September 7th @ 5am, I toed the line for Wasatch 100, one of the toughest ultra runs in America. Wasatch Front started in Kaysville, Utah and finished in Midway, Utah covering 100 miles of the most beautiful scenery in the Wasatch Mountains. Wasatch Front’s reputation as one of the toughest ultras comes from the technical terrain, heat and altitude; there was a cumulative elevation gain of approximately 26,882 feet. The majority of the race was between 6000 feet and 10,000 feet with lots of steep and rocky decents.
My goal was slow and steady; with the mentality the race doesn’t start until mile 75. Around mile 4, I chatted with a racer in front of me; he had finished Wasatch 18 times all under 32ish hours; I decided to stay on his heels for the first 14 miles and 6,000 feet of climbing. The pace was super slow but I figured he was experienced and he knew this mountain range, I was glad I did, it paid off later in the day when the heat was unbearable. The first 53 miles of the course was open and exposed; the sun was beating down and there was nowhere to hide. Around 5pm I was begging for the sun to go down, for a Seattleite, the sun was blazing.
Before the race, I created a pacing chart in hopes it would help me achieve my goals: my first goal was to finish under 36 hours, my second goal was to finish between 30-32 hours and my ultimate goal was to finish under 30 hours. Numerous times during the race I wanted to push harder, especially early on, but kept to my pacing chart knowing the last 25 miles were brutal. My pacer, Michelle, was awesome; she kept us steady even though at times I wanted to go faster or times I wanted to go slower. I was in and out of most aid stations relatively quick with the exceptions of Lamb’s Canyon (15 minutes; mile 53.13) where I changed my shoes and socks and Millcreek (17 minutes; mile 61.68) where I ate spaghetti and changed into warm clothes. Millcreek was a dangerous aid station at this point in the race it was dark and cold and there were heaters, cots and blankets; not to mention a ton of yummy food.
I trekked from Millcreek to Desolation Lake to Scotts Pass to Brighton. I was in and out of Brighton (mile 75.61) in 7 minutes after I weighed in, grabbed hash browns and brushed my teeth. I was on pace, within minutes of my pacing chart, until mile 83, Pole Line Pass! I was three minutes off the last possible time for a sub-30. I struggled from Pole Line Pass (mile 83) to Pot Bottom (mile 93) on the climbs. My lungs were packed full of dust I had difficulty breathing. I’m humbled by athletes who struggle with asthma; I don’t know how they do it. Wheezing and constantly trying to catch my breath was scary. I was able to run most of the down hills and shuffle some of the flats, my legs and feet were in good condition, but climbing even the slightest uphill I struggled. I was moving slowly during this section; it was one of the longest 10 miles I had experienced. It was frustrating because I wanted to push harder mentally and physically (feet/legs) but my lungs were shot. The dust and altitude (Pole Line Pass 9,000 feet and up to Rock Springs 9,445) definitely took its toll. At the time, I didn’t know I was at 9,000 + feet - Pole Line Pass to Rock Springs; I think mentally it would have helped if I had known.
I arrived at Pot Bottom aid station (altitude 7380; mile 93), I was in and out of the aid station in four minutes and continued to walk the uphill sections and run all the downhills. The finish line was 7 miles away. I knew once I hit the paved road, I had only a couple of miles to the finish, it was actually .7 miles to the finish.
When I arrived at the finish line my friends (Steve, Ted, Baron, Jen, Hunter, and Nick) held a big sign for me, took pictures, and cheered me on – so thankful to have such amazing friends who were so thoughtful to come out and spend their Saturday cheering me on. In addition, I’m incredibly thankful for my pacer, Michelle, who was my brain during the run, filled my water bladder, made sure I had plenty of food, kept me company, and most importantly kept me safe and on pace; having Michelle out there definitely made Wasatch a more memorable experience.
I was hoping for a sub-30 but will take 30 hours and 11 minutes. Overall, beside a significant bloody nose between miles 28-30 and difficulty breathing between 83-93; I felt great with no major signs or symptoms of stomach issues, heat exhaustion, leg cramps, debilitating blisters, and no major bonking. My nutrition was perfect, I was never hungry, never bonked, and ate mostly whole food (noodles, broth, mac and cheese) I ate very few bars (maybe two), no gu shots but a significant amount of Clif Shot Bloks. I have no idea how many I ate during the race (that is why I brushed my teeth at Brighton) but they prevented me from bonking, kept me going, and were easy to stomach after 20+ hours of racing.
Here are pictures from a July training -this is the most beautiful part of the course and you run through it at night.
Lake Martha – Mile 77.13
Great Western – Mile 80 -ish
Wasatch Front was truly a great experience. The race organizers (especially Claude Grant), the volunteers, and the aid station crews were top-notch. The folks at the aid stations were incredibly nice, helpful, and encouraging! The course was well-marked. Wasatch 100 is a catered run (popsicles, pancakes, eggs, hash browns, mac and cheese, spaghetti, soup, broth) through one of the most beautiful mountain ranges in America.
The Finish – 100 Miles!
30 hours 11 minutes; 17th Female; 100th Overall
289 starters / 77 DNF’s