2016 Javelina Jundred 100 Mile Endurance Run – Chasing a Dream
Javelina Jundred – October 29-30 2016
I fucking worked hard for this. I hatched this lofty plan in December of 2015, and at the time I hadn’t yet crossed the 50-mile threshold. It was a grand series of goals, but if I could get through the 50M at Tillamook and the 70M at FatDog, I’d go in with a bucket of confidence. Well, both knees blew up at Tillamook and my left knee completely borked 20K into a 113K FatDog run, so confidence was NOT that high. I had put in some very focused hip strength and sauna training since FatDog so I had that going for me – or so I’d hope.
Fast forward to race day. As I mentioned, this was a long time in planning and part of that plan was to meet up with my dad and step-mum who currently live in Brooklyn, NY. We share a love affair with the desert, it seemed appropriate that their first glimpse of my ultra running ‘hobby’ would happen in the Arizona desert. Sadly, circumstances wouldn’t allow for my step mum to make the trip. However, dad was en route and ready to take on the one man crew tasks that he would carry out with heroic fluency and calm perfection.
Prior to the race I had decided on 2 possible kicks to run my first 100 Miler in. The Hoka Speed Instinct or the Altra Lone Peak 3’s which had updated some huge deal breaker issues from past versions. I haven’t run or trained in any of the giant stack-height disco boots yet (Hoka’s, hehe), so I thought there would be another time for that. In the end I chose to go with the Lone Peaks which I grabbed from Distance Runwear in Vancouver, BC. For some reason Victoria has yet to outfit a running store with the shoes (and basically everything else) that most ultra runners will line up for. Hopefully that changes soon.
For hydration I went with 2 handhelds loaded with Tailwind Naked flavour (not quite flavourless, but caffeine free) and a single-bottle, NorthFace Ultra 1 belt which would hold a 20oz bike bottle of just water for washing down nasty gel shots and for cooling purposes.
- Nut butter
- Run Steep gaiters
For the first 2 laps I wore my trusty Nike Wildhorse 2’s which handled really well, but I was ready for the luxury of the Lone Peaks when I rolled out of my second loop.
Well, being my first hundred and considering the shocking and consistent finish rate, getting through those 5 loops in one piece was the goal. In the back of my mind (and on my pace chart) I thought I might be able to challenge for a sub 24-hour finish. See how I made out in the gore below.
Let’s get it on!
The First Loop – Respecting The Beauty of the Desert
Under the gentle glow of the early dawn sky, we set out into the raw desert to the anthem-like Ghostbusters theme song. I settled in towards the mid-pack and while I had my headlamp, I mean head-torch on, It was unnecessary and so it was decoration only. Fortunately, I’d tested whether it would fit in my only zippered pocket on the belt. It lasted about .5hr on the cranium.
The silhouettes of Saguaro cactus on the ridgelines and the surrounding mountains were picturesque and spectacular. I just tried to stay calm, enjoy the surroundings, keep a nice slow pace and prepare for the impending heat that would wreak it’s savage vengeance on so many runners in the hours to come. Things were heating up as I rolled through the first aid station with just a quick fill up. Coyote to Jackass is the longest leg so I was sure to keep everything topped up as I headed up which would be the slowest section of all segments. This bit was rocky with a narrow ‘sort of’ trail along one side. This was epic shit for catching a toe on the down, something that would crop up on the next loop.
Oh Hey! It’s Howie Stern, snapping pics just outside of Jackass Junction. Make sure to check out his pics when they land! (I never made the Stern roll)
Jackass was great! I settled in quickly with my drop bag (Thanks TrailRunnerNation and Victory Bags!). Refueled my bottles and grabbed another bag of powder for the next AS. Also, having forgot to apply the ‘man-daids’ (nipple bandaids), the glide in my DB came in handy. Yeeaoowwzers! That shit stings when applied to a chafing under-satchel. I didn’t mess around here too long as I still had my 24 thing lingering in the back of my head. Also the dudes in cheerleader skirts were pretty wretched so I moved on quickly. 🙂
Jackass to Rattlesnake is as much of a ‘ripper’ as you could call it on this course. Gradual downhill the whole way, rolling, double-track through spectacular desert. Forests of Cholla and Saguaro with mesquite bushes dressing the trails in it’s wonderful smoky aroma. Oh, and the relentless pounding heat of the sun which would reach 102 apparently, a good 15-20deg hotter than ‘normal’. I kept a bead on my pace as it would have been very easy to shred myself on the first loop and blow up the race. I played it smart, hydrated well, kept cool and just looked as far ahead as the next AS. Small, attainable goals…
Rattlesnake was a welcomed sight as things were starting to get a bit uncomfortable out there. Dropped some ice in my bottles and headed out for what would be the least attractive section of the race. This was the new bit that added a couple extra miles onto the first loop so that our next 4 would be identical, washing machine loops.
