Tag Archives: Lone Pine

Wild Wild West 50K – 2019

May 4, 2019

After finishing the 50 miler last year in Lone Pine (including an hour early start with Alan and Darrell), I decided to take advantage of the early entry fee and see if I couldn’t get in another completion on this beautiful and challenging course.

Alan isn’t in this year.  He has the PCT 50 miler next weekend and I don’t think his wife would look kindly on being away all day two weekends in a row.  Darrell is running also but I was unable to make arrangements vis-a-vis a formal place to stay.  I’ll probably nap in my car until the first bus drives up (last year, we drove up to the campground and started on our own).  While the race starts at 5am, there is a bus to the start at 3:45am, and the website does say you can keep your own time.  That’s our plan.

I arrive in Lone Pine super early on Friday.  Bib pickup is at 5pm, so I have 2-3 hours to kill.  I read the newspaper in the car and try to take some catnaps.  At five, I wander inside and talk with my many ultra-friends who are here, like Kim and Beth, Linda, and even Tam P. and Angela are up for the marathon.

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Tam, me, and Angela at the info meeting on Friday.

At the bib pick-up, it’s the usual confusing pre-race briefing.  I guess it gives the race some characters, but it confuses the hell out of first-timers.  They make a big deal about the fact that they are doing a different start this year so there won’t be any issues with the Tuttle Creek campground.  (Though, I guess if you are staying at the campground, you have to figure out how to get to the new start.)

After the meeting, I drive over to the parking lot across the street from the finish line, and try to get comfortable in my car for a short sleep.  It’s a little cold outside but I have my sleeping bag and I sleep diagonally across in the driver’s rear seat to the passenger front seat.  Not sure if I am actually sleeping.  I am having vivid dreams about the course.  Even though I have run this course before, I am sure that the dreams are just a generalized course (and I don’t need to wake up exhausted from previewing it).

I wake up well before 3:45am (!) and I made special sure yesterday to avoid eating much the night before because I will not have the opportunity to utilize a toilet (unless I want to squat on course).

The bus pulls into my lot around 3:35 and I grab a good seat.  The bus isn’t particularly full (maybe 1/2 to 3/4) and it is mostly first-timers who are nervous about finishing the race (though I don’t think there are many starting early).   I chat with a few people who are first-time marathoners (and one or two 50Kers).  Scary that they pick a race like this for their first.  It’s so hard.

As opposed to 2 years ago (because last year we drove ourselves to the start), the drive is a lot shorter, because we are not starting at the campground, but off the road.  It’s dark, windy, and a little cold.  This isn’t the best starting spot, because there is little space for us to congregate.  Darrell is there; I think he camped or stayed nearby and just drove to the start.  We start almost immediately.  No way we’re waiting for the 5am start.  I’ll definitely need all the time I can get, especially because I am still wearing the knee brace.

57451100_2252201981698891_9127245720967970816_nDarrell, Emmett, and John Radich at the start

So, we head off on a trail that goes off at a slight angle from the road, maybe double-track, and pitch black (dark even with headlamps).  After about 45 minutes on this trail, it pops out in the Tuttle Creek Campground (?!?).  I hope they’re cutting off a portion of the trail because they just added 5K to the course!

As usual, the path isn’t marked that well within the campground, so we wander for a little bit trying to remember which side of the campgrounds leads to the trails.  Nothing like getting lost at Mile 3 of 53.  Our misfortunes from last year helped a little bit here, including taking the left-ward path once we figured out where the trail continued.  I wish they would be clearer on the markings in this section.

Even though it’s dark, the trail seems a little more familiar, that is to say, we wander through the bushes and work our way over to the main trail and get to the first aid station.  According to the map, this is Mile 4, and look, it took me over 4 hours!  (Probably really 7.1 miles.)

We’re starting to get caught up by other runners.  This is a good opportunity for Darrell to push the pace a bit and I let a couple of runners surge by me on the water crossing section because it is slippery, hair-pin turns, and my leg is bound up a bit.  Once on the other side, a little bit of uphill, but then a long downhill fire-road run.  This second aid station is run by the Badwater race folks.  I saw the sign for 20 minutes and kept trying to guess what it said (Bad Mother?  Mar weather?).  It’s a little mosquito-y around here, as we are by a short water crossing.  I fared much better in this section, around 10-11 minutes per mile (so ACTUALLY 4 miles this time).

A change to the course this year for the marathoners (50K and 50M course still the same) is that everyone climbs up to Whitney Portal.  (The marathon course avoided that in the past.)

So now begins the long uphill slog.  This section has always been trouble for me in the past and nothing really changes this year.  It begins with a steep fire-road, leading to single-track switchbacks (gentle rises), and then a single-track hugging the hillside (with drop offs on the right).

About 5 minutes into this section, I come upon a large tree blocking the path.  I wish I had a picture to show how troubling this was (maybe three feet in diameter).  It wasn’t the case that I could throw my legs over it or climb under it.  You couldn’t edge to the right because of the drop-off.  The only choice is to use the tree to climb up the left part of the hillside, climb around the top part of the tree, and then carefully descend back down to the single-track.  This is even more difficult with the brace and my two hand-helds.  I carefully balance myself up, over the tree, throw my water bottles carefully down, and edge back onto the trail, mindful that I will have to do this again on my way back down in a few hours.

