The anticipation and suffering are over, the sleep debt is slowing being repaid, and the dust is settling on Bigfoot 200 2018. Overall, it went pretty darn well. It’s a heck of a lot to remember what happened and in what order. Probably not much technical information, more of just a long story about the goofy stuff that happened. There’s like 100% chance I have things mixed up as to where and when things actually happened.
We stayed at the Lone Fir resort, a mere 25 minutes from the start, which was nice in that we didn’t have to take the 2 hour bus ride from the finish like most folks. The next night Erin joined us. We had front door entertainment with a nest of baby birds. The parents were clearly agitated and flew around squawking at us. We had room for seven, but the first night it was just Dustin and me.
Packing drop bags was an ordeal. We both had four drop bags that would move to another station. And we also had a bag that our crew would carry. The main question was where to put shoes since there were a few aid station that we would not have crew. Eventually we each figured out our plan. We went to bed hoping that we had chosen well.
I came up with a new food product idea called Snack Log. It consisted of some plain roasted almonds, two coconut date rolls, cola gummi bears, unwrapped Starbursts, and bite sized payday candy bars. The idea was that everything would eventually compact into one delicious log of snack food. Weird as it was, it worked well and tasted good.
We got to the start. We used the bathroom, took some photos, and ate some of the breakfast they had for us. (Protip: always bring TP with you when using a port a potty, just in case.) I had painted my poles to look like blind person poles (mainly so someone wouldn’t take mine by mistake, but also cuz it’s funny) but not a single person noticed. Soon, the shorter distances started their races. One somewhat amusing scene was about four minutes after the races started, a woman came back to start almost in tears because she didn’t know where the group went…
All the 200 mile runners scrambled to pose for a group photo and then started the race started at 9. It was finally time to do this thing. We trotted off into the woods, hooting and hollering. I was expecting some new lows, a lot of darkness and sleep deprivation, and maybe (hopefully?) some hallucinations.
The first portion of the race was hot and super exposed. Lots of rocks, dust, and of course, climbing. The group was still clustered together, so it was slow going. Some of the 20 miler folks started running past us. Eventually things opened up and we had more breathing room. We got out to a very open exposed area. It was hot, but nothing unmanageable. And there were a few streams along the way where we could splash some cold water on our face.
During this section, we encountered two dehydrated /heat stroke runners (both were running shorter distances). The first guy wasn’t too bad off. The second guy we saw was in way worse shape, having thrown up “13 times” already. We gave him some Enduralytes and some water… which he promptly and very vocally threw up. He was in no condition to run, and was a good distance from the aid station. We told him if he could make it to the hill where the out and back started, there were plenty of people and they could have a car pick him up. We stayed with him a bit, and he seemed a tiny bit better and he told us to take off. Not a mile later, there was a stream crossing which he would have had to have passed if he went the right way… Did he totally miss it?
Anyway, my takeaway from this is when it’s hot, always have extra salt pills and water. Even in just the two months I’ve been in Utah, I’ve run into several folks in the same situation. Help them out and stick around for a while. Sometimes just having someone else there is comforting.
We later met Sandra and ran with her for a few miles. She took the best photo of the trip for us. We would leapfrog with her for the rest of the race and then finally catch up to her at the very end (by sprinting) and we all three finished at the exact same time. (Actually she crossed the line first, but our results are recorded as the same time.)
As the first night wore on, it became increasingly misty. Here we kept trading places with Adrian, the guy from Australia. We’d be stopped and then he stop and sit with us, like this for hours. We got pretty good at taking breaks. This section went on for seemingly forever. It seemed like we’d never reach the aid station. Adrian caught up to us. He said that the photographer told him it was only 1.4 miles to the finish. We were excited to finally finish this section. But after 1.4 miles, there was no aid station in sight. After two miles, still no aid station. The dusk turned to dawn and finally after closer to 4.4 miles we heard people and saw the aid station. Funny note, this was a sleep station we planned on sleeping at. Neither of us noticed the tents (where the sleeping was supposed to happen) and thus we just slept in our chairs.
While it was super annoying at the time, this 1.4 business turned into a running joke. Anytime someone asked how far it was or how much further we had to go, the answer was always 1.4 miles. We made the joke often enough, I thought it would be funny when 1.4 was the actual answer. There was a photographer at the top of Elk Peak who told us the distance to the next aid station… 1.46 miles. We laughed and were skeptical… was he the same photographer who had misinformed us earlier?