Had some fun chatting with a little devil named Ashley. Congrats on her first 100 as well! I would see her a few more times and would only catch her in the last 10 miles of the event. Incredible athlete!
The start/finish chute meandered through the crew tent area where canopy’s lined the trail on either side as runners threaded their way around this short loop, day and night. It was great to see my dad who was a bloody hero on crew duty. Having never seen me run an event, he was there for every loop helping me get up and out. A quick stroll over the timing mat and a short sit down to gather my thoughts and re-up on the bottles. Thanks Dad for filling the bottles and fetching me bottomless cups of coke and ginger ale 🙂
Loop Two – The Savage Fist of the Desert
Loop two would bring with it a shit-tonne of gore. Runners that just weren’t prepared or hydrated well enough had to deal with bodies screaming “Fuck This, You’re Stopping Right Here!!!”.
Bodies were dropping with some frequency. I saw multiple people heaving, crouched over in agony, resting on fully exposed rocks contemplating their life decisions, and one unfortunate fellow who didn’t quite hide very well before dropping gear and, while standing, let fly a hearty fountain of diarrhea that could be heard many yards down the trail. Just an average day out on the trail. You really need to thicken up out on these long runs. You’ll see everything. Just shrug and move on, because that will be you some day.
Since this was a washing machine style race, I headed out in the same direction I came in, except we skipped the extra 2 miles or so from the first lap which was great. Rattlesnake was out of ice so that was fun. Just suck it up, fill the bottles and keep moving.
I’m not a big chatter but I struck up some conversations along the way. The most frequent conversation started that I heard all day was ‘Hey, where are you from’. I just tended to ‘listen’ and focus on my plan. This was going to be a tough day out in the sun.
All I could muster for the people stopped dead in their tracks was ‘you gotta keep moving, you can do it, just get to the next aid station’. There is no relief out here. The roll up to JackAss was lovely. I do okay in the heat as I found out so I was having a great time. I had the perfect amount of gear and water.
I didn’t mess around at JA, just long enough to grab a glance at my ‘happy place’ picture, reload my bottles and toss another bag of powder in my handheld for Coyote. I had my split chart still on hand and was still on pace. Since JA is the ‘top of the loop’, it was going to be a net down all the way back to Jeadquarters. I let it roll while keeping a steady measured pace. This is a really nice section with views of the opposing mountains to keep you occupied.
While slowly descending the ‘rocky section’ I rolled past a fellow runner, who for some reason decided that getting passed by a guy wearing a Galaxy Cat tank top with a donut on the back, triggered him to jump right on my ass and tail me down the ‘rocky graded trail’. I could head his pattering right behind me and after a couple minutes he caught his toe. I could hear the quickening stumble behind me as I sped up to save myself from a possible collision. He recovered to which I said, “nice save man!”. Nothing in response. Maybe 30 seconds later as WORSE stumble. This time I feared for my race as this dude, who insisted on tailgating me, came clattering towards me again, stomping and stamping as he fought to regain his balance. I’m having a good panic so I yelled back “Dude! Back up a few feet man!!”. Again, nothing in response.
I found him at the aid station and with a friendly pat on the shoulder, I laughed while stating, “dude, you freaked the shit out of me back there, hehe” Again, nothing. *Shrug. Whatever man, have a good race, and remember to keep your distance following downhill.
Howie Stern was lurking around Coyote AS snapping his amazing pics and just as a kind volunteer, surprisingly released a ‘sponge-load’ of ice water down my neck I looked up while shrieking to find Howie’s lens pointed directly at my face. Haha… I’m not sure that I’ll see what was captured, but it was quite a hilarious moment, squealing like a schoolgirl as frigid water rolled down my back. Loop 2 done.
