We went into Venture for some bowling fun that evening. Anita and I were on the same team and I am proud to say Anita won an award for the lowest bowling score, a whopping 35! Vance's team won some award and they all received snow ski's and poles, which they had to bring to the start of the race with them. If your wondering about this run and the sanity of the race director, here he is at the pre-race briefing:
Chris Scott is the race director and he is quite a character. The atmosphere of the race is awesome, very relaxed.
If you've not heard of CTM, Chris' thought process is to have staggered starts so that everyone finishes within a four hour window. Your not allowed to have pacers because you will always be near another runner with the staggered starts.
I was scheduled to start at 11:00 p.m. on Friday night. In my group were 17 other guys. I was afraid of being dead last, the slow poke.
We started and immediately 1/2 mile up the road, I stopped at the port-a-potties. When I came out, I was second to the last runner - oh well.
The start this year was at Thacher school. It is a 4.8 mile trek to the ridge. It took me 2 1/2 hours to do 4.8 miles. It also entailed 4 stream crossings in which rock hopping was successful and no wet feet. It would not have been good to start a 100 miler with wet feet at mile 1! At the top we took a right and ran down the ridge road towards Sisar Canyon. At the bottom of Sisar canyon, I was expecting my drop bag so I could get some GU2O for my bottle, but no such luck. It was "misplaced" but they had a real bathroom which was nice. I caught up with another guy in our group at the stream crossing. His name was Keen and it was his first 100. Boy he sure picked a doosie! I was, unfortunately, not successful at rock hopping and my left foot got soaking wet. Oh well, it did dry pretty fast.
The climb out of Sisar Canyon was long but we took a right turn on to a single track trail that brought us up to Lion Canyon aid station. I will say, the course was marked excellently. It even had one sign with a map and said, "you are here" with an X.
This was a great aid station. I ran into Linda here. She was all cuddled up in a chair with sleeping bags. It seems she was having some hypothermia issues. It was cold up on the ridge road. Lyon Canyon also had a nice rip roaring fire which made leaving difficult! From here is the dreaded climb to the top of Topa Topa. It is a peak that sits 6500 feet up and is covered with ice and snow.
As I got to the bottom near the aid station, Linda was heading up Topa Topa. She decided she had warmed up enough and would try to continue on.
From Lion Canyon aid station, you climb up the ridge road until you take a right turn on single track trail that leads towards Rose Valley. The trail here is very narrow at times. I would shine my flashlight down the side of the hill but couldn't see a thing. I guess ignorance is bliss. There was snow along the side of the trail also. I remember last year heading down and the temps dropped significantly - into the low 20's. This year I was more prepared. I had hand warmers and a thicker jacket. As I continued on, the night was coming to an end and by the time I reached the bottom it was light out and cold. It was 24 degrees at the aid station. I quickly ate a hot, grilled turkey and cheese sandwich and headed back.
The climb up took a long time. It was warming up and looking like a beautiful day!
Now in the daylight, you can see those drops and long downs next to the very narrow trail.
Here is the drop down:
Once you get back to the ridge road, you hit the Lyon Canyon aid station one more time. From this point you return down the single track trail to the ridge road just above Sisar Canyon.
This was a nice excellent down hill but of course turns into a long climb up towards the start. Once we hit the top to Thacher, the 100 milers and the 100Ker's will follow the same course. As I was almost back to the start, I could see those poor bastards making that 4.8 mile trek!
You continue on the ridge road for 8 miles until you head down a road for 2 miles until you reach Rose Valley aid station again. I was running down thinking how nice it would be to use a real bathroom and have a diet pepsi from my drop bag. As I got to the bottom, I was eating and drinking and I looked up and guess who I saw:
Anita was hitting Rose Valley at mile 12 of her 62 and I was at mile 48.8 of my 100 miles. We decided to stay together until the finish. We made the long climb back 2 miles until you hit the ridge road again and we head towards Howard's Creek.
This was a very nice gently single track trail that led to an aid station on a road. They had some wonderful homemade peanut butter cookies there!!
