It's almost show time for the Bighorn Mountain Wild & Scenic Trail
Runs! We are more than ready to get going. I have to wait until Saturday
for the 50K, but Jim gets to check in today for the 100-miler, which
begins at 11 AM tomorrow. He is more concerned than usual because of the
wet and snowy course conditions. He feels well-trained and he's very
motivated to finish the race after three DNFs on this course. I am
confident he can do it this time.
I'm pretty nonchalant about my race this year because 1) I have 13
hours to finish the 50K distance, so there isn't any pressure to make
aid station cut-offs, 2) I don't anticipate as much mud and snow in my
shorter race at slightly lower elevations, and 3) I plan to have fun and
take lots of photos during the race; I'm not running for a
Runners in the three longer races (100-mile, 52-mile,
and 50K) can have drop bags or boxes at up to three locations on the
course that are accessible by vehicle: Dry Fork (miles 13.4/82.5
in the 100-miler), Footbridge (30/66), and Porcupine (48). There are
twelve or thirteen other aid stations in the 100-miler, but most of them
have to be packed in by horse or ATV, so drop bags (and crews) can't go
to them. It's probably good there are so few drop bag locations in this
race; it makes assembling them easier than a race like Leadville,
which has more options.
Jim and I have been using sturdy clear plastic boxes
with opaque colored lids instead of plastic bags or cloth duffel bags
since 1999. The boxes are impervious to rain and being thrown around,
and it's easy to see the contents, helping to decrease time spent in aid
stations. We use tight bungee cords to make sure the lids stay on.
After all the 100-milers we've done, we've got the drop
box thing almost down to a science. We can re-use previous lists from
this race and modify them according to the weather prediction, any
different gear we may have, and this year's whims (real scientific,
eh?). Like most runners, we usually put more in our drop boxes than
we'll actually use. We figure it's better to be over-stocked than to
wish we'd put something in there.
I've got it easy this year; I'll have only one small drop box at Footbridge, which I
pass about fourteen miles into the 50K. I'll also leave a plastic bag on the
bus if I don't need the pants and jacket I'll wear to the start. Pretty
Jim's got more work to do to get his four boxes
ready. The most time-consuming job is putting Perpetuem and Sustained
Energy powder in little bags so he can mix up fresh energy drinks at the
aid stations. He'll carry one bottle of each mixture throughout the race
so he doesn't get tired of just one flavor. He uses Perp and SE at regular strength,
not concentrated like I do. He'll carry as many bags in his pouch as
needed between drop boxes and will mix them with water at aid stations.
It also takes a bit of time to fill the Hammergel
flasks, put dry t.p. and wet washcloths in (separate!) plastic bags,
assemble little packs of Endurolyte electrolyte capsules/caffeine
determine what clothes and shoes to have at which locations. He'll also
add little tubes of Vaseline, sunscreen, and assorted food items that
may appeal to him more than aid station fare.
Because of the long distance between Footbridge and
Porcupine aid stations (eighteen uphill miles through the highest
elevations and most challenging trail conditions on the course, and then
back down again), Jim
will have two drop boxes at Footbridge. This is where runners need to
put their warm night clothes and lights, even the fast guys who think
they'll get to Porcupine before dark. Sometimes they get a rude surprise
if they aren't prepared and run more slowly than expected..
Jim's carrying a double waist pack from the start to
Footbridge (30 miles). He'll pick up his pre-packed Camelbak Blowfish
backpack there with his warm clothing and lights. His waist pack fits
fine below the Camelback. He'll continue using his two water bottles,
not the water bladder; the lightweight backpack is just for storage
Although he'll have dry shoes in one of his Footbridge
boxes, it's doubtful he'll change shoes there because the next part of
the course will be the wettest and muddiest. Why put dry socks and shoes
on if they're going to get filthy in ten minutes? (The shoes are there
in case he wants to change into them on the return at 66 miles.) Nor is he packing dry
shoes in the Porcupine drop bos -- same reason. He has dry socks in that box, though,
in case he has a lot of mud and grit on his feet that could cause
blisters. It's one thing to put wet shoes back on after cleaning your
feet. It's quite another to put wet, muddy socks back on!
100-MILE RUNNER CHECK-IN
Runners in the 100-miler could check in at the Sports
Stop any time this afternoon. We drove down to Sheridan about 3 PM so
we'd have time to hang out with friends at the weigh-in before going to
dinner. One of the first people we saw when we got to the store was
our almost-neighbor, David Horton, shown below (left) with Beth Simpson and Larry Hall near
the vans that will take the drop bags out to the aid stations:
One of the volunteers helped Jim replace the bright yellow duct tape
we use to mark our boxes with silver tape -- the Dry Fork aid station
wants each race to have a separate color tape to coincide with that
race's bib number color, which makes a lot of sense. Hundred-milers got
silver tape to match (?) their white numbers, 52-milers got yellow, and
50Kers got blue (so I had to get new tape, also).
