Thanks for visiting my blog. This is where I document and share all of my running adventures with my friends and fellow runners. The good, the bad, and the unquestionably painful. All for your entertainment! Enjoy!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

2012 Javelina Jundred: Fun in the Sun!

This was my second journey to Southern Arizona to run the Javelina Jundred trail race. It found its way onto my race schedule again because I had so much fun last year and the race has such a festive atmosphere. 

The 2011 Javelina Jundred saw a massive amount of attrition due to hypothermic inducing weather conditions. This years race brought quite the opposite, with temperatures reaching scorching highs on the desert floor which forced many runners to drop due to dehydration and other heat related maladies. 

Start/Finish Area

The Javelina Jundred is a 101.4 mile race, which consists of six 15.4 mile loops and a 9 mile finish loop. The monotony of the loops is broken up a little because we change direction after each loop.

The trail is a fair mix of smooth Jeep roads, double track and single track trails. There is a decent amount of somewhat technical trail, littered with an ample number of pointy rocks for a runner to kick and stumble over along the way.

Honey Badger Don't Care!

 This race always draws a fairly large field of elite runners. I assume it's because this is a course that lends itself to being faster than most. One of the coolest things about our sport is that we get a chance to compete with the elite athletes in the same arena. Not many other sports allow this. For example, you'll never find yourself golfing against Tiger Woods. But I have raced alongside, and against, almost every elite ultra runner in the country today.

Hal Koerner. One of the top distance runners in the world and an all around great guy.

I also got to meet one of the top female ultra runners in the world. Jenn Shelton has posted the fastest female 100 mile finish time in the United States. She's super tough and very cool. I had wanted to meet her for years and finally got my chance this weekend.

Jenn Shelton before the race.

I was a little concerned about this race because my body was still shot from the Oil Creek 100, which I had run two weeks earlier. Oil Creek boasts almost 18,000 feet of climbing and I had pushed that race pretty hard. Running 100 mile trail races so close together is difficult, especially if you want to run them hard. Which I planned to do.

I had a very aggressive race plan for Javelina, which I realized may be for too aggressive. I kept reminding my crew that there was a very high probability that I would fall well short of my goals. As a "Plan B" I was prepared to have a sub-24 hour finish, and I would pretend to be happy with that.

It was very cool at the start of the race. Perfect running weather, which means it's too cold to enjoy while standing still, but will feel great once we get moving.

6 AM Race Start! Spoiler ALERT: The shirtless dude on the right wins the race. But please read on.

My plan was to start slowly and settle into an easy pace for the first loop. This plan works well when I actually employ it. However, I almost never have the discipline to keep a slow pace. And today was no exception.

I found myself running with Jenn Shelton for the first mile or so. We exchanged a few words and she eventual faded behind me. I slowly worked my way through the crowd of runners and settled into a spot further up in the pack.

This race has three distinct groups of runners. Up front, you have the elite runners shooting for a 14 hour finish. Then behind them, you have the pedestrian runners that simply want to do well. And in the rear, you'll find the runners that are wearing costumes. I have nothing bad to say about wearing a costume at this race. The race is designed for this type of fun. But I can firmly assert that I have never been passed by a runner in a costume. Maybe it's the increased drag?

At the mid point of the loop, we hit a section of rolling single track and most of us had to slow down to navigate it. It was at this point that Jenn Shelton caught me and blew right past me.

Near the end of the first loop, there's a very long, but gentle downhill slope. It's almost too subtle to see, but you can definitely feel it pull your body along at a faster pace. The group I was in ran this section at a ridiculously brisk pace. I almost dropped to the back and let them go, but the need to compete compelled me forward with the pack.

I finished the first 15.4 mile loop almost a minute per mile faster than my plan. I vowed to run more responsibly after that. Especially now that the sun was up and it was beginning to get hot out.

My buddy Dave Clark finishing his first loop

Jenn Shelton finishing her first loop

Me coming in after my first loop.

By the time I started the second loop, it was nearing 80 degrees with only 7% humidity. The air was just sucking moisture out of my body and I was drinking heavily to fight off dehydration. I was carrying two handheld bottles and was sucking them dry between aid stations. Even with that, I could feel I was getting behind on my hydration.

Despite that, I was running well and making up a lot of time on my race plan. By the end of the second loop, I was nearly 30 minutes ahead of my plan. Part of me wanted to give that time back and slow down for fear of blowing up, but I just continued to run at whatever pace seemed appropriate based on how my body felt.

