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RE: [hr100] HardRock100 story (looooong)

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  • Matt Mahoney
    ... 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
    Message 1 of 14 , Aug 1 9:39 AM
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      --- dunnrd <dunnrd@...> wrote:
      > 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
      already started.

      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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