Friday, July 02, 2010

Spectating at Western States 100-Mile

What a great trail party that Western States 100-Mile. Such a gathering of ultra-marathoners, volunteers, crew, pacers and spectators. Like last year I was just as amazed at the talent on the sidelines.

I went up Saturday morning to spectate with a couple of friends. Got to Foresthill, mile 62, a little after 1PM. This was just before the leaders came through. It was neat seeing the elite of the elites. They had such speed, grace and focus. Got to see a lot of friends and it was good to catch up with them. We ended up staying till about 6:30 or so. I waited till my buddy Jon Gunderson came through before we left for the river crossing at mile 78. Jon was having a bad race but was managing it. He was pretty determined to punch through. Stomach went south, nausea issues, some throwing up and a twisted ankle. Before I left I also got a chance to say hello to Meredith Terranova who came along shortly after Jon. She was all smiles and pounding down food and liquids. I'm sure she had her share of issues as well but didn't have time to ask.

The trip to the river was not as easy as it looked on paper. From Foresthill we had to make our way towards the finish and back track from there until we reached the point where we had to hike down to the river. What's cool is that you pass some of the other aid station points on the way. No Hands Bridge, the mile 96.8 aid station, was lit up like Christmas. The walk down to the river is a little over three miles and all of it downhill which means a long uphill on the way back. Bless the dedicated crews who were hauling chairs, coolers and whatever else for their runners. We were in the river bank for about three hours this time. Got to see a lot of friends come through again and it was fascinating to see the river volunteers work. Because the water was high this year, they used boats for the crossing - same as the year I ran it. One of the boats almost ended up downstream when it got turned around and came close to the rapids, that was a tense moment. By the time we got out there it was close to midnight. My friends and I were pretty tired and hungry. We grabbed a quick dinner at a local Denny's, one of the only places open that late, and made a quick stop at the finish line before heading home.

We got to the finish around 1:30 am. Got the scoop on who finished at what time. Heard stories from the runners and pacers. Just phenomenal for these guys to be coming in under 20.5 hours, just phenomenal. Great performances all around. The one story that really lit me up was Gary Robbin's 6th place with a 17:06. Gary had a brutal day last year. This year he ended up dropping at the Miwok 100k in the first weekend of May, was diagnosed with fatigue and exhaustion and forced to lay off for weeks afterward. According to him he ran a total of 98 miles for the entire month of May! For him to bounce back from that issue and perform like he did at WS is just great. Phenomenal.

Would have liked to have been there for the awards ceremony later that day but had much to do on Sunday. Next year I should get my chance to run the race again. Looking forward to it already. While I enjoy the occasional 100-miler without a pacer or crew this is a race where I would like to have both. It's a big event, a party and I want to bring more people into it. I already know who to ask. I hope they are available.


Crew stop by Zach Landman and his pacer Joel Lanz at Foresthill, mile 62 of the race.

At the Rucky Chucky river crossing, mile 78.

Jon Gunderson and Meredith Terranova at the river crossing.


Foresthill aid station volunteers, led by a couple of silver buckled station leaders. I love how some of these guys purposely tuck in their shirts to show off the buckle. Maybe that's me 20 years from now...if I'm lucky.

A couple of shady characters at Foresthill school. "Hey Kid you want some GU?! C'mon the first one is free". Brett and Nate ready to pace.

Anton Krupicka, leaving Foresthill aid station in first place.

Zach Landman's fiancee Geri, refilling his energy gel flask.

Walking down to the river crossing, enjoying the view.

The river crossing as seen from the far side bank. Boats are used because the river is too high to cross on foot.

Suzanna Bon. From the 24-Hour World Championships in Brive, France to Western States in California. Go Tamalpa!

Pacers spotted at the finish; Brett Rivers, Krissy Moehl and Larissa Polischuk.

When I heard Gary took 6th!

Click Here! For the photoset.


  1. It was a blast, wasn't it! We decided to stick with Escarpemt, Dusty and Michigan, thus we missed you. But being at the finish line from 7pm in anticipation and watching runners flow was great. Couldn't stick for awards either - flight to catch...Makes me want to run it again too. However, both Larry and I are at mercy of a lottery. How did you get in?

  2. Nice Rick! I wish I could have made it to where you were to see you. Next time, next time....

  3. Hi Rick. Great post and photos. Awesome that you were able to take it in and see it firsthand. Take care and we'll talk soon!

  4. Awesome seeing you out there, Rick, and thanks for all the pictures. What a great time, eh? Good stuff. Guess i'll see you on the starting line next year. :)

  5. Olga you were out there?! Nice. Saw so many friends but I'm also amazed at the ones I missed. I was a two time loser for 09, because of the fire I didn't get an automatic entry but they put me in a lottery for the remaining slots available when some of the 08 runners opted not to return for 09. Didn't make that lottery either, neither did I make the lottery for 10 specifically for two time losers from 09, so they automatically gave me 11. It's complicated but the bottom line is I am 0-6 for any kind of lottery involving Western States! Thank God they have special consideration for those who have tried and tried but never got in.

  6. Devon, there will be a next time champ. The tough ones always bounce back.

  7. Fun times! Nice that you'll be able to take it on again next year.

  8. Ah one day, thanks for sharing your photos and video!

    Looks and sounds amazing!