2007 ULTRA RUNNING ADVENTURES

 

   
 
Runtrails' Rocky Mountain Journal
 
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  THE GRAND TETON 100-MILE TRAIL RUN:
THE RACE, DAY 1  

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 1

 
One cyclist to another at main aid station at the Grand Targhee Ski Resort on race day:
"What's going on?"

Second cyclist waiting to board chairlift to the top so they could ride DOWN Fred's Mountain:
"It's a 50-mile and 100-mile foot marathon."
 
First cyclist:
"Why would anybody want to do that??" 
 

 

I had to move away quickly so they didn't hear me burst out laughing!

Why indeed would anyone want to run and walk a hundred miles at altitude in the Teton mountains? For that matter, why would anyone want to go up the sometimes-steep grade to the top of Fred's Mountain four times? Those four round trips constitute only 22% of the course distance, which has a total of 40,000 feet of elevation gain and loss. Yikes! That's a lot even by western mountain hundred milers standards.

I bet most of the 50-milers were mighty glad they had to go up Fred's only twice, the marathoners only once. These cyclists were too lazy to ride up even once. They were taking the chairlift up!

Jim and I aren't not real fond of multiple-loop courses regardless of the distance. It takes a lot of mental focus and determination to return to the start/finish area and go back out again and again. In this unusual race format, runners in the 100-miler come into the main aid station at the base of the Dreamcatcher chairlift a total of TWELVE times, 50-milers six times.

That's a lot of opportunities to quit early!

It takes a special ultra runner to keep doing that repeatedly on this difficult course. It sounds so do-able, with a 36-hour time limit for both races. But the course format, unrelenting hills, exposure to bright sunshine (and possible heat), and twelve miles of dusty and/or busy roads un-did more than one aspiring finisher on race day(s).

In the last entry I showed photos of various parts of the course and the three aid stations where crews can assist runners. In this entry I'll show the people involved more than the scenery.

LET'S RUN!!

Up at 4:10 AM. Mostly dark, despite an almost-full moon, because of rather heavy cloud cover. Heard a few drops of rain on the camper roof just before the alarm went off. Rain is nice on a hot summer afternoon, not so nice at the start. Yuck. Maybe Jim didn't hear it.

Out of the campground in Teton Valley at 5 AM. Still pretty dark with all the clouds, but can see the egg-shaped waning moon and bright little stars peek out from the clouds here and there. The moon would be visible during the day until at least noon. It will be better for the runners if the sky remains overcast all day, but that doesn't happen.

Arrive at Grand Targhee Resort in about fifteen minutes, park about as close to the start/finish area as possible, and head for check-in so race management will know how many runners begin the race:

Jim's got his own pre-race breakfast routine (banana and a cold Boost) so he doesn't indulge in the bagels and other goodies provided by the race:

Temps are in the low 50s so it's not like anyone is going to freeze outside, but it is nice for runners to be able to relax at Wild Bill's before the race begins:

We put Jim's drop boxes in the two designated piles with everyone else's. Unlike other races where drop bags are due the day before the race, at Grand Teton the drop bags aren't due until half an hour before the race begins. That's because there are only two drop bag locations: here at the start/finish area and down at the lower Ski Hill Road aid station which is a 10-minute drive but will take runners a few hours to reach.

Thirty-eight runners walk up a little hill to the start at the base of Fred's Mountain. Twenty-eight will finish within the 36-hour cut-off. It is still pretty dark at 6 AM when Jay and Zach yell "Start!" The little band of intrepid runners begins moving uphill, happy to finally be on the way. Waiting is hard.

 

THE FIRST LOOP

Jim wasn't sure how long it would take to do the 2.7-mile segment up to Fred's and back down the same way to the main aid station so I made sure I was back there well before he returned. I went out to the truck to eat my breakfast and gather my crewing supplies. In addition to the clear plastic box Jim had at each of the two drop bag locations, I had a chair, gallon jug of water, box with other supplies he might need, box with his foul-weather and/or night clothes, and box he could use to wash the grit off his feet if he needed it (he did). I left the chair at the main aid station but carted the boxes and water back and forth to each of the three places where I could meet him during the race. No, he didn't need all of it but it was available if he did.