Loop 3: From Day to Night;
My plan all along was to transition to my Salomon running vest and Altra Lone Peak 3’s starting at loop 3. The handhelds were a very good choice under the heat of the day as that vest (black and red) would have certainly added a few degrees to my external temp and limited the cooldown effect.
Oh man, those Altra’s felt fucking amazing! I’d put 30 miles in them recently in really harsh conditions, pacing at BigFoot 100k, so I was extremely confident in their ability to bring me to the finish. It was the perfect time as the Nike’s were starting to let go and my feet were calling out for the change. So cushy and magnificent.
Once again, dad the crew monster was exactly where I needed him. My bag was always ready. He knew I would be going for a full change after loop 2 so everything was laid out and prepped.
My ultra comfortable LonePeaks and I headed out on loop 3 only a few minutes back of the 24hr time pace. Still within reach.
Having taken so goddamned long to write this report, my recollections of loop 3 are pretty slim. I was just tapping out my pace, trying to keep close to my pace sheet. I rolled into Jeadquarters still feeling okay. At this point I was 10 mins behind my 24hr pace and was okay with it. Dad really tried to motivate me to press. I knew it wasn’t going to be. It was a serious goal. I’d been following my time chart, not really factoring in time at aid stations. I left into loop 4 in great spirits, even though the 24hr buckle wasn’t going to greet me at the finish.
Loop 4: Fuck (the dark lap);
Shit hit the fan on this loop. Just couldn’t get going. Dragging my feet, feeling like shit. Didn’t feel like eating. All that stuff that ultra runners experience at some point during any race. I crawled up to Rattlesnake Junction and collapsed. I made the mistake of not setting any alarms and hit the cot with purpose. I really had no idea how long I lay prone. My memories were of various conversations happening around me as runners occupied the chairs as I selfishly drifted in and out of some sort of consciousness. Eventually my body creaked to life and set off up the gentle climb to Jackass.
Not a lot of memories here, just ‘getting it done’. A great deal of walking and not a lot of running.
I hit Jackass and there was carnage everywhere. One dude in particular was bellowing out a death-like moan every couple of minutes as he went about dealing with his dropbag. The ‘drunk kids’ were beyond annoying so it was great motivation to keep moving. I was pretty efficient here and drifted out into the Arizona night.
There weren’t as many stars out as I was hoping, probably due to the ‘light noise’ from Phoenix or Scottsdale, but it was beautiful nonetheless. I would periodically crab a sprig of ‘mesquite bush’ to waft under my nose reminding me of the first times hiking in the desert at Joshua Tree National Park.
The volume of lights (other runners) around me was dwindling and it made for some interesting visuals as they popped out of the darkness from time to time. My headlamp died on the way to Coyote so I managed to hook up the spare battery in the pitch of darkness and carried on. Trudging…
Stopped at Coyote for a sit down and a cup of veggie broth, then started rolling back down the hill.
A few KM before the turnaround a couple runners coming the other way suddenly lurched back in dramatic fashion, as a small rattlesnake slithered across our path. A few minutes later another runner warned of a scorpion lurking on the trail. Yep, they’re smaller than I imagined, but a scorpion it was.
I hit the headquarters in a state of delusion and uncertainty. I ended up over 1.5hrs behind the theoretic 24hr pace and was feeling dejected, broken and cold. I couldn’t warm up. Dad threw every piece of clothing he had on me and tried to rub some heat back into my broken mind and body. The rubdown and short massage was just what I needed. Some hot broth and I started to return to reality; the present reality.
After moaning and groaning back into my gear, I assured my heroic, one man crew that my last lap would be easily as long, and not to meet me until at least as long as that last loop. It wouldn’t be the case.
Lap 5 – From Night to Day and a Charge to the Finish
Before I left for my last loop I knew I was going to catch a lie down at Coyote. Passing through the last time, I noticed a couple of cots set back from the skirmish at the food table. That posed a strong motivator as I made it there with relative ease after shaking off the darkness that had felled my mind towards the end of the 4th lap. I politely asked the lovely volunteer if it would be possible to kick me back to life in 10 minutes. She was wonderful and set her phone timer. And, after what seemed like 1 second, I was gently returned to life by a gentle, kind voice.
