Wednesday, February 11, 2015


Another from the Salt Flats 100 site: In 2008 I was introduced to the concept of the Ultramarathon when I was asked to provide the timing for Karl Meltzer's Speedgoat 50K at Snowbird UT. At the time, I was a runner for two reasons: First - I had my annual fitness assessment in the National Guard each year so I needed to maintain a reasonable level of fitness for that, and Second - I was running daily to de-stress from a very difficult business collapse. Meeting Karl was an eye-opener to be sure. The idea of running beyond 15 miles or so never even occurred to me, and here was this guy telling me that 31 miles through the mountains in a day is "normal". I'd never even entered a 5K in my entire life, and yet I signed up to run the Speedgoat the next year, and it became my first-ever "race". Obviously, I was absorbed into the culture and have adopted running at ultra distances as a major part of my life. I've gone on adventure runs across the Highline Trail in the Uinta Mountains, and run solo through the West Desert in Utah. I've met 100s of amazing people who I call my friends. I enjoy the general lack of "competitiveness" and the supportive nature of most participants in these events. I've stopped to help others many times during an event I in which I was "competing" in, and had others offer their help when I was struggling. My competition has always been with myself, and for me the process of the ultramarathon has more importance than the result. I realize there are many to whom that concept is unappealing, but that's the magic of this sport; it is capable of supporting many different perspectives within it's ranks while not alienating any one of them. Recently however, I've observed situations that indicate the culture of our sport is in danger. Some within this community are willing to deride and degrade others because of any number of things that aren't in-line with their own perspectives. I see exclusionary statements are being directed at people just looking into our sport via online forums because they've "only" done a 10K or 1/2. I've now heard of ridicule and derision being relentlessly laid upon a runner who became lost in the dark and epic storm of last years Salt Flats 100 event. I find it inconceivable that someone would find it acceptable to be anything but fully supportive and concerned for someone who experienced such a traumatic event. I believe we are better than that. I believe that the ultramarathon itself allows us to become introspective, resilient, accommodating and generally better people as a result of our participation. I think we're a special community simply because we run in places where we often need volunteers, and each other to succeed. I hope that we as a community will work hard to continue to make our sport as welcoming and inclusive as when I was first introduced to it by Karl. Keep running!

2014 Salt Flats 100 Recap

I posted this recap on the Salt Flats 100 website, but thought I'd start posting these here as well. This is the recap from the 2014 Salt Flats 100 Event. The NOAA radar picture Friday morning looked a little concerning with a number of storm cells in the area but the temperatures were good, and the forecast was wildly variable from hour to hour, so we started the race on time and sent the runners out onto the beautiful salt flats. All was looking good until just before dusk, when both the weather, and the NOAA radar picture turned very ugly. 80 mile per hour winds hit various parts of the course, and by night-fall the rain was in full force. It turns out, the rainstorm was a "100 year storm"... average April rainfall is 0.40 inches, and this one storm alone was 1.1 inches. Temperature fell to below freezing by 0400. The entire Salt Flats flooded with 6" of water by 0600. Runners were dropping at every aid station, and the volunteers were shifting to Hypothermia triage rather than aid station workers. The racers that came through the finish in the dark were at various stages of hypothermia, and we quickly shuttled them into the trailer and fed them hot soup. The 50 milers who were supposed to start at 0500 and run out on the Salt Flats ended up being re-routed twice... once off the salt (as it was under water), and again off the dirt roads (as aid vehicles were sliding off the road and unable to get out to the aid stations). It was chaotic, stressful, and insane. By 1000 on Saturday, the sun was poking through the clouds, the rain had stopped, and it was perfect running weather again. I thought back to the previous 3 years and how each had it's own "character", but all had been pretty friendly compared to this. It is truly amazing how much can change during the course of a 100 mile event. When all was said and done, everyone was safe (one rescue did occur, proving our SAR and Comm team are truly world-class). All vehicles were accounted for, although one was stuck for several more days until Ray Smith (Assistant RD) and I could get out and extract it after the mud had dried a bit. One of the portable toilets was blown 2 1/2 miles away from it's original position on the Salt Flats. I found course flagging alongside the freeway near Wendover, many miles from its closest possible origin. The Salt Flats is always a harsh environment. On the website I state that runners and volunteers alike should be prepared for any weather, but I must admit that mother nature hit with all she had this time, and it challenged every facet of the event. Good emergency plans, excellent personnel, and great teamwork paid off, and the event was a success despite all of it. Epic. No other word for it.

