Sunday, September 28, 2008

Hot Day at Rio del Lago 100

100-mile runners return to Cavitt High after the completion of the 67-mile loop. Runners are weighed in, they re-stock, re-supply, change clothes/gear, take care of first aid stuff like blisters and head out for the final 33-mile loop. Third runner in this group is Clare Abram, eventually 3rd female finisher of the race.

I've been going non-stop since yesterday but I have some time now so I thought I'd give you guys an idea of how pacing at the 100 went and I'll post additional info and pictures later.

As I drove up early Saturday afternoon I noticed the heat as I drove further and further away from San Francisco Bay Area. I knew it was going to be a hard day for the runners and it was. Every time heat was involved things always get a little crazy. I heard it was around 100, we're not used to that here. Runners are dropping like flies and the winning time is nowhere close to the course record. The runners fought hard though, the volunteers and race organization worked over time to keep track of and serve the runners. RD Norm Klein was giving all the encouragement he could muster to the runners coming back to race central at mile 67 bedraggled and ready to drop. Families and friends worried for runners long overdue. Pacers, like myself anxiously scanning the darkness for the lights of runners coming in.

5:00 PM
I arrive at Cavitt High School, race central, start/finish and the 67-mile mark for the 100-mile race. All runners are still doing the first 67-mile loop, no leaders have come through yet. I chat with friends and some of the folks hanging around. Mark Lantz is icing his feet. He just won the 53 mile race and was preparing his body, especially his feet, for pacing duty later in the evening.

6:30 PM
All dressed and nowhere to go. I'm hanging out with pacers Leslie Antonis, Jon Kroll and with volunteers Johana and Kristin. Gundy's pace has him coming in earlier than his 7:30PM estimate, more like 7PM.

7:30 PM
No Gundy. Voicemail from his uncle Andy who is serving as his crew says that he is having stomach / gastro issues and is throwing up on the trail. By this time two front runners have already dropped from the 100-mile race and 53-milers are continuing to finish.

8:30 PM
Jon Kroll out with his runner Clare and still no Gundy. I chat with families and friends of runners who have gathered at the aid station. It's dark now and we can see runner's lights as they approach the high school which brings on the clapping and yelling.

9:40 PM
Leslie ready to go out with his runner Scott. Andy tells me in person that Gundy had dropped at the mile 63 aid station and is now sitting in the car recovering. I head over and talk to him. He is swaddled in a blanket and sipping Gatorade. In the course of our 10 minute conversation he decides to give it another shot despite having not had anything to eat in 1.5 hours. Apparently the rest from exertion had really calmed down his stomach and he was feeling re-energized. We head over to talk to RD Norm Klein.

10:15 PM
We are are back at the 63 mile aid station where he had originally exited the course. After telling Gundy that he can't drop again once reinstated, not unless he wants to have children in the future, Norm replaces his original race number with a handwritten one on a piece of paper. Gundy had surrendered his original number when he pulled out of the race. We start from there, slowly since he is also trying to catch up on calories.

A re-hdyrated, re-energized Gundy is haulin ass, hootin and hollerin down the trails. French fries! Andy gives him fresh hot french fries in a cup and the salty, greased up pud slices does something for him. Ultra runners eat the strangest things sometimes to keep going.

3:00 AM
Down swing again. He starts slowing down and complaining of very sore legs.

3:30 AM
We make the turnaround point for the 33-mile loop and he has 2.5 hours to travel 16.5 miles if he wants to finish under 24 hours. Considering he was actually out of the race at one point any successful finish would be remarkable. I give him two ibuprofens since he was no longer dehydrated to help with general muscle soreness.

4: 30 AM
It's still warm out and his engine is still sputtering. We had to stop many times so he can sit or lay down on the trail to rest, they were usually 60 second breaks. One runner actually joined us on one of our breaks. At one point he was shuffling next to me at the same speed I was walking and I have short legs! I looked at him and said, "Anytime you want to start running let me know". I was kidding of course and he knew it. He smiled or was it a grimace.

5:30 AM
My attempts to get him to speed walk instead of shuffling prove unsuccessful. We continue with the "breaks" and the slow shuffle.

