Friday, June 29, 2012

Silver City 100k Race Report

I normally don't ever get around to writing anything down after a race.  Not sure why.  Guess I am always ready to move on to the next one.  I looked back at my Boston Marathon draft I started and it abruptly ends with us driving the course the day race THE END.  Anyway, something is better than nothing so here it is.

Michelle and I drove up with my buddy Derek to the starting area on Friday night and had a chance to swap stories and catch up with a bunch of friends who were running and volunteers.  I had to be up around 4am for the 5am start.  I think Michelle said I fell asleep in about 9.3 seconds which was nice.  Unfortunately she had forgotten her sleeping pills that she needs to get to sleep so it was a long night and following day for her. Morning came way too soon and to my surprise it was a lot warmer when we woke up.  The night before the wind was howling and it was cold.  I had been watching the forecast and didn't think I would need a jacket at the beginning.  Luckily, I left my arm sleeves I got from Pocatello in the bottom of my sleeping bag after our recent trip to Stanley.  I was warmer than the night before but I was still glad I had the sleeves.

Mike Blessing was making breakfast burritos before the race and they were amazing.  I grabbed a couple of those and headed over to the pre-race meeting.  Nothing new in the pre-race. Watch out for snakes, you might get wet at some point, and all the regular stuff.  While we were waiting my friend Amanda showed up which was a nice surprise.  She was volunteering during the race and got up early to make the drive from Meridian to see the race start!  We chatted for a while then I gave Michelle a kiss and lined up for the start.  Lining up for the start of an ultra is kind of funny but I always go to the front.  I think the only other person to do it was Dennis.  He got right next to me and placed his leg right in front of mine like he was trying to trip me which was pretty funny.

10, 9, 8.......go!  And they're off!  Until we reached the road Davina, the race director, was the race leader in her boots and coat carrying a clip board which was fun.  I didn't have a headlamp since I figured it would be light in 15 minutes. I followed Derek for a while since he had a light and out of nowhere he goes down.  The road was relatively smooth but had bumps that popped out of no where.  We cruised through town and up to War Eagle Mountain basically as one group.  When we reached the top the sun was just peeking out and there was a slight haze in the air which made the entire sky glow.  It was truly one of the best sunrises ever.  At this point I was with Tony Huff, Randy Benthin, and Paul Lind.   We approached Michael taking pictures and got some great shots of us.

Not too long after War Eagle we reached the first aid station in Hayden Saddle.  This is about mile 5.5 which was a quick stop for water and a couple of gels.  After the leaving the aid station, you drop down a steep shale slide and begin the ascent to Hayden Peak.  Hayden Peak is the highest point in the Owyhee Mountains and the view was worth the trip.  We stayed long enough to snap a quick picture and headed back down.  The 100k route returns to the base of the shale slide and then drops deep down the backside of the hill on an old road.  The road eventually disappears at the bottom and we had to bushwhack cross country back up the mountain to the Hayden Saddle aid station.  This was a challenging section since there was no trail but it was very pretty and cool back there.  The climb was roughly 900 feet in 0.7 miles.

We popped out of the trees right at the aid station which was mile 14.  I had some bananas, oranges, and cookies and was off.  I was feeling good and we were going into a section that had a little bit of up and down but was basically riding the ridge.  I was the first to leave out of the 2nd aid station and from there were seemed to get spread out pretty quick. Maybe we didn't, I don't ever look back to see where people are.  All I know was this was a beautiful stretch with scenic view of the backside of the mountain looking toward the Oregon border.  Somewhere along here Tony passed me on the downhill and we chatted for a bit.  After he got by I realized I do better when I have someone in my sights.  He was bounding like a deer down some of the rockiest crazy terrain I have ever seen which was amazing.  I caught back up to him with a solid power hike just before we dropped down the steep descent into the Silver City aid station.  Tony dusted me again on the downhill and I didn't see him for another 15 miles.