Altra Olympus Review

I'm now throwing my hat into the ring on the topic of Altra Olympus reviews and provide my personal experience in the following paragraphs. First off, a little history. Six years ago I started running in a Solomon shoe , but then moved onto the Sportiva Wildcat and stuck with that for a couple years. I then tried the Sportiva Vertical K and the Hoka Mafate (ran in both, just depended on the terrain) for a couple years. I ended up with two sizes (8 and 8.5) of the Hoka trying to dial in the fit, but neither really stopped the blister and toenail issues. Then tried the Altra Wasatch, and at the beginning of 2014 I purchased a pair of the Altra Olympus. With that perspective of history, on to the Olympus. I've now logged over 1000 miles on the Olympus (distributed between three different pairs), and am starting to really like them. I've done about 300 of those miles on pavement, and the remaining on trail, including a 66 mile Highline Trail crossing, several trail Ultras, a rim-to-river-to-rim in the Grand Canyon (all south side), and then endless Wasatch Mountain trails. I feel like the Hoka offers a bit more cushion on the downhills, and has a slightly better fit on my heel, but the Hoka pretty much trashes my fore-foot with that narrow toe-box. The Olympus really shines for me with it's wide toe box. I've yet to get a blister on any part of my foot in the Olympus. The tread is holding up on all three pairs well, as is the sole and upper. I'm optimistic I'll get better longevity out of these than out of my Hokas. What do I think could be improved? The heel pocket would be a good start, as well as a lacing system that allows more torque in closing the shoe. It's pretty tough to get the sides cinched in. Other than that, I have to admit that I have a new favorite shoe, and just bought another pair to start alternating with. Good job Altra!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

"Tallest" mountain attempt

Hawaii's Mauna Kea volcano is the worlds "tallest" mountain... not highest, but tallest. When measured from the base, Everest is 8848 meters, and Mauna Kea is over 10,000 meters... of course Mauna Kea is only 13,796' in actual altitude, while Everest is 29,035'. Because I was spending the week on Hawaii as part of a vacation with my wife, I decided to do a Sea-level to the "tallest" mountain's summit run (42 miles, and 13,796' in altitude gain) one of the days we were on the island. We randomly chose Tuesday the 24th of Sept as the date, as it fit in with all the other activities we were doing. The weather had been really nice since we arrived on Friday, so I figured there was no particular day that would be better than any other. Monday night, we drove the route and I placed "drop bags" in little stashes every 5 miles or so with water and snacks. I woke up Tuesday morning, suited up, and my wife dropped me at the beach pavilion in Hilo (probably 6' above sea-level), and I started my run.
The clock on my phone read 3:00 am, and I punched the 'start' button on my Garmin 405 as I departed. The town was quiet as I ran up the dimply lit roads to the first drop bag, where I refilled my hand bottle and Nathan pack and continued up. Despite it being uphill, I was averaging 12:00 min miles and feeling great.
At the 10 mile drop bag, I realized I was in need of some biological relief, and so as I left there I began looking for an opportune place to wander into the jungle. I found a nice, lower-growth area and stomped several yards into the growth. Continuing up the road, the sunlight began to filter through the clouds...
yes, clouds... this was not in the plan. The first droplets of water started hitting me at the 15 mile drop bag, and quickly became "insistent". I was soaked by 20 miles. At 20 miles I started searching for my drop bag, and after several minutes I realized that someone must have needed it more than I did, so I hunkered down and started heading for the next stop. I was starting to lose the "fun" part of my fun-run at this point, and at mile 25, the wind really started kicking in. I refilled and refueled, and started back running. At this point I was into the run 6 hours and 34 minutes, so not exactly speedy. As the temperature continued to decrease, I started kicking harder to generate heat. I was making good time heading into the next drop bag at mile 31, until the cold-cramps started. I'd slow down to accommodate the muscle cramp, and then the shaking would start... not ideal.
