Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Javelina Jundred

Blake Wood with his daughter Heather who was running her first 100 mile ultra. Don't they look super?

So imagine this. It is close to midnight, there's a full moon and you are running in the Arizona desert in a 100-mile ultra marathon race. You have fresh legs and a clear mind because you are a pacer. Your runner is still running strong after 60 miles and indeed your first lap with him (miles 60-75)is his second fastest of the day. There is barely any conversation, there is just the run and you are free to soak it all in. The moon is so bright you don't even need your lights and in fact many runners are running with theirs off. The stars are so crisp and clear not like they are back home where they are obscured by the fog and the light pollution from the city. At one point you are headed towards Orion's Belt and you are taken back to when you were 9 years old, when someone tells you that if ever one of those three stars is missing you can make a wish and it will come true. Back then you day dreamed lots about the girl next door so you constantly checked the night sky in the hopes that you could get that one wish in. The memory makes you smile and you laugh because after all these years you are still a day dreamer and deep down you still wish for one of those stars to wink out so you can make a wish.

That was the most memorable part about this past weekend that I keep coming back to. Pacing Tony at the Javelina Jundred was another incredible running experience. I paced him from mile 60 onwards, from 8:20PM Saturday evening thru 5:42AM Sunday morning.

This was my third time pacing Tony and we actually met at this event last year. He had a strong run, we pretty much ran the last 40 miles. Even when he finally slowed down, hurting and exhausted, he was still able to lay down a good and consistent pace. We would make up a lot of time, pass a lot of people and he would finish 23:42. A much better performance from his 26:40 last year. Truly his running has really come a long way in just the past year. This was his third under 24-hour finish for a hundred mile ultra this year along with a finish at Badwater 135-mile. I was blown away by his improvement. Physically he is much stronger, faster and mentally more focused and tougher. Congratulations Tony, all your hard work has paid off and it shows.

The event itself was a blast too. The race was on it's 7th edition and was seeing it's biggest field of runners with 270 runners signed up. The previous best, according to Dave Combs, was 150. The course record would be broken, by 1:05 hours! Dave James would run a 14:20, a 14:20! Sadly it may also be the year of the highest number of drops. Of the 250+ runners who started only 124 finished. The start/finish area was bigger and more festive and because the event started on Halloween day they even had activities for the kids. There was pumpkin carving, assorted games and a haunted house tent - pretty nifty. The course is made up of six 15+ mile loops and a 9+ mile loop and the start/finish area is the focal point of the event.

What a great time! I hope to be back again next year, pacing or running. They do a great job out there. Mahalo to Race Director Jamil Coury and all the people who made it possible. Congratulations to all the runners.

2 seconds before the gun goes off. That's Dave James in the white tank top and yellow running shoes.

Buddy Jon Gunderson being sprayed down with sunscreen while another volunteer evens it all out.

Lynne and Tony, they would run the first 60 miles together.

Inside the main aid station tent with the super volunteers.

Donato Cabal in his costume. He ran 30 miles in the heat with this before changing. Donato had a bad bike crash during the summer at an Ironman distance triathlon event. It was good to see him up, about and healthy.

Ultra-running ladies from Southern California in costume. Their runner was dressed in the exact same outfit, you can't see but they have matching gaiters.

The start/ finish area as seen from the top of a hill. Part of the course is in the background.

With the shirt I designed for the event.

Activities for the kids at night, including a haunted house. These was over a dozen kids at the start/finish.

Not a great picture but Tony a minute after his finish.

Many more pictures. Click here for the photoset.


  1. rick, JJ100 is one in my "dream list" and you really did a good job. nice "pacer" shirt! too bad, i will no longer allow pacers in the next edition of BDM 102. nice post and pictures.

  2. You look SUPER cute in that picture. That shirt is pretty sharp too.
    I love that picture of the Dad and daughter too. ;)

  3. Wow, you had a great day! Nice pictures too. And the food - yummy.

    Ahem. I think that shirt fits me well :)

  4. Thanks BR it's a great race and I can see why it would be on your dream list. Toughening up the race for 2010, very nice. Of the 9 100's I've completed 7 of them were without a pacer. It's definitely harder.

    Thanks Sugar Bandit. I love that pic of Blake and his daughter.

    Jon, you could have a "pacer" shirt but something tells me you'd rather have a 100-mile finishers shirt first.

  5. I can't thank you enough for all of your help out there (again). You kept me focused and moving, and we brought it home. So you want to go back again.....I talked to Bob ready for a 2010 reunion !

  6. I like the pacer shirt! I think you need to market em. Sure would save a lot of "No, I'm just pacing" replies while you wait for your runner.

    Mark Gilligan

  7. Awesome. I love your description in the first paragraph - that's everything I love about the sport right there.

    Agreed on the pacer shirt as well - it rocks.

  8. Ditto what Donald said. First paragraph--beautiful.
    Nice job, glad you had such an awesome day/night!

  9. Great race. Great shirt. That drop rate is really high!

    On the list!

  10. That looks like a really cool event, Rick! Nice job with the pacing and helping to bring your runner home in such a good time!

    Your shirt is awesome as well!

  11. Great Post. I enjoyed the opening paragraphs. Sounded like an awesome weekend.


  12. Tony, you're welcome. Way to hustle and get back on pace for a sub-24. It was great running with you at Javelina. Yeah, back again for 2010.

    What I was thinking of Mark. Something to wear at registration the day before too. I plan on coming up with more ultra specific shirts and I'll post them in Cafepress.

    Thanks Donald. We do get to run in some amazing places don't we.

    Gretchen, I never thought I'd like a place without trees. Thankfully I was wrong.

    Stuart, I think people go out way too fast in the first two loops, then it gets hot during the day. Temps wise not very high but there is no shade and by the time the afternoon comes many are just done.

    Jean, they do a super job at that race, this year more than ever.

    Dave, good to read that you are finally coming back from your break. You should think about this race for your first hundred.

  13. Glad you had a great time again at J! I'll have to make it out there one year, especially since my family lives in Phoenix. Great description of the stars and sky. I like trees, but the desert really is amazing.

  14. dude - AWESOME shirt! how come i didn't get custom pacer shirt for Headlands Hundy? think of how much BETTER i could've been representing like that. miss seeing you - now all older and stuff - so i guess i'll just wait until you pass me at TNF. new year, new bet? if i didn't know you personally, Rick, and only read about you on this blog, I'd say you were one of the most positive, most happiest, most glass is way-more-than-half-full people i'd ever heard of. you get what you give in life and you embody that spirit.

    did i tell you i miss you?