After two trips to haul stuff to the aid station I hung out with the 50-milers as they prepared for their race start at 7 AM. I was happy to see Milada and Bill Copeland again. We first met them at Bighorn in June when they were camping next to us. Milada finished the 100-miler there and has had a great year of racing. Last year she won this 50-miler (first female). I wished her luck today as she and the other runners began moving up the hill to the start. By now it was daylight but still overcast:

Some of the chutes and detailed marking at the start/finish area, necessary because of the complicated course layout:

The 50-mle field looked even smaller than the 100:

There's Milada, third woman from the right:

Just before the 50-milers got the go-ahead to start, 100-miler Andy-Jones Wilkins came flying down the course from Fred's, ahead of the time of last year's front runner. Could he possibly maintain his blistering pace?? That must have psyched up the 50-milers for their own race start.

Crewing -- or volunteering -- is great fun throughout the entire race at this aid station because there is often someone coming and going in one of the three races. As mentioned previously, all three sections of the course begin and end here. The 100-milers come through twelve times, the 50-milers six times, the marathoners three times (they run on Sunday). What fun! And it's not as confusing as it sounds to either the runners or their crews.

Here comes Monica Schultz (blue shirt, center) after her first climb and descent on Fred's Mountain:

Monica, an attorney who lives in Canada, is famous for her numerous 100-mile finishes the past few years, including twenty in one year. Today she would end up dropping at 50 miles (after actually running about 55) so she could go back out and run with her friend, Philip McColl, as he finished his 50-miler. I think it was his first race at that distance. Sometimes friends sacrifice their own race to assist others with their goals.

About a minute later, MY best friend came running down the hill into the aid station:

Wow! Only 1:23 hours for that section! Jim predicted more. Glad I didn't miss him. He gave me his empty bottle of Perpetuem and gel flask, I gave him new chilled ones, and he was off on Section 2, the 14-mile Mill Creek Trail loop -- just like an Indy pit crew!

I knew it would be a while before he'd get to the lower Ski Hill Road aid station at 11.3 miles so I was in no hurry to leave. I watched as other 100-mile runners came into the aid station.

The most interesting scenario was provided by Kevin O'Neall, who we "know" from the internet ultra list serve. We met him at Leadville several years ago but didn't talk much there. This time I enjoyed the time I got to spend with his wife Ellen and daughter Erin, who were very attentive each time Kevin came into the main aid station.

I wondered why Kevin was sitting so long at the aid station after only 5.6 miles and went over to investigate. I was very surprised to find out he was giving himself an acupuncture treatment on one of his knees! That's a first. With his permission, I took these photos:

  

That is just too cool!! I wish I could do that! Kevin's a veterinarian and claims that doing acupuncture on people, even oneself, isn't much different than doing it on, say, a horse.

I'll have more photos in a bit with other runners getting massages and physical therapy during the race. For such a small race, this one has outstanding medical support.

This is also a very crew-friendly race. Crews can choose to remain at the resort and see their runners multiple times at the base aid station while enjoying the use of the facilities (pool, sauna, whirlpool, zip line, trails, bike rentals, climbing wall, chairlift, etc.) or they can opt to go to one or both access points on Ski Hill Road, drives of only five to ten minutes each. Crewing doesn't get much easier!

Since the two aid stations down the road were on the way to our campsite, I chose to go to each aid station to crew for Jim. It would be faster for him to "grab and go" than to have to root through his drop box, get what he needed, mix his drinks, etc. I could offer encouragement more frequently, keep tabs on his times, and do whatever nagging (that's encouragement, right??) was needed. And it made the time go faster for me than if I'd stayed up at the resort all day. It was too distracting to read, they didn't need help in the tent, and I didn't want to sit around all day. So I kept on the move a lot.

Jim was still making great time at the second aid station where I saw him, 2:37 for 11.3 mountainous miles. He was in and out of the aid station as quickly as the first time I saw him, but not looking forward to the next 3.3 miles on paved Ski Hill Road. At least it was early enough to still be fairly cool and traffic wasn't heavy yet.

I made a quick trip about three miles back the Teton Canyon road to our camper to let the dogs out briefly and grab a couple more items I decided we needed. I had to dodge some cows along the way:


I'm not moooving . . .

Lots of open range out here! I was trying to go the speed limit but knew I had maybe an hour before Jim would reach the Cold Springs Turnoff aid station. I was relieved when I passed him (and about a dozen other runners) on the road and knew I'd have enough time to get his supplies ready before he got there.

I took this photo later in the day, showing runners heading up the open switchbacks on Hill Road:

Jim took the next two photos along this section about 9 AM when the light was still softer. The first view faces the Tetons, the second faces southwest toward Alta and Driggs:

 

The second part of the road section has more trees but is still sunny during mid-day.

