Sunday, October 5, 2014
Like many, I first learned about ultrarunning by reading Dean Karnazes' book "Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner." Before that, I wasn't even aware that people ran further than 26.2 miles, or that this whole world of trail and ultra running existed. I started spending less time on bike paths and roads and more time on the trails around Mt. Tam, and even entered a few local, shorter trail races. But I really give my buddy Jim Hammond both blame and credit, depending on what mile I'm at in a race, for my entry into ultrarunning. At the time I was training for the San Francisco Marathon, my first, when he mentioned a 36 mile race up in Tahoe later that summer that he wanted to do together. I figured "why not?", and in September of 2009 I found myself at The Lake of the Sky trail run heading out on the Tahoe Rim Trail with forty or so other brave souls (most notably a speedy youngster by the name of Rory Bosio).
I struggled mightily through that race but gutted out an emotional finish. Afterward, injuries and life conspired to interrupt my running for awhile. But Jim kept at it and in 2012 he gained entry into a little race called Western States - on his first time entering the lottery, no less! I had the honor of crewing for him at Robinson Flat and pacing him from Michigan Bluff to Green Gate. After experiencing the amazing spectacle that is Western States, capped off by watching him cross that finish line at Placer High with less than five minutes to spare on the thirty hour cutoff, I was officially hooked. I was going to run 100 miles from Squaw to Auburn some day.
My running picked up again from that point, and in 2013 I finished both American River 50M and Dick Collins Firetrails 50M with qualifying times for the 2014 Western States. Like most others with a single ticket in the drum, the lottery was unkind to me in December. Needing another qualifier for the 2015 lottery and with the desire to step up to the 100 mile distance, I signed up for Pine to Palm at 12:01 AM on January 1st.
So, in a nutshell, that's how I ended up in Williams, OR, on September 13th of 2014, ready to run 100 miles to the finish in Ashland. As I indicated in my race report, Jim helped to crew and paced me for the final 26 miles, and was a huge part of getting me to the finish. He also documented everything with his trusty GoPro camera, and combined with some footage and pictures from my iPhone and others he put together a video of my journey and those that helped me along the way. What an amazing gift to have my first 100 mile experience captured like this. I'm not ashamed to say that in the several hours since he sent it I've watched it over and over, with watery eyes every time. Thanks Jimmy.
I will not surrender.