Monday, June 18, 2007

Epic Run

Approximately 5 miles into the race and into our first climb.

The quick rundown on the Bighorn 100-Mile Race.
Full report to come Thursday.

This run was the most beautiful awe-inspiring place that I've ever had the privilege to run, race or otherwise. This became apparent to me the first 5 miles of the race and a sentiment reflected on the faces and words of the other runners around me. However it was also the most difficult and challenging course that I've ever completed. Under normal conditions the trail itself is technical enough, full of rocks, tough climbs, and steep downhills. This past weekend it became a full blown grade A challenge. The week before a snowstorm had blown through the area downing trees and deposited snow on the higher elevations. Fortunately the system moved out quickly but the snow it left started melting right away creating the worst trail conditions in the history of the 100-mile race. There was lots of water and mud throughout the course and at the turnaround point there was snow. Because of the 11AM start, most of us runners made the ascent to the turnaround point under the cover of darkness. So imagine, you're running at about 8000ft. approaching 9000ft., exposed on the mountain range, feet constantly wet and muddy and you come upon snow banks. You make your way through, climbing up, punching through occasionally, having your legs coated with snow and only to find there's more of the same ahead and you're thinking "it's only mile 46 or so, not even halfway and I have to return the exact same way". I felt like I was being slapped around all over the course, just one issue after another. Eventually I started laughing in the darkness, good ol' coping mechanism. Oh there was some fist shaking too and some mental middle finger waving but only laughter got me through emotionally positive with my fighting spirit intact.

Olga and I would continue to survive and finish pretty much intact mentally. Were physically beat and hurting and we had many low points, the worst low point coming the last 5 miles to the finish but we remained defiant till the end and the thought of quitting never, at least I never saw it in her eyes or body language or heard it in her words. We ran the race together as planned, at times we were miles apart but we never lost each other and finished together at 30:22. She was an awesome race partner and our styles compliment each other well. I owe her much for this accomplishment.

When we finally finished the pain and stiffness closed in quickly. I sat on a curb in front of the car for a long time. The plan was to clean up quickly and have something to eat but I just wanted to crawl into a dark hole for the rest of the day. I never had that feeling before. Eventually I made it to the finish area and got some food, I wanted more but it was too much to walk back. I sat on a bench directly in front of the finish line. I saw in the faces of the other racers what I was feeling, a bit shocking because some of these guys were more experienced than I was. They're looking at you but their stare is somewhere else, they should be smiling but you only see exhaustion and relief. To be fair not everyone was like that, there were folks who came through just fine and yes there were those who celebrated.

Race organization was amazing. The volunteers phenomenal. A lot of work was put into the race. After the storm, volunteers hiked in equipment and supplies and worked on the trail. They cut down most of the trees that was in our path, plotted run arounds for those that they didn't have time to remove. They also built several foot bridges that was washed away by the storm. The only thing they couldn't do was dry the course for us but if there was a way to do it they would have given it a try. Sheridan the town was friendly, warm, and laid back. This is a place where people take the time to say "you're welcome" when you say thank you, where people greet you on the streets, where downtown is closed on Sundays, by 5PM on weekdays and where's it's okay to drive slow - I never heard the honking of a horn, not even once.

Bighorn was an amazing experience and you don't even have to run the 100M to experience it, they have a 52-mile and a 50k (31-mile) race option. Thoughts of coming back were already on my mind before I finished the race.

Finished with Olga at 30:22
Karl Meltzer broke the course record with a 20:12
149 Starters and 70 DNFs (did not finish)
Only 30 finishers made it under 30 hours (makes me feel a little better:)


  1. Rick, I am in awe. Way to go! I am glad to hear you had such a positive experience, and I can't wait to read your full report.

    My congratulations to you!

  2. Sounds like a wonderful experience. In a sick twisted sort of way of course. I hope you have had some time to rest and recuperate.

  3. Darling, love ya lots!!! What fun we had, together it was double!
    Got home at 2am, and yes, they did loose my laggage:) but it's here now. Nobody wanted dirty stinky bags.
    Looking forward seeing you again, and you know what, I think I might just come for Cool 12vand meet you after your Marine 100!

  4. Rick,

    Congratulations to you and Olga for finishing what must have been a tough, tough race.


  5. All I can say is... YOU GUYS ARE AMAZING!

  6. for some reason Rick I missed the idea that you were Doing the WHOLE Race, I thought you were pacing Olga(meaning like last 25 or maybe the last half of the race)

    BUT noooooooooooooooooooooo, much to my happy surprise you guys did it together...not sure how I missed that I think I will blame it on my LASIK eyes--LOLOL

    so AWESOME Bro, you guys did great and what an insane course and 70 DNF's YIKES and that peep KARL is a freak :-) in a good Ultra way!

    Rest & recover Well my friend you deserve, OLga probably will log 50 miles this week as here rest week--HAHA Love ya Olga:-)

  7. Wow. Incredible race. You guys are both amazing for finishing. Very nice work.

  8. Thanks guys. Much appreciated. Feeling much more rested now, the feet are feeling much better too.