Sunday, July 24, 2011

Western States 100 Mile: Duncan Canyon to Mosquito Ridge

Along the race course near the Lake we ran alongside for several miles. It was a very beautiful blue lake that had lovely snow capped mountains in the background.

We never got too close to the edge of the lake although at several points we had to cross over (through) streams.

The trail along the perimeter of the lake was very nice with very few roots or rocks so it was easy on the feet and there were not very many tripping hazards.

Just a few minutes later and one final switchback up the hill I make it to the Duncan Canyon Aid Station. The aid station is really active and lots of fun. The volunteers take great care of me helping me fill all my hydration pack with ice water and my bottle with sports drink as well as filling my bandana with ice so I can wrap it around my neck to keep cool. Everyone is so cheerful and helpful. I loiter a bit, chat with the volunteers and again get scolded to get out of the aid station.

Jogging out of the aid station I am feeling great. My WS100 experience is amazing so far. It is exceeding my expectations!

The current course continues its diversion on the “2011 snow route”. We go into Duncan Canyon then head up to Mosquito Ridge. As I am running into the canyon we have a small section on snow then abruptly get onto a road. I am thrilled to see road. I have had enough snow for many, many years to come and I actually do like running on road since it is fairly brainless (so far I have not fallen on road, trails I fall a lot!).

As I running down the hill, safety patrol catches up to me. They are very nice and even take my picture as I run along. We chat for a while. Their job is to make sure runners are doing well. Sadly I am doing well so after a bit they head off. I try to suggest that I am not coherent and that they kind of owe me an escort since I did give up my SPOT rescue beacon which was supposed to be my chaperone. Apparently this does not convince them to stick with me. Nor does my exciting conversation and company. As they head off, they remind me that the DNF line is approaching but suggest that I am moving solidly and just need to keep running strong.

In the canyon we run along a river for a bit. I love rivers and the sound of running water. I am in my happy place. The views continue to be very pretty and I am just having so much fun. I try not to stress about my lack of SPOT and try to remind myself that statistically I am unlikely to experience death and disaster.

Hiking up the hill I am bummed when we get off the road onto a fireroad. At least it is not single track. As I run along I am all alone. Along the road you could see about ½ mile ahead and behind at various points and there are no runners in my field of vision. But as I run on the dirt road I am surprised to catch up to my friend Don. Not surprisingly he passed me at the Aid Station. We catch up a bit and jog for a bit together. Again, my pace is slightly faster so we ultimately separate. A little bit later I catch up to my friend Jose SG. He really struggled in the snow (in fact at one point I asked him what shoes he was wearing…so I could NEVER buy them!). He is starting to struggle in the heat but is moving forward. He has a lot of experience in 100’s so I am optimistic for him.

As I continue running I am back to being alone. This is actually how the rest of my day seems to progress. Sporadically I see runners in the aid stations but overall I am alone. I did not know if headphones are allowed so I did not carry any. But regardless I would not have put them on because I want to make sure I can hear the rattlesnake, bear, cougar, marmot, lizard or whatever other animal might be about to attack me!

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