Two years ago I ran my second hundred miler (100 in the Hood) on the same trails (PCT) as the Mt. Hood 50-miler, which is now being directed by Todd Janssen. I was new to Oregon at that time and I feel that my running has come a long way since then as well. When I ran 100 in the Hood I literally didn't know more than a couple people, and I ran half the race on an injured leg. Needless to say I didn't have the greatest journey out there but I still got my finisher's buckle. Fast forward almost two years....and many miles later to this past Saturday and that whole experience was redeemed out in the same beautiful mountains and trails with lots of like-minded friends. The whole event and day turned out great!...and I was home before supper!
Off we went into the trails and cool air at 6:30 a.m. I ran with Amy for a mile or so... then Trevor and I reminisced on how these were the exact same trails we met on some two years ago. It was a tight little pack for a while and I could hear Kleffner, Nick, Trevor, etc. talking behind us as I stayed out front and eventually pulled away a little bit.
After Aid Station 1 I had to pull over into the bushes and I was passed by a runner with a mohawk (Mike). I caught back up to him and learned that he was from Florida and this was his first 50. We ran together for a bit until the turn-a-round and then I started pulling away sensing that he was fatiguing a little bit.
(The trails were so soft and cushy and the scenery was amazing for the first few hours)
I'm not super crazy about double out-and-back courses but one positive side is that you get to see everyone multiple times. Charles was doing his first 50 and I gave him some words of encouragement and saw many other familiar faces as well. The pack of Nick T., Joe K., Trevor, etc. were only a couple minutes back at the turn-a-round and the temps were starting to rise a little at this point.
A couple miles later I was having some gastrointestinal issues again and I had to make another pit stop into the bushes. I can usually get in and get out pretty quickly and when I was getting back out into the trail my friend/neighbor/training buddy Nick Triolo startled me. I was happy to see him running so well and we started back at it going after 1st place mohawk Mike. Pretty soon Joe Kleffner caught up to us and we all ran together for a bit. After a couple miles we caught Mike at the aid station and Nick and I zoomed past him. We were having fun out there...yellin...making animal noises...talkin' gibberish....until I fell pretty hard and nailed my back on a root...Thankfully Nick was there to peel me off the ground and help me up!
(Nick and I going for broke...Is there any other way to go?!?!?! Photo: Jason Leman)
We hit the start/finish at mile 28 at around 3hours 20 minutes which seemed pretty quick for me. As I do in most races I wondered if I stepped over that threshold. I grabbed my bottle of Perpetuum and re-stocked and Nick and I made a pretty quick transition heading south on the PCT. This next part of the race was the lowest point for me. Miles 30 through about 36 just sucked for me! I even walked some short portions and this is a race that doesn't involve much elevation change (only about 5,000 feet of climbing over 50-miles). I honestly thought that I wasn't going to be able to hang with Nick. We rolled into the Red Wolf aid station and as soon as we got in who do we see/hear coming in behind us???? Uhhh...oh yeah...I forgot...that guy that has the fastest 100-mile time on American soil.....Ian Sharman!
Nick and I weren't moving nearly as quickly or efficiently as Ian and he strolled right past us and bounced out of sight. We just continued onward and the heat was really starting to take a toll on us now. Luckily we came across a knee deep stream after our descent where we splashed our heads with the cold water. That really refreshed me and eventually we made it to our turn-a-round at about mile 40. When I saw 10 miles to go sign I felt motivated and the food there combined w/ the cold water energized me. I pushed on out of sight with an attempt to go for Ian.
I felt that I nailed that climb pretty well given that the last time I did it was in the middle of the night at like mile 92! Needless to say it was much easier this time and I felt like I was getting into some good running grooves after the slog from miles 32-36ish. I was getting updates from people that Ian was 5-7 minutes ahead...then the closer I got to the finish the farther I was getting away from him!
I came in right at 6:45 flat and I found out that Ian put 10 minutes on me in the last 5 miles....the guy was sprinting to go under 6:30 and he just made it w/ a few seconds to spare! Nice work Ian....Thanks for not killing me in an Elvis suit or something similar! Apparently we both broke the prior course record and I felt really good coming up over that finish line....just like I did in 100 in the Hood...The whole race brought up a lot of memories for me and I think it helped fuel me too.
A few minutes later Nick came in looking just as strong as he ran all day and then the rest of the amazing athletes came trickling in as well. Good job to friend and ultra phenom Amy Sproston who crushed the course record for the win, and there were many other inspiring runs out there this past weekend.
Congratulations to ALL that ran the Mt. Hood 50!
Thanks so much to Todd Janssen and all the volunteers...You guys really put on a fun, well-organized event....Great food...Chiropractors....Glass pints...nice shirts....oh yeah...and very well marked!....and thanks to Inov-8 for being one of the main sponsors and for them giving out so much schwag.
Full Results from the race can be seen by clicking HERE