The BEAR 100
"Running 100 miles is elective adversity" (even if the adversity isn't physical)
It's a mixed bag to finish a 100 mile run and knowing it wasn't what it could have been. I missed a turn at mile 90ish and dropped from 2nd place to the teens (I think I ended up running about 107 miles) Had it not been my day, or if I had some unforeseen issues, I think I would have been totally content to finish 14th and 22:50. But overall everything was going pretty great until the missed turn. This is not an excuse. I missed the turn, and most people didn't so it's still my bad to own and at the end of the day it's still a honor to be able to run 100miles.
The BEAR 100 is a point to point race from Logan Utah to Bear Lake Idaho. Overall there is some pretty rugged terrain and roughly 22k of climbing. It's a beautiful race put on by ultra runners who keep it low key. Just under 300 people usually start the run each year. With it being in September the weather is always un-predictable. Last year there was crazy rain and this year it would be the challenging heat.
My Dad and me made the trip out together and met my good buddy Casey in Logan. It was great spending time with my dad and can't thank him enough for crewing like a champ for the whole race. We got all our gear dialed in on Thursday for the Friday start. 6am on Friday morning we started in a little residential park in the dark with headlamps and a few hundred run buddies. The course climbs right away with a big 4-5k climb up to the first aid station at mile 10. I knew a few would start fast so I just took it easy and settled in for some jogging and hiking. I found myself floating in the top 8-10 but really comfortable. Luke Nelson was off the front from the gun and most of us wondered if he could hold out all day. I spent some time catching up and running with Jesse Rickert (we ran together at SJS 50 in June), Jared Campbell, and a few other rad dudes. I actually gapped a few guys on the first little descent (not on purpose) and came into the mile 20 aid station I think in 5th or 6th. My dad was there and we quickly filled the flasks with water and skratch, ate some watermelon, and grabbed some skratch chews and a couple gels. I made sure to eat and drink a lot (I think I ate too much, more about that at mile 60!) A couple miles on a dirt road with an Australian guy and we started up another massive climb together. Miles 23-30 was basically all uphill, a lot of it was runnable and I made sure power hike anything steeper.
We got slowed down a bit by a bunch of cows...yep cows. It's open range cattle country so we trailed a bunch of cows on the single track climbs making them not so happy, which results in cow poop all over the trail and lots of mooing. After a couple brave butt slaps (on cows) from the Australian, three of us runners finally got around the cattle shit train. once the trail flattened out I ended up pulling away from the two guys I was with which was surprising cause I wasn't feeling great. It was really starting to warm up as we started down a steep dirt road into the aid station around mile 35. I got caught by one guy from Montana and we passed one more guy who was already looking pretty wrecked. It was good to have company and we rolled in and out of the aid station together. Leaving I dumped cold water on my head and I also left with my handheld bottle packed with ice and water. I was planning to just have my two 17 oz flasks (salomon s-lab vest) the whole way but once we knew it was probably going to hit 90 degrees, I opted to also carry a 20oz bottle of ice water from mid day till evening just to make sure I never ran out of water and to be able to keep my head and body cooler. It makes a huge difference. More climbing, more running (weird huh?) and another long decent into the aid station. Before I came into the aid station (mile 40ish) there is a little out and back. I saw Luke Nelson and then just a little behind him was Jesse Hayes (both of these dudes are real deal runners) Jesse had just run UTMB three weeks before! I was stoked to be catching these guys and couldn't help but wonder was I going a bit too hard...but I knew my average pace, and target times and I was right on track so I was totally confident I was ok. I caught Jesse and he stayed with me a bit, we both just did our own thing and soon he was outa site behind me. We still had half of the race left so I knew any one of these guys could easily be passing me again later on. Around mile 43-45 we hit a big wide open section and I could see I was gaining on someone. I soon caught Luke Nelson and we chatted a bit and even took a quick dip in the river to cool