Thursday, September 17, 2009

Virgins No More: First Timers at Cascade Crest, Tetons and Wasatch Front

Boom, Boom, Boom! Three 100-mile races, three first-time 100-mile finishers!

Cascade Crest 100 Mile

Ominous skies await Renn before the start of his first 100 mile.

The ball started rolling in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State. Chris Rennaker (RVR store employee and Trailrunner Magazine cover boy) took on the 100-mile beast at the Cascade Crest 100 Mile. Success was his! After a grueling night of running Renn crossed the finish line in 22:22:47. He was paced by his good friend Aaron Brian. Rennaker's account of the event can be found below:

Rennaker powers over the mountains en route to his first 100 mile finish.

Chris Rennaker in his own words,

"The race started at 10am. So, lots of time to walk around and chat with fellow runners some I know some I'm meeting for the first time at the start area. We had huckleberry pancakes and fruit for breakfast at the Easton Fire Department. then did a pre-race breifing for 20 minutes. Everybody sort of shuffled to the start line and we were off.

The morning started out cloudy and never really got sunny at all during the day. I didn't get to see any of the vista's around the area that the race is known for. No Rainier, no craggy peaks or anything. Then it turned to night time and I didn't see a damn thing then either. I felt like I was running smart and at a good pace, not too fast, for 68 miles. But I think I may have been pushing it up the hills a little too much and that's what caused my quads to blowout around mile 85. I lost 8 places that last 15 miles. CCC 100 was the hardest thing I think I've ever done and really made me dig deep through the pain in my quads, knee and feet, to continue. At several points throughout the last 15 miles I told Aaron, that this has turned into a nightmare, a trainwreck, a f@#$ing disaster.

I laid down once at mile 91 or 92 and got passed by a runner, Aaron said to them "this is where runners go to die" in a nice deep voice. They did not get as much of a kick out of it as Aaron and I did, I got up and kept going. All in all, I was only 22 minutes over my 22 hour goal. I ran a 22:22 for my first 100 mile run."

A popular Chris Rennaker pose. Congratulations big guy!

Grand Teton 100 Mile

Then the ball bounced over to Alta, Wyoming for the Grand Teton 100 Mile. Erin Keller and Jody Waters (both of Ashland, OR) put forth excellent efforts on their first 100-mile race. Jody called it at mile 75, though the mind and spirit were strong, disabling blisters brought her to a halt. Erin finished in 29:52:58, 4th woman and 8th overall.

Erin runs through the aspens of the Tetons.

Jody Waters had this to say about her experience,

"Good news and bad news. Erin supplied the good news with a strong and happy finish - just under 30 hours (29:52) with a smile on her face the whole time and won our age group. I am the bad news (well, good and bad). I was doing really well and feeling great until mile 70 - holding pace for around a 23-24 hour finish, and 3rd woman most of the day - but huge blisters covering the heel pads on both feet eventually took me out at 75 miles. Miles 64-75 were a death march on my toes to avoid placing weight on my heels. Very painful. Big bummer.

Regardless, many smiles and good experiences. John was a stellar crew, and I owe big thanks to him and to Sean Meissner who stepped up to guest crew and help administer to my ravaged feet after he finished his own 50. We had great weather and a fun and challenging course. Both the overall male and female winners (Ty Draney and Ashley Nordell) broke course records (19:19 and 23:03, respectively), and the race directors and aid stations were incredibly supportive and well-prepared. The race is funny - really small and seems to be geared towards first-timers. The 4-loop course is probably not for everyone - some good views and a great climb and descent on one of the laps, but definitely requires some mental fortitude to stay excited through all four loops.

I'm trying to sort out what the hell happened to my feet - the blisters don't look or act like regular friction blisters and are showing some signs of infection which is scary. My doc ran a blood panel this morning to check for signs of hypo or hypernatremia and I'm on elevated feet house arrest until they clear up and I can take weight on them. But, I'm thrilled at how things went otherwise and am hoping to problem-solve this foot issue and take all the good
things into my next 100 and not DNF again.

Erin was a star - she infected everyone on the course with her great attitude and big smile."

Jody descends the meadows of Wyoming.