The 30k started their race at 9am I believe and they came up the same canyon we were going down.  At this point they were at 2 or 3 miles and we were coming up on mile 22.  It was fun to see lots of friends who were running and get my only chance to say hello since most of them would be at home asleep by the time I finished!  I had fun charging through all 708 water crossings :D  At one point I even told some of the people I was passing to smile THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE FUN!!  In their defense we were screaming down the steep downhill while they were headed uphill.  Just as I got to the aid station I met Michelle.  I leaned on her while she held me up!  We had short kiss and told each other good luck and were on our way.  While I was at the aid station one of the volunteers asked me how my feet felt and I said 'fine, but ask me again in 40 miles!'  Wayne and his wife Wendy were working the aid station table and I think I was already starting to get brain fog because he asked me if I wanted water and heed.  I said sure and he asked which bottle is heed?  Um, I don't know, just put it in one of them and water in the other I guess?  It's hard to think sometimes. If you are volunteering at an ultra and you have an aid station later in the race try asking one of the runners a math question.  That would be a hoot.

Anyway, I got headed down the trail to towards town and headed back up the same hill I just came down but on a different road.  The trail was steep but manageable.  I leap frogged back and forth with 6 four wheelers up this climb which was not pleasant.  They were courteous but dust is dust.  There were about 673 water crossing in this section.  Several of them halfway to my knees.  I actually enjoyed being near the water because it was warming up and I kept dipping my hat and handkerchief in the water to stay cool.  Once I crested the hill there were a bunch of people at the top for some reason.  They had 4 wheelers but were also handing out what looked like aid station stuff.  I later found out this was the Long Gulch aid station.  Next time I am going to read the run description and look at the aid station chart, I swear!

They had bacon.  It was awesome. The END

Oh wait, I still have 38 miles to go.  I cruised down the hill and passed a guy who was struggling from cramping and offer him and S-cap to help.  He recovered quickly and promptly dusted me on the downhill.  I came upon Ande Wilkes in this section and she had just had a bad spill on the unforgiving rocks.  I introduced myself and told her I hated to meet her under these circumstances.  She assured me she would be fine and I continued on.  We were catching some 50k and 30k runners in this stretch which was fun.  I got behind two ladies that running all the uphills.  It took me forever to catch up to them and when I did I told them they were hardcore for running the uphills.  Their response was the faster we run, the sooner we get to drink beer at the end.  Who can fault that logic!!

I rolled into the Jordan Creek aid station at 11:20, just over 6 hours after we started and 6,300 feet of elevation later.  As promised, I laid down in the creek and swam in the water!  Amy King got a good picture of me being a goofball.  Val Block was awesome at this aid station and got me all fixed up.  One funny thing of note at this aid station.  Amy's daughter Faith was standing at the table when Bryan Snyder came through and passed me.  He dipped his hands into the food bowls like we all do, grabbed some stuff, and was off.  Once he left Faith turned to I think Val and said 'EWW did you see that guy just put his dirty hand in the food bowl!'  Now I am standing there getting ready to do the same thing. I asked her if she would make up a bowl for me so I wouldn't have to do that.  She gives me a weird look so I dipped by grubby paws in the bowls and hit the road.  I laughed as I could see her get the EWW look again.

The next section is Tennessee Hill.  I was with the scouting group Emily put together last fall so this was not a surprise for me like it was for others.  It climbs about 1,150 feet in 1.1 miles.  I never stopped once and passed about 20 people.  The only person I couldn't catch was Brian Snyder.  I tried to offer some helpful advice to several people who looked like they were struggling but apparently they didn't have as good of an attitude at that moment as I did.  They basically told me where to go and how to get there in their own little way so I motored on by.  This mile took me 24 minutes which I was really happy with.  Once I got to the top I went right into a run and passed through a whole bunch of people who looked shell shocked and amazed that they made it, and rightfully so, it was H.A.R.D.!  The back of the hill is as steep as the front for a ways and on the way down a ziploc bag flew out of my pocket!  I looked at it gently bouncing along the steep terrain to my right.  In the back of my brain I can hear Emily yelling at me, RYAN!!  So I go side hill trying to catch this silly thing before it gets away.  Luckily it didn't get to far and a littering incident was narrowly avoided.