Also, I am now very out of breath and not able to move very fast up the trail.  (I mean, I am climbing up to 8400 feet.)  It’s slow going, especially on the sections where I am sorta climbing up stairs because my knees hurt.  Some people passing me, luckily not that crowded.  On this section, I see Kim Gimenez coming down.  We exchange some niceties.  Always great to see her.

When I get up to the beginning of the campground area, there is the appearance of some permafrost or snow, luckily not across the trail… yet.  Even though I am struggling with the thin air, I like this section of the trail because it is nicely built evenly spaced wooden stairs.

Now we get into the heart of the snow.  First, there is a narrow section curving around a rock and all tromping through deep snow.  Then there is a flat section that is nothing but snow.  It’s not too slippery (it’s kinda cool, though) but I do need to concentrate on where I place my feet so I don’t get cold AND wet feet.

A few minutes before I get to the aid station, the top, and the turn-around, I see Darrell.  I joke I will catch up with him soon.  This 3 mile section took me over 2 hours. Hope I do better on the way down.

On the way down, I see Linda Dewees.  She WILL catch up to me soon.  I spot a few other people who are struggling up the hill.  I started about an hour early and I see people who started on time two miles behind me and having just as much trouble summitting.

I do what I can to manage a faster speed heading down the hill, knowing that it’s going to take me a while to climb back over that tree on the way down.  It seems to be worse coming down the hill, and I am just as out of breath, even though I am heading downhill, but I do clear it and continue to the easier part of the trail (switchbacks, steep downhill), and the turn off to the back half of the trail and another mile to the aid station.

A nice comparison coming down to going up, with 1:26 for 4 miles downhill versus 2:05 for 3 miles uphill.

From here, it’s rolling hills through the Alabama Hills section.  I use my long legs to “power up” the hills as much as I can.  It’s usually pretty windy through this section.  I see few runners here and manage a sluggish 23 minutes per mile through Mile 18.

From here, it’s 4 miles to the next aid station and where I will make a decision on whether to continue on to run the 50 miler or drop to the 50K if I am not fast enough to finish under 16 hours.  Given that I am at 7 and a half hours now, it doesn’t look like a good option to continue (and I am okay with that).

I try to hustle a bit to give myself every opportunity to continue, but I reach Mile 22 in 9 hours.  There’s just no chance to run 28 MORE miles in 7 hours.  I did the math, 15 minute miles, but a lot of that would be in the dark.

So I take the turn off for the 50K, maybe a little forlorn, but I know it’s the right decision.

The trail is better marked than last year (or people didn’t mess with it) so I have fewer problems and don’t wander around in a circle coming back to the aid station and not finding the inbound trail.  I mean, now I have 7 hours left to do 9 miles.  I can get lost a little bit.

It’s fairly lonely here, because I am towards the back of the 50K runners and mostly ahead of the 50M runners.  Also, this section is a narrow single-track (here called a sheep trail) that drops down low and climbs steeply out on-and-on.  A nice lady catches up to me on this section, named Andrea Lehr.  She is feeling the same way I am on this section – it’s endless, it’s difficult, and it sucks!

As I reach each rise, it’s kinda like “Are we there yet?” and the answer continues to be, “Not yet.”  But it’s nice to have someone to get through the end of this race with.

As soon as we spot the giant American flag, I know we are getting towards the home stretch, because the flag marks the location of the final aid station.  This year, there are people here (because it’s not the tail end of the 50M) and we can chat with them a little bit.

From here, 3 miles to the end of the course, mostly downhill.  In fact, steep downhill, a little gravelly.  My feet are slipping heavily in the shoes, so my toes hurt quite a bit slamming into the front of the toe box after 9+ hours.

Now we veer over to the Whitney Portal Road and run down the road for half a mile, and then turn back onto the trail and into the back of the finishing park.  I’ve gotten a little ahead of Andrea.  I’m modified speed walking to get in as soon as possible and finish in 10 hours and 59 minutes (one of my worst 50K times, but my best 55K!).  Andrea comes in a few minutes later, but she started on time (so maybe 10:06).

The finish line is a little better than last year.  A Grocery Outlet opened up in town (which I had visited during the time between arriving and packet pick-up) and she brought some give-aways – weird flavors of Gatorade and prunes, some crackers – the usual G.O. stuff.

I hang out for a little while, but I cannot wait until the 8pm end time to see when Darrell comes across the finish line (15:09) because I am driving home afterwards and don’t want to get home too late.

Not sure if I will do this race again.  I need to find out if they are doing that extra 3 mile start, if they will mark it better, or maybe when the long-time RDs of the Chamber of Commerce retire, get new management and do things a little differently.  No slight to CoC, but after 40 years, maybe try something different.

This is my 101st ultra and I hope my slow time isn’t indicative of not being able to do ultras any more.   I’m thinking about doing Bishop in a few weeks.  I think I could do the extra 16 miles (to reach 50) in under 8 hours, so hope to give it a try.

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.

Wild Wild West 50M – 2018

May 5, 2018

Two years ago, I had planned on doing the 50 miler here in Lone Pine, but only a month earlier, I fell on a training run and fractured my elbow.  My recovery was not such that I could pull that off.

Last year, I decided to do the 50K up here and see how good (or badly) it would go.  Part of my reasoning also was due to the fact that Darrell Price (my buddy from Ridgecrest that I have stayed with the past few years) had done the 50M in 2016 and really struggled with it.

