I am finding my race report for the 2015 Western States surprisingly difficult to write. From a factual point of view, it is straight forward. The day started well, cooler than anticipated, and with me running comfortably and close enough to my goal pace for 27 hours. Hydration and nutrition went well and my stomach was solid. The canyons took a higher toll than expected, and somewhere along the way I kicked a rock into an already tender Achilles tendon. I got it rubbed and taped at Michigan Bluff and moved it on down the line. I picked up my pacer in Foresthill, and we moved along into the night, where I found my normal abilities reversed – it was difficult to sustain downhill progress, but my uphill didn’t deteriorate much. I adapted to the conditions on the fly, I watched the clock, and I finished in 29:28, 10 minutes ahead of my previous finish 6 years ago. Yay!
But for me, that’s a hollow account of the day/night/day, as it relates only to my isolated, individual details. What was more noteworthy to me was how deeply I saw and felt the depth of the ultra community. I saw friends I had been running with for over a decade, as well as people I had met as recently as the Training Weekend. At nearly every aid station, I was surprised by seeing someone I knew, either volunteering or spectating – even at RuckyChucky at 3:30 in the morning. I could write at length about the incredible support from my crew and my pacer, or the Michigan Bluff aid station where I’ve volunteered for the last 5 years, but those would be expected.
This is what I didn’t expect –
Somehow the slider on my bladder gets jammed at Foresthill. At Peachstone it is impossible to remove. Without hesitation, one of the volunteers there takes my bladder and sens me off with the one from her pack. Shannon from Portland.
At Brown’s Bar, in the early light of day, a volunteer checks on me as I drink some coke. Then with conviction he tells me, “You’ve got this, just keep moving.” Hal Koerner.
Coming up from Robie Point. Rob Krar is coming down. He crosses to my side of the street to shake my hand and says “Good job”. The next time I see him he’s in front of a small group of people hustling onto the track in the final minutes of the race. The winner of the race is leading in the final competitor.
Without exception, each and every person I encountered on race day made me feel like I was the most important person in the world. Whether they were checking me in at Squaw, a volunteer at an aid station, or the winner of the race (including today’s race!). My race report from Western States boils down to this: I had a good time participating in an exceptional race and encountered the most extraordinary people along the way. I couldn’t be more fulfilled.