Tag Archives: Clif shot Bloks

The remnants of a hurricane


Three weeks before Bigfoot 120 (a remote point to point race from Mt. Adams to Mt. Saint Helens on 99% single track) Gwen and I trekked 75 miles on the Pacific Crest Trail from Stevens Pass to Snoqualmie Pass. We ran for 25 hours in torrential downpour, strong winds, and low temperatures. I struggled with hip pain week’s prior and by mile 35 my hip throbbed and I was in immense pain. I suffered the next 40 miles, one foot in front of the other, counted down the miles and the minutes until we finished. The adventure was both physically and mentally tough. I figured there would be no way to participate in BF 120. I spent the next 19 days resting, attended five acupuncture appointments, five massages, and two physical therapy sessions; in hopes to recover before Bigfoot 120. I hemmed and hawed for those 19 days not sure if I was going to race but planned on driving down to the race with Gwen regardless. On the drive from Seattle to Lone Fir Resort, Gwen and I chatted about my hip (she is a PT) and she gave me different scenarios and none of them sounded like I’d be doing more damage. My plan was to stop at mile 43 if it was too sore to continue; I packed a full set of dry clothes in a drop bag.

IMAG0407The relaxing & lazy morning at Lone Fir Resort


The only good thing about a 4pm start is a very relaxing morning.

Gwen and I had a very relaxing morning, numerous cups of coffee, mouth-watering guilt free scones and breakfast…..then it was time to drive to the check-in/race briefing at Marble Mount Sno-Park and also where we’d catch the shuttle to the start. The start was located 90 minutes near Mt. Adams. Van Phan was a rock star; she was the volunteer driver and bought pizza for all the participants in her van.

The start 4pm on Friday

photo credit: Holly Thompson

The start

The start was totally uneventful; only 30 individuals started. Gwen and I stayed together for a few miles then she took off running. I was very cautious about my hip; I wanted to start off slow and steady and hike all the uphills. After a few miles into the race, I saw four or five runners (including Gwen) turn around. They haven’t seen a confidence marker in a long time (a marker on the trail that lets you know you are going the correct way). We hiked back up and took another trail but still no markers. I took out my GPS and we were off track. We turned around and ran downhill on the main trail for about 10 to 15 minutes and realized we are off course again then we saw the top three runners running back toward us. I stopped and looked at my GPS and it concurred, we were off course again. It was going to be a long race if the course continued to be vandalized! As we approached the correct turning, a handful of runners from the back of the pack placed sticks and logs at the turning in hopes the few people behind them would notice and would not continue down the wrong trail. Anxiety ran high, runners were frustrated, and our few hours in daylight had now turned to dark.

Lewis River Horse Camp – AS #1 (20.6 miles)

I arrived at the first aid station after dark. I tried to be quick so I wouldn’t cool down. As I left the aid station (an out and back) I saw Gwen as she arrived and hoped we would run together through the first night but I never saw her again. I shuffled for a while and then came to an intersection with a sign; I couldn’t tell which way the arrow was pointing. There were two trails and the sign stapled to a stump was in the middle of the two trails with a pair of running shoes and an empty Nalgene bottle. Jerks! They vandalized the course again and as a joke the vandals left a pair of sneakers and an empty water bottle. I headed up the trail and did not see any confidence markers. I ran into Matt and he stated we were going the wrong way there were no markers. We headed back down to the intersection and ran down another trail that eventually dead-ended with a big “closed” sign taped across it. Matt and I hiked back up the other trail for the second time and stopped to look at my GPS when a runner went flying past us. We were only a few feet from the intersection and the correct trail. Only hours into the race and I had been off course three times and added more miles to an already long event! Ugh!

Road 9327 – AS #2 (28.8 miles)

I arrived a few minutes behind Matt and Willie at the AS. I chatted with the volunteers, grabbed some food and headed out. After I started running again, I realized I forgot to change my headlamp batteries. A 4pm start made it difficult to keep track of time. Willie and I leaped frog a couple times on this section. It was a pretty uneventful, easy to follow, and the nighttime temperatures were pleasant as long as you kept moving.

Elk Pass – AS # 3 (43.8)

My friend, Van Phan volunteered at this AS and she made some delish hash browns and quesadillas. I changed my headlamp batteries again, grabbed a bunch of food and headed off. This would be the last aid station I would see Willie and anyone until mile 95ish. I ran the next 45 miles without seeing another 120-mile racer; I did see a handful of 100km racers whose race started on Saturday morning.