Anyway, the 50K went reasonably well.  That is to say that I finished it and wasn’t maimed.  I was pretty sure I would struggle with the 50M race, but I had also noted on the website that you could start whenever you wanted and let them know your time at the finish line.  Maybe start 2 hours early and build up my confidence by not being at the back the entire race.

Meanwhile, Darrell said that he was interested in doing the 50M (and starting early) and Alan Sheppard (who had done his first 50M race in Marin County (somewhat with me))last September expressed interest as well (and could start early if that was the consensus of the people he carpooled with).

Whether Alan could run it or not was left until the last minute (at WWW, this means by the Tuesday before the event), so I didn’t make any hotel plans.  Figured I would wing it as I usually do.  Our tentative plan was to sleep in the car, especially since we would need to leave for the start around 2:00 or 2:30am.  What kind of sleep would we get anyway?

Darrell was feeding me all sorts of AirBnB options, and said we might be able to stay with him at his if all 8 planets aligned.  Both Alan and I felt we might be putting him out by doing this, so the plan was to wing it.

Alan and I left Anaheim around noon and immediately hit horrible traffic on the 5, all the way to the 5/14 interchange.  That certainly didn’t bode well!

However, we made relatively good time and got up to the check-in at the school before it opened up and walked around a tad.  It was pretty hot out (like 80s and 90s).  Probably will be hot tomorrow as well.

We picked up our bibs and shirts and sat down to a pasta feed.  Talked to a few folks.  It’s the usual mix of first timers, old friends, and random people that recognize me (for some reason) that I do not know at all.

I had a short conversation with another tall guy (think he was 6’7″) but he was only doing the full marathon or the 10 miler.  (It’s okay, tall people don’t really do ultramarathons.)

The Chamber of Commerce folks gave a talk and made some announcements.  It was really the worst speaker system.  I think that the teachers in the Peanuts movies spoke more clearly.  The important part here was just making sure we could start early, where we might park, and if there were any cutoffs.  (Answers:  Yes, anywhere if you showed up well before the start, and probably not.)

We did meet up with Darrell at the check-in and he said that once he got settled in, he would text us to come over and stay.  Alan and I were still ambivalent about stressing out Darrell, and drove over to the finish line parking lot to (possibly) settle in for the night.  It was still pretty hot out (even with the doors open) so don’t know how comfortable it was gonna be.

Around 8:45, Darrell said, come over.  It’s going to work out after all.  I think the deal was that the unit was not supposed to sleep more than 3, but no one was around to double-check that.  The other couple had the “master bedroom” and were settled in, and Darrell was on the couch.  He blew up an air mattress for me and Alan was on the floor.

It was a tad more comfortable than the car.  I mean, yeah, having a toilet, way better, but, I’m sure I groaned every time I rolled over and the air mattress made all sorts of squeaky noises and I nearly rolled off every time I moved.  Okay, and the air conditioning made it comfy inside instead of hot.

I was hoping that we would leave at 2:00am, park, and then try and start by 3:00am, but I think I got up at 2:15am, and we were out the door by 3:15am.  The plan had become caravanning to the finish line and leaving my car, and then driving in Darrell’s truck to the start (and then shuttling him back after the race).

At about 3:40, we got up to the campground, which is the start area for the race.  Parking was severely limited, because, well, it’s a campground and we were not camping… but we did spot a non-campsite spot in between campsites that was off the campground road.  We felt secure enough that his car would not get towed (after all, what a horrible inconvenience for some tow truck driver and the campground wouldn’t want to tow a legit car – they wouldn’t know since we snuck in under the cover of darkness).

There were a few people stirring, getting ready for their day (whether it was the race or not).  We asked someone where the start line was and they pointed amorphously off to the left.  Darrell kept saying that he recognized where we were, but I felt, from last year, that we had to come UP some road and that bathrooms were at the top and the start was near that.  We parked at the top of the road we were on, so it didn’t make a lot of sense.

We walked for about 15 or 20 minutes before we realized that we were in a campsite loop that was next to the area where the race started, and sure enough, up a hill to bathrooms, and a sign indicating where the start line was.

So, 4:10am and we are finally on our way.

The very first intersection is maybe 20 yards after the start.  Pink ribbon at the exact middle of the intersection, neither left nor right.  Left looks like an offshoot and right looks like the main path, so, we go right.

I am looking askance (to the left), keeping track of where it goes and if we could shift over if our path is wrong (there are a few spots).  After about 5 minutes, our road essentially dead ends, so we backtrack to where I saw we could cut over.  I step to the left and my foot drops off about 3 feet and I fall forward onto my knees and hands.  Great start, buddy!

I am lightly bleeding on my knees, but I feel okay (as okay as you can feel starting off a 50M with a fall in the first 5 minutes after getting lost).

We get to the first turnoff (where the full, 50K, and 50M split off from the 10 miler) of 3.9 miles in 1:18 – 20 minute miles!  We need to be around 19 to finish, and not off to a good start, though it is super dark.

Our trail veers off into the bushes and it is a guessing game trying to figure out where it goes next.  One of us spots a pink ribbon and heads towards that.  Actually, it is pretty well marked, just hard to follow pre-sunrise.

A little bit later, we get to a spot I recognize, which is a single-track leading down to a water crossing.  I fall a little behind Darrell and Alan at this point, just because I am nervous about falling again.  When I get to the bottom, they have arranged some wooden boards so we can cross without getting wet.