Finishing Loop #2

The 3rd loop turned out to be brutal. The sun was high in the cloudless sky and the entire trail is fully exposed to the sun. By this point, I was draining my handheld bottles, plus drinking heavily at the aid stations before heading out. The heat of the day began to take its toll on the runner's and people began to drop from the race. I focused on slowing my pace and doing whatever needed to be done to keep things held together.

Near the end of the 3rd loop, I began to fantasize about the luxurious feeling of drinking an ice cold Coke. I couldn't get that image out of my head. I was tortured by the soothing thought of it.

Finishing loop #3, getting ready to hand my bottles off to Jo for a refill.

Drinking that ice cold Coke that was calling my name while Jo spreads ice water over my body

Hal finishing his 4th loop, now a full 15 miles ahead of me

The 4th loop was much the same, but the heat was a little less intense now that the sun was coming from a slightly lower angle. I knew I would finish well if I could make it through this loop.

The end of the 4th loop marks 100k completed and it's also when I get to pick up my pacer for the last 40 miles. In tough race conditions, a good pacer can make all the difference.

Coming to the end of the 4th loop

Thirsty, tired, but still 20 minutes ahead of my plan

I was happy to trade my handheld bottles for my hydration pack. After 11 hours of carrying them along the trail, my shoulders and forearms were beginning to ache. It's amazing how heavy 22 ounces can be after being forced to pack it around for so long.

I grabbed my pacer, Dan Collins, and we headed out into the desert together for 40 more miles of running.

Me and Dan heading out

Dan and I ran well together and we kept a brisk pace for the entire loop. We passed a lot of runner's but with the loop format, I couldn't tell if they were ahead of us or behind us. Either way, we kept rolling along, gaining even more time on the race plan.

We finished that loop faster than I had finished the previous lap by myself. Solid evidence of the value of a good pacer.

Our 6th loop was noticeably slower. Fatigue was really beginning to set in and I resigned myself to it. I was well ahead of my plan and that's all I cared about. I was going to have a solid finish and that was all I needed.

Until we finished the 6th loop and I was told we were in 9th place overall...this changed everything!!

Leading up to that moment, I had no idea where I was in the race. If I had to guess, I would say I was maybe in the top 30 or 40, which is excellent in a race that size. But top 10?! I had no idea. Now I became obsessed with holding my spot.

I knew there were some runners behind me that would want to improve their position and we could easily be pushed right out of the top 10. We still had 9 miles to run and that was plenty of time for anything to happen. I had never finished in the top 10 of a 100 mile race and I needed to capitalize on this opportunity.

As Dan and I ran that final section of the race, I began to beat myself up for wasting so much time during the race. A few minutes here and there adds up and now I was in a position to defend my tenuous finishing place because I was so unconcerned about it all day long.

I vowed to never let that happen again.

Dan and I ran hard and spoke very little. My mind was firmly fixed on the task at hand and our goal was to put distance between us and the runners chasing us. My body was destroyed and I was asking for it to give me even more.

At the 98 mile mark, I asked Dan if he thought we would get caught by the people behind us. He chuckled and replied that with our pace, it would be highly unlikely. I don't wear a GPS watch when I race, so I was entirely unaware that we were pushing an 8:30 pace at this point. If you've ever a 100 mile race, you'll know that's a blistering pace at the 98 mile mark.

I was running hard...motivated by fear. I need to employ fear more often in my races.

Just shy of the 99 mile mark, Dan and I passed another runner. It turned out to be the 1st place female in the race. I knew she was out there somewhere, but I had lost track of her. When we passed her, I looked over to Dan and said "Welcome to 8th place!"

Not only were we defending our position, we were improving it.

Now that we were assured a top 10 spot, I began to focus on a sub 20 hour finish. When I told Dan about my plan, I could see him trying to reconcile my wish with the reality which was being displayed on his Garmin. I sensed that he had doubts about it, although he never verbalized them.

We continued to push the pace all the way to the finish and crossed the line at 19:48:50 as the 8th place finisher!!

Me and Dan right after the race

Now I have a matching set!

You never know what might happen when you start a 100 mile race. Some days go exactly according to plan, some days are a total disaster. And on the rarest of occasions, the results are better than expected. This was one of those days.

This race is a perfect example of why I view ultra running as a team sport. I couldn't do any of this on my own. It takes a dedicated and talented crew to get me to the finish line. When I have Jo working hard to take care of me, and I have a great pacer, my race almost always turns out well.