Norway Pass – AS # 4 (55 miles)

I arrived at Norway Pass and the aid station crew was spunky. They all stood up and cheered and I was a bit embarrassed with their enthusiasm – you would have thought I was winning UTMB or Western States. It gave me so much energy and made me feel so special! They were so helpful, energetic and sweet. I looked as a guy wrote down my bib number and there were only two bib numbers written down ahead of me. I was pretty stoked to be in 3rd place overall. It was early Saturday morning and I had some coffee, asked the HAM radio guys what time Gwen checked in and out of Elk Pass. It was nice to know Gwen was still on track. (After the race, I’d learn she was checking in on my status, too).

Coldwater Lake – AS #5 (73.6 miles) 

The weather started to drastically change during this section of the course. It was mid-day. It started to rain and the winds started to howl. In addition, there was a lot of overgrowth on the trail that soaked my clothes. During this section from Norway Pass to Coldwater Lake the race topped out at its highest point -Mt. Margaret. After the summit, the trail traversed for a bit then dropped down into a big bowl, I saw a herd of elk and as I got close they all scattered. Pretty cool. After a bit more rolling hills the trail dropped down to the lake and I could see that I had another mile to the AS. The aid station crew again was absolutely wonderful. They reported that Johnston Ridge aid station had been blown away.

They had an array of homemade cookies, hundreds of decorated cookies but at this stage the last thing I wanted was sugar. They gave me soup, coffee, and lots of praise. The hike out of Coldwater Lake was on pavement, the only section of pavement in the race. The storm was not in full force yet, it was torrential rain but the winds were just about to become gale force. Gwen went through this section a couple hours after me and she reported that runners turned around because the limbs on the trees were snapping off. As I climbed up Johnston Ridge, the storm really started to hit 35-45 mph winds with up to 50+mph gust. The wind was nearly blowing me off my feet then the sideways hail began pelting my face. I found a tiny bit of shelter behind a bush and changed into a Smartwool long sleeve, layered with my Outdoor Research Aria down vest then my OR Helium Jacket; I threw on my Outdoor Research Aspire rain pants over my running tights. As I continued up the ridge, the wind roared, the hail pummeled me, and each step took twice as much energy. The thought crossed my mind that they might call off the race but without lightening involved I figured they would let us continue.

Johnston Ridge – AS #6 (81.2 miles)

I had been dreaming about mile 81 since leaving Norway Pass. This would be my only crew for the entire race and Corinne was a total gem. I was so excited to see her. As I arrived at Johnston Ridge, the storm was in full blast (about 3pm on Saturday). I took off all my clothes and changed into dry clothes except my rain pants. I think Corrine put them in the aid station van for me to try and dry them. I crawled into her car and wrapped myself up in blankets and sleeping bags. The car was being hammered with rain and wind; I felt like we were in a car wash. I tried to sleep but was shivering like crazy. Corinne cranked the heat and I eventually fell asleep for a few minutes. I didn’t want to stay for more than an hour. Corrine was awesome; she gently woke me up and I was stoked that I actually fell asleep! This was the first time I’ve ever slept during a 100 miler but this was the first time that a 100-mile race started at 4pm requiring running through two full nights. I was so thankful for Corinne not only did she have my bag of dry clothes, she bought me a hamburger and she picked up all my gross wet clothes off the pavement.

She walked with me to check me out and I headed out into the storm wearing my Outdoor Research gear:  Aria down jacket, Aspire rain pantsRevelation Jacketbalaclavagloves  and my Smartwool long sleeve, Ibex wool bra, Northface running tights, Drymax maximum protection trail running socks, and Atlas gloves (rubber gloves Gwen bought me). I was so bundled up that after running for a few hundred feet, I had to stop to take off a layer. But, once night arrived, I used every single piece of clothing in my pack including my ER space blanket to keep warm.