Once we get to the other side, we are back onto a fire-road and we catch our first runner, Bill Dickey (78 years old) who started probably 30 minutes before us, in the 50K.  The fire-road goes downhill and I watch Alan fade off into the distance, while I chat briefly with Bill.  Darrell is also a bit ahead of me, but I have to do my own thing, can’t worry about those young short guys.

The next big intersection is where the marathon splits off from us.  Last year, it was the everybody-but-the-50M split, but this year, the 50Kers get to suffer, too, and go up to Whitney Portal.  I didn’t do this last year, so I don’t know what to expect, but I’m sure it will be tough.  I am already struggling with the elevation and I think we will go up to 8600 feet at the top.  Phew.

I have made up a little time getting to this point, but still well over the 19:00 pace I really need to finish this race.  Guess what?   Uphill ain’t going to help much.

The beginning of this section is a series of switchbacks at a slight incline, but there is a point after we do a big water crossing that the turns are more frequent and steeper (read:  climbing up on rocks).  This is super slow going for me.  As people pass me and give me encouragement, I cannot even speak out a single coherent thought, other than “uh,” or “ugh.” (Almost a breathy “thanks” at one point.)

The trail gets a little easier, slope-wise as we get into the actual camping area, with a measured out path, replete with wooden cross-hatching and signposts.   On the uphill, I am passed by David Binder and Rafael Covarrubias (dang, already made up the 50 minute stagger!).

And just after the confusing “tunnel,” Alan comes by on his way down, and says that Darrell is not that far ahead of me.  This “tunnel” is a path between two large rocks and in my addled mind, it looks like the path dead-ends, so I didn’t head in that direction and tried to figure another way up.  Once you get up to it, it’s clear that it goes through, but when you are spacey, you get paranoid.

The last bit up to the aid station is a step-bridge.  By this I mean that there are literally steps in the bridge climbing up to the aid station – it’s not just a bridge.  I can see Darrell on the other side cramming in whatever he can manage for the descent.  As I come in, he departs.  I know I’m in a time-crunch, so I eat a couple pieces of fruit and immediately turn around.  My 1:44:26 for this 4-mile section has ballooned my time to over 21 minutes a mile.  Hope I can make up some time on the path down (into thicker air).

On the walk down, both Kelly Motyka and John Hampton pass me heading up.  They both got into Western States 100M and are using this race (the 50K) as a training run for elevation.  Both look way better than me.

Some time later, Kelly passes me on the downhill section, which is slow going on the stepping-on-rocks part.  Knees still feel a bit off and I don’t want to ruin them this early.  At least when I get back onto the switchback portion, I can jog a little bit.  The bad part is that although I came down the hill MUCH faster than I went up it, I have only reduced my total pace to 20:49/mile.  Not fast enough, in other words.  At this point, I really do have to think about maybe shifting to the 50K if I cannot get my pace up.

Just after the turn back to the marathon course, John Hampton passes me.  He doesn’t look as good as Kelly, and he tells me that he threw up.  (Hmm… not sure that I’ve ever thrown up on any race.)

Now there is a fire-road section where you can see some of the other runners on the other side of the river.  There is a crossing point with a metal bridge.  Last year, this bridge was 6 inches under water, but this year, it’s a good 2 to 3 feet above the water.  Just crossing the bridge is Tam Premsrirath and Angela Holder, presumably in the marathon, because they didn’t pass me on the Whitney Portal section.

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After cresting this hill on the other side, there is a beautiful (endless) downhill section.  I like some downhill but not endless downhill because it’s hard on the joints.  I run some of it, but mostly, I am walking or skipping or galloping to get it over with.  Loads of people pass me, but they are probably in the 50K, so I’m not going to worry about it.  As I am getting to the end of the section, I spot a flag with some writing on it, like Baobab or Bellydancer.  I wonder what it says.

As I get closer, it’s the Mile 18 aid station, and the flag says “Badwater.”  That makes the most sense, even if Badwater doesn’t make any sense to me.  (Never want to walk/run 135 miles through Death Valley, nope.)  My combo walk/run is at 15:03/mile, and drops my total average pace to 19:31.  Hmm… that’s good news.  Darrell is here ahead of me and he is taking a while with the refueling, so I end up passing him.  I’m sure he’ll catch back up soon.

When the downhill ends, there’s more uphill, but not steep and not rocky, and thoroughly walkable.  I am maintaining pace with a Las Vegas music teacher/violinist named Tig (Antigone).  She walks and jogs while I walk briskly and I am enjoying the conversation.  We have favorite early music in common, like Gesualdo and Josquin des Prez (names that my followers will look up online and still go, huh?).  She has played in some shows and also teaches lessons.  This is only her second 50K and she picked a doozy.

We hit Mile 20 together and I’ve pulled back another 30 seconds per mile with my walking.  Around 22, I start to pull away as we get into the Alabama Hills and the wind.  She is pulling into the aid station as I pull out and hit 19:00 net pace for the first time since my fall at 0.001 miles.

Out of this aid station, there is sizable downhill to the 50K/50M split spot.  Looks like there is a wedding going on here today, or I am hallucinating a set of white folding chairs (or both).  Linda Dewees catches up to me and we walk/jog/talk for a bit.  I always love seeing her.  She is always so positive and encouraging (and a cool lady).