During the day, the weather threatened rain but delivered only a short shower. We were constantly putting on our rain gear, over heating, and taking it off. Dustin had it worse since he runs hot. We were constantly stopping and probably spent at least two hours just changing. I’m glad we didn’t get any downpours, especially during the night.
Mile 91 Ed joined us and began his pacing duties. Ed is great because he has a lot of stories to tell. He likes to tell the stories about the audio books he’s listening to. Surprisingly, I don’t recall many audio book stories. He did tell us about an art exhibit he saw at the Guggenheim. Apparently it was just “a bunch of dots.” As he told us about it, he started getting angry, which is weird because he is a totally chill guy. I’d heard this story before, so I wanted to mess with him and asked him, “a bunch of ducks?” He kept telling his story and we “misheard” everything as relating to ducks. And then after the joke sort of died down, I remembered that we had passed a giant downed tree that had been carved with the direction: “DUCK.” How funny it would have been if we had run into that AFTER the joke began. Definitely one of those you-had-to be-there things, but it was hilarious. This instantly became a running gag and will probably never die.
We were getting close to the Lewis River aid station where Ed would stop pacing and Erin would start her first stint. There was a runner we had been leapfrogging with all day. He always looked kind of grumpy and so we referred to him as “grumpy guy.” We were moving along and he was up ahead. I felt good and pushed down this wide open fire road. I pass grumpy guy, and then he speeds up and passes me. I yell, “So it’s going to be like that?!” and catch up. We are cruising along, sort of racing. We start talking and the guy is actually really nice (and not grumpy). His dad is his crew, but he’s intimidated by the next section because of the water crossings. So we make a plan to leave together after getting 2 hours of rest.
Oh and then one of the other runner’s (Linda) “surprise pacer” drops her because he has a long drive home and has to work in the morning. He is headed back to the Lewis River aid station to pick up his truck. He runs with us for a bit and we chat and then we split up. Just as we sit down and start to eat and relax, dude shows up and starts telling us that his truck isn’t here and that the girl that borrowed it is probably lost and that the ham radio guys can’t call out because someone is lost and he keeps going on and on, almost as if it were our fault or there was something we could do about it. After 10 minutes of complaining, the girl who borrowed the truck pops out from a nearby tent. JFC!
We ate our first(?) hamburger of the race here and slept. It was cold and dark when we headed out. I was concerned about the water crossing because wet feet and cold temperatures sounded like the making of a miserable night. Possible hypothermia and/or trench foot from wet shoes. Our plan was to take off our socks and remove the insoles. Once we got across we put our stuff back on. It sort of worked, but walking through the water was shockingly cold, it may have been better and faster to have just left our socks on. The second water crossing was even worse because it was further.
Justin, aka grumpy guy, hangs with us for a while. He’s done Moab and Tahoe, so this race finishes off the collection for him. He is a new dad and works with lasers or laser motors or something high-tech. Eventually he drops off, I don’t recall why. We never saw him after that. And unfortunately, we missed his finish.
Erin got us through the night and we started our third day.
At the top of Elk Peak, who else would we see but Scott. We played leapfrog with him for what seemed like the entire race. We would be up front, taking a break, and then he’d run up on us and pass us. At one point, he was probably -rightfully- exasperated at all the back and forth and when he saw us, he exclaimed, “For fuck’s sake!” It was pretty funny.
And funny enough, going through my photos, I took ONE photo at the race briefing. I blindly took a photo of everyone seated behind me, and who happened to be sitting right behind us??
Erin traded pacing duties with Ed at Klickitat. Somewhere along the way we stopped at a swimming hole and got in the water. It was a great little reviving break. We were able to wash off some of our funk. We saw both Sandra and Scott there.
I think the next major event was the bugs. Not being able to stop and rest because of the GD bugs. Mainly, they were small fly like insects and maybe a few mosquitoes. They had no fear response, so they were super easy to kill. But what they lacked in life preservation, they made up for in numbers. As soon as you killed one, there’d be another. And another. And another. You’d think that running would make it harder for them to land on you. Nope! They could land on you just as easily. Occasionally, they would bite. It was maddening. The whole section was bugs. Dustin was getting upset at this point and swiping at flowers along the trail. This was the only time I’d ever seen him upset. After we escaped the flies, I thought it would have been hilarious if some of the finisher buckles had incorporated some of the flies.