Windy Pass – AS #7 (89 miles)

I arrived at Windy Pass. The AS was an expedition style tent. I sat down in the chair and searched for my extra batteries. I started to panic thinking they didn’t make it into my pack. But, I found them after a few minutes of searching and put them within easy reach knowing it was going to get dark soon and I would need them handy. I looked around the tent and saw a puddle of water and thought….omg these guys had to be freezing. The wind was howling. At least I was moving, they were stationary it must of been a very long, cold night for them. I left Windy AS and the volunteers walked with me and pointed to where I needed to go…up and over that ridge in roaring winds. Yikes. I started hiking up and luckily the ridgeline was not that far, I was up on the ridge in no time. The ridge had logs that acted like stairs; at one point I ducked down and held onto the log because the wind was howling so hard that I thought I was going to be blown off the mountain. I wanted to get up and over before dark. I hiked and hiked and darkness came. Not a soul insight, I was still in 3rd place overall even after taking an hour at the last aid station. I decided since my hip can start hurting at anytime, I would power hike and that is pretty much what I did for the rest of the race but not necessarily because of my hip but also because of darkness and technicality of the course. I was nervous going into the second night solo because of the vandalism the first night. I did not have a SPOT tracker and I forgot my PLB (Personal Locator Beacon) at home. The race was super remote and the aid stations were miles and miles apart and hours and hours from one another.

Windy Pass - holding the tent

Windy Pass – photo by Holly Thompson

After I descended down from Windy Pass I made a big navigational error. I couldn’t find the markers. I had been going for 92 miles and racing for over 24 hours I was tired. I arrived at Plains of Abraham at dark. I did not see the markers and ended up hiking deep into the gully. I couldn’t see a trail; I was tripping over volcanic rock. I took out my GPS and yep –I was way off course. I turned around and found the last known marker and tried again. This time I saw one in the distance. I came to the marker and didn’t see another one. I decided that this is where I needed to scramble (at the briefing they talked about picking your way through part of the course, I thought this was the section…NOPE!). I ended up traversing on a pumice slope, the wrong way. I traversed and realized there is nothing to hold on to and I was slipping. I looked down and one wrong move I’d tumble down into a bed of volcanic rocks. It was dark, I was tired, and I had been awake for over 36 hours. I tried not to panic but I was – besides aid station crew and a few 100km runners I had not seen anyone in a very, very long time. I very cautiously traversed off the pumice slope and then back to the last known marker and started again. My adrenaline was off the hook. I was wide awake and cursing myself for not paying more attention.

I found the last known marker and I started to descend the pumice slopes, crossed a river, crawled up a bank because the trail was washed out and continued on. I saw a headlamp in the distance! Seriously, there was someone else out here! Awesome. I tried to speed up to catch the runner and when I did I was stoked. He was moving pretty slowly, I passed him and then turned around and asked if he was okay and did he need anything. He replied he was fine but his feet hurt. Then…he passed me and we leaped frog through the river crossings until it was natural for us to stick together. He needed to stop and eat and I was thankful because I needed to change my batteries in my headlamp but didn’t want to stop because I had been racing solo this whole time and it was nice to finally see someone. He ate, I changed my batteries and we continued. A few hundred feet later, I slipped off the trail awkwardly into some bushes and he (Phil) came back to help me. After hiking for a few miles we heard a voice. We were both tired and I was cranky (we didn’t talk much because my ears were covered by my wool hat plus two hoods and with the wind howling and the rain violent we couldn’t hear each other). But, in the distance we heard a guy hollering at us. We couldn’t make out what he was saying. We thought he was saying we were off course but he was yelling that he was off course. He said (I think) he was about to push SOS on his SPOT because he couldn’t find the trail. He joined us and we all made our way down to the Toutle river crossing.The trail was completely washed but there was a fixed rope to help us get down the vertical bank to the river. Once we were all down, we walked up and down the river trying to find a safe spot to cross; in the middle of the night. We finally found a spot we felt safe and the two guys went first then I followed. I was almost across and slipped on a rock and my right leg plunged into river. After making it to the bank we could not find the fixed rope to climb out of the ravine. We finally found it and later learned the river had swelled so much that it washed away all the markers. We climbed up the rope and continued on without saying a word. We were all too tired to talk plus with the wind we had our heads buried and were in death-march mode. At one point, we stopped to look at my GPS to make sure we were on track. I was grateful to have run into Phil and thankful he led the rest of the way to Blue Lake Aid Station. I felt if I did not see him and Ray, I would have crawled through that section with the tricky navigation and tons of river crossings. We finally reached Blue Lake Aid Station.

