25, 2019

5.  Linda Dewees

I met Linda in 2012 at the Bishop High Sierra Ultras.  This was serendipity because the only reason I ran Bishop was my DNF earlier that month at Miwok.  Linda was hanging back of the pack (due to injury) and once I found out she was from Ridgecrest (or nearby Inyokern), I felt like I had met someone who ran in the same circles as I did.

Later that year, I encountered her at the High Desert 50K and we got to run most of the last few miles together, a happy reunion at a much shorter race.

Probably our best two encounters occurred last year in two races in two consecutive months in the California High Sierras, Wild Wild West 50M and Bishop High Sierra 50M.

At Wild Wild West, Linda caught up to me in the Alabama Hills section (I started early) and stayed with me for a few miles.  What I like about running with Linda is that she is very upbeat and positive (but in a subtle, rather than rah-rah, way) and always really excited to see me.  I ended up jogging for a bit with her (I had been walking) just because I like hanging out with her, before she turned it up (and went on to finish the 50K, while I slogged out the 50M).

At Bishop, we met up at the late check-in at the Start/Finish line.  I was biding my time, hoping no one would say anything about me sleeping in my car here.  I said something to the effect of, don’t tell on me, and then Linda mentioned that she and her husband were sleeping in their truck camper (so we could “hang” together).  Great minds think alike!

In the actual race, we also did get to run together a little bit and finished within an hour of each other (in the scheme of a 50M, that’s about a minute a mile difference), and then spent another night hanging out in the parking lot before parting early Sunday morning and heading back south.

I always love seeing Linda at races because I know that her infectious positive attitude will motivate me to run with her.  I know this isn’t anything special specific to me, because I also see the camaraderie and joy she brings to lots of my ultra running friends.  I’m glad that there are people like Linda to make the ultra running experience that much better.

6 Days

February 24, 2019

6.  Alan Sheppard

I met Alan at AREC in 2016.  We had never really run together but I often would end up at a table after the run with a few other guys and gals, and invariably we would get into a discussion about the Hash or Trail Running.  While I don’t think I converted him to either of these, per se, I am certain that I tilted the scales.

I got to know him better in January 2017, when he (or rather his mom and step-dad) offered to let me stay with him Saturday night after the Avalon 50M, so I could go to the banquet and pick up my 5-year finisher’s plaque.

After that weekend, we did a few Long Beach hashes together (along with young kids in the stroller), and a few trail runs.  We started to have a discussion about him trying his first 50 miler with the plan being to do Avalon the following year, but… the 2018 date would coincide too close to his wife’s due date (bad to be ’26 miles across the sea’ if something were to happen).

So, he decided that we would push up the date somewhat.  I suggested the Headlands 50M in Marin County in September, a race that I had done before (and struggled mightily), and to train for it, we would also do a few ultras together in the months prior.

We started with Mt. Disappointment 50K where I volunteered at Josephine and he ran.  To get an idea of the miserable conditions, it was 87 degrees at 5AM, and it was only my smiling visage that prevented him from dropping (but it is these struggles that inure you against future drop-outs and cement your endurance).

The following month, we both did Skyline 50K (together), and he stayed overnight at my folks’ place (so his fam could sleep in).  They met us at the finish line.

Finally, in September 2017, we drove up together (and stayed with my folks once more) and ran the Headlands 50M.  Even though I am too slow to run with him, the numerous out-and-backs enabled us to keep in contact and cheer one another on.

We had one more road trip in 2017, when we drove up to Ridgecrest for the Over the Hill Track Club 50K.  We stayed with my friend Darrell Price, as I had done the past year, and ingratiated ourselves further by providing Darrell with beer at the finish line.

Besides Alan joining me for trail training, hashes, Boeing 5Ks, and ultra road trips, I have gotten to know his family fairly well.  When we teamed up for the Browne-Rice Kayak Run Relay in 2017 and 2018, I spent the day on the beach with his two (then three) children.  They recognize me immediately, and sometimes recognize me even when it’s not me (any guy with long-ish legs in shorts?).  His family is as excited for him to run and finish and takes every (reasonable) opportunity to be there for him at the finish line.

In 2018, Alan and I had somewhat fewer opportunities to run together (or near each other), due to the birth of his daughter.  She is a good kid, but it is a high expectation to saddle his wife with three kids alone for the hours that it takes to finish an ultra.

Our great big adventure was in May 2018 at the Wild Wild West 50M, where we teamed up again with Darrell Price (surreptitiously staying with him again) and started (almost) an hour early together.  For the most part, the three of us stayed together until sunup, and then Alan cleaned our clocks, but we all finished.

