Bighorn runners aren't going across the country like Forrest Gump,
but their journey may feel that long by the time they finish.
This is it. Show time for the sixth annual Bighorn Mountain Wild &
Scenic Trail 100-miler, with an emphasis on "wild" and "scenic." As noted, this
year will be more "wild" than usual because of the late spring
snowfalls, rain, and high winds that have created more runoff and mud,
higher creeks, lingering snowdrifts, and downed trees.
But ultra runners love a good challenge, don't they? They wouldn't
have signed up for this race if they expected it to be easy.
I started taking photos on the (short) walk from our
camper to the Scott Park pavilion for Jim's pre-race briefing at 9 AM. Runners
in all four races come into the park about a quarter of a mile from the finish banner, following
a sandy path along the campground fence and river:
That path was partly under water less than two weeks ago! Walking to the pavilion this way helped us visualize the finish line
we'd be striving to reach on Saturday.
The pavilion quickly filled up with the large group of eager
100-milers and their support teams. Some friends and family members
would be crewing and pacing their runners, while others would be running in
the shorter races tomorrow. Some really energetic folks would do all
Race director Michelle Powers Maneval conducted the runner briefing,
welcoming everyone to the sixth edition of the 100-mile run. She thanked
the generous sponsors and dedicated volunteers (including the
hard-working race management team) and reiterated the important rules
for runners and crews in order to make the race as safe and enjoyable as
possible for everyone. Wendell Robison described the course conditions,
and a drawing was held at the end.
Jim's name was called about last. Since it was first come, first
served his only choice was among women's socks, so I ended up the
"winner." Thank you, Sweetie! Here's a photo of my new Asics socks,
which amuse me because they are marked left and right:
My Injinji toe socks have a definite right and left, but these are
the first anklets I've seen that are made specifically for one foot or
the other. Maybe they're made for brain-dead runners or old ladies like
CRS (Can't Remember *Stuff*) Syndrome!
We had a few minutes to socialize after the briefing with Ed
Cacciapaglia (AKA "Cappuccino") and Vicki Kendall, VHTRC friends who are
running the 100-miler for the first time. Fellow funster Gary Knipling,
who's in the 52-miler, is in the blue shirt in the background:
Rickie Redland-McManus (blue shirt), Diane Van Deren (coral top), and
Merilee O'Neal (co-RD at the Leadville 100) are all smiles before the
Both Rickie and Diane have finished the race previously. Diane was the
first female finisher last year. Do well, ladies!
Then it was time for final preparations for the 100-mile race to
begin. Most runners carpool to the start on the Tongue River Canyon Road
four miles out of town. There was also a bus this year to transport
runners. Last year we rode to the start with our Idaho friends Dennis
and Jody Aslett; this year we invited them to ride in our truck. Dennis
is in the 100-miler, Jody the 50K. We had a nice visit on the way to the start. Jim seemed pretty relaxed, considering the task ahead.
Weather always plays a major role in a race this long. It was sunny
and warm (low 60s??) at the race briefing in Dayton, but we could see
low-hanging clouds over the mountains and the Tongue River Canyon as we
drove to the start:
This could be good news or bad news, depending on just what was going
on up there. Last year it was brutally hot running and walking up
through the canyon until we got to Horsecreek Ridge at about 8,100 feet
elevation. The clouds could be a blessing for runners this year, keeping
the temperatures cooler. If it was raining, however, it might not be so
We had half an hour to mingle and wait until the start a bit over a
mile from the Tongue River trail head. It was cooler here with the
breeze and clouds. We talked with lots of friends and wished each other
well in our races.
Cheryl Sinclair, in blue top and black pants at lower right, rounds up runners for pre-race check-in
so race officials will know exactly who is running (as Michelle
commented an hour earlier, not everyone who attends the briefing
actually begins the race):
VHTRC friend Tom Corris, who will run the 50K tomorrow, takes our photo:
Jim talks with Californian Don Lundell, below, who runs the internet
business Zombie Runner with Gillian Robinson; she was home this weekend
literally "minding the store." We missed you, Gillian!
Left to right below: Jody and Dennis Aslett, Jim, and Franklin
The calm before the storm? Looking from the start line toward the
Jody and Dennis talk with a relaxed
Michelle and Melanie, sisters/race staff, a few minutes before the start:
Runners move to the start line for the national anthem and prayer:
Cheryl checks in Wendell Robison (blue shirt) and David Horton, who have
both finished the race previously. It's not too late to change your
A smiling Jim talks with Tom Hayes a couple minutes before the start:
Dave Westlake from Sheridan, on the left below, is taking it easy in
the 30K tomorrow as he tapers for Western States 100 next week. Good
luck, Dave! Karen Powers is in the background, red top.
Left to right below: Louise Mason from Illinois in red jacket (did not
start the 100 due to two stress fractures -- ouch!); Tennessee
friends Susan Donnelly in blue top and Rob Apple in orange jacket:
Rob hams it up for the camera below. This is his 491st ultra, "if I
finish," he added humbly. (I'll cut to the chase since I'm writing
this several days later: he DID finish, and so did Susan.) Right
behind Rob are Merilee O'Neal (in yellow cap) and Ken Chlouber, co-RDs
for the Leadville Trail 100 in Colorado, Jim's next race.
Hans-Dieter Weisshaar, one of the friendliest, most popular ultra
runners out there, talks with Susan Donnelly in the photo below just
moments before the start. This is Hans' 99th 100-miler. Hardrock in July
will be his 100th. (He finished Bighorn and he's likely to finish HRH
again, too.) At age 67, he's a great role model and ambassador for
And then finally it was 11 AM.
ON YOUR MARK, GET SET . . .
Michelle (foreground, right) moves out of the way as she counts down the
seconds until the start:
. . . GO!!!
There they go, not to be seen again by their crews until the Dry Fork
aid station 13.4 miles later:
One hundred forty-seven runners began the race, which I believe is
the largest field they've had. Eighty-one would
finish on Saturday, one coming in just a few minutes over the official
limit. In some races, he wouldn't "count," but at the Bighorn Mountain
Wild & Scenic Trail Run, Ed "Cappuccino" not only counted,
he also got his finisher bag
Just one more reason to love this race.
After the race began I just had to see Hans' and Susi's new dog,
Capulin (pronounced like the technical fabric used in running clothes
called Capilene). Hans found this dog in a little village in Mexico
several months ago and
purchased him for less than $20.
The young pointer mix just LOOKS like a born runner, no? He's run up
to twelve hours with Hans. I'm glad they've got another dog here in the
States because they missed their previous pooch (a Doberman, as I
recall), which they had to leave in Germany. The couple spends as much
or more time in the US as in Europe.
Jody Aslett and I piled back in our truck and returned to the
campground in Dayton, happy that our fellas were finally on the trail
doing what they love to do. We wished we were able to begin our races,
too, but we have to wait until tomorrow . . .
Next entry: too much going on today for just one entry, so there's a Part 2 for June 15.
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody, and
© 2007 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil