130 Days – The 2014 Old Goat 50

There’s something simultaneously wonderful and terrifying about lining up at the start line of a race 100% ready.  You trained hard, you’re uninjured, you’re ready.  Wonderful because in a busy life, that is so hard to pull off.  Terrifying because you have nothing to blame it on if shit goes sideways.  This was one of these days.  I was ready to run my qualifier for the AC100.

Monte, Dawn, Chris and I met at Team CrossFit Academy at 4am on Saturday for our commute to the Old Goat 50 Miler.  It was about an hour drive and as soon as we arrived it was a reunion of great friends.  Steve Harvey is the race director and always does an amazing job and definitely draws a crowd of some of the best ultrarunners in our community!  The last minute course change didn’t seem to scare anyone off.  The final 30 miles of the old course was currently inaccessible to emergency vehicles so we were rerouted back on single track trails instead.  You will see the irony in this later in the story.

We took off and I felt great.  Chris and Dawn went ahead as Monte and I ran together.  Granted, Monte was not on his ‘A’ game but I still felt pretty awesome about being able to run with him.  He said he wasn’t feeling too great and I told him just to stick with me and we would get through it together.  Visions of the day started manifesting in my mind of Monte and I conquering the course together, me teaching him what to eat at the aid stations and trouble shooting issues, while he pushed me to run through some of the tougher sections as the day progressed and the pain set in.  Of course, Chris and Dawn would be finished but we’d catch them by surprise at how well we had done, finishing around 11 -12 hours, with a finish line team high five photo worthy of Ultrarunning Magazine.  Yes, this day was going to be perfect!

We were 6 miles in to our first 11 mile loop when I spotted something strange in the trail ahead.  It looked like someone was laying down.  As I got closer, I saw several people standing around the person, and I realized it was my friend Pam.  I bent down next to her as she pointed at her ankle.  “I heard it snap,” she said helplessly.  Monte joined us within a few seconds.  We shared a look and a nod that immediately told each other that our race was over, and the goal was now to get Pam to safety.

Luckily, the next person to join our small group was a man named Nick, an ultrarunner/paramedic.  He helped us create a splint with a few sticks and bandanas.  I pulled him aside and asked him if it was safe for us to try to move her.  We were over 4 miles out from vehicle access and there was nowhere to land a helicopter out here.  Somehow we had to get her out.  He told me it was, so I talked to the others with us and we decided to carry her out.  Among the group were some of my favorites in the community, Louis, Lori, Susan, among others like our new really strong  friend John who carried her by himself through some tougher sections.  It was an amazing team effort as we passed her from person to person, the non-carriers supporting the carriers by helping with camelbaks and water bottles.  Although I don’t think that the group of us did anything differently than anyone else in our community would have in our position, it was incredible to watch this group give up their race with no hesitation.  I smiled realizing that all this strength training I had done getting ready for this race actually served a purpose much greater than what I’d had planned for it.  I was able to help carry my friend to safety.  There is no greater gift my coaches could have given me.

Once we got Pam in, Monte and I decided that we would continue on for the 50k.  At first, I wanted to try to attempt the full 50 miles, but our 11 mile trek had worn me down and put me too far behind the curve.  Monte and I finished the 50k just in time to see our teammates finish the 50 miler.  Chris placed 5th overall and Dawn placed 2nd female overall.  We’d all had a successful day, in very different ways!

The community could not have been more generous to me after the race.  Steve offered me entry into the Chimera 100 and my friends David and June immediately found me another 50 mile AC100 qualifier near to where they live and offered me a place to stay.  Successful race finishes are wonderful, but nothing beats the unexpected adventures that happen during any given race, and the wonderful people that come into your life because of them.

Rest up and feel better soon, Pam!  There may be a day where you have to carry one of us off a trail.  And I know you will be up for the task!

 

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