Throughout last year, Alan and I began having discussions about running longer races.  He threw out a whole list of races to run with the intent of doing maybe the San Diego 100M in June 2019.  Part of that plan was to do the Cuyamaca 100K in October.

Six weeks before Cuyamaca, I tripped during a run and fell face first into the sidewalk and fractured my wrist, so, when it came time to pace Alan for the final 17 miles of his race, I had only had my cast off for a week (and was extremely nervous about falling in the dark).  I ended up “pacing” him for 6 miles and sort of pacing random runners for the last 11.  My best memory from that event was during the drive back when Alan called his wife to let her know how it had gone.  “The good news is I finished the race,” he told her.  “And the bad news is, I really liked it.”

2018 ended with another trip to Ridgecrest, staying with Darrell, and convincing several of our friends to run the 50K, as well as Alan signing up for the Way Too Cool 50K lottery in order to experience my 100th ultra with me.

Although I have known Alan just three years, we have run 7 ultras together (plus 4 I volunteered at), and I am glad that we have become good friends.  We always have good conversation (and not always about running), and he is always willing to entertain my spectacularly good (or bad) ideas.  He also has an extremely supportive family (who I like a lot as well, but don’t see quite as much) that he is loyal and committed to, which is a strong indication of the content of his character.  He is a good guy and I am lucky to have made his acquaintance.

7 Days

February 23, 2019

One week to go!

7.  Jakob Herrmann

I got to know Jakob through the Ultra ListServ around  2007.  He had posted a ultrarunning biography and I noted that we were the same age and we also had both spent some time in Switzerland (I was an exchange student there and he grew up there.).  Also, we both lived in Southern California.

We made plans to meet up at the Mt. Disappointment 50M in August 2008.  I felt like a fool looking for European-types and saying, “Jay-kob?  Ya-kob?” and no one answering.  Later, in an e-mail, it turned out that he thought the race was on Sunday instead of Saturday and forgot to go.

We kept e-mail corresponding and missing each other, until a few years later.  Our close connection ended up coming through Robert Gilcrest, the Santa Barbara trail race guy.  He and Jakob developed a several year partnership to co-RD the Santa Barbara races together.

That adventure began in 2012, at the canceled/relocated Santa Barbara race.  This would be one of the few times we ran together, probably because the conditions were so horrible.  (Later that year, Jakob enabled me to run Bishop by giving me a free entry.)  In 2013, he finished the Santa Barbara race, and in 2014, we started meeting at the Start/Finish line to have the race run smoothly.

In most cases, when I run with people, I may hear stories about loved ones, but in Jakob’s case, I have also gotten to know his family VERY well.  (It helps if you spend 24 hours in a row with them.)  Linda and I have a funny rapport and I spent a many a race weekend having funny conversations with his three daughters (yes, I know there are four, but the youngest and I haven’t had any formal conversations).

Most recently, I ran into Jakob at the 2019 Orange Curtain Ultras, where he was running and I was volunteering.  We confused everyone by speaking in Swiss-German with each other.  He is still doing a lot of races, volunteering, putting on his own ultra in Switzerland, and staying busy with four daughters.  (Does Vietnamese Coffee help?)  Ausgezeichnet!

8 Days

February 22, 2019

8.  Rafael Covarrubias

I met Rafael in 2008 through AREC Trail Running.  I ended up carpooling with him in his mini Cooper, and we had some conversations about ultras.

Later that year, we carpooled together to the Mt. Disappointment 50M race (we both finished), and I started noticing that we were both doing a lot of the same races (and he was doing a lot more ultras than I was).

In 2009, when I ran my first 100K at Miwok, we carpooled, sort of.  (He drove to Northern CA and I flew and met up at my folks’ place).  That year, the weather forecast was for torrential rains, and Rafael (jokingly?) said he didn’t know if he would go if it were raining (Uh, we’re going!).  But due to the weather, there were close to 100 no shows.  The weather was BAD.  I can remember Rafael putting down newspaper in his car so that I could scrape off the mud that layered my legs from my ankles to my shorts.

We continued with the bad weather theme with the Santa Barbara 100M race in 2012 (no carpool this race) where it rained torrentially and lightning was striking around us.  There was a “great” moment captured on video when Rafael is saying the mud isn’t so bad and then goes careening down the hill, slipping on mud.  (Unfortunately, the race got “relocated” due to the extreme weather.)

A couple of months later, after DNF’ing at Miwok, I drove up with Rafael (and Martin Santos #21) to do the Bishop 100K.  This was the first and last time I went camping before and after doing an ultra (though I have slept in my car).  We repeated our Bishop adventure (but stayed in a motel) the following year.