As I get closer to the 50K/50M split, I spot some of the marks for the incoming route to here, which I always find confusing, but if I make a note of it, then maybe I won’t get lost.

As I pull into Mile 26, I managed the last section at a 12:36 pace, I think thanks to jogging with Linda and my pace is at 18:16.  Now I don’t have to make that bad decision to drop back to a shorter distance!!  I can continue on.  Tig comes into the aid station as I am leaving and I wish her luck and head off on the 50M loop.

This is an extremely lonely section.  It’s very sandy and no shade whatsoever and I do not see another racer for over 2 hours.  I do see a number of mountain bikers and hikers who give me some encouragement.

The next aid station is at Mile 30 (or so) and my loping pace has brought me to 17:34 per mile.  Literally, I have walked myself back into finishing!  I spot some beers that the aid station guy has and ask for some.  He drinks half and I drink half.  It’s cold and refreshing.  He’s an older guy (late 70s, I think) and tells me about some of the cute gals that have come by (I wonder what he thought of the lady in the booty shorts that Alan later said was twerking at the aid stations…) and how it makes it all worth it.

Leaving this aid station, I am immediately heading up a giant sand dune.  The variety of two steps up, one step backwards.  Yuck.  Very draining, but at least I have a beer in me to make the pain go away somewhat.  It descends down the other side and eventually into some single track, crosses a road, and then a very confusing section through some brambles.

I see Darrell behind me and when he crosses the road, he starts up the road (Alan did this, too, apparently), but I shout back where the ribbons are.  I dropped back some of the pace here, but still under 18/mile.  The aid station is manned by two black guys, one in a fancy BMX outfit.  Think he might be a semipro BMX racer?  Nice folk.

Leaving this aid station, it widens out and I see some rock climbers, people drinking beer, a few folks with unleashed dogs.  One dog goes after me, wildly, and its owner does little to rein him in.  I was prepared to kick the dog away, even though I don’t think I could outrun an angry owner at this point.  Once I get to the fence area, the dog stops giving chase (and/or the owner gets him under control).

On the other side of the fence, it’s horse-shit heaven.  There are piles and piles of the stuff all over here.  I don’t know if it’s a depository or what, but there is a lot of it.  A little past this point, I end up backtracking a bit, probably due to another vague marking into dense mustard plants (even though it looks cooler to go into the rock area).

By the next aid station, at Mile 36, Darrell (and his merry gang) have caught up to me.  Matt and Mike have been with Darrell a bit.  We stay together somewhat, but there are points where they stop to dip bandanas in cool water or retie shoes or whatever.  I’m trying not to let that stuff slow me down, ’cause I know they’ll catch up (or not).  I’m just worried about me and staving off blisters that are slowly forming on my foot pad.

Matt passes and soars off into the distance, while Mike and Darrell are only a bit ahead of me.  They get further ahead on a section where the descent is gravelly and downhill.  I don’t like this one bit.  They are both heading out from the aid station as I am coming in.  A nice man and girl who own a ranch or restaurant up the road and have a couple of vases full of lavender… and beer.  As I am leaving the aid station, they mention that I am the first person to drink a cup of Skratch (like Gatorade), a cup of beer, and a cup of Coke at their stop!

From here, just a short 4 miles back to the 50K/50M cutoff (and then 5 to the end of the race).

There is a scramble up more of these Grape-Nuts and then a flat fire-road, then up over the hill, then down, then a jump (literally, scary!) over a creek onto a rock, and then a hairy section on seesawing shale somewhat along the highway, and zigzagging along the top of the cliff overlooking said highway.  I keep spotting Mike and Darrell in the distance and it looks like one of them has stopped for the moment.

It turns out to be Mike.  He’s 38 years old (though I thought he was older – Darrell said something later about “hard living”) and he tells me he’s never finished a 50 miler while in his 30s.  (Today’s the day, Mike.  You can do it.)  I say we just have to walk briskly through this section and we will make it.  I continue to be encouraging until I notice that he has slowed behind me.  Ohhh….kay.  Bye.

I pull into the Mile 45 aid station in 13:48.  For the official cutoff, I have 1 hour and 12 minutes for 5 miles, but because of my early start, I have 2 hours, 2 minutes.  Plenty of time (can average 24 minutes/mile and still make it; and my current overall average is at 18:25 – lost a little bit on the gravel).

Darrell is at the aid station, along with Denise, who says it is her second or third time back here, that she has been unable to find how to get to the finish, that the ribbons and arrows lead her back here again and again.

We are looking at the map (which is nothing more than a general elevation map with some mile markers on it, nothing that shows all the possible trails around here).  I say that I remember that chalked section that we have to get to (no idea where it is, but I’ll know it when I see it), and from last year, I remember the goat trails to the large American flag. We should be okay.

So, we follow the ribbons and the arrows.  I can totally see how she might have veered back to the aid station multiple times… but suddenly, we find ourselves, yep, heading back.  Denise says she doesn’t want to go through this again.  I don’t want to go through it once.

Darrell suggests that we just make a beeline for the highway and that will (eventually) get us back to the finish line.  Sounds good to me, and we are directed towards the road by some people in a camper.  A short while later, a car drives up, with “Wild Wild West Race Director” on it.  We tell her that we are lost and we are just going to take the road back.

She says that she is going to figure out what went wrong (most of it was really well labeled, in my opinion).  “Do you want to finish?”  Yeah!