Dan Collins did an amazing job handling me on the trail for 40 miles. I owe him more than I can ever repay. Pacing is not an easy job and it's hard to find just the right person for it. I've been very fortunate in my last two races to be paired with such excellent runners.

With Javelina behind us, Jo and are will be hiking and trail running our way through the Southwest as we head to Moab for the Moab Trail Marathon next weekend. It should be another epic journey.

Thanks for reading. Happy Trails!!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Runner's World Half & Festival: 3 Races, 2 Days...Many Beers Drank

The title pretty much sums it up, so I could probably stop right there but I still feel the need to elaborate to some degree.

Before I get into the race report, I first want to thank all the awesome people that follow my blog and came up to introduce themselves to me this weekend. I met so many great runners that had such inspiring stories to share with me. By nature, I'm a very introverted person, so I never really know how to react when readers come up to meet me. But please know that all of you are an inspiration to me and I'm extremely grateful for your support. It means more to me than you'll ever know.

It's important to note that I am NOT much of a road runner. I run road races like I run trail races. This means I stare at my feet the entire time, maneuvering around potholes, manholes, and all kinds of...other ...holes. I probably look out of place and I know I feel out of place. However, it's nice to switch things up on occasion and remind myself why I prefer to run in the woods versus the streets. Running fast, however you define it, is a painful pursuit.

The Runner's World Half & Festival happened to fall on a weekend between two 100 mile trail races, so Jo and I decided to go hang out for the weekend and run a few road races with the great folks from Runner's World. The schedule included a 5K and 10K on Saturday and a Half Marathon on Sunday. This is really ideal for me because it allowed me to loosen up my legs from the Oil Creek 100 before heading to Arizona for the Javelina Jundred.

The race venue for the weekend was the refurbished Bethlehem Steel Company site. It's a perfect blend of modern comfort and Gothic art. The steel plant is mostly in its original form and it dominates the landscape in a beautiful and powerful way. It's a relic of an industrial age that is long gone from this region, but its remains a focal point and source of pride for this community.

Bethlehem Steel Stacks at Dawn

I would be lying if I said I know how to run a 5K. I honestly don't know how to do it. I don't train for it and I avoid speed work at all costs. Yet here I am, getting ready to run one. I would rather line up for a 50 miler than a 5K. Seriously. These races intimidate me.

Me on my way to the race start. I definitely look like an ultra runner. I'm carrying too much crap!

Jo and I lined up for the race. I plugged in some music and we were off! At first I ran too fast, then settled into a pace that felt too slow, then after a bit of running, I found a fit looking runner and fell in behind him, but eventually lost him while I was staring at my feet. I eventually decided to run at a pace that seemed to be slightly below my vomiting threshold and I stuck with that.

In an uncharacteristic move I was wearing my Garmin 905, but made a conscious decision to totally ignore it. I wanted to run by feel, which at this point meant that I wanted to run hard, but not hard enough to barf. I spent $450 on this watch and I'm regulating my pace by noting when I might puke. Money well spent, Kelly!

Another view of the stacks

Things settled down around mile 2 and I was beginning to enjoy the run when a runner came over my right shoulder and passed me. This was an unusually fit looking runner and it took me a minute to realize it was Dean Karanzes. As Dean passed me, I slid in behind him and locked onto his pace, matching him step for step. He was running hard, but I knew I could keep up with him and maybe sneak past him. As we approached a right turn in the road, Dean suddenly veered OFF the course, cut across the sidewalk, through the grass and bolted past a small group of runners in front of us.

Dean Karnazes CUT THE COURSE!

Please understand, this was only a 3 or 4 second detour, but in a 5K, that's a lifetime. I was a little shocked to say the least. Dean is an ambassador of the sport and he just snaked a bunch of recreational runners out of their well earned finish place.

I'll carry that memory for the rest of my life. Well done Dean! You beat us!

I finished my 5K in 22:50ish and was happy to be done. Like I always say...I'm not fast and this is merely more evidence of that.

I waited around for Jo to finish her 5K, then we rested with friends for a while before heading back out on the course for the 10K.

This may sound odd, but this was my first ever 10K. And I was a little nervous.

When I'm running, but don't really feel like I want to run, I have an uncanny ability of turning my music on while I turn my brain off. This trick has got me through a lot of races in the past and was a big part of my strategy for this weekend. But as I walked to the start line of the 10K, I realized I left my music in my pack at the bag check. I was totally screwed. This meant I would have to focus on the run while trying to tune out the noise of the runners around me. Bad news for me.

I paced the 10k slightly slower than the 5k and settled into what seemed like a reasonable pace. All the while, keeping a sharp eye out for Karnazes and his course cutting ways! I was so focused on my feet and Dean, that the race flew by and I was done before I knew it. I finished in 47:00ish minutes, which is obviously my new 10k PR!!!

While waiting for Jo to finish her race, I ran into fellow trail/ultra runner, Sara Brunazzi. I know Sara from her race reports and other online commentary and I was excited to meet her in person. She's a great runner and an awesome young lady. Keep up the good work Sara!

Me with Jo and Sara at the finish of the 10k

Another cool pick of the stacks

After a full morning of running road races, it was time to soak my legs, and the rest of my body in some ice...cold BEER!

Jo and I enjoying the beer garden. Late morning beers are the best!!!

This is a point that I think road runners and trail runners differ on. A lot of road runners I know will avoid drinking alcohol leading up to a race, and most trail runners I know will practically soak themselves in it. Given a choice, I'll soak myself in it, which is what I did right after the Saturday races.

After a liberal beer soaking and eating binge, Jo and I were well rested and ready to run the half marathon on Sunday. The rumors suggested the course would be very hilly for the first 7 or 8 miles, then mostly downhill to the finish. I silently wondered what "HILLY" meant. Was it Hardrock 100 hilly? Or Boston Marathon hilly? Hilly is definitely a matter of perspective.

I was sure to bring my music for the half marathon. When the race started, I turned the music on and turned the brain off. I set out at an even, easy pace and ran a 8:24 for the first mile. This would be my slowest mile of the race. I locked onto a very comfortable stride and stayed with it for the entire 13 miles with my fastest mile split coming at mile 10. I ran the same pace up hill and on the down hill. I never felt winded or uncomfortable and I just rode it all the way to the finish. It was ALMOST enjoyable. I finished in 1:47, which is about 15 minutes slower than my PR, but I was happy with the solid, easy feel of the race.

I went to the finish and waited on Jo while cheering on other runners. It's fun watching the excitement of the finish. For a lot of these runner's this is the culmination of months of training and preparation. They've lived for this moment and it's a very big deal to them. I love being a part of it and seeing the excitement unfold at the finish.

My buddy Bart Yasso working the finish line

I was excited to see my beautiful bride finish another great race. I'm always proud to see her come across the finish line and she always has a smile on her face.

Jo rocking a solid finish at the Half Marathon!

This is a picture of Janet Oberholtzer finishing the half marathon. Janet is a local runner that was seriously injured in an accident and almost lost her left leg. She wrote a great book about her experience called "Because I Can" and she's an inspiration to many people. I'm always moved by her determination.

Good job Janet! 

After the third and final race of the weekend, it was time to start my taper for the JJ100, which requires copious quantities of beer. Jo and I met up with the DURT crew at a local bar for post race fueling. These are some of the greatest friends we've ever had and we're blessed to have them in our lives.

An unusual amount of the post race discussion revolved around the scenery from the race course. As I said earlier, all I ever really see during a race is my feet, so I couldn't really contribute to the discussion. But there was a lot of giggling and whispering about the cemetery that we passed (which I never saw) and some specific headstone that the ladies paid particular attention to.

This Headstone

I'll just let your imagination run wild and leave it at that.

(Insert dick joke here)

Post race with the D.U.R.T. crew (Dumbass Ultra Running Team).

As an ultra runner, whenever I run short distance races people always say the same thing..."This must be like a warm up for you" (or some variation). In reality, these races are just as hard as any other race I run. Any distance, if run properly and at your potential, is a hard race. 5k's hurt when you run them hard and 100 mile races hurt. Obviously, the pain is short lived with a shorter race, but it's still hard and I'll never say a 5k or a half marathon is easy. If it's easy, then I'm not doing it right and I'm not giving it my best shot. Sure, running 13 miles isn't hard for me, but racing 13 miles is brutal.

Given the circumstances, running on tired legs and being cautious of my upcoming 100 miler, I did run as fast as I was comfortable with. I could have run much faster, but only at the expense of my next race. So all things considered, this is all I had to give.

Jo and I are excited to get back to Arizona for another amazing and entertaining run at the Javelina Jundred. I want to thank Bart and Laura Yasso, and all the people that made this race weekend so memorable. It was a really well run event that will definitely become a popular race for years to come.

Now time to get off the asphalt and back to where I belong!