                                                               By this time it is about noon and the heat is starting become more noticeable.  I went for a mile or two to where the 100k route makes a loop down to the mile 36 DeLamar aid station.  I start heading downhill and am surprised to see a head bobbing through the trees and bushed ahead of me.  Somehow I had nearly caught back up to Tony.  I was feeling pretty decent on the long downhill when I get to a spot where there are three flags in a row that seem to be indicating a right turn.  That didn't seem right so I kept going down to a gate I can see crossing the road.  Once I got down, there were no flags on the fence or the closed gate so I assumed those 3 flags were indicating a turn.  So I turned back up the hill to the flags and followed what I thought was the right direction.  Long story short, I was supposed to stay on the road and continue the way I was headed.  Apparently the local cows had taken a liking to the flagging and were chewing some of  them up and spitting them out in random places.  I knew I had to drop all the way back to Jordan Creek so I returned to the road and headed down.  Sure enough, I ran into the flags eventually.  I got less than one bonus mile but wasted 20 minutes.

When I got to the DeLamar aid station Christie came out to greet me.  Dennis and Paul were just leaving and another guy Steve had passed me by too.  Mike Chrisman was there with Wayne and Christies family and he cooked up some cheese quesadillas that hit the spot.  The ATV guys were asking me where the confusing part was so I gave them the general vicinity and where the flags were.  I was distracted talking to them and forgot all the things I was going to get at this aid station.  Christie refilled my water, Wayne gave me a big bag of grapes, and their daughter Savannah offered me a pickle as big as her arm which was super cute.  It didn't sound good at the time so I declined and walked out.  Just as I am leaving I remembered she said she would have popsicles, so I grabbed one and hit the road.  After leaving I realized I was going to get some ice for my bandanna, sunscreen, and something else that I still can't remember!  I do remember trying ginger ale for the first time in my entire life and it wasn't bad! The only reason I did is because it was the closest thing to my hand on the table!

I would have to say the prettiest part of the course was the 5 mile stretch after leaving that aid station.  There were lots of wildflowers in the meadows.  Aspen and pines were mixed in with the sagebrush and bitter brush too.  I followed Dennis' bobbing head for a long way and then was alone for a long time.  The next weary soul I came upon was Mike Blessing chugging into the Slacks Corner aid station.  He had had a long day and was ready to be done.  I saw Mike and Tina Upton here while I was changing my socks.  I don't normally change my socks but after 44 miles of wet feet I figured I'd give it a shot.  There wasn't any water on the last section so it seemed like it would be worth it.  I got a chance to say hi to  Ray Ramirez who was volunteering.  I met Ray at Wilson Creek near the end.  When I passed him that day I asked him how he was doing and he replied, 'Livin' the dream, DON'T wake me up!'  It has since become one of my favorite lines and seeing him brought a smile to my face.

They had bacon.  It was awesome. The END.

Oh wait, I still have 19 miles to go.  I left out of there with a new shirt and a long sleeve on since the cloud cover was making it really cool.  This lasted about 20 minutes and then the clouds broke and it heated up quick.  I didn't take my long sleeved shirt off which in retrospect was a bad move.  Part of the reason was so I wouldn't get sunburned.  The other part was I just wanted to keep moving.  I think I was overheating which took a lot out of me.  There was zero shade for the next 7 miles and it only got hotter.  I rolled into the Black Mountain aid station at mile 51.5 around 5:45.  Tony Salazar and his family were aid station captains and it was wonderful to visit and get recharged.  The heat had sapped me so I decided I would stay for a bit to get some fluid in me and hopefully regain some energy.

From Slacks to Black Mountain it was 1,150 feet of gain and 2,700 feet of loss.  When I left Black Mountain I was not looking forward to the return trip to Slacks.  This section is a loop and returned us to Slacks so I knew we had a long grind back.  Luckily the climb came all at once for the most part.  The four miles after the aid station had 1,500 feet of climb and 150 feet of loss.  After that it seemed like we were running the ridge line for the most part.

I was fading badly by now and just trying to keep up my forward motion.  When I came across the Canyon County ATV volunteer I asked if I could sit on their 4 wheelers to take a break and they all let me thank goodness.  One of them gave me a badly needed  bottle of water too.  I told him he was a GOD and thanked him for volunteering and headed out.  About mile 59 my watch died and Derek caught up to me at mile 60.  He was on fire when he caught me.  We chatted for a bit and I told him not to let me hold him up and go kick some butt.  We met at mile 7 of the Wilson Creek 50k and stuck together the rest of the day that day.  After that we started running before work during the week.  Anyway, Derek says, you've been kicking my butt for 60 miles, let's run it in together.  Sounded good to me. I hadn't had anyone to talk to for many miles.  Derek said he had been alone nearly all day and welcomed some company too.