Here come three runners ahead of Jim into the Cold Springs Turnoff aid station:

Runners were advised to run and walk on the right side of the road but that seemed dangerous to me on this winding road with traffic that didn't always go the speed limit OR happily tolerate the runners; Kevin was verbally harassed by one irate driver. At least the runners weren't skateboarding or roller-blading down the highway like some other people were!! Talk about your multi-use roadways . . .

And here comes Jim, 3:29 elapsed time for 14.6 miles at the Cold Springs Turnoff:

Notice the bright tri-colored ribbons used to mark the course. There were also arrows on the roads, "pins" holding flagging where there weren't trees or shrubs to hang them, and many signs along the way. This is one of the best-marked courses we've ever seen.

There he goes (above) after another quick bottle exchange, happy to be back on more shaded trails the next 5.4 miles to the main aid station.

I waited a couple minutes for Hans-Dieter Weisshaar (above) to come into the aid station. At the last aid station he asked me to tell his wife Susi that he needed a toothpick. Since Susi was crewing for him only at the main aid station, which would take him a couple hours to reach, I got some toothpicks when I was at the camper and gave him one at this spot. He was surprised! Crews often help other runners besides their own. It's one of the things that makes ultra running special.

Jim came into the main aid station (twenty miles) in just under five hours. He's inbound as two other runners go outbound on another section:

By now it was almost 11 AM and had been mostly sunny for a couple of hours. Jim was beginning to feel the effects of the heat. Even though his pace was very good, he was getting tired. Keep in mind that we've been camping at about 10,000 feet in Colorado the last two months, with daytime temperatures mostly in the 60s or occasionally in the low 70s. By late morning in this race it was already near or above 80 degrees. I was concerned that Jim may not be taking as many electrolyte capsules as he should, but not too worried because the Perpetuem energy drink has electrolytes in it.

Jim was hoping to finish the first loop in seven hours or less. With the easiest five miles coming up in the Rick's Basin section, we were both optimistic about his pace. It was about at this point that he also began wiping his face, arms, and legs with a wet washcloth to help him cool off and feel fresher. He still got in and out of the aid station very quickly, armed with new ice-filled Perp and Hammergel. 

In the next photo Han's wife Susi Seidel (left) and co-RD Lisa Smith-Batchen (blue shirt) both strike the same pose as they wait for runners to come into the aid station:


Hurry up and wait

Runners in both races kept coming through the aid station at a steady pace. Medical volunteers began hearing complaints about nausea, overheating, cramping, sore muscles, blisters, and other common problems. In the photo below Lisa (left) and another volunteer or crew work on one of the runners to get him back out on the course:

Talk about your full-service aid station (below)!! This runner not only gets some assistance with massage and stretching, but the woman on the left is feeding him at the same time!


Can you run the rest of it for me, too?

By the end of the Rick's Basin section, Hans had caught up to Jim. They and a third runner approach the main aid station at the same time as a volunteer calls out their numbers to the timers:

Jim's time after 25 miles was 6:20 hours, significantly faster than the seven hours he was shooting for. In most other hundreds he's had either his own or other runners' splits to consider, but they weren't available for this race. He hadn't even been on the course yet. Jim could only guess at split times. He vaguely predicted 7-8-10-9 hours for the four loops, the longest loop during the night, which would bring him in at 34 hours. His objective was to finish under the 36-hour limit, not get any certain time.

This time he sat down for a few minutes to wash his feet and put on new socks. He felt like he might be getting either a blister or a hot spot on one of his little toes but we couldn't see a blister. After drying his feet he put a Band Aid on the toe for some padding. His feet felt better from the cool water. He didn't change shoes; he was already in the largest size of his favorite model (Montrail Vitesse). We shook out the grit in his shoes from the dusty course. Although some runners wore gaiters, Jim doesn't like them because it takes longer to do a shoe or sock change with them on. He got a new bottle of Perp and flask of Hammergel and took off for Fred's Mountain after the six-minute pit stop.

THE SECOND LOOP

Several hours earlier I hatched a plan after seeing that it was not going to be a rainy day: buy another one of those Lunch-and-Lift tickets and go up to the top of Fred's Mountain in the chairlift when Jim went up the second time! It was the only loop I could do that, since the lift was open just between 10 AM and 5 PM. I wanted to surprise Jim at the top; he'd have no clue to expect me there. As it turned out, the timing was good because he was getting discouraged by that point.