In a perfect world, we would have seen this view instead of the one above

windy pass bigfoot

But, instead….this was the view

Bigfoot 120

Blue Lake – AS #8 (108.1 miles)

Awww…I was so happy to see the AS volunteers. I cannot express my gratitude enough, light-hearted, helpful, and funny. I took off my down jacket and my raincoat and wrapped my space blanket around my torso. Opened more packages of hand warms and put two in my bra and two in my right glove. I lost my right orange rubber glove while scrambling (I told Corinne at the finish line that I bet Gwen found it on the course & she did!) They encouraged me to sit down in front of the heater and warm up before heading off. I ended up staying and bullshitting with the guys at the aid station for 25 minutes. It was a highlight. They tried to fix my trekking poles for me, they were both broken, and they helped me clear out all the soaking wet half eaten food from my pack (gross). I was sleep drunk at this stage and the crew was cracking me up; they were hilarious. Phil and the Ray planned to stay longer at the aid station so I said good-bye at 2:05am and headed out – only 12 miles to go!! But, those 12 miles took me five hours! The last section was the much talked about lava fields that required boulder hopping, in the dark, while holding onto one trekking pole that would not fold (PITA) all while trying to locate the markers. On a positive note it had stopped raining and the sky was crystal clear and sparkled with stars. The stars started to look like course markers as I picked my way through the lava beds. I leaned against a tree and spent some time stargazing and dreamt about watching the sunrise.

I trekked along, going up and over enormous volcanic boulders and finally the boulders started to peter out into a trail. I was relieved to be off the lava bed but a few strides later another lava field! After volcanic rock hopping for nearly a mile I looked forward to running the rest of the way to the finish only to find the trail was off camber, rutted out single track. My Suunto Ambit watch died I had no idea how much farther. I was hallucinating at this stage – I saw a camper van covered with elk horns, a random guy sitting in a lawn chair and other random vehicles that did not exist. Then finally I saw the big blue blown up arch and knew that I was finished! It was Sunday morning around 7am; it took me 39 hours! (The race started Friday at 4pm).

Corinne was one of the very few people at the finish line to greet me; so awesome and so unexpected. No one else was up, I think Van Phan might have greeted me, too. I don’t remember. Garrett one of the RD’s gave me a high five (I think) and wrote down my bib number. The finish line was empty, uneventful, and quiet. Only a handful of people sauntered around. I sat for an hour with a blank stare; a wool blanket wrapped around me and ate pizza. I finally motivated myself to walk to my car and change my clothes. I did not want to sleep because I wanted to see Gwen finish but we were able to radio the last aid station and figured out roughly what time she’d finish. I took a snooze in my car then rallied back to the finish line to see Gwen finish!

Finish – Marble Mount Sno-Park (120 miles)


An epic weekend. The point to point single track trail was absolutely amazing; it had a lot to offer: steep technical sections, pumice fields, river crossing, washed out trails, lava beds, and sweet single track. It was a pity Washington State was hit with the remnants of hurricane Oho. The pictures the race director loaded to her FB page prior to the race were stunning.

The next day, Windy Pass volunteers caught a glimpse of Mt. St. Helens that they didn’t even know what right in front of them; absolutely stunning. (See pic above).  All the hard work and endless organization that went into this remote single-track race, it was a pity the weather ruined it for the majority of the runners. 30 runners toed the line and 7 finished.

The 100km started on Saturday morning running 68 miles of the same course and 41 runners toed the line and only 13 finished.


Leave a comment

Filed under Event

Fat Dog 50 Mile

Profile in meters
FD 50 Profile
Wow, FD 50 blew my mind. I went into the race thinking it was going to be super tough on many levels: not only was there a mandatory gear list for a 50 miler but the predicted finish times were in the 15 hour range; meant finishing at midnight. I heard the course was non-runnable, overgrown, poorly marked, technical & gnarly!

Fat Dog was the same weekend as Waldo 100km which I was originally signed up to run but bailed in June due to painful tight tendons in my feet. It was painful to walk & run. In June, after Squaw Peak 50 I went to see Chris Hall, DC and he performed active release therapy (ART) and the next day I was in so much pain I had to cancel my morning run. I continued to see Chris on a regular basis; he loaned me his calf Trigger Point roller, showed me stretching and strengthening exercises, told me to ice after every run and to buy arch supports.I did what was prescribed for six weeks: kept my ART appointments, diligently rolled out, did the exercises, iced (heat & ice, too) and wore arch supports. Race day was near and the true test would come after running 50 miles in the Canadian backcountry.