Our final carpooling adventure was for the 2015 Shadow of the Giants 50K up by Yosemite.  I met Rafael near where he taught at an elementary school in Florence (near downtown LA) and drove up together.  The race was somewhat near where he grew up in Tulare, and we had an extra adventure when he got pulled over for expired plates.  This was another pseudo-camping trip, as we stayed in bunk beds in cabins by the start line.

About a year later, Rafael got a bit burned out on ultra running and went from monthly races to periodic races, and then he moved back to his hometown and now teaches there.

I see Rafael periodically in races (last year at Bishop and Cool) and I think back fondly on our road trips together.  There are lots of people that I run into at this race or that race, but few that I carpooled/traveled with to multiple races over nearly a ten year period.  I hope to see him at some more events in 2019 and beyond.

9 Days

February 21, 2019

9.  Aaron Sorensen

I met Aaron in 2013 at the Santa Barbara 100M race (or DRTE 100 as it was called at the time).  This was a previous iteration of what is now a pretty challenging 100 mile race, except I think the year that we did it, it was that much tougher.  The race was on a hot June weekend and started at 6pm on a Friday, so that all runners would get to suffer in the dark.  I had all sorts of misfortunes, including my watch dying, getting lost, and getting ticks.  I eventually quit after 29.8 miles (13 hours) and got a ride back to the start and hung out with some of the other DNFs.

To my surprise, a number of people dropped out even earlier than I did.  Aaron had stomach issues and dropped at Mile 12.  We hung out together at the finish line, watching people struggle in, and it came out that both of us lived in Long Beach.

After the Santa Barbara Race, I started seeing Aaron at AREC runs, both street and trail runs.  I found to be kinda quirky, in an introverted-extrovert way (as in, if you got to know him, you could get great conversations, but most people didn’t get to know him well, because he sorta kept to himself), so of course, we got along famously.

I also got to know his wife, Christina, a Marathon Maniac (I know she did 10 marathons in 10 days once.).  She went out to the Santa Barbara 100 in 2014 and was able to finish (Aaron was there to support her and I was volunteering.)

In 2015, I mentioned off-hand that I was doing the Twin Peaks 50M and might be interested in having a pacer.  With few details, Aaron said he was in.

In all previous ultras, I had never utilized a pacer.  There were always plenty of other racers to slog in with, but, I thought, it would be nice to have someone get me through the last few sections of Twin Peaks 50M (a race I had never finished).

I didn’t give him many details (like how to get to the aid station) but made an estimate of 3pm of when I thought I might be at Mile 38, which I had told him was the West Horsethief Aid Station.

So, this is the event when I started 3-1/2 hours before the early start, where I had suffered a Grade 2 Sprained Ankle 3 months prior to starting, and had never progressed beyond Mile 26 in the course (but had covered all the terrain in training).

I worked my way through the course, and got to the aid station at the top of the West Horsethief Trail about 1:30pm.  Oh, no, too early.  Then, I realized two things also.  One, how the heck is Aaron supposed to get here? (10 miles from the start/finish parking lot, no shuttles)  And two, this isn’t Mile 38, it’s Mile 34.  I doubt that I will even see him.

So I trudge on to Mile 38 and I arrive, surprisingly, at 3:01pm.  But no sign of Aaron and the aid station says no one had shown up for me.  As I refill my water bottles, a truck summits the Indian Truck Trail and two figures emerge… Aaron and his dog, Lacey!  Good timing.

It turns out that he was running up the Indian Truck Trail (knowing probably he would not connect with me, but might catch up) and this truck came by and had space to give him a ride to the top.  So, I had my pacer (s).

So, some brief words on Lacey.  If you know me well, I’m not a dog person (or a pet person), partially due to animal dander allergies and partially due to a dog’s lack of control (licking me, jumping up on me, occasional response to oral commands).  Lacey, on the other hand, is a perfect co-pacer.  When she is off-leash, she stays away from my unsteady legs.  When other runners come on the scene, she quickly returns to the leash upon first command.  It is also helpful that Lacey is an experienced ultra-runner herself having completed at least one 100K.

Aaron is probably the perfect pacer (my only pacer), in that I don’t have to initiate the conversation.  He tells me stories about doing 2 laps at Barkley, and how he is creating his own West Coast Barkley that he will call Ridgecrest (he ended up calling it Baldy Marathons because Ridgecrest is something else).  I somewhat forget how tired I am and end up moving at a better pace up Santiago than earlier.

When it gets dark, my headlamp is a bit drained (used it for 5 hours earlier that day), but Aaron has a spare hand-held flashlight, which is easier than carrying spare batteries and changing them out in the dark.  He ends up getting me to the finish line with 90 minutes to spare.