down. He told me the only guy in front of was John Fitzgerald from Ft Collins. He is a great runner and Luke said he looked super strong. As I came into mile 46-47 aid station my dad was there and said John was 15 min in front of me. I was feeling really good, no issues, nutrition and hydration on point. I made sure to just keep plugging away at my own pace and not to "try" to catch him. A few miles later I crested a hill and came up on John puking his guts out...I made sure he was ok and had what he needed. Lots of people throw up doing these races (he ended up puking for the next few hrs and then Rallied super hard to finish 6th!) I was on the lead!It was awesome but I honestly didn't want to be in first with 50miles left...oh well, I'll still take it. It was cool leading the race and coming through aid stations in the top spot. I came into mile 61 aid station and wasn't feeling great...my stomach was a little pissed. I saw Dad and Casey...what! I was super bummed for Casey. He told me he rolled his ankle really bad at mile 50 and had to pull the plug. I took a couple extra minutes here to drink, grab my BD headlamp and z poles. As I walked out of the aid station, Mick (eventual winner) rolled in looking solid. Super steep climb right away and I figured I only had 3-5 minutes on him...he caught me fast and was gone, he was crushing. I knew I had to take it easy and hope my "low spot" flushed out soon....I was hurting. I was barely moving up the steep terrain and I felt like I needed to puke. My stomach felt full and I figured I must had eaten too many calories early on when I felt good and hungry and it was just catching up with me. I was using Vespa (before) and during the race (every 4-6 hrs) and I'm a big fan of the stuff...so I just drank water and didn't eat anything and hoped that would help. I also knew this was just a bad spot that will happen at some point during every 100mile race. I just kept plugging away and really focused on the positive. It took a bit but I finally started feeling better around mile 73-74 (I think, things get hazy) I hadn't taken in any calories in almost 2hrs and everything felt balanced again. Thanks to aid station folks I knew Mick was an hour in front of me! But I hadn't lost time Jesse who was to 3rd and my dad estimated I had a 20-30 min gap on him. Mile 80 aid station I got some soup and coke; dad and Casey filled my vest....I rolled out feeling strong and noticed course markings where pretty sparse....a couple people had mentioned the last couple sections aren't marked very well...so I was really trying to stay aware and careful. I was running everything but the steep climbs and had the iPod rolling. In and out of mile 85 aid station (I was now 90 minutes behind Mick, he was flying) A few miles later is where I missed a hard right turn...not sure if it wasn't marked or I somehow totally missed the ribbons. After I while running down the road I had a bad feeling I was off. I was about to flip and saw a pink ribbon so I kept going.....too far...I know now I went downhill for way too long before I decided to back track (time is hard to gauge when the mind is hazy after 18hrs) On my way back up I saw the ribbon and realized it was old and faded so I knew I went off course and the long climb back up was so frustrating. Once I got back and found the missed turn I had probably lost 1.5hrs or more. I ended up running a few different guys and at the last aid station the volunteers mentioned several people saying that turn wasn't marked. Someone there told me my dad was there but had just left to go to finish since I was almost 2hrs slower than my projected time (they had no idea what happened to me)...man that last 7-8 miles to the finish was real tough after being completely deflated from the missed turn. It was a real weird mix of emotions rolling into the finish, Deep down I was happy to finish my 3rd 100miler, but couldn't get past the mistake and it definitely consumed my mind. It took a while to "get over" it but lessons learned and I know the experience will pay off somewhere down the line and is extra motivation. I still managed to finish and get the "badger" belt buckle for anyone who breaks 24hrs.
Within a few days of finishing the race I was already looking up if there was any 50-100k races I could do soon after. I wanted a bit of revenge, my internal competitiveness was still in the hunt. I felt like I recovered pretty fast and actually felt normal within a week or so but when I ran I could tell my body needed some more time. I just saw this weekend I didn't hit the lottery for western or Hardrock. I'm thinking back to Leadville or maybe Bighorn 100.