6:00 AM
Only 6 miles left to go but the sun is now up and we missed the 24 hour mark. He's in a feisty mood, has a couple more ibuprofens and the legs start to turn over again.

7:10 AM
He is haulin ass again, running flats, hills, everything! We are moving and passing back some of the runners who overtook us.

7:40 AM
Full on sprint mode on the levee to the High School.

7:50 AM
Gundy pulls away slowly as he heads to the finish line and I'm on a full sprint. He clocks in at 25:50:35

That was it. Showered up at boys locker room. Got reunited with Leslie, Jon, Johana and Kristin and their runners Scott and Claire. Claire was third woman, missing 2nd by 1 minute 13 seconds with an overall time of 22:59. I hangout for a bit till about 9:30AM before taking off for home. Gundy was out on a lounge chair when I saw him last. The rest of the day back in San Francisco was just as eventful. I hit the afternoon service at church, joined the dinner crowd and pacing at Rio made for good conversation. A nice surprise. A good friend was back in San Francisco after spending the last two years in Stanford for school. She was like "so are you still keeping up with the running and stuff?", to which I replied "well let me tell you about this weekend".


  1. Um, yeah... you might call yourself keeping up with this whole running thing... just maybe.

    Thanks for the words of encouragement-- I'm starting to obsess!

  2. Great report. Tell Gundy he is one tough mutha...of course he knows that. Sure could of used your motivational abilities on my Saturday run.

  3. Wow. you ultra peeps are insane. I love it! :-)

  4. That is some great time, especially considering sitting out for a time! I am sure he is happy you came around:)

  5. Nice work!!! To both of you!

  6. victoria: Just a lil bit of running. Well it seems like you are channeling the extra energy in the right directions. You'll be healed soon!

    dave: Yeah he's a tough runner. Great comeback story.

    marcy: Nothing insane about 100-miles. Dropping out and dropping back into a race is however. I think the RD was quietly amused.

    olga: Yeah he was definitely happy to have some company out there. You know how that last loop goes; lots of asphalt, flats and confusing sections.

    danni: Nice work yourself pacing at Bear 100. It was a good weekend for 100s right? Glad to see you have comeback nicely from the Headlands Hundred.

  7. Nice comeback by Gundy. He probably wasn't ready for a Rick Gaston guilt-ridden beat-down so he decided he'd take the easy road and run for another 40 miles. Another good story for your future book.

  8. rick, great job in getting jon going again. that's pretty crazy. funny you said in the previous blog this was your first 100 and you almost didn't finish. rio del lago was my first 100 and i didn't finish. dropped at 80 and it still hurts a bit. :)

    great job pacing and even better story telling.


  9. Wow, what an adventure! Way to go, Gundy!!! And great job to you too, Rick. Way to help bring him home! As I have said before, you are very generous with your time and energy.

    So, you never really answered...are you keeping up with the running and stuff?!? ;-) That is just too funny!

    Great post!

  10. mike: That was a crazy comeback for Gundy. I don't think he'll forget that for awhile. He talked about keeping the new number that Norm scribbled for him to get him back on the race.

    hao: Yes but you made up for it by finishing a harder race- Cascade Crest. Funny thing is, that was my second 100-miler.

    jean: You would be jealous if I told you it was warm for pretty much the whole way throughout the night. There were some cold spots but not a lot and still very tolerable. Great night running. Haha, I'm sure Ashley will hear more of my adventures now that's she's back in the city.

  11. You are becoming a pacer extraordinaire. Glad to hear he came back to life after the sun came up. That is always a good feeling after the impending doom of the night.

  12. I love the play by play. I am going to be asking you for tips in pacing Bob pretty soon!

  13. rob: Sometimes it just works out. I needed a long run anyway. He did great.

    j~mom: Ha, ask anytime. He would so love the company and I think in Javelina you the trails are wide enough that you can run side by side.

  14. Rick, I want to invite you on an "epic run" we are doing on Dec. 13th. Pt. Reyes to the GG!! Send me your email address if you are interested. We did it last year and it was a blast.