Happy Trails!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Oil Creek 100: Cold, Wet, and Amazing

Jo and I traveled to Titusville, Pennsylvania this weekend so I could run the Oil Creek 100 mile trail race. We were being joined by a large group of our local running friends, many of whom would be running their first 100 mile race. We were particularly happy to be spending this race weekend with our friends, because due to our upcoming move, it may be the last time to enjoy the company of these great people for a long time.

Packet pickup was held at the start area of the race. This race uses the local middle school to stage the event, which works out well because we have access to all the amenities. It's a rare treat to be able to use a warm, well lit bathroom right before a race starts.

Swag and Bib

The 100 mile race got underway at 5:00 AM on Saturday morning. It was a brisk 27 degrees at race time and nobody was anxious to be milling around at the start line any longer than necessary. So the entire field was huddled up in the school cafeteria, waiting until the last possible minute to go outside.

 Me and Leon laughing about something before the race. Probably my race plan.

This is our group, proudly representing our running club, D.U.R.T. (Dumbass Ultra Running Team). Lou D'Onofrio, Bob Bodkin, Me, Leon Lutz, Ron Kappus and Austin Sedicum. (Gary Long somehow missed out on the TEAM photo)

Oil Creek has a pretty cool race format. It's essentially three 50k loops, with a fourth small loop at the end. There are four main aid stations along the loop and some unmanned water stops between the main aid stations. Our crews can access the Petroleum Center aid station in the middle of the course and again at the main aid station located back at the school. This format makes for a very easy race to manage for planning and logistics.

Oh yeah...before I forget, there's also a daunting 17,785 feet of elevation GAIN.

A few minutes before 5:00 AM, the race director began shoving us out the door to the start line. I had debated my clothing choices for hours and decided to wear my usual warm weather running gear, and a light windbreaker which I would shed early in the race. It was brutally cold outside but thankfully, we didn't have to wait long to get moving.

Race start!

Everybody in our group had their own strategy, so we all slowly parted ways as the race started and I lost track of everybody. And evidently Leon lost track of time. After returning from a very last minute bathroom break, he came outside and realized the race started without him!

Leon piecing things together. "They left me!"

The race starts out on pavement for more than a mile, then transitions to single track trail. This is ideal for allowing the group to spread out before the conga line bogs us all down in the woods. As we ran, I began to warm up to a comfortable level and started to settle into a nice, easy pace.

Once we got to the trail, I realized I was behind a slower group of runners but decided to ride it out for a while. There was no need to be greedy this early in the race. But there were less patient runners behind me that started to make moves to work passed us "slower" runners. Suddenly, a runner flew in from my right and cut me off. I was instantly annoyed, especially because this runner was laughing about it. I was mightily pissed until I noticed long tufts of beard flowing over his shoulders and realized it was Leon. He had recovered from his earlier potty brake snafu and managed to weave his way up to me.

Leon and I carried on for several miles, telling jokes and making fun of ourselves. It was a genuinely fantastic time. We reached the first aid station at the 7 mile mark, grabbed a couple things and took off again.

Our next stop came at mile 14. This is where we would have access to our crew for the first time. About halfway to that aid station, it got light enough to turn the headlamps off. My pace quickened as the sun came up and gave me a better view of the trail.

Coming into the Petroleum Center aid station

 I was in great spirits and was having a blast. I met Jo and she filled my bottles while I grabbed some food from the aid station table. I was slightly behind my anticipated split time for this stop, so I tried to make it quick.

Leon using the heater to thaw the ice off his beard

Me and Leon leaving Petroleum Center. If memory serves me correctly, Leon was letting loose with a battle cry in this picture. "Too infinity and beyond!!!!" At least that's what I think he was saying.

Leon and I ran together, and began to pass several runners as we went along. Like I said earlier, we all had our own strategies for this race and I was inadvertently sucking Leon into my race plan. As much as I wanted to run with him, we decided to part ways at the Miller Farm aid station at mile 22. This was his first 100 miler and he needed to be cautious in his approach and I agree with that decision. But I knew I was going to miss my buddy out on the trail.

After parting ways with Leon, I was heading to the end of the first 50k loop. The sun was finally warming me up and I was still feeling really strong and was in a great mood.

 Finishing the first loop

 Leon right on my tail

Gary running strong after 31 miles

I finished this first loop behind schedule so I wasted no time getting in and out of the aid station. I fueled up, got a quick kiss from my bride, then headed back to the trail.

The second loop got off to a better start because I didn't have to contend with the darkness in the early miles. With the sun up, it was a much faster trail and I was making up some of my time. By the time I got back to the Petroleum Center aid station, I had made up my lost time and was still feeling great.

