|That's me with the headsock in the bottom right with Jim trailing not far behind me. So far so good. (Photo by Evan O'Toole).|
I first ran the Trudge in 2009, invited by my AR partner mentor, Sean. Conditions that year were pretty mild, and I was able to run most of it. I remember mostly that the shot of Scotch at the aide station burned for about a half-hour and no amount of energy gel could fix it. But that aside, it was very fun, and I was addicted.
The next year found me in Kuwait. Luckily, Sean was there and ran the Camp Virginia version. I can't quite say it had the epic feel to it, but it was still a lot of fun. I ran the 11 mile loop. I remember trying to catch the guy ahead of me at the very end, and I almost did it! Only to see him peel off for another 11 miles...
I also remember that the Chaplain and the Doc, both old men, did the 22 miles. And both ended up in the Troop Medical Center. But they finished!
Fast Forward to this year: Being stateside, I entered as soon as I could and also convinced my other AR buddy, Clint to run, as well as Wyoming newby Jim, from the flatlands of Indiana. Of course, Alec kept promising impossible conditions and promise of certain death. He wasn't too far off this year. With conditions as bad as they were, Alec saw it fitting to move the start point to the most exposed, windy spot that he could find.
After the warnings and inspirational sermons from Alec, we brave 45 started the race, lurching from our starting spaces like like mildy hungry, overfed cattle. Knowing that I would probably burn out well before the end of the race, I started out rather quickly. Hopefully, I would inspire that people that are actually fast to achieve their best...
The first half of the race was very enjoyable; I stopped only for quick clothing adjustments and for a light snack. I passed Clint, Jim, and Sean and was able to keep up with Ray and other Josh. After about a 1/2 mile, everyone had spread out and was trudging through the same tracks. Although that made it easier, it still wasn't easy as the snow was knee deep. You could sometimes run between sections of snow, but it was futile to attempt anywhere else.
Once at the aid station, I had my shot of Scotch, ate some figs, and refused a second shot. So far so good...
Beginning the fencline climb, oddly enough things started downhill. I went as fast as I could, and at the top, tried to run, but face planted and got my first bad hamstring cramp. I went to the side of the trail, and downed all the Endurolytes I had, while watching Sean and Clint pass me. Starting off again, I passed Clint, and was actually able to run all the way down Devil's Loop, keeping Sean in sight.
But alas, passing him was not going to happen. I slowly faded, cramping more and more. Clint re-passed me, along with a few other trudgers as I was trying to eat my frozen shot blocks. As others disappeard out of sight on the back stretch, the low point finally came when I got an immobilizing hamstring cramp while standing in knee deep snow. I couldn't sit down to stretch, but I couldn't get rid of it.
In the midst of my angst, another runner came up behind me. I apologized because I was unable to move out of the trail. She offerred help, but because she forgot her magic wand, she couldn't do anything.
So she moved on, and because whining is against the rules, and quitting is against my nature I was finally able to move on. A few ridges later I was able to see the finish line and my spirits picked up, along with the wind speed. Cruising along with not too much problem, I shuffled to the finish line in 3:50 or so.
|The home stretch (photo by Evan O'Toole).|
The girl who passed me had organized a rescue party, but luckily, they were unnecessary. I got some soup and a beer and waited for Jim. When he finished, he told me he hated me, (but later admitted to the epicness of the race). Jim, Clint and I finished a bottle of mead, huddling in the truck, out of the wind.
So that's how an old slow guy does an epic race. I finished 20th out of 30 in my class, which bumps me out of the bottom 3rd, barely. I was far from first, but not last. I didn't defy death on a 2nd loop. But I had fun and finished. It was a good race to start the year.
Next up, Moab AR?