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Rock/Creek’s John Anderson pushes past the competition

Rock/Creek Race Team Member, John Anderson, shares his report below from his very successful Wasatch 100 in Utah. (Taking third place among numerous leaders of ultrarunning with a finish time of ) Read a down- to- earth perspective toward ultrarunning and experience why Rock/Creek is proud to have John Anderson a part of the Rock/Creek Race Team!
Keep up the amazing runs John, and we hope you continue to see amazing views and tranquil vistas to propel you forward in running! -Rock/Creek

Last month I headed up to the Wasatch Front 100 in Utah for a day (and night) in the mountains and a race that was being called the “most competitive Wasatch ever”. The field was stacked with Geoff Roes (last years winner and HURT 100 record holder), Karl Meltzer (multiple time winner at Hardrock 100, Wasatch 100, Bighorn 100 and others), Hal Koerner (two time defending Western States 100 and Angeles Crest champ), Josh Brimhall (Teton 100 and Headlands winner) and several other top ultrarunners. At 5 a.m. on race day we headed off down the single track leading up to the first big climb, gaining around 4500′ in the early morning darkness. I settled in with the lead pack of Geoff, Karl, Hal, Josh and Jared Campbell and it was somewhat comical watching each one of us rotate to the back to let off a little of the pre-race hydration. As we crested the climb the pace quickened and Geoff took off–gone for the rest of the day.

At the first aid station I was running 5th, but 10 minutes in front of my expected split. It didn’t feel like we were going that fast (and fast is probably an inaccurate modifier but perhaps it was fast for a very small child or a hundred miler), but I knew I should slow down and try to run my race for the first 60 miles. So began my long day in “no man’s land”, around 40 mostly solitary miles of incredible mountain scenery and some fine, technical single track. My brain rambled around for awhile–I thought about chainsaws, my three year old son’s dinosaur knowledge, pancreatitis, and Will Ferrell. But mainly I thought about what I always do when running–running…I guess my multitasking abilities are limited.

I passed Hal around mile 40, and we talked a little about his recent TransRockies race where he ran some with the talented and good looking Matt Sims. I think that mile 40 to 54 is one of the most crucial of the race. It is hot and affectionately known as “the oven”, but because it is early it is an easy place to push too hard and blow up. I could see Josh a few minutes ahead, but I held back knowing that the cool ridges of the Wasatch Crest were not far ahead. My legs were feeling great, and I just wanted to get out of the heat with my stomach intact. The last time I pushed an early hot stretch in a 100 miler I ended up dropping at mile 60 with some serious puking (although my puke made it to mile 65 I think). Anyway, I felt good as I headed out of the aid at mile 54 and caught up to Josh shortly thereafter as we climbed up toward the crest. Josh is one of the finest runners and nicest people that I know, and it was good to run with him for a while.

The next stretch of the course is my favorite as you climb up among aspen, alpine lakes and views along the ridge lines stretching all the way into Park City. I was psyched to run it alone, and it was peaceful as the sun began to set. I pulled into the Brighton aid in 3rd place just as the sun went down, had a little soup and headed out for the last 25 miles. I saw a few moose on the punishing climb up Catherine’s pass, and my stomach started to turn. For the next few hours I was unable to put down any calories. My intake was limited to small sips of water, and I definitely lost some time in the next 15 mile stretch. Running in the mountains at night is a beautiful experience, and I figured the underlying stench of sweating through 80 miles in the heat would keep any mountain lions away.

Hal caught me around mile 85, and for the next 7-8 miles we ran somewhat together. His legs were hurting so I’d catch up on the climbs, and my stomach was still sloshing so he’d catch me on the downhills. Hal is an incredibly positive guy, and even though he wasn’t having the race he hoped for, he managed to keep the humor flowing. My stomach finally settled about mile 90, and I was able to get down some gels. Seeing as how it was now sometime in the early morning I figured a banana and coffee gel combo was appropriate. From there to the finish I felt great–legs, mind, and gut–the core areas for ultrarunners. I came in to the finish in 21:39 in 3rd place, dusty, tired but grateful for the gift and opportunity to be able to traverse the Wasatch Crest on my two feet (and sometime hands).
Full results at www.wf100.com

The following day I experienced the outstanding hospitality of the Utah running crowd. Thanks to Karl, Jared, Roch Horton, Scott Mason, and Catherine Mataisz (friend of Rock/Creek who helped design the old Tremont Ave store) for sharing some food, cold beverages (yep even in Utah) and nap time. Thanks also to the race staff and volunteers for continuing to put in countless hours to make all happen. I’m pretty sure they put in more time than we runners do to prepare for the race, and they definitely smile more. Finally, thanks to Rock/Creek for all the support to get me to the starting line and finish in one piece.
–John