I reached the 31 mile mark in 7:38... and I was WORKED! At the 31 mile drop bag, as soon as I stopped to grab the bag, the shaking started and I realized movement would be the best medicine, as I was now only 3.8 miles from the "warmth" of the Mauna Kea visitor's center. I grabbed the PB&Honey sandwich and started moving again. This is where the climb gets REALLY steep, so moving fast became increasingly difficult, and I started cramping again which put into the infamous "Frankenstein walk". As cars of tourists passed me on their way up to the visitor's center (or back), I must have been a wonderful comic relief from their rainy drive. I slowed to a crawl, fighting the shakes and the cramps, while trying to continue forward momentum... I was actually starting to get concerned that I'd go into full hypothermia before getting to the visitor's center. The rain and wind became so heavy at this point that I could only see 100' or so in front of me, so as I heard a car approaching, I'd hobble to the guard-rail and wait for them to pass, then continue my awkward gait until I heard the next car. I finally dragged my sorry butt into the visitor's center at 11:58, almost exactly 9 hours after starting. The last 3.8 miles took me 1:22. Not my finest hour. As I entered the visitor's center, it was full of tourists, and I asked attendant at the front desk if she could retrieve the bag I'd left the day before... then I took my drop bag and sat in the back row of the mini-theater they'd set up to show the educational videos about the mountain. As soon as I sat down, what little heat I was generating from moving dissipated, and I started to shake uncontrollably... what I sight for the tourists! One of the workers at the center came over and asked if I'd like his coat, which I gladly accepted. Then he suggested some hot water, which I again accepted... oops... still shaking, I promptly spilled all over his coat, the floor, and myself. I set what was left down on the floor, and realized that the wet clothing I was wearing was not helping matters. I noted they were selling souvenir sweatshirts, so I quickly bought one, stripped off my shirt, and put it on... HEAVEN! The lack of moisture on my chest and back immediately started things moving the right direction. Two cups of hot water later, and a visit to the men's room "hand dryer" to minimize the moisture in my shorts, and I started to be able to sit without random convulsions.
One of the tourists who was there when I walked in, came up and asked where I'd run from. I said Hilo, and his expression went blank... he asked how far that was, and I said "the longest 34 miles of my life". He asked several questions about the run, and ultra-marathons in general, and shaking his head, turned and left for his drive to the summit. I chose not to drive to the summit, but returned to our rental house, and its ocean-view hot-tub for some true recovery! Sadly, no Fastest Known Time for me this trip. However, I will be back to complete the run in a couple years... it's too good to let go. I've posted the attempt in, and so we should see some "real" ultra folks hitting this soon. Happy Running!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Katchina Mosa 100K

This was my first Katchina, and from the start, it was in it's own special class... hard... 17,000' of climb, and 17,000' of descent hard... really hard. I left work on the evening of the 9th and drove to the pre-race meeting in Orem, UT where John Bozung, the RD, said the course should be well marked (but it has been known to be pulled by random folks), and then went on to call out several people in the group who, despite being experienced runners had made wrong turns in previous years and scored bonus miles... not entirely confidence-inspiring. After the meeting, I drove to Wally-world to get some supplies, and then drove up to the start of the race at Kelly Campground, and rolled out my sleeping bag and tried to get some sleep prior to my 2AM alarm, and the 3AM start. Sleep didn't come easy, but soon enough I passed out, and got a few hours sleep. I awoke to the alarm, and got up and started the preparation routine. This time I took the time to use masking tape in between my toes to reduce the friction there and hopefully avoid those gnarly between-the-toes blisters at the end of the event (and also added the obligatory "anti-monkey-butt"). Confused at that early hour, I walked over to the pavilion, set out my drop bags, and walked to the start line with everyone else while leaving my sleeping bag and pad laid out on the park lawn... fortunately a good Samaritan did me a big favor and set it on the railing next to my truck where I found it that night. John started us out at 3AM, and we started the first 1.5 mile-ish of pavement to where we turned North onto a dirt road that climbed for a few thousand feet to the first Aid Station. I had told myself I was going to start out slow on this run, and make sure I didn't blow up, so as people passed me I had to focus on not trying to "fall in" to their pace, particularly when it was folks I knew I should be finishing in front of ;) We continued the climb to the second aid station, after which we had the descent into the third aid station, and finally, departure from the dirt road and onto the single-track and my favorite terrain. I passed several runners on the way down, refueled at Aid 3, and followed a couple motorcycles up the single-track to lightning ridge. (yep, motorcycles... kinda funny to be hammering up a trail behind these guys, and then meet them on their way down near the top). As I climbed I caught up with Galen Garrison who I met when he ran Salt Flats 100 earlier in the year, we chatted for a bit, and then I fell back into my pace and headed on up the trail. I was then subsequently passed by Jarom Thurston
and a couple of his friends from Addict-to-Athlete who were running their first 100K, another quick chat, and they carried on ahead. I love the fact that this community is so tightly-knit, and we love to support each other during our respective experiences on the trail. As I turned to the final climb up to Lighting Pass, I was amazed at the distant view of Timpanogos Peak... it's amazing the views we get to experience through Ultras!
