Traffic delayed us, finally left REI at about 6:30 pm. A stop at Cubby’s for some tasty sandwiches set us back another 45 min. Then somewhere in the middle of nowhere a serious accident held us up for another 40 min. We arrived at out hotel close to midnight.
Wake up was 5:30 am, with a short 20 min drive to the start. As were approaching the turn to the start, we could see a line of headlamps high up on the canyon. The 50 milers had just begun their journey.
It was chilly but crisp. We got our bibs and chips and started shortly after. The first mile was a long climb that offered a great view. The sun peaked over the mountains and would gradually warm us throughout the day.
Nate had never run more than 17 miles continuously, so he was in for a day of PR’s. Even though Nate had been putting in more miles than Lexi, I wasn’t concerned about her finishing. Lexi and I had run a Timp double which was about 30 miles, so I knew she would survive.
The first mile was all uphill so we started out slow and I tried to get a shot of the sun rising. We would run the whole thing together which was pretty fun. Both of them are pretty relaxed and Nate can be a funny guy. One of his jokes set the stage for a joke off of sorts.
Scenery wise, I may be a bit spoiled, but after the first few miles, it felt like we settled in some boring views. We were just out in the middle of the desert surrounded by scrub brush and a smattering of scrub trees. We could see the canyons off in the distance, but they were so far! On the plus side, the single track was soft and runnable. I would have appreciated the soft soil singletrack more if I had known how much slickrock was ahead of us. Although when we we on the slickrock, the scenery was more interesting. :/
One thing I neglected to do was to pay attention to where the aid stations were mileage wise. Nate had said 9 miles was the furthest apart they were. Luckily, none of us had any issues with water or calories. The aid stations were well stocked. Several had Halloween candy which was sweet.
Nate had a goal to leave with more Gu’s than he came with. He also had a joke for when he acquired one, which he forgot to do at the first aid station. I had forgotten about the joke. I was eating a delicious Pierogi(!) from the aid station, and he walked up to me with Gu in hand and said, “Don’t mind if I Gu.” I gave a halfhearted chuckle.
Lexi came back from a bathroom break and I told her she needed to go with Nate to get something from the aid station so that Nate could tell his joke. They walked up to the table, Nate grabbed a gel and loudly said, “Don’t mind if I Gu.” A girl standing nearby burst out laughing and several other volunteers laughed. The girl’s boyfriend was nearby and asked what she was laughing about. She repeated Nate’s joke and got more laughs.
So she started telling some jokes of her own.. What do you call fake noodle? an Impasta!!! What do you call an alligator in a vest? An investigator!!! She had about a dozen jokes. And Nate had a few too. As someone who is always harping about having jokes for races, I was disappointed that I didn’t have any jokes to offer.
We left the aid station at the same time as the other two. I kind of hoped that they might want to run with us and keep this joke fest going. But they were moving better than we were, so they took off. I was the caboose following Lexi, and as they passed, I whispered to Lexi, “We have to beat them.” And I guess the joke girl had super hearing because she laughed and yelled, “I heard that!” I was shocked and slightly embarrassed because I was joking. Well half joking.
Later we ran into our joke friend at the aid station. Nate was hurting a bit, and attempting to roll out his butt with a 2 liter bottle. I asked her if she had anymore jokes to help lift his spirits. Before she could say anything, her boyfriend chimed in with, “Have you seen her run? That’s the joke!”
Also there was this puppy. We wanted to pet him, but he started growling at me, which was pretty surprising. I chalked it up to the little guy being fed up with everyone wanting to pet him. I’m sure even dogs have bad days.
Two topics dominated the rest of the run: Nate’s sore butt and Lexi looking for a place to poop, although she wasn’t sure if she actually needed to go. Lexi was concerned about the lack of cover. And also talking about having to dig a six inch hole to bury the waste as per LNT standards. We leapfrogged with several people around us. Occasionally we would be running the same pace as them and so they could hear our conversations about Nate’s butt and Lexi’s poop dilemma.
As we passed this one lady, who I assumed had heard our conversation, I jokingly asked her if she would massage Nate’s butt which totally shocked her from whatever she was thinking.
We stopped on a dirt road for Nate to stretch. The people we had passed came by one by one. An old guy ran by Lexi and asked her, “You dig that hole yet?” We had a good laugh at that because that was totally unexpected. Just as the hilariousness subsided, another runner ran by and asked Nate, “How’s your butt?” It was too perfect.
We got to the last aid station and found out that we were closer to finish than we expected. This lifted Nate and Lexi’s spirits. Lexi’s foot was hurting her and she had been smelling the barn since mile 20. Nate’s butt was slowing him down, but he was excited to be finished. He put on some music to get himself pumped. He was still “struggle-bussing,” but in good spirits.
Earlier, Nate had shot a quick story for Instagram to see if he could get some good vibes from his followers. Unfortunately, service wasn’t great and his story didn’t post. Lexi filmed Nate feeling pretty crusty and coined the hashtag #PrayForNate which became an instant classic.
There was a good bit of climbing in the last few miles, which was tough since we were so close to the finish. But then finally there was a long downhill which we could run. Near the finish, they decided to sprint the last portion in the chute. I think Nate beat her in the sprint, but Lexi was announced as having a faster time. But in the final results, they are both listed at 6:56:59. Nate’s final Gu count was four, I think.