From last year, the only thing I remember vividly were that the climbs up Thacher and Cozy Dell sucked. Cozy Dell had some sort of rock bed with large boulders that you had to climb to get to the aid station. Anita and I were running nicely. The trail went from runnable to rocky technical quite frequently which is difficult to get into a groove. Run, walk, run, walk. We were trying to get down to Cozy Dell before dark. We had handheld in our backpacks but didn't really want to stop to fish them out. But no such luck, before the rock bed, we had to get our lights. If you know Anita and I, it's the blind leading the blind and not really safe so lights were a good thing~
At Cozy Dell, nothing really sounded good food wise but we tried to eat. I refilled one bottle and left the other in my drop bag. I don't like carrying two bottles and a handheld light, especially when I'm tired and my feet are dragging. It makes for a good combination of taking a header!
When Anita and I finally made it to Gridley Top aid station, we were COLD, well freezing was more like it. It was 27 degrees up on the ridge road and windy. We just wanted to sit and huddle up with blankets. Chris came over and told me I was past the cut off time. He said I could only keep going because I was running with Anita and she was a 100 k and started much later than I. He said to get going if I wanted to finish in time. We stayed at the aid station for maybe 2 minutes. I was worried. Holy crap, I am a slow poke....
We headed down the trail towards Gridley Bottom. The trail again is very runnable with some patches of rocks which slowed you down. As we headed down and up this little dip, we heard a scream. I yelled, "are you okay". The response was a moan. I swear, I sprinted (difficult on legs that have gone 70+ miles) back and saw a runner down. It was Karen Hanke. She was laying face first on a bed of rocks. She was talking and we got her to roll over. Her knees were bloody but that was it until she took off her glove and her left wrist was deformed. Badly deformed. She is one tough cookie. She wasn't even crying! We got her up on her feet and tried to think if we had anything to make a splint, which we didn't so we had her hold her arm and I walked in front of her shining my light backwards to she could see. We walked for many, many miles until we reached Gridley bottom. Fortunately, there was a doctor there and a retired paramedic. They fashioned a cardboard splint and placed ice on it. Karen had broken down and taken 400 mg of advil before we hit the bottom. See, I told you she was a tough cookie. As she sat there, and the adrenaline finally wore off, she cried. We felt so bad. At least she was in good hands. They were working on getting her to her hotel since her husband wasn't answering his cell.
Chris was also at Gridley bottom since someone had told him a runner went down. I walked up to him and said, "did you realize I started at 11 p. and I'm sure I wasn't close to any cut offs". He said, "I know but you got your ass moving didn't you"! I was thinking what an a$#@*^%.
We made the long climb back up to Gridley top aid station and headed towards the finish. 13+ long miles until the finish. It was still 27 degrees and windy. We were really cold.
Anita and I and two other girls, Georgeann and Kim were the last four people out on the ridge road. We would all be walking and then someone would say, "I can't feel my fingers" then quiet. Then another, "I"m so freaking cold". It was quite funny (now).
We hit the ridge junction aid station (where they had a fire). Like a moth to a flame Anita had to pull me away. We're only 4.8 miles to the finish. Anita said, we can run down to the finish. As we started down towards Thacher, it is rocky, narrow, steep, slippery and dangerous. What kind of crack was she smoking to think we could run that!
It was a long walk down. We hit the 4 creek crossings and Anita was successful at rock hopping 3 times. On the last creek, her foot got wet. Anita really DISLIKES wet feet. I giggled and she cussed at me.
At some point, Georgeann and Kim had pulled away and taken the lead. Anita and I were it - DFL.
As we came to the track and took our lap, the awards ceremony was just starting. How embarrassing was that! Mostly everyone was already showered and had eaten. How embarrassing is that!
Anyway, we finished, together. The final time for me 35:45 and Anita's was 23:45.
It wasn't important what our time was. We had a good time, helped someone in need and didn't freeze to death. Much more important things.
I just wanted to say, I didn't hurl once. I really concentrated on eating and drinking. I ate grilled cheese sandwiches, cheese quesidillas, chips, cookies, etc. I even had a sip of beer at the Rose Valley aid station the second time around. I did slow down on the fluid consumption but was still sipping water to the end. I did also take electrolytes faithfully. I am most happy about that and will continue to work on that.
I also wanted to say, that the volunteers and all the aid stations were fabulous!! They waited on you hand and foot. Next year, if the timing is right, I want to volunteer. Then I can drink lots of beer and cater to the crazies that do Coyote Two Moon..
Here is the link for other pictures I took: