Wasatch 100

Wasatch 100

Monday, September 20, 2010

2010 Wasatch 100 Race Report – Ryan Martin

The Wasatch Front 100 is ranked as one of the top four most challenging 100 miles races in the US with over 26,882 feet of climbing and 26,131 of elevation loss. It takes place in the Wasatch Mountains above the Salt Lake City metro area with a 36 hour cutoff.
(Race pictures and video are at the end of the race report)

We arrived on Thursday and after the race briefing we enjoyed a pizza and a beer downtown before checking in our hotel near Kaysville (warning if you stay in the Hilton Garden Inn there is a brewery next door). The next morning we woke up at 3:30 and were at the starting area by 4:30.

Start to Francis Peak 18.76 miles; 5:00am - 9:56am, 4:56 total time:
The race began at 5:00 a.m. running along rolling single track for about 3.5 miles until we began our first climb. At this point I pulled out my trekking poles which I would use for the remainder of the race. This was a good climbing section with many switch backs and ridge traverses until we reached the dreaded “Chinscraper”. In reality, it was no big deal. We bounced up and down numerous ridges until we hit a 4x4 road at mile 13.5 to the Francis Peak aid station. In this section I ran for a few miles with a runner who had completed this event 18 times and his advice was to avoid going out too fast and save some energy for the final 25 miles (good advice for all 100s especially this one).

Francis Peak to Big Mountain 39.4 miles; 10:05am – 4:13pm, 11:13 total time:
The first five miles of this section is on dirt road and steep wooded single track to Bountiful B. From this point to Big Mountain the trail goes up and down mountains and ridges in 500-1000 ft increments. The views in this section are amazing-you can see the mountains that will be climbed later in evening to the south, the city to the west and the valley by Farmington to the east. At Big Mountain, I changed from my Montrail Masochist shoes to my La Sportiva Wildcats with fresh socks and reloaded with Roctane from GU. For the first time since my fist 100 miler, I decided to have pacer join me. Kelly was glad to take on the challenge since it is more entertaining then her other job as crew.

Big Mountain to Millcreek 61.68 miles; 4:30pm – 1:08am, 20:08 total time:
The section to Lambs Canyon is mainly a descent with a lot of steep ups and downs to Alexander Springs (mile 47.4) then it is mainly a gradual climb then descent to Lambs Canyon. The first few miles I work on slowing Kelly down who was more concerned about disappointing me by going to slow. About 1 mile from Lambs it became dark enough to put on our head lamps for the beginning of the night section. At Lambs we refueled with warm food and chips the kept us going for the next 4+ hours. Leaving Lambs there is a gradual climb up a paved road for 1.6 miles to a great single track section that climbs 2,000 ft then descends to Millcreek Road which then follows uphill for 3 miles to the aid station. At the aid station, I put on running pants, a heavier jacket, a long-sleeved running shirt, and better cold weather gloves. The temps were below 20 degrees and the bundling up was a smart move. This is where I dropped Kelly off and she picked up a pair of DNFs to take with her to the Brighton Lodge aid station where they would meet their crews and Kelly would wait for the next 3 hours.

Millcreek to Brighton 75.61 miles; 1:27am – 5:41am, 24:41 total time:
This is the 2nd half of the night section which includes numerous climbs and one 5 mile decent to the Brighton Lodge. Despite all the climbing, it was mainly switchbacks with the occasional views of Salt Lake City. The sky was clear so I turned off the headlamp and enjoyed the stars. This is where I really have to applaud the volunteers at the aid stations staying awake and serving us in the cold.

By this time in any 100 miler you begin seeing the walking dead. These are the runners who are on their last legs and you have to stop to check on them. I went past a runner lying on the side of the trail who appeared to be finished yet he said he was fine and there was only one or two miles to Desolation Lake so I kept going. Leaving Desolation Lake there was another 1,000 ft climb to Scotts Peak and another aid station before the quick decent to the highway and eventually the lodge. As I walked to the door at Brighton, Karl Metzler was nice enough to open the door for me. Karl was crewing his wife and if I were to guess, she has crewed for him many times in the past (I would love to have Karl as my crew). Kelly was there to fill my pack with Roctane and drink mix. I enjoyed some recover drink, Ensure, eggs and potatoes.

