He already started breaking down emotionally before he even crossed the finish line, crying like a kid on his first breakup. The end of a very long day of running for Brian Krogmann. Tears of victory from a runner who just 6 hours before, thought his goals were going to slip away. He would charge back, run the most miles he has ever run in one time, break the course record by 10-miles and win the race in the process. An effort that may even get him into the national team.
Back in 2007, the Nike Women's Marathon and SF One Day happened on the same weekend. On Sunday morning, the second day of SF1D, the marathoners came through Crissy Field and for almost half a mile participants of both races ran side by side. I wish I was fly on the grass that day. I can only imagine the puzzled looks and the quick conversations that might have happened.
Like the Nike Women's Marathon, it was my third time volunteering for PCTR's SF One Day event. However it was my first time staying for the entire race, from sunrise to sunrise. I didn't work the whole time though, I served in phases. I socialized as much as I worked and I never left the premises. I didn't want to leave, I had a front row seat to an incredible show and was a witness to some of the highest highs and the lowest lows, to disappointments and victories. You want to see people fall apart slowly, mentally and physically, yet still manage to keep on truckin', this is a good event to attend. Of all the events I volunteer for SF1D is by far my favorite. Besides the runners we also had many friends from the running community stop by, say hello and lend a hand. We even had people stop by multiples times during the duration of the event. They just couldn't stay away.
The loop is just over a mile and it's a combination of asphalt and hard packed dirt with views of the Presidio, Golden Gate Bridge, the Marin Headlands, Angel Island, Alcatraz and the city of San Francisco. This year's event had 133 runners with 69 signed up for the 24-hour race and 64 for the 12-hour race. Most miles wins. There is one aid station which is located at the start/finish. You only need one in this event. There are porta-potty's right next to the race site but the park bathrooms are only a short walk away. They even have showers but it's outdoors and cold! Crissy Field is a popular destination for walkers, bikers, runners, kite and wind surfers, dogs and children so the runners had lots of company during the day.
A walk through of the 1.06 mile loop.
I was there early with Brian Krogmann, the race didn't start until 9AM but we were there before 7AM since I had to help with parking and setup. Brian was staying with me for the weekend and despite my best efforts of tip-toeing around the apartment in the dark I woke him up anyway. I told him he had another couple of hours at least but the thought of Peet's coffee got him out of the bed. So we cabbed it to Peet's then to Crissy Field.
It seemed like the day went quickly. I helped with parking, the race started, everyone was off, I took lots of pictures, got busy setting up the aid station and next thing I knew it was already afternoon. I ate a late lunch, went for a walk around the course, took more photos, socialized and soon it was dark with the 12-hour racers wrapping up their event. Good friend Leigh "Pinky" Moser did awesome, taking first female with 64+ miles and second overall. Go Leigh! She also provided homemade pancake batter for breakfast the next day, what a runner.
However if the day felt fast the night seemed to drag out slowly. With the 12-hour runners off the course and most of the people off the park, things were quieter and more subdued. It was beautiful out there though. I run there all the time and there are not many nights like the one we had this past weekend. Just perfect for a run. The weather was spectacular! After the fog burned off by noon on Saturday it never came back. At night it was cool but not cold with clear skies and no wind. The water in the lagoon was like glass with reflections crisp and clear. It made me wish I had a camera that could capture good night shots. The weather was not only perfect for the runners but also for the crew and volunteers. Last year it got so cold, I remember freezing during the night inside the aid station tent despite the heater.
At 1AM I got permission to run on the course. It was my plan to get a long run in. Despite running in the opposite direction with my lights off I felt like I was still a distraction to the runners. Their headlights would track me as I ran past them. Tired runners don't need someone buzzing around them with fresh legs. I explored other parts of the park but eventually I would run into them again so I decided to just call it off. If you were wondering why I just didn't cross the bridge, the bridge is closed to foot traffic at night. Not many people know that - I read it's an attempt to prevent suicides. Apparently the Golden Gate Bridge is the most popular place in America for that sort of thing. Before I finished I did manage to run/walk with a few of the runners; Suzanna Bon, Daniel Fabun, Catra Corbett, Nathan Yanko and Ken Michal. I would have ran with Brian too except that he looked so focused I'm not sure he would have even known I was there. I though it best to leave him alone. Pacing is not allowed at SF1D but a lap or two is okay. Spending time with these guys when they were tired and raw was a treat. Everyone was exhausted but they kept it together pretty well. I personally didn't witness any yelling, screaming or whining for that matter.
I got off the course at 3AM and Brian was leading as he did for most of the race. I helped him locate his bag in the dark so he could change shoes and he looked exhausted. Suzanna was looking solid, it was like the miles had no effect on her and she seemed to get stronger as the race went on. It did not escape Brian's notice. He worried about being caught. Sometime after 5AM I crashed in my chair inside the aid station tent, thankfully Devon was there to help out. When I got up at 6AM Brian was still in the lead. At 7AM when there was finally enough light to see everyone, Brian looked like a boxer that went a few rounds. His face was puffy and his eyes partly closed. He was not too steady every time he stopped at the aid station. It seemed like he was going to fall over. He was kicking butt in the race but the race was kicking the crap out of him too. Once he stopped at the aid station and started to weave sideways like he was going to fall. Two concerned spectators, Zach and Jason, walked a lap with him to make sure he didn't collapse out on the course. Crazy but he kept on going, the legs kept driving forward relentlessly. Suzanna had also started to finally show signs of fatigue. Still solid but slower and you can feel the effort. The smile was gone, it was all "eye of the tired tiger" at this point.
While that was going on other stories were playing out. Nathan during the night had stopped running due to a pain in his foot which prevented him from putting too much pressure on it. Fearing the worst he stopped around 89 miles or so and got some sleep. Nathan is fast and an accomplished runner. The weekend before he had won the Humboldt Redwoods Marathon with a time of 2:45. He is the current record holder of the Headland Hundreds at 18:44:58, a 100-miler that has over 20,000 feet of climbing. It just wasn't his day however at SF1D. In the morning, still wrapped up in his blanket, he walked a lap. Soon the blanket was off and he was moving better and faster. Not long after he was running and had set a goal of at least completing 100 miles before the 24 hours was up. With a half hour to go he still had three laps to complete and these he did in 8, 7, and 6 minute miles. Then there was Heather Van Ness, the poor woman had been sick earlier in the week and nothing she put in her stomach was agreeing with her. She struggled with calories for the entire event. Many people drop when their stomachs go south, they can't get anything down. Heather on the other hand just kept moving from one food item to the next, they all made her feel sick but somehow she got enough calories in to keep going. The best quote from the weekend came from her. During the night she comes out of the porta-potty and says "Good news, I just threw everything up and I'm starting with a clean slate, what can I eat?!" Yeah baby optimism and perseverance. Heather would finish the race. There were so many other stories but it would take too long to type them all down.
Brian would tally 140 miles for the win and a new course record. His performance may be good enough to get him into the national team. Suzanna would finish with 134 miles which is also a new course record. Her performance may also be good enough to get her into the national team. A great race for both of them. The finish line was full of relieved runners, happy to be done. Handshakes and hugs all around and there was much cheering and clapping during the awards ceremony. Shan Riggs who held the previous SF1D record of 130.2 miles was there to congratulate friends. He ended up dropping out after about 89 miles because of achilles problems. He left, slept and after some painkillers, came down to support his friends on Sunday morning.
Well thankfully I didn't have to carry Brian around for the rest of the day. He recovered nicely once he stopped running and Shan and Abby gave us a ride back to my place. He was fine enough to stand in line for breakfast for 1.5 hours - it was his idea. He had been wanting to hit this famous breakfast place since his last trip to San Francisco. This freaking dude stood there like he had a full nights sleep and no miles on his legs. Brian if you are reading this, you are a freak but in a way that I wish I was too. I wish I had your energy, speed and endurance.
Good times. I'm still tired and I didn't even run. I learned a lot and I know a little bit more about my friends. I'm already looking forward to volunteering for next year. I'm not interested in doing a timed event such as this, not why I run long, but I enjoy the race and supporting the runners. Congratulations to all who ran this year and thank you PCTR for another great event.
For more photos, click here.