Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Crewing and Pacing at the American River 50-Mile

Dana and Kara at the start.

This past weekend I was part of a crew of five who were at the American River 50-mile crewing and pacing for a couple of friends, Kara Teklinski and Dana Katz, who were running in their first 50-mile ultra. These two training partners has been training their butts off. Last December they ran the "Northface 50k" together and in March the "Way Too Cool 50k. The ladies were well trained, they had their plan and they followed through. Kara wanted to break 10 hours and Dana 11 but they ran the first 26 miles together, conservatively and picked it up on the second half. They came through looking solid and strong at Beals Point Aid Station, 26.53 miles into the race.

Dana and Kara 15 miles into the race. Brian had run ahead and grabbed their gear which we promptly reloaded with liquids and gels before handing it back to them. No stopping for these girls.

Around Mile 40

Me: We are going to go all out the last 10 miles. We are not stopping to
walk unless I see tears!

Kara: The only tears you are going to see would be your own!

Yeah I had a feisty one! I paced Kara from Beals Point all the way to the finish and the girl whooped some butt out there. She started peaking when many runners had started to fade. From miles 30-40 we cranked it up and then again from miles 40-50. She was so strong those last 23 miles which was on trail (the first 27 is mostly on a paved bike path). She barely stopped at any of the aid stations which saved her a lot of time. I picked up what she needed or refilled the bladder on her Nathan pack. It was a lot of work having to work my way back to her each time, I got a long run plus a few sprints but it was worth it. At the halfway point her age group rank was 323 out of 622 starters and at the finish it was 55 out of 581 finishers! 55! We passed so many runners on the way to the finish line. We never got passed either... okay well there was this one guy and his pacer that we passed a half mile from the finish and he passed us back 2 minutes later. He probably started smelling a sub-9 and gunned it or we fired him up. Anyway truth be told, despite the help I gave her, she didn't really need me. Oh we had fun chasing down runners and I really pushed her pace the last 10 miles but without me she would have still finished strong and in the vicinity of her final time which was 9:01:25, 146 out of 581 runners. Believe me I pushed her even harder to see if she could go sub-9 but those last 2.5 miles are all uphill – a great and sadistic way to finish a long race. She ran most of that hill by the way, certainly the last mile and a half. She was pretty psyched with her time considering that her main goal was a sub-10, well she did it and in a big way.

Kara coming through Rattlesnake Aid Station, mile 40.93. She ran by while I grabbed what she needed.

Kara is an Ironman athlete and is used to racing long distances and all that entails. She knows what to eat, when and how to pace for a long event. She couldn't have a better coach too in Chris Hauth, a top ranked triathlete who has been tearing it up on the trails (2009 Quad Dipsea Champion and a top ten at Way Too Cool 50k to name two of his recent events). It was a pleasure pacing her and if she decides to keep running ultra events she could do well.

Dana came in beaming at 9:55:26, ecstatic that she accomplished her goal of sub-11 hours. At the halfway point she was ranked 327 in her age group and went down to 226 at the finish. There was some tears from her crew and pacers when she came in, it felt a little bit like a graduation with the flowers and such.

Pardon the heavy breathing, I was worn out! Kara at the finish.

Dana with her finisher's jacket. They give them as soon as the runners finished.

Dana with Tina (orange visor, one of her crew/pacers) and Kara shortly after her finish. Friends brought her flowers.

The event was a lot of fun. Kara and Dana spared no expense on us. We went up the day before, stayed in a hotel 5 miles from the start, were fed, given gifts and provided coffee and lunch money. Post race I was treated to a Mexican dinner, a beer and ice cream. Yeah I was spoiled for sure!

Only bummer about the whole event, yes there is one, is the chip timing. The timing matt at the start only counted starters, it didn't actually record the starting time for each individual crossing the matt. It may not seem like a big deal when you only have 622 starters (race filled at 750) compared to thousands in a marathon unless you are the one who missed going under an hour mark by a minute or so. Kara and Dana started at the very back of pack knowing that they wanted to take the first half conservatively. Did it take them more than 1 minute and 25 seconds to finally cross the start line? We will never know. If you care about your time - start near the front, settle into your normal pace after you cross the start line. It's a wide bike path, lots of space for people to pass you once you are on your way.

The Coyotes from Southern California hanging out at the finish; Dominic, Katie, Katelyn, Daniel and Craig.

Overall it was another successful crewing and pacing job and I enjoy these events just as much as racing and volunteering. What can I say, I love this sport! This is the last crewing and pacing gig for awhile though, back to running with three events in the next two months.

For the photoset click here.


  1. Dude, you are seriously a runner's best friend. Great job pacer...see ya this weekend!

  2. Billy...YES HE IS...Rick is a steller guy and good friend.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. That is cool that you helped crew out there. I love watching races and seeing people suffer to reach their goals. It is always fun to witness.

    Maybe I will see you in a couple of weeks....or maybe not.

  5. Billy, Dave: Thanks for the compliments. I like it, really enjoy the races even when not racing. Billy I will see you Sunday.

    Evan: Hopefully I will see you. Should be a fun time with a lot of folks coming for the race, SoCal Coyotes included.

  6. Man that is a darn quick finish! Nice job on seeing you charges though!

    Always the gentleman!