Sunday, June 23, 2019

River of No Return 108k - Race Report

The whole event and weekend was an awesome experience.  My wife, daughter and dog drove up and met my parents at the Challis Hotsprings Campground.  My good old running friend from Oregon, Eric, whom I haven’t seen in too long, was there with his wife, daughters and parents as well.  The weather was perfect and Elissa and I both got to race due to my generous parents coming out to see us and watch Penny and Bo while we ran, and crew me for 12+ hours.  The highlight of my race was coming into Bayhorse Lake aid station with my three year old, Penny, running in beside me for 100 yards or so.

Eric and I drove to the 5am start and we took off with the lead runners in the dim glow of morning.  A group of five or so of us ran together into the first aid station at mile 16.  A mile into the climb out of the aid station I passed Luke Garten, and took the lead.  I kept the lead for the next 37 miles, running all by myself.  I did a good job of not pushing it and just keeping it in cruise control.  Little did I know that Luke was dealing with cramping and this was holding him back most of this time.  My plan was to take it relatively easy early on and have enough gas in the tank to charge hard up the last climb starting at mile 50.  I climbed well the first mile or two up this seven-mile climb, only to get nauseous and light headed and I succumbed to a lot of hiking and slowing way down.  I had been seeing elk tracks and bear prints in the mud all day and suddenly I heard foot-prints behind me, I jumped, turned around and saw Luke had caught me here at mile 54.  I stuck with him the next three miles up to the aid station.  His dad was at the aid station and asked, “are you guys going to finish together?”  I replied, “Hell no!... but I’m not sure who’s going to win.”  

From here it was a 14-mile descent to the finish.  I frantically rushed through the aid station and took off sprinting down the rocky dirt road.  Luke was maybe a minute back.  We’re both better at running downhill than up and I thought we were in for an awesome battle to the finish.  Then I had to stop and puke for a while.  Luke blazed past, not to be seen again until the grassy finish at the Challis Park.  I ran down to the next aid and got some water, 5 miles from the finish, tried to put down a gel but immediately puked it up.  I shuffled down into town, glad to not have anyone else pass me.  It was a relief to cross the finish line (in 12:36), be with my family and congratulate Luke on his well-deserved win only 5 minutes back of the course record.  I’m sure he would have smoked me by more than he did, if it weren’t for his miles of cramping early on.  We both grew up in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains of Northern California.  We raced the Bishop High Sierra 100k together five years ago and finished first and second in that race is well.  I got the better of him back then, but he dominated up here in Idaho.  Maybe we'll run a rematch race in 5 years?

Luke, myself, Ben Bucklin (last year's 108k champ.)

I highly recommend the River of No Return Endurance Runs.  It was the best-marked course I have ever run.  The aid stations were all well stocked and super helpful.  The scenery was beautiful.  The food and beverages at the finish were delicious and plentiful.  It was challenging and hopefully good preparation for my upcoming 100 mile race, more so than running a 100k race that would have taken me 9 hours to finish.  In addition to the 108K course that I ran, my wife ran the 54k race and they have a 29k option as well.  Thank you Paul Lind and family for putting on such a well run event!  Congratulations to Elissa for her 4th place finish in the 54k and to our friend Darla Askew for winning the 108k!  

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