The race started outside of Hope, BC; a point to point race with an elevation gain of over 10,000 feet. The course was incredibly well marked; the first 30 miles, to my surprise, were fast & flowy and the last 20 were remote, technical & challenging but rewarded with stunning views. The last 20 miles had 7,000 + gain with most of the gain in the first 12 miles, four of the last eight were short steep rolling climbs (hardest part of the course for me) and the last four ended with a fast sweet single track down to Lightening Lake where my hubby and dog were waiting for me.

My feet felt great most of the race besides the usual beating of running 50 miles. I finished in 9 hour and 57 minutes good enough for 1st place female, course record, and 3rd overall.

Fat Dog is a very low key race & a small field of runners but they offer multiple distances: 20, 30, 50, 70, & 120 mile, as well as a relay, all point to point. The trail maintenance was evident throughout the 50 miles; volunteers obviously spent many days and hours clearing the course. The race was incredible well marked, well organized and the course is absolutely stunning.

I’m stoked to have been able to run and play in the mountains pain-free thanks to doctor Chris and Aylin at North Bend Therapeutic Massage, my summer is much more fulfilled now that I can go out and play w/o pain! And, I’m sure my husband is happy he doesn’t have to listen to me whine anymore.

20130819_100217  1st Place Female / 3rd Overall
medium size FD finish

As a nutritionist, I’m asked all the time what I eat before, during and after a race. In addition to the Clif Mojo bars, I like to make my own protein bars, too. Everyone is different, what works for me, might not work for you.

Pre-race: Homemade kefir with almonds, walnuts, oats, and banana.

During the race:

  • 2 Clif Bloks packets (I rely on Clif Bloks for instant energy and easy consumption.)
  • 4 Clif Mojo bars.
  • 1 homemade peanut butter and honey sandwich.
  • ½ a grilled cheese from the awesome volunteers at Skyline Aid Station -mile 30.
  • Handful of Pringles from the amazing volunteers at Skyline Junction- mile 42.
  • 3 packets of Sustain – 9am, Noon, and 3pm.
  • Lots and lots of water.

Post-race: Thorne protein powder recovery drink, hamburger with avocado, water and a beer.

1 Comment

Filed under Event, Nutrition, Recipe, Sports Nutrition, Tips

Squaw Peak 50 Mile

squaw elevation
June 1st, 2013 I ran the Squaw Peak 50 mile trail race in Provo Canyon, Utah. The course had 14,000 +/- gain and loss and the highest point on the course was 9,300 feet; a little thin for a flatlander. The day was near perfect, although a tad hot for a Seattleite and hot enough to get some wicked sunburns in spots I couldn’t reach or missed with the sunscreen.
race bib

The race started in the dark at 5am with a 2.1 mile pavement section which helped spread the runners out a little before the first single track climb. Around mile three I was putting my headlamp away and my iPod fell out of my pack. I noticed almost immediately and went back to look for it but going against traffic with 230+ runners coming at me it was near impossible, not to mention it was still a little dark. I finally gave up! Total bummer, not only do I use my iPod for most of my training runs, I now had to run 47 miles w/o music!
I continued on and I met some cool ultra ladies from California. We chatted on and off all day and hung out after the race. The aid stations were well stocked and the volunteers were helpful and friendly. The course was pretty cool with some amazing views and a spectacular sunrise. However, the course did consist of 38% dirt roads and 19% of pavement my two least favorite things. The first section of pavement was the first 2.1 miles, second section was 3.7 miles long (mile 22-26) slightly uphill and hot and the third section was 3.3 miles to the finish which I dreaded.
My strategy for the course was to chill for the first 30 miles and then pick up the pace the last twenty, the last twenty had about 4,000 gain and 4,600 loss. At around mile 39, Berryport Pass, the trail climbed 1,300 feet in 1.25 miles. I wanted to save my legs & lungs for this climb topping out at 9,300 feet and then bomb the last 10 miles to the finish which was mostly downhill w/a few rolling hills.  My strategy worked, I passed seven women between miles 30-40. I arrived at aid station 9 (40.4 miles) in 9 hours and 23 minutes and at the point realized I could go under 11 hours and possibly beat my husband’s time of 10:47 (which was actually 10:42 back in 2000 and the one who talked me into doing this race). I grabbed a potato at AS 9 and ran as fast as I could on tired legs down the rocky, steep terrain knowing that I’d be slower on the last 3.3 miles of pavement and would have to walk some of that stretch (my weakness is running on pavement). The last 3.3 miles were not well-marked so I kept asking people if I was going the correct way. There were numerous sections that had sticks with flags but the flags were blue and pink and not blue and orange (like on the course). Near the end, there was one section that I nearly turned right and up a logging road b/c there were two sticks w/flags and it looked like they were for the race, luckily a cyclist came by and said to continue on the road to the finish. However, if I would have read the course instructions I would have known there were no turnings on the home stretch!  I ran the last ten miles in 88 minutes for a time of 10:51.
Overall, I had a great day both mentally and physically, the race was well-organized and well-marked, the race director was very nice and friendly and the sunrise and scenery was beautiful.