I continued up to Lightning Pass (the "high-point" of the race at 9,800') where I realized that this course was kicking my butt! However, again, the views were stunning!
Dropping down the other side, I saw the course flagging indicating to take the downhill fork and followed that trail... I wouldn't see another piece of course-flagging for the next several miles, and the further down the trail I ran I found myself coming up with various plans on how I would react when I came out at some trail-head in Provo Canyon, with no Aid Station and no clue how to get back on track. Fortunately, after a little less than an hour of descending from Lightning Ridge, I encountered some hikers, and asked them if they had seen any other runners... they laughed and told me the Aid Station was only about 1/4 mile away. Sure enough, I soon saw flagging, and then the aid station came into view. I had been experiencing some issues with my toes, and so I took a moment to look and see what damage had been done... as I was pulling off my shoes, Galen arrived and sat down next to me and immediately started photo-documenting my toe-trauma ;) I could tell that all my center toes (2, 3, and 4) would be losing their toenails... crap... so I re-adjusted the lacing on my shoes to release pressure there, and hopefully further hold-back my feet on these steep descents. I slammed a coke, a PB&J, and refilled my fuel bottle, and headed out again. Shortly after starting out, I passed a beautiful stream, and stopped to take a photo, and soak my cooling towel... which was very much appreciated for the rest of this section.
The climb to Windy Pass is exposed and steep, so anything to add some cooling to my neck and face is appreciated. A couple moments of indecision came shortly thereafter, as the trail itself doesn't match the description in the online course description that I'd printed out... turns out I was just expecting the "climb" to start sooner, and in short order I found myself on the familiar terrain of the trail to Windy Pass. I'd run down this section during the Squaw Peak 50 miler, so I knew that it was a serious climb... and it didn't disappoint. I fell in with John Maack for most of the climb. We passed Jarom who was feeling his heavy running schedule and was resting by the side of the trail... sadly, he wouldn't finish, but his AIA runners would! We continued up the trail, and on the last switch-back prior to the aid station, we came upon Moondoggy Dyatt! It was great to see him and we joked around, with him finally pushing me into a full sprint to the top... crazy guy! I took a few minutes to refuel and relax at the aid station, and then took off up to Windy Pass,
and the fun descent down into Big Springs Aid Station. I was feeling great and hammering it in a full run down the trail, just enjoying the speed and intensity when I suddenly hooked my toe on a root, and was airborne... Carl Tippets (who I caught up with shortly after this near-death-experience) calls this being "struck by lightning", because every muscle in your entire body seizes up to try to keep you from falling. In an instant, I reached out and grabbed hold of the branches hanging by the side of the trail, which stopped me from face-planting, and my feet whipped out in front of me, and then the branches slipped out of my hands, and I came to rest sitting on the trail... in near shock. I stood up, brushed off, and then walked slowly for a minute or two to work out all the kinks. I stopped and stretched out several times, and after 5 - 10 minutes, I managed to get back to running, but at a significantly slower pace as I suddenly felt very mortal. I caught up to Carl Tippets and Shay Johansen and stuck with them to the Water Trough. We all got some water, but I was completely dry, so I stayed there and drank an entire bottle, and then filled my bottle again. I caught and passed them about a mile from Big Springs, ran into Big Spring, dropped my pack and filled my hand bottle with ice water for the "out and back" which assured us our "full 62 miles"... :) After the out and back, I changed socks, re-adjusted my shoes, and headed out again with Carl and Shay to what Carl called the "crux" of the race... it's a slow, grinding climb, fully exposed to the sun on a rocky dirt