“Okay,” she says.  I’ll drive the three of you back to the correct spot.  By the way, it’s a small car and I have three aid station tables in it.

I try to fold myself over one of the tables, but I can’t even get my head inside the door, so, sorry, Ds, I will take the front seat.  Denise somehow fits draped over the tables, and Darrell is lying on the tables.

It is not a long ride but there are little markings that would have led us here.  Probably sabotage (since we have heard there were problems from multiple people).  She says that she will let the people at Mile 48 know to leave stuff for us (even though it is only 5 miles to the finish).

Where she has dropped us is the start of the goat trails, which is a lot of single-track steep up and steep downhill sections.  Both Darrell and Denise are in the mood of, “If there’s one more sucky hill, I’m going to quit,” but when I spot the giant American flag, those thoughts somewhat go away.  Denise is lagging a bit behind us, but we all get into the aid station around the same time.

Because of the detour, 22 minutes a mile in this section, but still under 19/mile.  There is a cooler here with a few Gatorades, ice water, and beer.  I have some beer and Gatorade, and then begin immediately heading down the hill, just because it’s starting to get dark and I feel Darrell and Denise do not have the same downhill struggles I do.

Darrell comes by me at a pretty good clip.  I know he was complaining earlier about something.  I have been complaining for about 10 miles about blisters and the rockiness of the trail is just making it worse, but I amble/skip/gallop/walk down the hill, and try to keep Darrell in sight.

When I get to the highway (gosh, we might have done an extra 5 miles if we went this way), I know I am almost there.  It’s a short section over a bridge and then back into the “wilderness,” and through the back of the park to the front of the park and Highway 395 and the finish!

I get into the park and I am singing patriotic songs to myself, like Star-Spangled Banner and America the Beautiful.  I then notice up ahead a skunk.  Hmm…  Don’t want to get sprayed at this point.  I start singing Battle Hymn of the Republic VERY LOUDLY and it starts to skitter away.  A few verses of “Glory, Glory, Hallelujah,” and it keeps its distance!  Phew!

Finally, I can see the fence line and cheering/cowbell.  I cross the finish in 15:41:06 (or 14:51:24 as the official results say, even though I told them my time at the finish).  No medal or ceramic for me as they have run out, but they say they will mail one to me.

Darrell finished 7 minutes earlier and Alan, about an hour earlier.

At the finish, some of Darrell’s friends have bought us some Chinese and Thai food (spicy!) and beer.  Great that they did this, but sucky that they don’t have sandwiches or pizza or something after 15 hours of activity.

As soon as I get myself together, we get in the car to drive up and get Darrell’s car.  I make a few wrong turns, but eventually we find the start again.  Darrell thinks he might have been towed, or at a minimum, a parking ticket or fine, but we get up there and absolutely nothing done to his truck.

We drive back down and treat Darrell to dinner at Carl’s Jr.  I ate that Chinese food and wasn’t that hungry to begin with and Darrell isn’t as hungry as he thought, either.

We head back to the room, now just three of us.  Darrell has the room, I have the couch, and Alan, well (sucks for you), the floor.  My shoes stink so badly that I have to leave them outside.  Hope they will be there in the morning!  (They are.)

On our drive back on Sunday morning, Alan and I decide we will look in on the Randsburg Hash event.  (This has been going on after Wild Wild West Marathon for years, but not last year, and previously, I have had other things to do that weekend.)  We make the windy drive into hot Randsburg and most everything is closed and there are only a handful of hashers up there.  Neither of us want to do the run (for obvious reasons) but we each enjoy a beer and celebrate our race completion – 2nd 50 miler for Alan and 25th for me!

Wild Wild West 50K – 2017

May 6, 2017

About a week before the race, I got an offer for some (paid) race work.  Somewhat disappointed to turn it down, but excited to run the Wild Wild West race, finally, after having to skip it after breaking my elbow a month prior to this race last year.

I got a clarification on the race work and it turned out that it was going to be the following day, in Santa Clarita, which is somewhat on the way home from WWW.  It was going to be a long weekend.

It worked out for the best, then, that I hadn’t convinced anyone to carpool with me, since I don’t think they would be too keen on sleeping in my car before the race and in a Santa Clarita Mall parking lot.

This race has been going on for some time (this year is the 39th running) and yet, it still felt very fly-by-night to me.  There is little posted on their website about locations of aid stations, intermediate cutoffs, though there is a map.  They also cut off registration 4 days before the race.  I could understand wanting to order the right amount of shirts, but on the other hand, you could tell late registrations that there’s no guarantee of a medal or a t-shirt if you register after a certain date.

I called the Chamber of Commerce (who puts on the race) to try and get more details about the race before I came up.  They weren’t very helpful at all and seemed almost mad that I wanted more details.  The most I got was that a couple of the stream crossings would probably be 4-5 FEET deep because of snowmelt.  I assured them that a 5 foot water crossing would hardly concern me (though other might drown).

I tried to time my drive up on Friday so that I would arrive around the time that bibs were available (and also not hit excessive LA traffic), so I did get in around 4pm (an hour early) and it was pretty hot in Lone Pine, and I kept periodically opening the car door to let some cool air in as I napped for about an hour.

At 5pm, I went inside and picked up my bib and shirt.  Shirt was nothing to write home about, white (maybe technical, not sure).  Maybe you do an event for nearly 40 years, you don’t mess with what works for you.

