John Anderson wins the Tahoe Rim Trail 50, vomits watermelon

At mile 10, my legs were already feeling heavy, and I had doubts about the “reverse taper” strategy that I employed for the Tahoe Rim Endurance 50 Mile Race.

See, training had been going well as I geared up for a few 100 mile races later this summer and then June hit. In the span of a month, I finished up my residency in emergency medicine, moved my family from Boulder, CO to the Lake Tahoe area in CA and started a new job.

My weekly mileage looked like I was training for the 100m potato sack race (nice one Mo) rather than a season of ultras.

Once I got settled in in July, I still had plenty of time to regain some training for the first 100 in August. Of course this 50 mile race came right in the middle of re-ramping my mileage back up so the week of the race I was already close to a hundred mile week before the gun went off.

This strategy was something that my brother and I have affectionately named “the reverse taper”, i.e. rather than bringing down the mileage the week before a race you bring it up. I’m not sure that Alberto Salazar endorses this technique but that is how I found myself a little tired early on in the race.

The trail was incredible; a few climbs up to the rim and then buttery single track along the Tahoe Rim Trail for a nice long haul. At the start a few runners took off as there was a 50K that started at the same time, and I happily let them go or perhaps my legs gave me no other choice, and settled into a steady (shuffling?) rhythm.

I really had no goals for the race other than to get in a nice long training run and not puke on my nice new Patagonia gear from Rock/Creek. Strangely, as the race went on I began to feel stronger and my legs and energy felt solid. I ended up pulling into the 30 mile aid station somewhere around 2nd place. I was ahead of the time that I told my brother to meet me as he was planning on starting to pace me there so I missed him. Leaving the aid it was a steep climb up a few thousand feet back up to the top of the rim, and I think I passed the leader at this point.

It was somewhat strange but I really didn’t know exactly what place I was in for the entire race. There were a whole host of 100 milers on the course that had started earlier in the morning (they used the same course but did it twice) and also some 50k runners (their course looped back in to the 50 mile course so I was also seeing some the stragglers from that race). If that confuses you, it definitely confused me and my heat addled mind, but it was pleasant to see lots of different runners a different stages of each respective race. Regardless, it forced me to run my own race.

Around mile 40 I heard a shout and there was my brother cruising after me. He had missed me by a little bit but put in his own tempo work to catch up and begin the pacing duties. It was good to have him along, regaling me with ridiculous jokes about blind deer. The stomach started rumbling shortly after that and I revisited the watermelon that I ate at the last aid station (looked about the same coming back up as it did going down). Oh well, goal number two was a bust but I felt great after puking and cranked out the last several miles which were all downhill.

I came across the finish line, sat down and grabbed a Coke. A few folks offered some congratulations so I asked them what place I got and was pleasantly surprised to hear that I won.

Overall a great race—really well organized and with loads a great trail and volunteers. Now it’s back to putting in the work to get into 100 mile shape for later in the summer. Thanks to Rock/Creek for all the support as always, as well as all the folks that put in a lot of hard work to make this race happen.

— John Anderson, Rock/Creek Race Team