07 November 2010

Antelope Island 100k Race Report

On the "beach" around mile 43.  Photo:  By incredible photographer, Greg Norrander.

The Antelope Island 100k trail run popped up on calendars a few months ago. I knew Jim Skaggs puts on great events (Buffalo 50 Miler and 50k) and it had been nearly two years since I enjoyed his wife's buffalo chili, so I decided to run this new event of Jim's. Not to mention I had a deep interest in getting two monkeys off my back: 1. I dropped out of Miwok 100k in May, so still needed to complete a race of that distance and 2. I dropped out of the 50 miler on Antelope Island last year. DNFs are miserable and I've learned it's best just to finish if possible (Miwok was a serious injury that could've lasted a long time if I pursued finishing, by the way...).

The 100k was supposed to be a follow up , six weeks afterward, to the Bear 100 miler. Due to my impatient and spontaneous nature I registered and ran the Deadman Peaks 50 Miler two weeks ago. I bounced back from that quickly, so I thought. A few days after Deadman I started feeling weak and achy with the anterior ankle/shin pain, brought on by the Bear race, emerging to round out the maladies.

Regardless, I was registered, rearranged my work schedule, and was trying to earn some sort of sponsorship that matched my needs and beliefs in company sponsors, so I had to race this weekend.

The morning I was to leave for Utah I sat on the edge of my bed debating whether or not to go. Even for the first four hours of the drive I nearly turned around a few times.

Pippit obviously did not want me to go to Utah.

Finally I made it to Layton, UT and showed up on race morning simply going through the motions, no nervousness, no fretting, just going about things as though I was getting ready for a day at work.

I wandered over to the start just as Jim was counting down, and we were off!

In my scattered state of mind I left my headlamp at the house I was staying at for the race, so I was now in for over an hour and a half in pitch black darkness. A loose group of four of us made our way up the long first climb. I just ran behind and off to one side of different guys, borrowing their light. This worked fine on the ascents and flats but was useless on the steep, rocky descents. I just did the best I could running soft-footed and rolling my ankles about every fifth foot fall.

Finally, we made our way down to the "beach". I put it in quotations because "beach" conjures up fine, white, warm sand under full glowing sun with the soft scent of the ocean's waves lulling you into a dreamy smile. This beach is on the Great Salt Lake. It was still black night out, cold, and the stench (somewhere between dead fish and salty sewer) would make you gag if you weren't already too preoccupied with trying not to fall over or lose a shoe in the gloppy muck that enveloped nearly up to your knees. An hour and a half into an entire day of running and my legs were soaked with the smelliest, coldest water imaginable. I considered quitting right there but then figured the other two guys I was with, Brian Beckstead and Scott Dickey, were in the same mess, so I'd just see how it played out for a while.

Sunrise around mile 10 with Scott leading, then Brian, and me tagging along (Photo from BrianBeckstead's blog)

Scott slipped away on the giant climb up from the beach ("beach"). Brian and I ran within 100 meters of one another for the next ten miles, then he pulled away while I busied myself being miserable with body aches and general bad attitude. I was a bit surprized to reach the halfway (50k) point in 4 hrs 40 mins with Scott having just left and Brian just leaving the aid station as I entered it. For some reason this still didn't light any competitive fire in me like it normally would. It did, however, coax me just enough to continue on for the 2nd half just to see what would happen. I dropped off my McDavid arm sleeves and gloves, grabbed my gels and bottle of secret mix and meandered off in listless pursuit of Brian.

[caption id="attachment_690" align="aligncenter" width="490" caption="Approaching halfway (31 miles) aid station. Photo: Sandy White"]

Leaving 31 mile aid station and starting second half of race. Photo: Sandy White"

It was uneventful for the next 25 miles, albeit abnormally hot with the sun beating down and the lake stench triggering my gag reflex. I kept getting splits from the abundant aid stations. Scott, in the lead, had 15-17 mins on me and Brian had 6-10 mins. I didn't really care through those miles but like doing the math of splits and pace and distance to go.

At mile 53 I got a split on Brian of about 10 mins up on me. At mile 57 I saw him at the aid station and timed his departure and my arrival - only 1 min 30 secs elapsed. Within three minutes I was right behind him and then he pulled off the trail and sat on a rock. I offered him salt tablets and gels but he said he already took them. So, I ran off now in 2nd place. My only interest now was to make sure Brian's gels and salt tabs didn't kick in enough to enable him to catch me before the finish.

Cramping uncontrollably, I crossed the finish in 10 hrs 23 mins, a full 55 minutes behind winner, Scott Dickey's great run. My second 50k took me an embarrassing 5 hrs and 43 mins...

Just after the finish...

McDavid compression sleeves caked in sweat salt. "

I consoled myself with three helpings of Mrs. Skaggs' buffalo chili and Jim's home brewed beer while catching up with friend Aric Manning and chatting with Scott and Brian, both great guys and runners.

Thanks to Jim Skaggs for putting on quality events. Thanks to the kind folks who gave me a comfortable place to stay. Thanks to McDavid for the compression gear that has enabled me to race a 100 miler, a 50 miler, and a 100k in just the last six weeks. Their compression clothing has won me over for sure.

What's next? Maybe the North Face 50 mile Championship in San Francisco in four weeks. I'll have to evaluate things in a few days to figure it out.