When people found out I was planning on running 100 miles the typical question of "why?" would be followed with some variation of "how long will that take/will you sleep/stop/eat?" I was hoping that I could complete the run between 25 hours (optimistic time) and 28 hours (cut off). As for sleeping, I knew that people didn't typically sleep so I would answer no, to which people were typically dumb founded. "I couldn't run that long..." or could they?
The mental part of ultra running is the part that I am really intrigued by. I firmly believe that most people are not really aware of what their bodies are actually capable of doing. I was turned onto the book Deep Survival by a blog post over at irunfar. The article and book gave great insight into what it would actually take to finish this thing, namely decide to do it and accept nothing less. This became a motivator in the remainder of my training through the spring.
As the runs got longer, and I was finally able to chase the receding snowpack out onto the trails, I embraced the mental challenge. On one particularly brutal run on the Crow Pass Trail my resolve was tested. What I expected to be a 48 mile out and back (traversing the entire trail twice) turned into a 35 mile run/power hike through ankle breaking terrain. Hobbling into the parking area 10 hours after beginning the run my body was hammered. Mentally it was difficult to wrap my head around the idea of running this long multiplied by 2.5, but once I remembered that the ResPass Trail was much more runnable, and several hours later when I was no worse for wear physically (other than being tired) I became charged up. I could totally do this thing.
In the few weeks leading up to race day I began my taper. It was eased by working out of town one of the weeks and battling a little cold, but come Friday July 27th at 3pm I was raring to go. I drove my truck and camper down to Hope, AK solo, leaving Anchorage around 10am. My final preparations had begun on Monday with lists, sorting, and packing race day gear, food, and personal items for the weekend. I also recorded my planned splits for various distances on the trail. Included in these splits, especially the later stages, were both realistic and (optimistic) times. The race could be broken down pretty easily:
Start at Cour d'alene campground Mile 0 - 3pm
Run downhill to the Hope TH 12 - 5:30pm
Resurrection Pass (high point) 31.5 - 10:30pm
Cooper Landing TH (turnaround) 50 - 3am
Resurrection Pass 69.5 - 9am (8am)
Hope TH 88 - 2:30pm (12:30pm)
FINISH at Hope School 100 - 6:30pm (3:30pm)
As I drove I thought over the last six months. So much preparation had gone into this event. Sacrifices had been made by both myself and my family: time away, energy (I was tired a lot), and money (consuming much more food nowadays and buying gear). I am blessed to have an understanding and supportive wife who recognized this was important to me. In fact my wife Tiffany and my two sons were going to join me later that day, as well as my brother-in-law Shane and his family. I knew that would be a boost on the trail, knowing they were thinking of me and praying for me.
I pulled into Hope School with about 2.5 hours to spare until start time. After some gear shuffling I set my alarm for one hour later and forced myself to lay down in the camper. I laid with my eyes closed but couldn't sleep. I was supposed to have found a camping spot, but hadn't been able to. My wife texted me not to worry about it, they would figure it out when they arrived. With that off my mind I just tried settle myself until the alarm went off. After a clothes change I filled my bottles, mixed my Perpetuem, grabbed my drop bags and headed to the assembly area.
It was finally almost time and I couldn't wait...