This is the first time we've seen this system. My first impression
was that it's too anal, but now I think it's practical and efficient
when runners from several distances are going through an aid station. It
also shows the attention to detail for which this race is known.
Some of the volunteers have worked their aid stations all fifteen years
the 52-miler, 50K, and 30K races have been run. They know their stuff
and have their own procedures to make everything run smoothly during the
race. Jim and I pick up ideas here and at other races to use when we're
running an aid station ourselves or helping out at other races.
I got a nice surprise when we went inside the store for Jim to get
his medical check-up and race packet. There on the wall with articles
and posters and results from previous races were several of my photos
from Porcupine yesterday!!
What was amazing was that we'd only just uploaded them to our website
a couple hours ago!
I was also surprised how many people told us they appreciated the
course photos. We've met mew friends like Milada Copeland and her
husband Bill, below, since Jim posted the URL to the Bighorn message
board and internet ultra list serve. Milada and Bill camped next to us
at Foothills. They are a delightful couple, and I'm not just saying that
because Bill graciously offered to walk Cody and Tater during the race
Saturday, thereby allowing them to avoid two night in doggie jail. More
about Milada's race in a couple days . . .
Jim got in line for his weigh-in with RN Melanie Powers, who is part
of the Powers Team that manages this race. L to R: Rickie Redland-McManus, Karen
Powers (Melanie's mom), Jim, and Melanie:
Runners are weighed at Porcupine (48 miles) and Footbridge (66
miles) in this race. They do not get bracelets. Their weight is marked
on their numbers. If they are significantly over- or under-weight at
those aid stations, they are encouraged to drink or pee, depending on
which problem they have. This
is just one sign that a runner might be in trouble physically. Each of
the aid stations at Bighorn has trained medical personnel, especially
important in a race like this with so much of the course in remote
mountain territory. A lot can happen out there.
Rickie Redland and her husband, John McManus, chat with Karen Powers below:
Wendell Robison and Vicki Kendall wait their turns to
Wendell's been a very busy boy clearing trail and building bridges
the last couple weeks. Vicki, one of our VHTRC friends, decided a few
days ago to move up to the 100-miler from the 52-mile race. There are a
whopping forty-three VHTRC members signed up for the various Bighorn
distances this year, although a couple may not be here. Add in friends
and significant others, and it's quite a group!
Below, Vicki and three other runners check out the 100-mile finish
awards held by Michelle Powers Maneval (Karen's daughter, Melanie's sister):
Finishers will receive a large black Asics duffel bag with lots of
compartments (great for travel or taking to the fitness center) and an
unusual watch/caribiner combo. Finishers in the three shorter races will
receive smaller Asics bags. Age group winners get beautiful mugs (last
year for them, reportedly) filled with socks and other goodies. I still
cherish mine from 2000 in the 52-miler, the only time I've gotten an
age-group award here. Back then, we also got nice gift certificates to
the store, but they stopped doing that several years ago as the race
grew. This year there are about 600 runners in the four races, maybe
more. It's the largest 100-miler field in six years at about 160
Outside the store we talked a while with Matt and Anne Watts, two of
our Colorado friends (below). Matt is in the 100, Anne in the 52-miler:
TIME TO CARBO LOAD
Then we headed over to Olé's pizzeria for the pre-race dinner buffet.
It was even better than last year's spread, and a good value at $8.00. We
saw lots more friends there, but the only photo I took inside was of
David Horton and Olga Varlamova:
One reason I enjoy going to races so much is seeing friends after
several months or years and getting big hugs! David's one of the "huggier"
folks out there. Another is Hans-Deiter Weisshaar. I had to wait another
day for my obligatory Hans Hug.
After dinner we went back to the campground in Dayton to chill out
and visit with friends who just arrived, like Tom Hayes from Bozeman,
Tom's in the 100-miler. His wife, Liz McGoff, will drive down
tomorrow for the 52-miler. Tom and Liz direct the Devil's Backbone ultra
near Bozeman in mid-July (same day as Hardrock so they aren't tempted to
run it this year, Tom said). We also chatted with 100-milers Bob Johnson
and Franklin Coles from Bozeman. There are quite a few Montanans in the
races. Since we used to live there, it's like a reunion to see so many
at this race.
Foothills Campground is filling up fast. It looks quite different
than the photos I showed a few days ago:
Unlike most 100-mile races, this one doesn't start at 0-dark-forty.
The good news is that we don't have to go to bed at 8 PM. The bad
news is that an 11 AM start through the Tongue River Canyon can be
uncomfortably hot, as it was last year (one reason for my early demise
in the hundred last year). What will tomorrow bring?? Good weather and
lots of fun for Jim in his race, I'm hoping.
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody, and
© 2007 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil