Runtrails' Rocky Mountain Journal
Previous          Journal Topics by Date            Next



"It's very hard in the beginning to understand that the whole idea is not to beat the other runners. Eventually you learn that the competition is against the little voice inside you that wants you to quit."
- George Sheehan 


Again, there might be some disagreement about this quote from the speedier folks among us, but I think Sheehan's sentiments are as appropriate for most ultra runners as those in the marathons and shorter road races to which he usually referred.

In ultra marathons, it's primarily you against the course, the clock, and your own mind. Ask anyone who has struggled to finish an ultra and they can tell you this is true. So will anyone who has ever DNFd when they just couldn't keep going, for whatever reasons. Often the body is capable of continuing longer than the mind is willing to push it (that "second wind" or "second sunrise" thing).

Eight-one runners out of 147 who began the race finished this year's Bighorn Mountain Wild and Scenic Trail 100-miler despite the extra-wild course conditions. That simply amazes me. Many tough, veteran 100-milers did NOT finish. Each had his or her reasons. Each most likely gave it his/her best shot. Some may have given in to the little voice inside their heads that said, "Enough. I'm outa here."

They are all winners to me for simply trying. A hundred miles is never easy, and most certainly not on this tough course. You can see the race results for all four races at the Bighorn link to the left.

One of the best features of the Bighorn race is the Sunday morning brunch and awards ceremony for the 52- and 100-mile finishers. In order to save time, the 52-milers receive their finishers awards on Saturday when they cross the line, but overall and age-group winners get their additional goodies and recognition at the Sunday brunch. All of the 100-mile finishers are called up to the front to be recognized and to get their awards. Runners in all four races are invited to the free brunch, as are crews and pacers.

The brunch begins even before the announced time of 8 AM on a street across from the Sports Stop. I'm not sure what they'd do if it was raining, but it's never rained the years Jim and I have been here. The food is always good, and you can't beat the company -- runners, volunteers, race officials, families, and friends. It's a fitting finale to a wonderful four days of race events.

Jim and I got in line early for the hot pancakes, slices of ham, fruit, and beverages. After everyone is through the line, you can go back for more. Ultra runners are capable of eating a LOT of food the day after a race, so they have plenty available!




Jim talks with Dave Westlake from Sheridan, below. We met Dave last year on a long training run before the 100-miler, which Dave finished. This year he ran the 30K as his last long run before the  Western States 100 a week later. Good luck, Dave!

There was a large contingent of fellow VHTRC (Virginia Happy Trails Running Club) members at Bighorn this year -- 43 of ux, plus crews and pacers. Quatro Hubbard (blue shirt) has a big smile for the photographer:

VHTRC members Bunny Runyan and Gary Knipling are also in the photo above but you can't see their faces. Gary ran the 52-miler with his son, Keith. Here's a better shot of Bunny and Gary as they talk with Dave Westlake:

The huggiest guy on the 100-mile race circuit, Hans-Dieter Weisshaar (below) shares war stories with Diane Van Deren. Diane won the race last year and had another good race this year. She's one tough lady. Hans is near-bionic, running numerous difficult mountain 100s each year. This was his 99th 100-mile finish. Number 100 will be Hardrock in July.

Susan Donnelly (black shirt, below) talks with Gary Knipling and Bunny Runyan. Susan finished the 100-miler. VHTRC'er Tom Corris, on the right, chose to do the 50K for about the same reasons as me -- to have fun and take pictures! Several of the VHTRC group will be going to Glacier National Park this week to extend the good times.

Here's another photo of Bunny (left) and Susan:

I wasn't close enough to get good shots of the 100-mile race winners, Karl Meltzer and Darcy Africa. Both set new course records despite the most unfavorable course conditions in the six years this race has been run -- Karl by a few minutes, Darcy by about four hours!

Here Karl (left, below) receives his award from co-race director Cheryl Sinclair and announcer Wendell Robinson:

Darcy (white shirt, back to camera)  is congratulated by co-RDs Michelle Powers Maneval (green shirt) and Karen Powers:

There was another drawing for nice items like Nathan packs and Smart Wool socks. This time my name was called and I received a Nathan water bottle and hand carrier. We can use it, although it would have been nice to be the NEXT name drawn -- that guy received a Nathan pack. Since Jim won women's socks in the pre-race drawing, I guess he can have my bottle and carrier. <grin>

We chatted with friends after the awards ceremony, filled out our SASEs for early entries to next year's races (important since they fill so quickly), and stopped in the Sport Stop one more time before heading back to the Foothills Campground in Dayton. By then, the skies were dark with storm clouds (another in my "windshield series"):

Good thing the street had been cleared of all the food, race tables, chairs, boxes of shirts and awards, etc. by then.

This race is always so much fun, but it ends too quickly. Most of the tents and campers were already gone when we got back to Dayton, another sign of the end of another successful year for this race. Not all the runners were happy with their races, including Jim, but all had a good time overall. If you're considering running Bighorn  for the first or tenth time next year, get your entry in as soon as the race opens. If you don't get in, go anyway and crew, pace, or volunteer. Be a part of one of the best ultra races out there. You won't regret participating.

Thanks a million to all the volunteers, including the hard-working race staff that attends to details all year long, for allowing us to participate again this year. You're all winners, too.

Next up: a mish-mash of entries regarding what Jim and I did right and wrong in our races, photos from a friend's alpaca ranch in nearby Parkman, WY, interesting sculptures in Sheridan, a quick visit to Leadville, and getting back on the Colorado Trail. We're having trouble with both our computer and internet connections, and we stay busy, so I'm behind on entries by a few days . . .

"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody, and Tater

Previous       Next

2007 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil