What could YOU do in 100 hours?
In 100 hours, you could work four full days… AND get four workouts in…AND take four long, romantic walks at sunset, AND brush your teeth 8 times AND enjoy 12 meals including four breakfasts in bed or… you could take on the Tahoe 200 Mile Endurance Run. This year, 61 people showed up at the start line in Homewood, California to run, hike, crawl, laugh, cry, hallucinate, day-dream and adventure their way counter clockwise over 200 miles around Lake Tahoe in 100 hours or less.
The “T200” is the first point to point 200 mile running race in the United States and, according to the race website requires “a penchant for suffering, a love of the outdoors, and an adventurous spirit”. This year was the second running of the T200 and sported an 85% finishing rate, a 15% increase from last year. Donner Party Mountain Runners had 3 members “unafraid” to take on the challenge and I caught up with them to talk about their experiences between recovery naps.
DPMR and 2015 Hardrock finisher Betsy Nye registered for the T200 after her experience pacing a runner at the inaugural event in 2014 where she discovered, “I had so much fun and felt the cool, low key vibe that happened way back when I ran my first 100 miler in 1998”. She looked forward to getting in on the T200 action in 2015 and once the gun went off, Betsy ran a steady race full of the ups and downs that are classically part of running ultras.
Betsy finished 8th overall, and 2nd female in a time of 75:02:32,“with only burning feet and a sore foot bone but no injuries. I would say that to finish 200 miles you need to be very patient and just keep moving forward. I also didn’t sleep at the (race provided) sleep stations; I waited until my body couldn’t go anymore”.
An experienced multi-day runner, she confides that “when you PLAN to sleep, sometimes it doesn’t work out”. She states that in the T200, “just like running one hundred miles, you go through heaven and hell but once you finish, it is just such a great feeling”.
Part of the course ran through her backyard and, although going into the race she was nervous about the temptation to stop here she instead took comfort in the familiar scenery and found in it the motivation to keep moving forward. Betsy was also excited and grateful for her crew of family and friends that came out to support her. The thrill of being part of a 200 mile adventure even inspired Betsy’s pacers to push their limits; her nephew ran fourteen miles with her….until then, his farthest training run had been five miles.
The brave DPMR Diana Schlaff’s longest run prior to the this race was a 50K, making the T200 her second ever attempt at an ultra distance and she deems the T200 her, “dream race.” An avid fast-packer, Diana,“was offered an entry into this race, with three weeks notice. There was no way I could say ‘No’.” Fearlessly she toed the start line with family and friends scheduled to crew along the way,”they arrived early at checkpoints, waited for me to come in, then waited while I slept, dealing with car shuttles, transporting themselves to distant points around the lake. I really could not have done this without all of them. I have special memories from each leg of the race, sharing laughs with each of them, that I will never forget.”
Along her journey, Diana battled stomach issues and through,“laughter, tears, exhaustion and one lost toenail” she pushed 155.5 rugged miles before stopping at Brockway, “I knew this was going to be hard, but I had no idea that it would be sleep deprivation that would ultimately take me out of the race.” Diana’s T200 bid ended when her exhaustion led her feet to stop running at Brockway but she continues to run with her heart. Despite being new to the ultra world, Diana celebrates her effort with the true spirit of a seasoned ultra-runner,“this was a truly unforgettable experience, with many more laughs and smiles, than tears. This made me so proud to be a part of the ultra runner community and so proud to be a part of Donner Party Mountain Runners. I know that someday I will be a finisher in this race.” No doubt, Diana will be back to toe the T200 start line someday.
DPMR JP Prince finished a respectable 103.1 miles of the T200 course this year and states that his advice for folks who want to take on the T200 in the future would be to “train not only physically but also your mental game”. Going into the race, his biggest concern was,“those pesky voices in my head telling me to quit”.
To counteract those voices, he recommends watching films such as Fight Club and Reservoir Dogs to help provide some hard core inspiration to persevere. After battling mentally and completing the first 100 miles of the T200, JP found himself facing an inability to physically recover during his periods of rest while on the course and instead faced,“shocking periods of pain… leg cramps and nausea,” until finally after one late night attempt at rest near Heavenly, JP recalls,”dawn broke… and I was broken”.
Despite having covered more than twice his longest distance ever- 103 miles, JP spent all afternoon and late into the night Monday volunteering at the aid stations, and cheering on his fellow runners.
JP describes his participation in the T200 as the race having “found him,” in light of being offered the DPMR club entry in return for his generous volunteering and tireless work at last year’s aid station. No doubt you’ll see JP volunteering at future races and out on the trails again soon.
During this, the second year of the Tahoe 200, fifty three pioneers of distance and endurance finished the more than 200 mile course before the 100 hour cut-off… and have taken ultra-running to a new level. It takes guts to show up at the start line of any ultra, it takes all you have and then some to get through the miles and, it takes being unafraid to even consider attempting it in the first place. Donner Party Mountain Runner members Betsy Nye, Diana Schlaff and JP Prince all displayed bravery and spirit during their campaigns for the finish line this year; they made us proud, inspired us in our own endeavors and, they gave us a taste of what can be accomplished in 100 hours.
The final results for the T200 list Jim Trout of Grand Rapids, Michigan in first place, completing the course in 60 hours and 57 minutes. The final finisher was Erik Hanley of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, who crossed the finish line in 99 hours and 58 minutes. To make it happen, he had to hammer the last 2.5 miles in less than 25 minutes. Heart and grit. And #UNAFRAID.