Tag Archives: Clif

Bellingham Bay to Mt. Baker

Bellingham Bay to the summit of Mt. Baker

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Aaron, Bruce, Susan, Dan, Beat, Jackie, Deb and Emily

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10426647_10152479255463953_7461407330361033196_nThe start: June 27, 2014 Cornwall Beach Park -Bellingham Bay

10435837_10152479255133953_675649413299708909_nDan invited me to join his 108 mile out and back “fun” run from Bellingham bay (sea level) to the summit of Mt. Baker. Mt Baker stands at 10,781 feet and is  volcanic, glacial peak.  Dan’s goal for this ‘fun’ (40+ hour) run was a recon mission for a future race he is determined to make happen. His goal is to recreate/create the Mount Baker ultramarathon; his ideas and passion for this new race is stemmed from the story of the first Mount Baker Marathon in 1911, his love for the North Cascades and his experience racing TdG –  Tor des Geants.

I was pretty stoked to participate but I was also nervous about the impact of running 60 miles on pavement and logging roads. I was training for TdG in the Italian Alps  (TdG: 206 mile/78k of vertical gain ) and I was paranoid of getting injured. Running on pavement and logging roads was not my forte. After discussing my concern with Dan, who had already completed two TdG, he promised me the pace would be mellow. Plus four of us in the group were training for Tor des Geants so we had the same goals: slow, fun and avoid injury.

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As promised we started off and continued a slow and mellow pace throughout the day. It was raining on and off all day and we were all soaked. With all the rain and the potential accumulation of snow on the mountain, the thought of a successful summit was on everyone’s mind. We knew the odds were bleak but we stayed positive and had fun. We had Matt and the Kulshan van following us for the entire route. We didn’t have to carry much gear because Matt (driver/support crew) stopped every few miles to let us fill up on beer or water! He would drive a few miles and wait and then drive a few more miles and wait some more. He was amazing and never complained even though I know he was bored silly.

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Acme Diner Thanks Bruce for the pic

Along the route we stopped at Acme Diner (Dan’s plan to bring tourism to the area) and had the best milkshakes and burgers. I had not had an old fashion milkshake for years and it did not disappoint. I had a great time bonding with the other runners, loved the chill non-competitive environment and overall was having a blast.

14368672009_143993c614_oWe arrived at Ridley Creek Trailhead, mile 44, earlier than planned.  The weather was crappy so we decided to wait it out. I have no clue how many hours, maybe 8 hours? Morris (after seeing the weather) decided to drive out to Ridley Creek Trailhead to support us. He had attempted this run last year with Dan so he knew that we would appreciate shelter.  He drove out to the trailhead with his old VW van that has a pop up bed. His eight year-old son slept up top and five of us crammed into the queen size bed below. It was warm, fun, and an adventure. His van saved the day, we drank a couple of beers, chatted and slept. The others chilled by the fire or slept in the Kulshan Brewery Van.

The torrential downpour stopped around 2am so we gathered our mountaineering gear (except Jackie, her hip was too sore) and headed up the mountain.  As we headed out we knew the chances of summiting were close to nil but decided to head up to base camp anyhow.

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14368711268_4d7547ef8b_oCrossing the gnarly log at 2:30am.  I was covered from head to toe in Outdoor Research gear which kept me warm and dry.

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Waiting for my turn to cross the log or should I say, ‘waiting to crawl along the log!’

The guides headed up to base camp earlier in the day and stashed beers for us.

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Kulshan Brewery sponsored the event. There was plenty of cold beer along the route plus the use of their van.

 

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Poor visibility

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Our guides at base camp (pictured below in the tent) they spent the night in freezing temperatures. Due to the poor visibility and two feet of fresh snow, it was not safe to attempt the summit. Dan was broken, upset and pleaded with the guides to take him. Everyone concurred it was not safe and told Dan it was not worth risking his life or the guides. This was his third attempt and weather once again was the culprit.

We had a beer at base camp with the guides and headed back to Ridley Creek Trailhead. At Ridley Creek, Susan, Emily and I decided not to run back to Bellingham Bay. Jackie was already out due to a hip injury but Dan, Beat and Aaron all ran back to Bellingham Bay and arrived sometime late, late Saturday night. Big kudos to them!

Regardless of not being able to summit, I had a total blast. The other runners were awesome and I enjoyed every minute of this adventure.

Dan, Beat and Aaron successfully completed the 108 mile route in July of 2014! Click here to see  the route.

I wish Dan the best of luck with gaining permits, building trails, and making his dream come true: The Mount Baker Ultra Marathon 2015.

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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

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