After a bit we slogged into the Slacks Corner aid station again.  This time at mile 60.  Ray was there again and Jim and Jane Updegrove were there as well.  They are both ultra-veterans and know exactly what you want to hear and what you want to eat.  Jim said it was 2.8 miles to the road and 0.6 from the road to the finish.  For me this is good information to keep my brain focused.  Too bad my watch was dead!  At the glacial pace I was going the miles were seeming longer and longer. One funny thing that happened during this stop was Jim was trying to get Derek's number to mark him off the checklist.  Derek wasn't paying attention so I swatted him and said, 'What's your number?'  'My number? 618-51....'  'No your race number goofball!!' 'Hey, it's been a long day, don't ask me hard questions like that!'

They had bacon.  It was awesome. The END

Oh wait, I still have three miles to go.  We headed out of the aid station and up to the ridge where we were met by Christie in her pink flamingo hat.  She was just the ray of sunshine we, I mean I needed to get me to the finish.  From this ridge it is mostly downhill to the finish and we picked up the pace considerably once we has someone with about 20 times more enthusiasm that we did combined to get us motivated.  We goofed around and Christie got some silly pictures along the way as well as some amazing sunset pictures.  We popped out on the road and I saw Lindsay Seals was directing the runners down the hill to the finish.  She did the 50k earlier and was out volunteering to round out the day!  I told her she looked like she could run another lap!  We started to run down the last stretch but had to get our stuff organized a bit.
We stopped and both took off our long sleeve shirts.  I stashed my sunglasses in Derek's pack and Christie took my vest. Christie took off like a bolt of lightning and I chased her for a minute of so before the smart part of my brain decided that was a bad idea.  She continued on and alerted the masses of our pending arrival.  We rounded the last corner and crossed the finish line with a rather sweet heel click in perfect unison.  Luckily Michael was there to capture it nicely.

I went into the proverbial hands on knees, I think I am about to die pose for a minute while I caught my breath.

Once again Michelle was there to hold me up so I didn't fall!  We kissed and she said she was proud of me.  Dennis and a number of others were still there to congratulate us at the finish.  Davina and Emily presented us with our finishers award which was a gold pan which is very cool.  This course was HARD. I had 63.3 miles and 15,000 feet of gain and loss.  The elevation was difficult but what made it tough were the loose rolling rocks under what seemed like every step.

I always like to make note of things that went good and bad so that I can make sure they don't happen again.  Getting off course sucks.  So what, move on.  Don't let it get to you.  This was the best and worst thing that happened to me.  It also taught me to study the maps and aid station better.  I don't normally pore over them because I don't typically run up against the cutoffs.  Had I done a bit of studying beforehand I wouldn't have gotten off course, it was totally my fault.  Lesson learned.

The other thing is heat training.  I run in the morning because it works with my schedule and my family life.  I need to get out in the heat more to be better acclimated.  Lesson learned.

I had a great experience and will hopefully be back for more punishment next year!  Thanks to Pickled Feet Emily and Davina for putting this event on as well as all the amazing volunteers who make these things happen!

Big thanks to Tom Peavey, Christie Ebenroth, Amy King, Tony Salazar, Michael Lebowitz of Long Run Picture Company for the wonderful photos.  I took my camera and left the battery in the CHARGER at home.  Oh well. 


  1. Yay!!!! You wrote your race report and it was awesome!!! You crack me up. (They had bacon. It was awesome. The end!) haha :D I am so proud of you for finishing something so difficult and regaining that special brand of Ryan JOY before finishing up the race! It was so nice to see you smiling again when I met up with you. I will forever have that double heel click embedded in my brain as the coolest race finish ever! Nice job!! P.S. I really am sorry I didn't get to take better care of you at my aid station. I owe you a dose of sunscreen, a few Oreos, a Pb and J cut into little squares in a ziplock baggie, some tough talk, a big hug and a walk to those meadows a few miles out of my aid station. :)

  2. Thanks, One day I will stay up and type the Salt Flats report that is done. I wrote it all by hand on the never ending flight to Baltimore 6 weeks ago!

  3. Please do!!! I'm dying to read that one, too.

  4. Great job Ryan. Always an inspiration.

    1. Thanks Ed. I saw you are getting ready for your 1st 50k. You will do great!



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