of the many mysterious things about ultramarathons (especially longer
ones) is that you never quite know what is going to happen once the race
starts. Waldo 100k, being one of my all-time favorites, was a race
that I had hoped to run really well and secure a spot for Western States
100. It was my second time running (ran it in 2009) and I knew about
the different grueling sections of this mountain trail race. I had
somewhat of a strategy in my mind and felt like I was in decently good
shape going in...although there was definitely some like-minded stiff
all were packed together but I really wanted to try to remain out front
because of what I remembered from 2009. The road is really dry and
dusty and I remember my mouth being caked w/ dust and dirt. So this year
I ran just behind Mackey and Jace Ives and just ahead of the rest of
the pack as I interspersed some power hiking and running. Eventually
twilight broke and we were able to click off our headlamps and we were
simultaneously greeted w/ some sweet downhill singletrack. This part was
really fun for me although I did trip once, and I had to make a pit
stop in the bushes, naturally.
After Aid Station 1 we started our ascent toward Mt. Fuji. My buddy Nick Triolo
and I teamed up and enjoyed some effortless miles together just like we
were back home in Forest Park. Dave Mackey was well ahead in first,
Jace Ives in second, Nick and I in third and fourth, and Ian Sharman in
fifth. Then there was another pack of runners not far back at all that
consisted of former top five/ten runners such as Neil Olsen, Mark Lantz,
and a few others that could downright run such as Downie, Kleffner,
Joel Lanz, Gunderson, Aliza, Denise, etc. etc.
thing I should mention is that this race starts at over 5,000 feet
above sea level and goes above 7,000 multiple times, topping out at
almost 8,000 at the highest point. Coming from basically sea level in
Portland makes it less efficient for oxygen to be transferred to the
muscles that are crankin' up and down the mountains. More on that
we started descending Fuji I took an awkward jump on a technical
section and felt some cramping in my right hamstring. I was really
surprised and I yelled angrily and emphatically at myself, "What the
bleep was that!!!" We were only about 15 miles in and I couldn't
believe this was happening. I let Nick pass by, and then Ian Sharman,
and I watched them disappear down the mountain and out of sight as I had
to knock it back and re-group.
knew I had Cheri Redwine waiting to hand off some food and a bottle of
Perpetuum to me at mile 20 so I just cruised into that aid station still
in the same position...just a few minutes back of Nick and Ian. I
quickly headed out and started feeling a little better as time went on
and I was packing more calories inside. I may have been trying to catch
up while maintaining a somewhat high level of intensity and this, in
turn, eventually caused some stomach distress. Neil Olsen then caught up
to me and we switched out spots a couple times. I couldn't believe this
was happening but I tried to stay calm and to just realize that it was a
long day ahead of us still.
mile 32 I started coming around a little and made it there a few
minutes faster than I anticipated which made made me feel good. The way I
was strategically planning was that Mackey and Sharman already have
spots to WS100 so I just need to finish in third place. I thought that
maybe Jace and Nick would falter a little as the race went on and I
would be there to scoop up third and it would all come together as
miles kept ticking by, the temperature was definitely getting a lot
warmer, and unfortunately every time I tried turning it up a notch I
felt like I was going to cramp again! I just couldn't shake it no matter
what I did!
crux of the race is the second climb up to the Twins roughly miles
37-44 and I knew this going into the event. Despite knowing this and my
goals I had the worst time up this section. I could not for the life of
me muster up any power on the climbs, the snow (and heat) were slowing
me down even more, and some negative thoughts were starting to creep in a
little. So much of this sport is mental so I knew to stay strong and to
after mile 44 I came rippin' around a corner and I see Jace Ives
sitting on the ground! "Jace what's up?!!" He said that he was dropping
out even though I tried encouraging him to take a break and to finish up
if he could. He looked pretty worked and told me that Nick was about
ten minutes ahead. I felt for Jace but this got me jacked up....Here I
come Nick! Where are you?!
44-49 are mostly downhill and I tried to hammer as much as I could but
every time I tried to kick into a faster pace every muscle in both legs
wanted to cramp. Very frustrating. At the base of Maiden the volunteers
told me that Nick still remained 10-11 minutes ahead and I knew we were
about to tackle one of the most difficult parts of the race--a three
mile 2,000 foot climb from miles 50-53! At first I actually thought,
"well, if I try to mix in some running with strong power hiking I might
be able to clip off a minute or two and then I can hammer the last eight
miles to the finish and maybe Nick will fade a little". It sounded
good theoretically until I attempted to run some of Maiden. By halfway
up the mountain I was walking so pathetically slow that, now, I think
Nick was putting time on me!
I made it to "Leap of Faith" (another brutal exposed, rocky section) to
find that Nick indeed put a minute or two on me. Despite my supreme
suffering at the top we were afforded some breathtaking views of the
expansive area...WOW! so awesome!.....and then all of the sudden I hear
someone yell from below, "MAKE IT STOP!!!!"----Who the heck is that???
And then I see Chris Downie with his muscular and tattooed torso moving
toward me. He moves past me and buries me as he disappears down Leap of
Faith at a dangerous pace. I felt so deflated mostly because my quads
were fried and I was literally walking on some of the downhills, which I
final eight miles were a little better at times as I was able to get
into some decent running grooves again but any time I hit an uphill
section I started walking. I know I lost a lot of time in this section
as well but I knew the end was near. I just hoped not to be passed again
with only a couple miles to go.
I finally made it to the finish line in fifth place overall and fell into RD and friend Craig Thornley's
arms. I got another Waldo hat and despite the hard-fought 10.5 hour
journey I let Craig know that I think Waldo is one of the best races in
the world. It may seem like a grand statement but this course is so
magnificent, challenging, well-organized....the volunteers are top-notch
(so helpful and funny!). I think people in the Pacific NW are so used
to this type of beauty, etc. that we take it for granted sometimes.
Waldo is a special race for sure and I can't wait to return again
someday. Thank you so much Craig, Curt, Meghan, volunteers, aid station
workers, and search and rescue...It really shows in how much passion
you put into this race.
like every race there is a take-home lesson. I'm not going to sit here
and type in detail the excuses of why I had a sub-par race...The bottom
line is that some days everything is clicking and other days you're a
little off. If the weather were perfect all the time then you wouldn't
appreciate it as much. Same for racing...you gotta take the good w/ the
not-so-good. I am grateful to have experienced the 2011 Waldo 100k!
- First and foremost a huge congrats to friend/training partner/neighbor Nick Triolo...definitely
a breakthrough race...Ran strong from start to finish...Super proud of
you...There's no one I'd rather see grab that WS 100 spot out from under
- The top two on mens and top two womens side- World Class athletes! Congrats Dave, Ian, Aliza, and Denise!
- Downie made a strong close...nice work! Friends Kleffner and Willie ran strong races
- Cheri Redwine for crewing for me...Thank you so much...you were a big help!
- Rob Hendrickson in your first 100k...strong work man
- And to all that attempted and/or finished that burly mountain 100k!!!
Results are HERE
More pictures/splits/info about race HERE