John Price (Erin's husband and the ladies' crew person) summed it up like this,

"Erin had a very solid first 100 at Tetons. She had a great attitude the entire way and managed herself very well. In the end she snuck in under her goal time of 30 hours with a 29:52 after a strong effort during the last 5 miles. Jody had a great 70 miles (running with the lead women) but her feet began to betray her and by mile 75 her heals were so badly blistered that running, let alone walking, was not going to happen. Though disappointed, she put out a great effort and ran 25 miles farther than she ever had. On reflection I'm sure she'll realize that she really put it out there and will be as proud as we were of her effort. Overall a beautiful day in the Tetons-no rain or wind-and mild temps. Ashley Nordell shattered the women's record with a 23 hour effort and Ty Draney broke the men's course record."

Erin Keller (left) and Jody Waters in their matching chocolate Moeben Sleeves!

Wasatch Front 100 Mile

The finish...what they've all come for!

The ball finally came to rest this summer in the mountains outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. Carly Varner (also of Ashland) took on her first 100-miler at the Wasatch Front 100 Mile Endurance Run. Hal Koerner, Carly's fiance and RVR's owner, didn't want her to feel lonely on the course, so he too took on the 100-mile challenge.

Carly, hands and plate full, gets help from her crew.

When asked to describe her experience, Carly responded with this heart felt message,

"I truly can't believe I made it. It seems so surreal now that we're back. I’ve been told in the past that if you’re not sore after your race that you didn’t run hard enough. Certainly I was sore the day after the race and yesterday during our 11 hour drive home, but today I feel as if it was all just a dream. Of course the reality of being back home and back to work is quite sobering, I still think I played my cards wisely and that I’m proud to have been successful.

Another thing that I heard several times before embarking on this 100 mile adventure was that the Wasatch 100 was a stupidly tough first hundred to tackle. A thought followed of course by another obvious one; that all 100-milers are tough. Why yes, yes they ridiculously are. 100 miles of heaven and hell is no joke. I knew that my legs would grow weary, that my breath would weaken and that the “lows” would tirelessly haunt me, but what I was happy to discover was that my spirit couldn’t be broken, that my laugh wouldn’t go unheard and that my smile could shine through even the thickest layers of dust. So with a little patience I was able to ride the ups and downs straight through the finishing tape and I have a kick-arse buckle to prove it.

It all just brings tears to my eyes. I wasn't emotional out there, like I've been in other races. But thinking about it now, about the hugs at the finish line and the encouragement at the aid stations, it really has become a special time for me to spend with family and friends... These crazy things bring us all together!

Certainly I would love to run another 100. I discovered that I’m a big fan of night running – lucky me."

The 100 mile stare!

Hal at Pole Line Aid Station

Hal would go on, after a somewhat brutal night of running, to finish Wasatch in 22:18:16.

Hal Koerner's Crowning Moment.

Carly would rock and roll through to witness a second sunrise and finish her first 100-miler in 32:38:29.

Brew deserved indeed. Shout it from the mountain! Congratulations Carly!

Nice Work Everyone!


Speedgoat Karl said...

Congratulations Carly!!! Wasatch was my first 100 too, nothing like getting the tough one over first. Now the rest of them are easy. Great run!

Rennaker said...

Thanks for the write up! Nice work everyone! I hope next summer we will all be running in a 100 miler together. The scuttlebutt is that there may be a Southern Oregon 100 miler next summer...organized by the RVR boys. Let's make that happen!

Darcy said...

Everyone did so awesome. I am inspired by all you first timers and proud of each one of your efforts. You are all rockstars!

erik said...

Nice runnin' guys and gals...and with stylin' smiles the whole way. I also like the nap strategy Renn.

amazing stuff,


Annie Taylor said...


After a quick nap and bottle of Gatorade I too came back to finish AC last year, though not in the stylin' time you finished in.

Congrats all -- I'm using this inspiration to help me finish my 100 in one week.

Annie said...

I continue to be in unspeakable awe you Guys.

You're just an amazing group of brutally disciplined, spirited and tough, tough athletes.

I cannot express my admiration and respect. Thanks for all the great writing.

c.varner said...

Ha, I just had a chuckle when it registered that all my pics are of me sitting - busted!

Speedgoat Karl said...

Get off your ass Carly!