Another one of my crazy ideas during this section: log penises. There was a fallen log that looked semi phallic. I thought how funny would that be for a person to come out here and carve one of these logs into… a giant penis. After running for so long, people would be sure to think they were hallucinating. No one else seemed to think it was funny.
Getting to Twin Sisters was probably the section that seemed incredibly long and cover way more distance. From the split to the aid station was something like 2.7 miles, it seemed like an eternity before we got there. Weirdly enough, leaving, it seemed like a third of the time. For sure, one’s sense of time gets majorly warped after so many miles.
At Twin Sisters, Ed finished his pacing duties with about 70 miles. Dustin’s dad had set up a tent for us to sleep in even though we’d only be there for an hour. Erin took over and would take us to the finish.
Somewhere during that night, we sat on a peak and watched the stars. There was supposed to be a meteor shower. We sat there lights off and watched. We saw a few falling stars and one intense meteor. We descended and Erin managed to trip on some undergrowth twice in ten minutes. This was kind scary because it was a steep drop off. We encouraged her to be careful and not die. She didn’t trip anymore after that.
There was a long field section where we ran for a good stretch. Poor Dustin had been dealing with foot pain for the last however many miles and yet he soldiered on. I could tell he was in pain, but he never really complained about how it hurt. So I was plenty impressed how he managed the last 30 miles.
Fun pit stop. Candace had told us there was a surprise waiting for us. I had totally forgotten about that. She had left two bottles of tequila on the course for us. Normally, I;d pass, but figured what the hell. Dustin and I took a shot. And then Erin joined us.
We finally reached Owens, the last aid station. It was a great feeling knowing that this was the home stretch. the only thing left was a 13 mile stretch of … road. Super easy to run, but still tortuous at this point. We ate and relaxed a bit. Dustin practically interviewed Linda’s crazy Czech pacer Sharka (sp?). and the best moment was when we saw the whiteboard that had the food menu. On it was written the phrase so often heard at trail races that is overused and almost meaningless: You’ve got this.
Geez Louise, is this thing over yet? The last 13 miles on road were slow going. Dustin’s foot was slowing his mobility. Our spirits seemed to be flagging, so I took out my phone and played some music to revive our spirits. At first it was The Final Countdown. Then it was music from the Super Mario Bros video games. Earlier, I had told a joke I had heard years ago from Chris Porter’s daughter: What kind of pants does Mario wear? (Or what are Mario’s pants made of?) the answer is “denim, denim, denim.” which sounds like the sound track to one of the levels. So I found a bunch of Mario soundtracks in hopes of finding the level that sounds like denim, denim, denim. And then we listened to Reggie Watts, some Louis CK, Pandora, and came back around to The Final Countdown.
And here we took the first, only, and best “ditch nap.”
The sun was coming up. We were about to cross the main street in Randle, this car pulls up beside us. Guy and a girl, girl rolls down window, “What y’all running for?” “It’s a 200 mile race.” She looks at us like we’re crazy.
The last four miles are excruciating. And then we see Ed and Katherine! Our spirits buoy a bit. And then we see Sandra up ahead and decide to catch her.
We start jogging. This feels good, pick it up a bit, then faster and faster until we are full on “sprinting”. Sandra sees us and starts running. We turn into the parking lot and get onto the track. We catch up to Sandra and just walk with her and her pacer. We round the track to cheering and cowbells. We ask Sandra to cross first, then Dustin and I cross at the same time. We are done. 206.5 miles, 93 hours 14 minutes later we are finished.
Surprisingly, this wasn’t as bad as I anticipated. My feet were in decent shape with only a few minor blisters. My muscles weren’t feeling abnormally sore. I could walk normally. We came in two hours under our projected time. We definitely could have come in a lot sooner if we had more urgency. But as this was debut 200, I though a conservative approach was wiser. In February, we will be running The Franklins 200. But this time, there will be no bromance. There will be a great sense of urgency as there is a cash prize up for grabs. The training begins… soon
I would like acknowledge and thank Ed, Erin, Katherine, and Donna & Craig, aka “Mom and Dad”. Their help and support made a HUGE difference. Knowing that our crew was going to be there for us and that we would have a pacer was priceless.