Aaron moved (closer to Baldy) a few years back so I mostly only interact with him through Facebook.  He is running a combination of timed races and 100Ks (and so is Lacey), and he has a cult following for Baldy Marathons and whatever crazy steep mountain courses he develops.  Don’t think I will ever be able to do those events, though.

After being paced, I felt I should pay it forward and pace someone in an ultra.  So, in October of last year, I “paced” my friend Alan for the final 17 miles of his first 100K.  The only problem was that he felt too good, so I paced him for 7 miles, and I fell off his pace… and ended up helping a stranger get through the final 3 miles.  Hope to get my “redemption” pacing job at San Diego 100M in June.

Aaron remains the ideal for an ultra pacer and I hope to live up to his standards.  I thank him for making my Twin Peaks 50M finish a very pleasant one.

10 Days

February 20, 2019

10.  Jessica DeLine

I semi-met Jessica when I first ran the Harding Hustle 50K back in 2012; she was the race director.  I got to know her a bit better that October when I attempted her Twin Peaks 50M race.  I had trouble getting to this race (freeway fatality) and was stuck on the freeway at a complete stop for over an hour at 3am, getting to the race 45 minutes AFTER the early start.  She let me start as soon as I wanted to get going and let me know that I could have an extra 45 minutes at the end if I needed it (but I ended up dropping to the 50K).

Over a period of several years, I got to know Jessica decently well, mostly because she would allow me (and an assortment of friends) an early start at her events.  Usually I would repay this favor with a small loaf of homemade bread and a bottle of an interesting beer (because she is a beer fan).

For the past few years, I have volunteered at Harding Hustle at most of the aid stations as well as the finish line, and not just because Jessica offers me a discount on a future race (though that helps).

In 2016, I had made plans to volunteer also at her Twin Peaks race, but since I DNF’ed at the North Face Park City race, I told her that intended on running the Twin Peaks event… but, I would also volunteer.

So, I showed up at 4:30am (plus an hour-long drive and some prep at home before that), set up tables and tents, loaded supplies for aid stations into vehicles, checked runners in, then set off myself at 7am, ran 10+ hours, finished, helped other finishers, packed up supplies, tents, and tables, and drove home, getting back around midnight.

Since 2012, I have done 5 Twin Peaks races and 2 Harding Hustles, and probably volunteered at 5 races as well.  For some people, consistency in doing a certain race is often for a specific medal or because all your friends are there, but for these events, it’s because they are challenging, reasonably-priced (discount or no), and well-organized.

Jessica, in particular, is my kind of race director.  She knows what runners want, puts on a good event, and can make reasonable accommodations as needed (in my case, an early start or two; or letting me finish a little over the time limit).

We have never run together (I think she is far too busy for ultras anymore), but I am always interested in running in her events or helping her out.

11 Days

February 19, 2019

11.  Lauren Miertschin

I first met Lauren in 2012 on the tough stretch between the Upper Holy Jim “parking lot” and Santiago Peak.  I didn’t know her and we didn’t really talk but she filmed me for her running blog.  We ended up finishing relatively close to one another and became fast friends while waiting for our drop bags (which were delayed due to a runner being airlifted out).

Less than a year later, Lauren convinced me to sign up for the Old Goats 50M (which was full and had a waitlist), and we ended up getting in.  Lauren told me that the opening section of the race (called the Candy Store Loop) is super-difficult.  Runners have 6 hours to complete this 21 mile section (or 6-1/2 hours if you start an hour early).  In her previous training, she had never been able to do the loop under either time limit.

There was a special deal with this race that if you carpooled, both the driver and the passenger would get a refund, so we made plans to do so.  Because the race was so early, I drove down to Dana Point, had dinner with her husband and three boys, and then slept on her couch (better than showing up at 3am).  At the actual race, both of us made the cutoff (6:15 for me and 6:25 for Lauren, I think), but failed to finish the entire race.  I got pulled at Mile 45!

Lauren and I also trained and ran at Harding Hustle and Twin Peaks in 2014, taking early starts on both of them (and both dropping down to the 50K at Twin Peaks).

In 2015, she steered me into finally finishing Twin Peaks 50M race by convincing me to sign up again and also by saying that we would just start super-early to give ourselves that much extra time out of the hot sun of midday.  Through time and volunteering, we both had a good enough rapport with the race director for this to work out without too much trouble.  I ended up getting a finish (19 hours), and Lauren eventually opted for a DNS, maybe because of injury.

I really enjoy running with Lauren because she is (sort of) a female me – tall, talkative, and persistent.  I haven’t seen her around much and her Ultrasignup shows she is mostly only doing Nanny Goat events the past few years, but that may be because she is “Mentally Sensitive.”