road. I hung with Carl up through the first "summit" of the climb, after which I used the downhills to make some time... at this point, I was done with the event... I simply wanted to be finished... and I knew the only way to get it over with was get back to my truck at the finish. My right Anterior Tibialis tendon was screaming again (a legacy from last year's injury), and so I alternated between running and walking to minimize the pain. I limped into the second-to-last aid station, and sat down for a few minutes... the last 10 miles were going to be interesting. I was not feeling great at this point, but the AS folks were super nice so I put on my best face, chatted with them as I ate melon and PB&J, refilled my fuel bottle, and headed out again. Now I was on the "mission to finish" portion of the run... four miles of gnarly, rocky, up and down through a stream-bed single-track, followed by 6 miles of pavement to the finish. More alternating running and walking to ease the pain, and cursing myself for my desire to run these silly things, and finally I saw the aid station appear. I slid in and asked if someone could just shoot me (got all of them laughing), and then pounded a red bull, had someone help me extract my headlamp (as it was closing in on dusk) and headed down the road... I was not in the mood to re-fuel, I just wanted to get to the finish. I checked my watch, and figured the 6 miles would take me just over an hour... I put the blinders on and just maintained as much of a run as I could... and amazingly, the pain in my right tendon lessened, and then disappeared altogether! I was so grateful it had abated, and I settled into my finish pace and watched the light fade, and started to see the camp-fires in the campgrounds off to the side of the stream on the south side of the road. Occasional cheers from cars driving up or down the canyon, and even from one or two of the camp-fires let me know I was getting close. Sure enough, I saw the lights of the pavilion, then the traffic cones with lights inside illuminating them in the night, and cheers and cowbells from the folks at the finish... finally! It was over, and as always, the smile came back to my face. Every finish is a release of all the pain and emotion of the run, and I ran through the finish line, got a hug from John Bozung, and sat down to have my chocolate milk recovery drink. Jade Mangus was there (having finished nearly two hours ahead of me), as were the Addict to Athlete folks from the Windy Pass Aid Station who had done such a great job of manning that station. It was an amazing experience, as are all tough races. I was definitely challenged throughout the run, many times questioning myself for even doing this stuff. And as always, the "salvation" of finishing relinquished those demons, and I once again loved ultra-running... funny thing these ultras!

Monday, July 29, 2013

SpeedGoat 50K Recap

This was my 5th year running Karl Meltzer's "nightmare" course, this year clocking in at about 32.2 miles. The course zig-zags it's way up the Snowbird Ski Resort to the summit of Hidden Peak at 11,000', and then descends into Mineral Basin, then up over a ridge and down to Pacific Mine in the Tibble Fork area at about 7000'. From there it returns to Mineral Basin up some very steep ATV trails, and then continues to the top of Mt Baldy (just over 11,000'). A quick descent through the "tunnel" into Peruvian Gulch, back to Hidden Peak via the Cirque Traverse, and then a fast 10K down to the base of the resort and the finish. Sounds simple, right? Driving up the canyon at 5AM, I had no idea of the weather forecast and so as I got out of the car in the dawn light, the warmth of the air made me a little apprehensive. The past couple years the heat has crushed me and I was not looking forward to a repeat. I had nothing to worry about, as I would only see the sun twice during the entire run. As usual, the event is highly organized and the volunteers are top-notch, directing the runners and helping answer questions. At 6:15-ish, Karl got on the PA system and went through the pre-race briefing, which included the mass-recitation of the phrases "I will not get into the water", and "I will not short-cut the switch-backs"... both legacies from previous races.