Coming to the 45 mile aid station

I was in and out fast, carrying a handful of PB&J sandwiches

I had mentally broken this race down into it's natural segments, with my focus on getting to the 100k mark back at the school. I'm generally pretty strong up to this point in a 100 mile race and knew I would be picking up my pacer to help me get to the finish. I really believed if I could get to my pacer while I still felt strong, then I would be able to finish well. That remained my focus.

Coming to the 100k mark, being tracked by my pacer on the way in 

My race plan called for me finishing the first 100k in 13 hours. I beat that time by 10 minutes and was still feeling great.

The sun would be setting before I had access to my crew again, so I prepared for night running. I slid my arm warmers on, traded my visor for a hat and grabbed my hydration pack. I had a light jacket packed along with my headlamp and extra batteries. Jo and I have done this so many times, it was all second nature.

Me and Jo before I headed out for my last 50k loop

Jason Howland was my pacer for this race. Jason did some pacing at this race last year and is a very capable runner. While we had never run together before, I was confident that it would be a good experience.

Me and Jason heading to the trail

It took Jason a few miles to settle into my slower pace. We immediately fell into conversation and the miles ticked by. I was walking all the hills at this stage of the race even though I still felt good. I just had no interest in ruining what had been a great race so far. My knees were getting sore and there was some fatigue in my legs, but things were holding together better than expected.

It slowly began to rain during this leg of the race. The rain gradually increased as we ran through the night, turning some sections of the trail into a muddy nightmare. Just a little salt in the wound...

Running in the night with an exhausted mind can be a tricky thing. Every sudden rush of sound in the trees can sometimes scare the crap out of you as it jolts your brain into reality. During our time together, Jason and I were almost attacked by a small group of deer, a bat tried to eat my face off, and Jason was charged by what he described as a "woodchuck". It was a perilous journey.

Jason did an amazing job helping me along my way. He was fun to talk to and very helpful at the aid stations. I can be a high maintenance runner, but he didn't seem to mind. He barely even bitched when I wanted to walk sections that were probably very runnable. All qualities I look for in a good pacer!

Jason and I finished the last 50k loop well ahead of my race plan. I was still in decent shape, but was very eager to get this race over with. We took in a bit of fuel and I left my hydration pack in favor of a handheld bottle, then we rolled out for the last 7+ mile loop.

Me and Jason at mile 93, getting ready to finish this thing

This last section begins and ends on trail that I had been running on all day, but there are about 4 miles in the middle that I had never seen. Initially, I was pleased at how nice the trail was. It was smooth and very runnable. Until the end. The final hill of the race was probably the steepest and most daunting hill I had been on all day. This monster was the last bit of misery that I had to deal with before the finish. We finally finished the climb and began the wet, muddy, rocky descent back to the finish.

After coming off the mountain, we had 1.2 miles of asphalt to the finish. We ran some of it and walked a lot of it. I was well ahead of my anticipated finish time, so I just wanted to walk for a while and relax a bit. I felt like I earned it.

As we got near the school, Jason says "Jo probably won't be at the finish line because we're getting in early". I scoffed at this because Jo has never missed me at the finish of any race. But as we rounded the last corner, I realized he was right. Not only was Jo NOT there...NOBODY was there! We crossed the finish line...and nothing. There wasn't a single person at the finish. Nobody...

Jo had been on her way to the finish when she saw us round the corner and head in, but she couldn't get there ahead of us. She asked us to run back through so she could get a picture, but I all I wanted was a beer and a chair.

Me and Jason at the finish

My final finish time was 22:34:39. My race plan had called for a 23 hour finish if all went well. And...it all went well.

The Oil Creek 100 is an amazing race with a great course and some of the best volunteers I have ever encountered. I was in awe of how well the race was managed and was impressed by everyone that was a part of it. I really believe this is my favorite 100 mile race and I definitely plan to run it again. I simply can't say enough about how excellent this event is and I hope some of you have a chance to find out for yourselves.

I can't thank Jason and Jo enough for all their help and support. They were both amazing and I could never have done any of it without them. Good pacers are really hard to find and having Jason with me made all the difference.

I was too tired to hang around the finish line, but later I learned that ALL of our friends made it to the finish. This race has a pretty high DNF rate, but every single runner in our group was able to complete it. This is exceptionally noteworthy because several of them had completed the R2R2R (Rim to Rim to Rim) run at the Grand Canyon the previous weekend. Hence the birth of the Dumbass Ultra Running Team!

Congratulations to all that finished this amazing race! I hope to see you all again next year!