Monday, July 2, 2012

Western States Recap - Part 1 - Safety Patrol

Saturday, June 23rd, 2012                          Above: Me and my fearless driver/dog watching mom

Part 1 - 1:00AM

We woke at 1am after about 2 hours of solid sleep (due to my crazy chihuahua~this is the wrath I deal with living downtown and having 6lbs of fury who doesn't like the drunkards walking past the house on Friday/Saturday nights). Everything was packed the night before from a list I had delicately laid out days ahead. I would never be this organized had I not agreed to pace a new friend the last 20 miles of WS100. Apparently when I have someone relying on me I am capable of taking it to the next level. A quick stop to pick up my mom who agreed to be crew/dog watcher/driver and we headed up the hill to Squaw for our pacing duties (the first 30 miles of WS course). 

The way to Squaw it started storming. The heavy kind of rain where you have to slow down because you can't see 10 feet ahead of you. It must have been my lack of sleep that made me so blasé about the whole thing. Meanwhile, Kevin is in the back seat stressing out about finding garbage bags to cover himself with/making it there in time to get our safety patrol items/heart rate spikes/etc. etc. Such is normal before an event and I've come to appreciate it as it makes me appear the calm and calculated half. 

We made it to Squaw around 4:20am and picked up our plastic baggy of gauze, ointment, band-aids and an extra large red SAFETY PATROL t-shirt (hey just my size!) My mom made an 80's knot on the backside for a snug fit.    

                                  Here we are! Ready to save lives! 26 minutes to start!


We started climbing up the hill with 2 other safety patrolers to get a head start on the runners. It was dark and the higher we got up the mountain the windier it got. WS starts with a nice little climb of 2,200+ feet up to Emigrant Pass within the first 3.75 miles of the start. By the time we reached the first aid station around 4 miles or so it was starting to hail and gusts of wind were coming at speeds liable to knock someone my size right over. I buried my head down and kept on climbing. Thoughts were something like "I want my mom, I miss my dogs, why the hell did I get out of bed for this..." Upon reaching the summit Kevin wanted to empty the debris from his shoes and take a photo. Normally I'd be OK with this but when I'm sucking wind and keeping my legs a good 4 feet wide so that I don't become a rescuee, this idea wasn't all too pleasing, "HURRY UP". I couldn't feel my fingers and the glory of running the first 30 miles as safety patrol was starting to turn into a slog already at mile 5. 

Feeling Fresh Again with Glenn Misono!
By the time we made it to Red Star (mile 15 and some 4+ hours later **yes, I said 4 HOURS for 15 MILES**) I was shivering and the volunteer must have noticed I wasn't doing all to well because he guided me directly to the hot chicken broth. This changed my life. I was ready to go out and save someone again. It was at this point one fellow from Sweden was dropping. We had a good chat up to the aid station and he was a veteran of the race. He'd flown all the way from Sweden and dropped at 15 miles because his "head just wasn't in it today".... 

Looking around I could see I was one of very few people somewhat dressed for this kind of weather. Most people were in shorts and little shirts, no gloves and no water proof gear. Little clothing is typically what weather calls for in this race. I heard several times that this was first time it was hailing. They were these little pellet size hail that even my hat couldn't keep from smacking me. It felt like someone throwing ice cold gravel in your face. Those manning the aid station at Devil's Thumb said they had so much left over ice they had to throw it out! As rough as this weather was it eventually led to the male and female record being crushed! 

Another 3 hours and we were heading up the final 4 miles up to Robinson Flat. This was so beautiful but I was dead tired. I was going on that delirium where something not so funny makes you laugh like a drunk at his own jokes. This is great for Kevin because he becomes a comedian when I approach this inebriated state. Looking around I was starting to feel like Alice in Wonderland, no really. 

We came in with the back of the packers, as planned, about 30 minutes before cutoff at Robinson Flat. We had been on our feet for over 8 hours ensuring safety. The only thing we came across was a dude taking a pee in the bushes who had left his bottle out for someone to wait for him. Thankfully, no rescuing was needed. Runners are tough, especially runners that embark on 100 miles. Typically if something is going wrong, mentally or physically, they know what the ailment and cure is. Beyond 30 miles though its a bit trickier as runners tend to forget who they are and why the hell they are running the middle of the night. More on that in Part 2.


  1. That looks so miserably cold. Did you meet Gordy Ainsleigh?

  2. I didn't meet Gordy! I was wondering if he dropped because he forgot his shirt like he usually does!