The start finally kicked off at about 6:35AM, and we started the long grind up to our first visit to hidden peak. The air temp was no warmer than when I stepped out of the car at 5AM and so I continued at a conservative pace enjoying the morning and chatting with the folks cruising at the same general pace. Many were surprised to hear this was my 5th Speedgoat, but I assured them it was only because of a significant mental deficiency. At about mile 6 I started feeling my stomach going south, and as a result I slowed a tad, and tried to make some attempt at getting more nutrition in... it didn't sit well, but I kept at it. By the time I got to Hidden Peak at 8.3 miles, I realized that a visit to the bathroom at the summit shack was necessary. Feeling a little better afterwards, I had a couple pieces of watermelon, and then headed down for the 2.5 miles to Larry's Hole aid station. As I descended, my stomach continued to whine, and by the time I arrived, I knew I needed to put some solid food down or it was going to be a long day. Friend and fellow runner Mike Place greeted me at Larry's Hole (he was volunteering at the Aid Station) and helped me get some solid food down, I quickly refilled my water and started for the 4 mile trek down into Tibble Fork and the Pacific Mine aid station. Sure enough, the solid food was the trick, and about a mile into the journey, I started feeling good again and started moving quickly, passing six or seven runners on the downhill. Downhill running, through the dry stream bed/avalanche path is often the worst part of a course for many runners, but I find the delicate dance of bouncing from rock to rock while in a full run incredibly fun and invigorating. I made great time and rolled into Pacific Mine feeling good, but ready for some food and popsicles... yes, every year, Pacific Mine is known for it's vast supply of popsicles. I indulged and ate two, plus some PB&J, and watermelon, washed down with a Red Bull and some ginger ale. I headed out for the brutal climb out of Pacific Mine, but amazingly, I was feeling great. As I started up the climb, I started passing folks (instead of the past two years where I was being passed the whole way up), and was actually enjoying the climb. This, I'm sure was in no small part to the fact that the cloud-cover had only broken for a total of 30 minutes or so the entire day. Either way, I was thrilled to find myself climbing well, and feeling good. I crested the pass and descended into Mineral Basin for my second visit to Larry's Hole. As I arrived at Larry's running strong, Mike Place again greeted me, but this time with "hey, you're looking strong!". He said I looked far better than when I'd arrived 9 miles earlier, and I assured him I was feeling a lot better than that first time as well. He made sure I ate well, and sent me off for the climb to the top of Baldy with a spare PB&J and a cookie. I munched on those as I worked my way up the long climb, again feeling better than I'd ever felt during that portion of the course. Arriving at the "trail" to the top of Baldy, I looked up and laughed. This time Karl basically set the flags so that it was a "straight up the mountainside", 1000' bushwhack to the 11,000' summit, in less than a 1/2 mile of distance... steep is an understatement.
The photo shows a line of tiny people working their way up the steep slope (and "experts only" run during the winter) but you have to look close 'cause they're tiny! After reaching the summit, a short 1 mile downhill (mostly) run brought me to the "Tunnel" aid station, and another popsicle! I love popsicles during these runs as they are basically pure sugar, and are COLD! I ate some more watermelon, refilled my fuel bottle and water pack, and headed through the tunnel to the descent into Peruvian Gulch. It was here I met up with Jim Milar of the Wasatch Mountain Wranglers who had just run the Tahoe Rim Trail 100 the weekend prior, and was here hammering out arguably the hardest 50K in the country. We chatted for a couple miles and then when the trail steepened he slowed down (I'm sure his legs had to be toast at that point). What a fun guy and incredibly experienced runner! I love the fact that we get to meet so many great folks while out on these adventures! I rolled into the bottom of Peruvian Gulch and started the switch-backs that led up to the Cirque Traverse trail, and the last visit to Hidden Peak. As I crested the switch-backs and looked east, I saw the clouds rolling up the canyon threatening to envelop the entire ridge.
Several minutes later, the only part of the mountain not covered in clouds was the trail we were on. I felt like I was on some Hobbit-sponsored trek looking for a ring with the power of the universe... or maybe I was just tired and almost delusional.
