--- dunnrd <dunnrd@...
> I was on track for finishing under the cutoff until
> I went through the
> Maggie-Cunningham section on Sunday night. I got
> caught up in some personal
> mind games that went something like this:
> "Gee, it seems like there hasn't been a course
> marker for a while. Did I
> follow the course correctly at the last junction, or
> am I off course?
Sounds familiar. In 1998 I finished unofficially in
51:38. It was also my first experience going 2 nights
without sleep and made a series of mistakes that cost
me an official finish. This was a counterclockwise
year, in the "hard" direction with all the good roads
going uphill. I had run Western States 2 weeks
earlier, and due to the travel across NV and UT, only
had about 8 days of high altitude acclimation before
the race. I had no crew or pacer and did not put out
any drop bags.
I had planned to sleep the first night at the Ouray
aid station from whatever time I got there until
sunrise at 6:00 AM. That gave me 15 minutes on the
noisy, brightly lit concrete floor. In Telluride I
was surprised to see Joel Zucker, 2 days before he
died of a cerebral aneurism. He was complaining of a
severe migrane headache and was considering dropping,
but he did finish in 47:37, his best time.
Things started going badly at Grant-Swamp Pass while
it was still daylight. Ginny LaForme and I missed the
right turn onto the trail up to the 11,000 ft. shelf.
She insisted we passed it, and I insisted we didn't,
so we separated. She was right. I ended up
bushwacking up a waterfall and 45 degree slopes
covered with willows in a thunderstorm, losing about
an hour. I descended the pass in the dark with a 2 AA
maglite, very slowly on a strangely unfamiliar course,
stopping at each marker to find the next one. On the
Ice Lake trail, I missed the turnoff to the waterfall
crossing, bushwacking down a horribly steep slope
covered with deadfall and undergrowth, guided only by
the sound of the waterfall in complete darkness.
After the KT aid station (about 11 PM) I went 1/4 mile
past the Mineral Creek crossing on the jeep road, and
a volunteer ran after me to get me back on course.
A week earlier I had hiked the last section from KT to
Silverton. So why was it now that I didn't recognize
any part of the course? I knew it was the right way
because there were markers, but I sure didn't
recognize any of it. But once I reached the open
tundra fields near 13,000 ft at about 2 AM, there were
no more markers. Maybe they were blown down in the
storm, or pulled out by elk, or never placed because
of snow when the area was marked a week ago. But I
had a clear view of the surrounding terrain under a
full moon and clear skies. I got out my map, but
couldn't make sense of it. I spent 3 hours wandering
in circles, climbing hills for a better view, or
wandering over to the edge of cliffs to find
identifiable landmarks that would locate me on the
map. There was a large ridge to the east, perhaps
several miles away, but I couldn't match it with any
feature on the map. I had no idea it was the
Porcupine-Putnam ridge we were supposed to climb over,
less than a mile away.
I was alone, and it was 3 hours before the next
runner, Fred Vance caught up. He had finished Barkley
and would be running Badwater in 4 days (he would
finish), but here he had mild pulmonary edema and was
climbing very slowly at 13,000 ft. We found our way
as the sky got light. It was already after 6 AM when
we reached the Putnam aid station (present only in CCW
years) with 5 miles to go. Even though it was over,
we took the Nute Chute instead of the road, and
finished together at 9:38:34 AM after the awards had
I had not anticipated how sleep deprivation affects
your ability to think clearly with regard to
navigation and decision making. I wasn't even sleepy
on the second night - I was mad that I was lost. It
was only after the race that it hit me. I would close
my eyes while standing and fall asleep in 1 second,
only to awaken as I started to fall. I took an 8 hour
nap and slept 10 more hours that night in my tent.
In 1999 I took the unusual step of arranging for a
pacer for the last part of the course from Cunningham.
It turned out he couldn't keep up on the descent, and
I finished in 42:39 on 3 minutes sleep on the second
afternoon. I had better altitude acclimation that
year. In 2000 I had no pacer, but was careful to stay
with other runners during the night, and finished in
42:17. This year I finished in 45:00:03. I ran
really hard through town, trying to break 45 hours,
but I guess it could be worse.
-- Matt Mahoney, matmahoney@...
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