drove to catch the 6:00am race start.
The race is run mostly on the scenic Pacific Crest Trail. PCT covers 2560 miles which connects Canada to Mexico. During the race, I met a backpacker who was covering section of PCT. The undulating green mountains and view of distant Lake Hughes were picturesque. Soon, wildflowers will bloom and postcard worthy.
Quietly, the race started in this bedroom community. A mile of uphill paved road led to the trailhead. The ascend continued until the first aid station, Spunky Edison Fire Road Mile 2.6. Course profile indicated first five miles of ascend. I kept a conservative pace to save for the later part of the race walking the uphill sections. Weather forecasted a hot day.
Once we hit the descent, I started to loosen and picked up some ground. Distance to the next aid station was six miles. I stayed, briefly filling up my hydration flask and getting a bite of boiled potatoes. Course directed runners back to the previous aid station. The 50 mile runners, continued another direction. After checking out with the timer, I shifted my power walk to higher gear. What goes down, go up this time.
Returning to Spunky Edison Aid Station now M14.6, some runners took longer time to rest. I refueled quickly. Volunteers informed me that the next aid station is about seven miles of rolling but mostly downhill single trail. I was happy with my pace as I reeled a few runners ahead. One female runner was on standstill near midway to the aid station. I asked her if she was okay. She felt nauseated and dizzy. It was almost noon time. The heat must have gotten into her. I only had salt pills to offer.
On my way back from the aid station, I saw her again but responding well. More runners labored the ascent. On the other hand, the 50 mile leaders were just cruising along effortlessly. I needed to sprout wings to catch up with their pace. PCT is mostly exposed with very little shade. I didn’t refuel enough and thought my cheese sticks and gels were enough. I ran out of food and water two miles to the last aid station. I slowed down just to be cautious and sipped my remaining drop of water. Luckily, a good Samaritan had extra water to share.
Upon arrival to the last aid station, I knew I was home with 2.6 miles left. I doused my head and face with ice cold sponge, ate cookie, potatoes, energy gel and refilled one water flask. I called out the runner who shared his water. “Kiley, let’s go!” He arrived ahead of me but was still refueling. A few runners stayed longer under the tent while others were being tended by tireless volunteers.
Heading to the final onslaught, I looked back and saw Kiley not far away. It turned out we live not too far from each other, have lots of common friends and had ran on same races. I guess, that is what ultramarathon is all about. The camaraderie is different.
So, for those thinking to join the ultramarathon bandwagon, you are all welcome. Just don’t expect big crowds and water stations every mile.