As we climbed closer and closer to the summit, the rain became harder and I started to wonder if perhaps bringing a plastic bag would have been smart... fortunately, as I pushed harder up the hill I realized I was at the summit, and could get out of the rain for a minute. I refilled my hand-bottle a couple times with ginger ale and mountain dew, folded up my trekking poles, and started the final run down the mountain. I was feeling good and was able to keep a very solid pace on the way down. I covered the 6 miles in about 50 minutes, and came through the finish in 10:49, a personal best for me at the SpeedGoat. Karl as always was there at the finish to give a high-five and hand out the unique goat-medals. I enjoy this race because of the extreme challenge it presents (for me, this is harder than many 50 mile races), the great environment and atmosphere that surrounds it. It truly is a mountain running party!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Salt Flats 100 Mile Endurance Run (Race Director Recap)

The 2013 Salt Flats 100 Mile Endurance Run is in the books, full of epic individual struggles, amazing experiences, and the joy of running in some of the most stunning landscapes on the planet! First and foremost, many thanks to EVERYONE who participated, volunteered, crewed, sponsored, or simply supported someone who was a part of this event! A successful 100 is the work of hundreds of people, and this was no exception! After packing the trailer with all the gear for the event the previous two days, my wife Chriss (who is also the Assistant RD in charge of Volunteers) and I drove from our home in Bluffdale, UT to the Bonneville Salt Flats, parked the trailer, and went to sleep knowing we had a LOT of work to get done. Wednesday morning came too soon and we were up and at it. After unloading, Sam Collier, fellow ultra-runner, friend, and part of the Idaho ultra community pulled up in his car and asked if there was anything he could do to help as he'd finished up work a couple days early and decided to come down and hang out before running the event. I took him up on the offer, and we rigged up and set out to flag the first 23 miles of the course. Heading out on the salt, we flagged all the way to the first aid station without issue, but only about a 1/2 mile beyond we started breaking through the salt crust and bogging down into the slimy mud underneath. Rather than make my truck a permanent feature of the salt flats, I decided a reverse-at-full-speed departure was the prudent option, and I'd flag the course via ATV or on foot from Aid 1 to Aid 2. I dropped Sam off at the Start/Finish, he agreed to run the back side of Crater the next morning to help flag it, and he headed off to get some rest. Chriss and I drove into Wendover to check in with the Fire Department, get some supplies, and drop off the deposit check for the community center. While there, I decided it would be a good idea to wash the several inches of salt-mud off the chassis of the truck that I managed to accumulate extracting us off the edge of the flats. The Squaw Peak 50 shirt I was wearing is now permanently "speckled" from all the salt spray... if you ever want that "spilled bleach" look on your running clothes, I now have the solution. After finally returning to the start/finish area, I set out to flag more of the course. After driving the long way out towards Aid 2, before I even arrived I realized something was really wrong with the Truck... start phase one of "operation fix the truck while still getting the race off successfully". The cooling fan clutch had failed, and my big 7.4 liter V8 was gasping for cooling air, and thus overheating very quickly. A long, temperature-balancing drive back to the Start/Finish put me there around midnight, and thus ended that day. The next day after Ray and Becky Smith arrived (Assistant RD), we dropped the truck off at the local repair shop in Wendover, and headed out to flag Crater Island with Sam. Ray and Becky dropped Sam and I off just past Sheep Camp Aid Station (6), and they flagged backwards towards Hastings Aid Station (5/7) while Sam and I headed forwards towards Hastings. Sam and I had a great run setting the course through the "moonscape" on the back of Crater, stopping to punch pin-flags into the pie-crust of baked mud. I always enjoy the novelty of running this section of course as it's been my favorite part of the course since the first time I ran it. Once finished flagging that section, we continued backwards from the Hastings, flagging through 4 all the way to 3. We then headed back to the finish to drop Sam off and start on the water and Honey Buckets. Ray and I continued placing water, Honey Buckets, and flagging through the evening and all the way till about 5 AM, when we headed back towards the finish so we could get the race started, and head back out to get the rest of the course setup. By the time we arrived at the Start/Finish, runners were already milling about, placing their drop-bags, and making their final preparations. I was able to get a few things organized, say hi to Jay Aldous (who had literally just arrived in Utah from Italy the night before), see a few other friends and then get everyone lined up for the start. At 0700, I kicked it off and 53 runners headed out onto the salt, for what I sincerely hoped would be an awesome experience for each one. Then it was time to get back to work. On a side note, we lost an Aid Station Crew late in the game, and so Aid Station 3 became our own and several folks, including a couple who were just there to crew their runner out to Aid 3. Ray and Becky's daughter Rachael saved the day there by teaching the adults how to setup the canopy, and then she took over recording the runners in/out times. Thanks to everyone who stepped in to make Aid 3 possible! Ray and I split up and went to work, he, Becky, and his son Parker took off to continue to drop water and Honey Buckets, and I jumped on one of a couple borrowed ATVs (THANK YOU Bastian Cowsert and Mark Pledger!)and