I opted for their pasta feed, which involved some middle schoolers serving us some spaghetti and salad.  I chatted with various people that I may have met previously, including Karin Usko (from Ridgecrest, maker of Happy Gaiters), the Central American-slash-German gal.

I also saw that David Binder was there along with one of his kids.  We chatted briefly.  He had decided to come up last minute and try to run the race, but registration was already closed and they wouldn’t budge on that, so he was going to volunteer and then maybe spend an extra day doing some recreational stuff with his son.

When I said that I was probably going to drive to the finish and just sleep in my car, he offered to let me share his motel room.  I figured the floor was a better option than the car (having done that a few times before), but I ended up with my own bed and David and his son shared the other bed.

Even though they didn’t have to get up as early as I did, they did go to bed fairly early.  The bus to the start leaves at 4:10am! (for a 5:00am start)

I woke up at 3am, took care of my duties and then drove myself to the bus pick-up, which is a city parking lot on the right-side of Hwy. 395 (the finish will be on the left-side, pretty much across the street).  It is pitch-black and no bus here, but there are other folks here, including Chris Spenker, who is doing either the marathon or the 10M race but opting to get up to the start early (or to just start early).

We sit together on the bus and the conversation is mostly about what to expect.  I have not done this race before but I have done 1 or 2 ultras so have some advice for a guy sitting near me that is running the race with his little brother and fiancee (first ultra for all of them).

The ride is pretty much a straight uphill drive, and then a short drive on a dirt and pothole-filled road – kind of slow-going.  We arrive fairly quickly and are given the option to stay on the bus or head outside.  We stay on the bus for a bit, but can’t wait too long, as we do have about a half-mile walk to the start and don’t want a “running” start.

As I start, my general goal is to finish around 7:30 (which would be 15 minute pace), which is not too bad at elevation, either.

The beginning of the course is on a fire road and uphill, so I am not doing a lot of running, but within a few miles, we are on a single-track in sandy gravel, somewhat precipitous downhill, heading for the first water crossing.  I don’t see any ribbon marking the course around here, but there is a wooden board in the water, so this is probably where we cross.

When you step on the board, it goes under the water, but only a few inches (not waist-deep as promised), but I do have wet shoes.  The path up the other side is not clearly marked, so I do wander a bit off course before I notice people who were behind me on a marked course.

At the first aid station (4.2M), I have managed 14:14 per mile, so I am currently under my goal pace.  Sort of meager pickin’s here – some pretzels, candy, potatoes – I end up having a red vine.

The 10 miler veers off from us and there is some more climbing, and more water crossings.  Some are “risky,” but none are deep, and at least one of them had a metal bridge going across, though part of the bridge was submerged (but only a few inches).  By the next aid station 3.7 miles along the course, we split off from the 50-mile course, which is heading up to Whitney Portal.  I slowed down a bit in this section to an 18:06 pace and just slightly behind the 15:00/mile average.

At this point, we get onto a wide fire-road which is heading downhill pretty significantly.  It’s not too technical, so I can actually run, gallop, and amble down.  It is a long, long downhill.

Now you may be asking why I would comment on how long the downhill was.  No doubt most people would be ecstatic about a long downhill, but so early on, it is a bit of a detriment to my running health in this race.  I don’t want to overextend myself, get my heart-rate too high, or blow out my quads.

Yes, dear reader, there are actually points on the downhill where I am stopping and walking downhill.  It helps me readjust my pace and not go down too fast.  I am back-and-forth with the brothers and fiancee on this section.  I am a pretty good downhill runner (long legs, you know), but just try to run as consistently as possible.

It’s mostly non-technical, though the ground is pretty wet in some sections, somewhat softer, somewhat muddy.

The next aid station is at the bottom of this hill, 4.5 more miles on, and I do an average of 10:47/mile.  (If you read enough of these, that’s fairly fast in an ultra.)  I am back to being under the 15:00/mile threshold.

From this aid station, we are now entering the Alabama Hills (where apparently a number of TV and movies have been filmed).  There is some climbing (not a ton) and then a descent , and then a turn onto a single-track.  A guy just ahead of me misses that turn and has to come back up the hill to turn.  This is the shortest section between aid stations, 2.2 miles and the combo of up and down enables me to do a 13:36 pace through here.

The wind has begun to pick up a bit and I do have to hold onto my hat at points.

Now back to the fire-road, but it is getting sandier by the minute (not that fond of sand), but I’ll take sand over really technical rocky stuff any day.  In the distance, I can see a trailer with radio antennae and an aid station and a number of signs.  I think this must be the split off from the marathon.  Sure enough, that’s the case.  A somewhat slower pace section here (3.2M in 53 minutes) but most of the upcoming trail looks flat, so maybe I’ll be able to jog it.

We head off towards some rock faces.  They look like cliffs, replete with people climbing them, except they are stand=alone, probably a great place for training to rock climb.

Then a left-hand turn away from that section.  It sort of seems like we are meandering around the area of the aid station, but when I see some folks that I haven’t seen since the start, I realize this is going to be a lo-ong loop.

The heat has increased, too, so I am not really running even though it is mostly flat, because I am getting hot.  The next aid station is a mere 2.3 miles off, so I am not going super slow (not uphill pace), but another 13:45/mile section.

