John Anderson, on 9th place in the Run Rabbit Run 100-miler
Run Rabbit Run 100 Miler Race Report:
by John Anderson
I left Boulder on Thursday morning just as the rain was starting to get serious. It looked like creek boating season in Tennessee except we only usually get a few inches of rain per month in Colorado, as opposed to the 17 inches we got in a few days so I didn’t see too many kayaks on top of cars as I drove out of town.
It actually reminded me of one time in the early nineties in Chattanooga when the rains were coming heavy, and we took some of the boats from Rock/Creek Down Under out in the parking lot and messed around (on second thought don’t tell Dawson that last part).
At any rate, the big rains were mainly confined to the Front Range and while the mountains were rainy, it was certainly a manageable wet.
Steamboat is a great mountain town, and there was a lot on energy surrounding the race. The prize purse drew a deep and fast field, including a few of the Tarahumara who had come up from Copper Canyon in Mexico for the race. The race is divided in two starts, the first at 8 am and a noon start for the elite or “Hare” race. I actually liked the later start as it allowed me sleep in, eat a normal breakfast and hang out with my family before getting started. It also ensured that every runner would be running through the night and the mountain night in Steamboat did not disappoint.
The race started with a 4 mile, 3500 foot climb up and out of the ski area, and I felt pretty good just keeping a conservative pace to the top. Then I was out to Long Lake at mile 11 before starting the long descent down Fish Creek, a nice, technical stretch with several waterfalls and some wildlife along the way. I hit this stretch with Tim Olsen and Paul Terranova with the usual early race banter although I did have the overwhelming urge at several points to step off the trail and check out the fishing in the little creek next to us.
This was really the only part of the race where I had any company and spent pretty much the next 18 hours alone. I finally came out off the trail and ran the several mile stretch of pavement into downtown Steamboat. There was a volunteer waiting at the main road crossing to push the button for the stoplight, which was kind of hilarious as I stood there waiting for the light to change in the middle of an ultra. I’m pretty sure they heard a lot of bad jokes at the post, and I definitely contributed with some random comment about Shark-Nado.
After town, we looped up and over Emerald Mountain with some good climbs and remarkably smooth single track. I also ran into an old friend, Roch Horton from SLC, who was out crewing for another racer and we caught up a bit as he helped me in and out of a few aid stations. As always, Roch gave me a mental boost while he was making some crack about banjos and R/C alum Ben Ditto.
Coming off Emerald Mountain, I headed back through town as night fell and retraced my steps up the Fish Creek Trail with another several thousand foot climb up to the half way point of the race around mile 53. I was about 10.5 hours in and my energy felt good, my stomach was calm, and legs felt solid. I tend to race hundreds with the old ultra mantra of running the first third with your head, the second third with your legs and the final third with your heart. Although sometimes I tend to race with the mantra “Don’t puke again” or perhaps “Did I really think this was a good idea?”
Up around 10,000 feet the night got cold, and it was clear for the first few hours. I turned off my headlamp for a short stretch of dirt road and enjoyed the moon and stars, as well as a killer lightning storm in the distance. The only problem was this storm didn’t stay in the distance, and I soon got drenched and whipped around with some big winds. Spring Creek aid station around mile 75 was at the base of the last several thousand foot climb and when I got there it was late (or early), I was tired and my energy was lagging a bit.
I had few cups of Coke and headed up, although this climb was a struggle for me and I never really got back into the groove until a few miles from the top. I even tried to leave the aid station mid-way up the climb without my light and with a water bottle tucked between my legs. Thanks to Nick Pedatella for making sure I didn’t do anything stupid (as well as for not being afraid to grab my water bottle from my sweaty crotch). I probably owe him a few beers for that.
After the climb I hit the Wyoming trail, which runs along the Continental Divide and is probably the best part of the course. The sun came up on this stretch and the rays of light streaming through the aspen infused me with energy and awe. Ultras are a vessel that can take you physically and emotionally to a place where you have no choice but to be present in the moment, and the raw beauty of the mountains while you are in that space can make you cry in wonder (or maybe it was from the pain in my ankle but either way I may have shed a tear or two at this point).
The race ended with a six mile (and several thousand foot) descent back down into the ski area, and as I crested Mount Werner for the last time my stomach suddenly turned and I puked several times off in the bushes. Until this point my stomach had been solid and I had been taking in a steady diet of gels and chews and supplemented with coke and chicken broth at the aid stations. It was a little painful and I lost some time on this last little stretch but by the time I reached the finish, which was somewhere between 103 and 106 miles (closer to 106 on my Suunto) I was feeling good again.
All in in all it was a great race. The course was stellar and the volunteers were all enthusiastic and helpful. Fred and a his race crew definitely have figured this thing out—many thanks to them for all their hard work putting this together.
Thanks as always to Rock/Creek for all the support, and all my gear performed ideally. This was also the first race in a few years that my wife and family were able to come to, and it was pretty incredible to come across the finish and be able to give her and the kids big hugs. None of this would be possible without her.
I’ve got my eye on a few fall projects and potentially a couple of other races, but first I need to go pump out my basement.
Suunto Quest Watch
Pearl Izumi EM trail N2 Shoes
Patagonia Strider Shorts
Patagonia Air Flow Top
Patagonia Nine Trails Jacket
Patagonia R2 top
Drymax Trail socks
Petzl Tikka Plus 2 Headlamp
Ultimate Direction AK race vest