headed out to keep the course flagging ahead of the racers. About 11:00 AM, I headed back to the Start/Finish to find out if my truck was ready to pick up at the shop, and it was! Ray was inbound, so as soon as he arrived, he and I headed into Wendover to get my Truck. Upon returning, Steve Gerritsen, friend and volunteer was at the finish so I grabbed him and we headed out to finish flagging from the "concrete bunker" through to 14. However, at the turn off of Ranch Road that starts the climb out to 13, the truck lost the cooling fan again... MURPHY! I called Ray, who had been diverted trying to assist a runner who had a stress fracture and had to be extracted back to the start, and he started heading our way. Then I called the repair shop, and as diplomatically as possible, told them that they were going to come out and pick up the truck, and fix it before they went home for the weekend (Steve volunteered to go with them so that as soon as it was done he could drive it back), and Ray, Rachael, Parker and I headed out to finish the flagging into 14. Upon reaching 14, we headed back to the finish to regroup, and there I received the call that Steve was on the way back with my (once more fixed) truck. I also learned that Jay was running at least an hour back from his expected pace, so I had a little more time to get the last 5 miles of the course flagged, and the finish setup. Steve and I finished up the flagging by 6:30PM, and the finish was setup by 7:30PM. Somehow, with all the challenges, we still managed to pull it off. (I would learn later, that with the truck breakdowns, and the runner extraction, we failed to get the unmanned water placed at mile 48... FAIL!). My new, checklist-based approach will ensure that we don't let unexpected issues let a water placement slip by again. All during the race, the aid stations were competing for votes by the runners for "best aid station" of the year. All of the aid stations stepped up and provided OUTSTANDING support to the runners. Many runners, including Traviss Willcox who has run 246 marathons and ultras, stated that this was the best supported race they had run! Aid 4 had an amazing setup, as did 12, and they ended up tied for 1st place. Close behind was Aid 13, who were lauded by all for their expertise in moving runners through with both encouragement and tough-love. The biggest win for me this year was that I was able to be at the finish for every runner who came through! It was an amazing experience being able to congratulate each finisher, and hand them their buckle personally. I recognized myself in many of them, having that mix of pain, euphoria, and just plain relief at having it over. It's an odd thing this ultra-running... particularly the 100 distance. Jay Aldous finished first, coming through at 17:59:30. His travel schedule and it's impact on his training was evident, but he was happy none-the-less for having the opportunity to finish another Salt Flats among friends. He is always a class-act, and it was fun to chat with him and Peter for a few minutes at the finish. As more and more runners finished through the night, I enjoyed seeing old friends and new friends crossing the finish line. My cousin Davy Crockett came through just after sunrise, finishing this 100 miler after completing a 104 miles the previous weekend. Next, good friend Sam Collier finished his first sub-24hr 100! He was obviously stoked on the great finish, and also pretty spent... a great accomplishment to be sure. Another great accomplishment is a runners first 100... as Galen Garrison approached the finish of his first 100, I could see the pride that only a 100 finish can give. This is definitely one of the coolest parts of being an RD, is seeing the emotion of completing a first 100... I know how cool it felt for me, and it's a genuine joy to see others do the same! As the morning worked towards day, I decided to sit down and rest for a minute, as I'd been up for nearly 50 hours at this point... and of course that turned into a 30 minute nap until the next runner was approaching the finish. Milko Mejia came through the finish, having completed his fourth 100 miler. This course is not the easiest 100 by any stretch. It's very doable, but not easy, and Milko stated that very plainly to me... he's a new convert to the unique challenge and pain that the Salt Flats provides, and yet another new friend. The remainder of the day was a repetition of amazing efforts by unique individuals, all of whom came to this race with amazing personal stories and challenges. I watched our oldest runner, Bob Mercil (72) finish, followed by our youngest runner, Kara John (25) . Both endured some amazing challenges just to get to the finish. Somewhere along the day, we had a most unique visitor... Neil Young, who arguably shaped much of my musical taste as a youth arrived in his 1959 Lincoln Continental (modified to be a Hybrid Electric). He chatted amicably with a couple of the runners and crews, and then drove off. Had my head been in the game, I'd have grabbed a shirt and handed it to him, but alas, as I was chasing 60 hours without anything but a 30 minute nap, I wasn't really all there. Overall, this was an amazingly successful event this year. We had phenomenal volunteers at the aid stations and with the organizing committee. We had outstanding support by the Elko County Sheriffs Department Search and Rescue, South Jordan City and South Jordan Police Department along with the Amateur Radio Public Service Events ( which provided medical and communications support, as well as kept the website updated with real-time-ish results! Six Nutrition did an amazing job as title sponsor, and all the other sponsors stepped up and provided prizes and support which made a great impact on the runners! I felt privileged to host every one of them, as well as all the runners, their crews and supporters, and see them cross the finish of what I consider to be one of the most amazing courses on the planet. Thanks again to everyone, and I look forward to next year!