Results: 5th place Female/1st Master’s Female. Overall 31/266 starters.

My Suunto Ambit stats:
Strava: Overall time: 10:49, Mileage: 52.2; Elevation gain 10,197
Movescount: Overall time: 10:51, Mileage 50.87; Elevation gain 9259.

Finishers medal


sculpture plaque

Race day food –
Travel breakfast: banana + Greek yogurt (normally this would be homemade kefir w/raw milk, berries, and nuts)
During the race
1 peanut butter and jelly sandwich (cut into fours)
2 packets of Clif Shot Bloks
1 Clif caffeinated gel (this is only the second time I’ve used a gel during a race and it went down well)
4 red potatoes with salt
1 Mojo Clif bar
1 Kind bar
1 cup Heed @ an aid station
½ banana
6 Sustain electrolyte tablets
Felt great all race –no bonking, cramping, bloating, or stomach issues.


Filed under Event, Sports Nutrition

Humpdayathon 2013

Humpdayathon (Wednesday) started with a crisp climb up Mailbox (4100 elevation gain in less than 3 miles; more like 2.5 miles) and followed by a few more mountain peaks and hours of slogging in the snow. The planned peaks: Mailbox, Teneriffe, Mt. Si, Little Si, Rattlesnake traverse & Tiger Mountain. The mileage options: 50km, 100km, and 100 mile. ALM and I set out to do a 55 mile loop with roughly 18,000 feet of elevation gain from my house. Tim & Angel picked us up near my house in North Bend and drove us the three miles to the start; we contemplated running to the start but opted to catch a ride and have an extra hour of sleep.
As predicted lots of snow & very slow going. We lucked out with a ‘blue bird day’ and spectacular views.
The view from the top of Mailbox.
The crew on Mailbox Peak
Teneriffe – a total slog to the top. We hiked up the Kamikaze Falls Trail and continued to the summit. The hike is about 4 miles w/3750 feet elevation gain. (On a normal day this is a tough, steep climb but with the recent snow storm it made it a total slog).
Teneriffe summit – Stunning views!
After crawling up Teneriffe we took the snow filled service road to Talus Loop. The snow was so deep on the service road it took us hours to go 4 or 5 miles. At this point, most of us our discussing stopping at 50km because the snow is so slow going and Rattlesnake traverse will be a nightmare w/this much snow. In addition, some runners did not bring enough food for this section b/c it wasn’t supposed to take all day.
We connected to Talus Loop and then to the main Mt. Si trail. We hiked up to the summit and then ran down the Old Mt. Si trail. We ran up/down Little Si and met the aid crew at the parking lot of Little Si. The aid station crew spent their day volunteering and were amazing! The aid stations were stocked just like a race with delish goodies including butternut soup, pizza, meat and avocado wraps and comfy chairs, warm down jackets and sleeping bags. The volunteers were awesome.
The 100km runners bailed at Little Si and called it a day after 32 + miles, 13 hours and 13,858 elevation gain and the 100 mile runners decided to shuttle over to Cougar/Squak Mountain for another 50km.
All in all, a super fun and stunning day climbing up and down the mountains with some really cool people.

1 Comment

Filed under Event

Wasatch Front 100 Miles

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.

5am start –Picture by Lori Burlisons

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.

My Fans!

Here are pictures from a July training -this is the most beautiful part of the course and you run through it at night.

 Desolation Lake – Mile 66.93

Scotts Pass – Mile 72.14

Brighton Lodge -Moose Mile 75.61

Baby Moose!

Lake Martha – Mile 77.13

Sunset Peak – 10,648 (the course heads down Great Western before Sunset Peak summit)

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


Filed under Event, Sports Nutrition