Feeling rejuvenated I started up the rocky ascent (okay, gentle grade, but rocky). Surprisingly I found myself trudging along at a slow jog. What the fuck was happening? I was DEAD at Jeadquarters, and expected my last lap to be at least 6.5 hrs.
Halfway between Coyote, a gentle orange glow appeared on the horizon. Shortly followed by a steady song of several Coyote’s howling and crying in the night. In my exhaustion I was certain the pack was moving quickly in a parallel line from the trail I was on and for a few short moments I wondered if they might just fall upon me. It was a spectacular and beautiful moment and one of my favorites during the race as the sound of the Coyotes cut through the dusk with their sharp tones and wonderful, child-like voices. Some runners were stopped up ahead taking pictures of the morning light, thinking that someone was in distress.
I crept on to Jackass and started seeing more runners. Seeing, closing and passing…
I didn’t spend much time here, it was desolate and empty, I grabbed a couple cookies and PUMPKIN PIE! Holy shit, that was my goto food when I felt I could choke it down. So good…
As I walked up the short hill leaving Jackass for the last time, the Adele song, Someone Like You started playing loud at the station. The magnitude of the situation hit me like a ton of bricks and emotions poured out. I was weeping, laughing, singing, and moving really well. I was guaranteed to finish. Remembering all the people that got me here. I sang along to what I could, aloud into the beautiful emptiness of the desert morning. That tune has hit me before. The heat steadily rising.
I felt like a fucking million bucks and I started running.
I started RUNNING.
Not a death shuffle, a proper damn pace.
I was running down people everywhere. Only 2 fresh looking dudes overtook me on that last 10 miles of desert trail. I didn’t know what was happening. The lure of the finish. The finality of it all. 100Miles.
I sung whatever came into my head. Bob Marley, Jamiroquai, Daft Punk; it was on. I had no idea what my pace was since my watch died towards the end of the 3rd lap. I had a remote charger but the connection on the Suunto Ambit is notoriously lousy and so a layer of sweat blocked the connection and the watch eventually gave up the ghost. I was running on pure emotion and drive.
I hit Coyote a bit winded from what felt like the fastest 10 miles of the 100 so far. I was strolling out of the station when someone rolled up beside me and asked if she could run back with me, I said sure, but I might not be that fast. She was relentlessly positive, egging me on. I just know her name, that’s all. I think it was Kate, from California. She was about to run a 50k in Georgia. She kept a constant, and pretty savage pace heading to the finish. It was only 2.6miles. It felt like longer because we pushed hard. More racers come into view in front, then drifted off behind me.
I hit the final half loop through the ‘pit stop’ section where crews were set up with tents and canopies. I was running hard! Kate drifted off to let me finish and to the left I saw Elizabeth and Colton of Rainshadow running who lit up my world with their cheers. Colton was fully engulfed in a head to toe teddy bear costume that looked pretty damn hot (it was probably warm too). All I could muster as I passed was a fist pump followed by a laboured, FUCK YEAH!! I was pretty stoked.
I made incredible time, the 2nd fastest loop of the race. I completely forgot that I told my dad that I was going to be sucking wind on this last lap and I wasn’t to be back for another hour at least.
Apparently, Sandra had suggested to my dad that I tend to finish hard and so my self proclaimed expected time was probably in doubt. They had maintained constant contact through social media which really helped me along. Ray would show me all the ‘likes and comments’ on Sandra’s update posts in an effort to keep my spirits high. It worked. Anyway, with Sandra’s warning, dad only just arrived on scene as I crossed the finish and heard my name in the announcement before rushing over to the line.
I hammered to the finish and seconds after crossing, here comes my dad running down the finish chute to grab an historic finishing shot. Emotions were running high as I was handed my buckle, stunned, elated, exhausted. Done. Hugs from Dad, Liz, and Colton, a few more pics (Thanks Liz!!!) and a short moment of unconsciousness on the desert sand.
Finishing Time: 26hours 37minutes
If you’ve still reading, thank you. I never did connect with that kind gal who paced me hard to the finish line. I owe her that motivation at the end. She drifted off before I finished and I never saw her again.
Thank you, everyone.
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