Brighton to Pole Line Pass 83.39 miles; 5:56am – 9:13am, 28:13 total time:
Leaving the lodge was reminiscent of the Western States 100 climbing from the base of the ski area. It zig-zagged up the mountain past several lakes until it reached Point Supreme 10,450ft (highest point of the race). In this three mile section I enjoyed an amazing sun rise and the spectacular view of the back side of the mountains which I climbed overnight. Then we had a very steep rocky drop to the Ant Knolls aid station (mile 80.27 at 7:57am). I then took off my running pants and enjoyed some pancakes. Leaving Ant Knolls I had another climb to a ridge that I would mainly traverse for the next few miles until I dropped down hill to the Pole Line Pass aid station.

Up to this point I had no major physical issues (except repeated bathroom stops in the early evening). Unfortunately, my chest got congested overnight and I was not able to breath efficiently on the climbs. From this point on all my climbs until the end of the race were pathetically slow.

At Pole Line I removed the remaining night running layers and refilled my race pack with GU Brew to last the next 10 miles.

Pole Line Pass to Pot Bottom 93.13 miles; 9:23am – 1:02pm, 32:02 total time:
In the preceding hours many Wasatch veterans warned of this next section. The first three miles out of the aid station were rolling hills then it I hit the last steep climb of the race to Stephens Point at about 9,700 ft. Once again I was short of breath and this section that should have worked to my advantage but it dragged on forever. After reaching the top, I enjoyed the views and also realized with all the motorcycle riders and hunters why the race starts on Friday. Soon after reaching Stephens is the Rock Springs aid station (mile 87.39) which I decided to skip refueling and make a run for Pot Bottom.

Now it was time for the Dive and the Plunge. Both are very steep downhill sections with thick powder like dirt. At this point I was feeling great and decided to throw caution to wind and really run each downhill (in the last 13 miles I likely passed 20-30 runners). Following the Dive I ended up going up and down numerous shorter ridges until the Plunge. Once again it was long steep downhill and the last mile I had the company of eight runners who followed me into the Pot Bottom aid station.

For the first time in the race I began to feel a hotspot on my foot from all the dust that was rubbing on my skin. At the aid station, I took more time than I would have liked to change socks and clean my feet to add more Hydropel lubrication.

Pot Bottom to Homestead Finish 100 miles; 1:11pm – 3:14pm, 34:14 total time:
The final stretch began with a 500 ft climb for 1.3 miles. This was the hottest part of the race with temperatures in the mid 80’s. My only challenge was the taste of the water/GU Brew from the aid station. It was stale and nasty but I had to force myself to drink it since I would be out for another two hours. After reaching the top I started with a slow run as the decent began on jeep roads through the trees. At the bottom of the hill a sharp turn to the left took runners through a gate and then on single track.

Still feeling good I decided to have strong run to finish (wrongly assuming it just below me). As I continued on the single track it just kept going and going. Eventually it hit my favorite running surface asphalt (just joking I hates asphalt especially in 100 milers). After 2.7 miles of hard running the finish line appeared and I sprinted across the finish line.

Final Thoughts:
I finished 143 out of 244 starters and 182 finishers and I am very happy with that. At this point in my running, my goal is to finish. When I started the race I had no idea when I would finish except I felt 34 hours would be practical for my skill and fitness. I looked up previous runner’s splits that had similar times to help Kelly predict her crewing and pacing times.

Balance and discipline helps in these races. I made sure I drank every eight minutes with an alarm going off on my watch. I took my GU Roctane every 45 minutes and ate at most every aid station. As for other runners they had their race and I had mine so I kept my pace constant (except the end). I thank La Sportiva for great shoes that protected my toes and Hydropel for avoiding blisters.

2001 I ran my first 50k at Sunmart and I was unable to walk after the race and it took two weeks before I could run again. Nine years later I run a 50k and feel fine that evening. Now that I am on my 5th 100 miler, my body is starting to adapt. I can now walk and even drink a beer after a race. I will still give my body recovery time yet after this race I was running in four days. This may be a good sign for a future Grand Slam finish. I just need a few more years and I will be ready. Now my hope is make it into the Hardrock 100.

The start

Early view of the city

First view of the city and the Salt Lake

Below Chinscraper

Ridge line past Chinscraper with light snow

Valley between Francis Peak and Bontiful B

Bontiful B aid station

Views near the Sessions Lift-Off aid station

View to the East
The next group of pictures are all +/- 10 miles from Swallow Rocks aid station

The mountains in the distance is where I ran overnight
Just past Swallow Rocks aid station

The valley below is where Lamb Canyon is located
View of the Big Mountain aid station
My pacer and crew - Kelly Goode
Last picture before my camera died and just prior to Lambs Canyon
The Next four are videos through the 1st day of the race

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