Ooh, another left-hand turn… maybe we are heading back to the aid station, but no, back to the right and I can see the incoming trail back to the original aid station (and again, people I haven’t seen for some time).  We actually now go out to a paved road and follow that downhill for at least a half mile.  I can see where I am going for the next aid station, but it is close to enough to “touch,” but no way to jump off the road and into where it is located.

This section seems to go on forever, but I am rewarded by the sight of Dave Binder and his son. The son is doing what I want to be doing soon, which is lounging in a chair.  It is great to see a familiar face and we chat for a little bit, but I need to keep moving if I am to stay under the 15:00/mile pace.

Now it is a short jaunt back to the original aid station.  They seem to be packing up for the day, which is weird, because there are still 50-milers out there and there is another 9 hours left in the time limit.  OK, whatever.  They are still there for me, and I am headed on the homestretch, about 4 miles from here and just about an hour to make the 7:30 time.

It’s fire-road for part of the stretch, but then we move onto a horse-trail single-track that is really substantial “rolling” hills.  I will get something going on the downhill, and that is immediately negated by the ensuing uphill.  Also, the wind picked up markedly and I have to take off my hat or it will blow away (it almost blew off twice, but I have good reflexes).  This continues for about 2 sucky miles until the final aid station next to a giant American flag (waving like crazy).

I bust out into a rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” as I near and chat it up with the two “elderly” gentlemen manning the station (both are my age but gray-haired).  They have limited aid, but I can taste the finish line, just over 2.5 miles away.

Out of this aid station, steep downhill and out of the wind.  My pedantic pace in the wind and hills gives me just 18 minutes to do 2.5 miles (maybe possible if it was a road race and I was fresh).  Oh, well, at least I will be close to that goal.

I know we are finishing in the park across the street from the bus pick-up (where my car is parked) and I can see the Tuttle Creek Road to my right-hand side.  I thought I had heard in the past that you ran down the road to Hwy. 395, ran a little loop around the street area to make sure you got to 31.1 miles and then finished in the park, but I think they mentioned that we are going to finish through the park (maybe along the road and then into the park?).

There is a brief point when we do get onto the paved road, but I think this is so we can cross a bridge (easier than fording every stream), because immediately after, we go right back into the dirt and then get into a wooded area (by wooded, I mostly mean twigs all over the ground) which wends its way back and forth.

The highlight is an impassable water crossing.  The most direct route is straight through, but you can avoid it entirely and I do that, not wanting to finish in totally soaked shoes (I don’t think anyone went through the water.).

It’s very sudden, but you turn a couple of corners and then pop between a gap in a fence and I’m done.  7:45:45

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There are a few people hanging out here sitting on a small gazebo stage, two people at a timing/result table, and a small food table, which has peanuts, Red Vines, and cookies (basically the same food at the aid stations) – not exactly what I have a hankering for right now.  The medal is a ceramic piece with a hole for a rope or ribbon, but they don’t actually have a rope or ribbon (later, I loop fishing line through it so I can wear it).

My plan, because of the whole working at a race tomorrow, is to try and leave by 7pm and get into Santa Clarita by 10pm (to get a few hours of sleep but not have to hang out in my car for HOURS).  It’s around 1pm now, so why not hang out and watch people finish for a while?

There is one guy sitting in a camp chair (former Ridgecrest RD Chris Rios), so I go across the street and get my chair, and he gives me some of his beer and we hang out and watch people finish.

The first people I recognize are Rafael Covarrubias (formerly of LB, now back home in Tulare) and Thomas Kuerten (a German guy I have met on a few occasions).  They are in the 50 miler and have stories how they got to the Mile 45 aid station and no one was there and there was no signage, but that they knew the course decently enough to find their way to the finish (well, not directly, but close enough – maybe 2 extra miles).

A little later, another guy comes in from the wrong direction, running south on Hwy. 395.  He says he missed a turn, ran back by the Boy Scout aid station (probably Mile 10 on the 50K course) and then ended up on Hwy. 395 at some point.  His GPS says 62 miles, so Chris and I raise a toast to the first (ever) 100K finisher.

No one is really mad, per se, but it is frustrating that a major aid station disappeared with 8+ hours to go in the race. (And I almost feel like the CoC ladies would tell us, you should have run faster, to avoid that problem.)

As it starts to get dusky, I decide to leave for Santa Clarita.  I end up not eating anything (certainly not Red Vines) and have a nice drive back  (not too much traffic, don’t get too lost).  I pull into the Santa Clarita Mall around 10:30, right next to the staging area for the race.

I double-check with a security guard who tells me I am in the right location.  I tell him I will see him in a few hours and nap lightly in my car until my call time of 1:15am.

Turns out, I am working with Stacy Embretson, former AREC member, LA Marathon RD, and ultra-runner herself.  We set up signage in the first six miles, zip-tying vinyl signs to bike racks.  Once runners go through (race starts at 4am), we remove the signs and also remove the kilometer markers until we get passed by the other support vehicle (which turns out to be around 25 kilometers).  It is a very upper-body heavy workout after a very lower-body workout yesterday, but I earned some good money and got a nice hat (and shirt) to boot.

I get home by 10:30am on Sunday and don’t know whether to sleep or what.  (I just watch TV and try to relax.)

Will I run Wild Wild West again in 2018?  Thinking about it, thinking about maybe the 50 miler, especially as 2018 marks the 40th anniversary of this race, but if I had to choose between WWW and Bishop, I would opt for Bishop because it was better run, and a bit more scenic.