I asked co-RD Jay Batchen if it was OK for crews to go up there during the race and he wholeheartedly encouraged it. He further recommended that I walk down the service road from the top for a third to half a mile so the Tetons would be in the background as the runners walked or ran up the road. He said it was the perfect spot to take photos of the runners. What a great idea! The view was awesome.

I shared my plan with Susi and with Kevin O'Neall's wife and daughter. They all ended up getting the tickets! Because Hans and Jim were still running fairly close together, Susi and I went up in the chairlift together, reaching the top a little before 1 PM. What fun!!

Susi decided to check out the views from the top and wait for Hans there. I chatted with the aid station guys a minute, then got this photo of 100-miler Mike Evans, a resort employee, as he left the aid station:

I walked down the service road, greeting runners going in both directions. I joked with the 50-milers, who were on their second lap, that I bet they were glad they had to climb the mountain only twice and not four times, like the 100-milers! They all agreed. (Runners in the two races had on different colored numbers so everyone could tell who was in which race.) The hundred-milers I just encouraged, not mentioning they had to do this two MORE times.

Two other women were waiting on the road for their runners, but they hadn't gone far enough to see the view Jay told me about. I soon rounded enough of the bend in the road to see what he had promised: one of the most scenic backgrounds in any race I've attended! In the photo below you can see the dramatic Teton peaks behind 50-miler Milada Copeland as she approaches me:

Grand Teton is the tallest peak behind her. Runners got this view each time they made the descent from Fred's, which certainly makes the trip UP more worthwhile. I called up to the women who were crewing for their runners and encouraged them to come farther down to see the peaks. I walked another quarter mile down hill but returned to this spot for the best photos.

Soon Jim came along. He stopped dead in his tracks when he saw me, he was so surprised!

(Hans, who was several minutes ahead of Jim, was equally surprised to find Susi at the top.)

I walked up to the aid station with Jim, which gave me some extra time to assess his condition. He reached the top at 1:38 PM and spent about five minutes cooling down in a chair in the shade. He drank some caffeinated cola and relieved the pressure on his little toe, which still hurt. We agreed that one of the medical folks should look at it when he returned to the main aid station if it still hurt.

Then he was off again, armed with new icy Perp. The manned aid stations had ice and I was also able to keep a supply in a cooler at the base. I could see Jim (foreground, below) and several other runners on the dirt road as I slowly drifted overhead in the chairlift as I descended the mountain:

I wasn't back at the base for very long when Jim came in at 2:24 PM. The first time he went up and down Fred's it took him only 1:23 hours. This time it was closer to two hours with his longer stops and slower pace. He was now 30.6 miles into the race and still bothered by his possible blister.

I had already spoken to Dr. Naomi Sklar, a sports medicine physician who was working in the aid station, about Jim's sore toe and she agreed to look at it when he came in. Here she is working on what was apparently a blister under a callous, which is Not a Good Thing to have:

It hurt and she wasn't able to get much fluid out but putting in one of Jim's spongy toe spacers and taping the fourth and fifth toes together helped relieve the pressure for the rest of the race. Although Jim still felt like he had a blister, his toe felt a bit better and never got worse. The time he spent -- 16 minutes -- drinking, resting, and getting his toe fixed was worth it. Then he was gone again, armed this time with a cold Heed to drink and caffeinated espresso-flavored Hammergel to slurp..

His stomach was bothering him now so he switched from drinking Perpetuem to Heed, which doesn't have fat and protein in it, just carbs. Nor does it have as much sodium as Perp, which was to further compound Jim's stomach problems because he wasn't taking enough electrolyte capsules to combat his sweating in the heat. But at that point, neither of us realized just how big of a problem that would become. In retrospect, I wish one of us had said something about his queasy stomach while Naomi was working on his toe because she saved several nauseous runners' races by catching the problem early enough.

By now it was about 2:45 PM and I hadn't gotten my lunch at Trap's Grill yet. Susi and I both got the grilled salmon fillets with roasted vegetables and salad. I got mine to go, since I was headed down the mountain to the lower Ski Hill Road aid station. While I waited for lunch to be prepared, I washed out Jim's face cloth, got more ice, and carried my crew boxes to the truck. I ate lunch while I waited at the next aid station for Jim. I highly recommend eating lunch at the restaurant instead of getting take-out -- it wasn't nearly as good in a box!

Jim arrived at the next aid station about 4:10 PM, an elapsed time of 10:10 hours for 36.3 miles, still on a good pace considering the heat and his disinterest in food or drink --  he'd started getting nauseous by now. He wanted just Heed, not Perp, and he wasn't eating much gel. Even his electrolyte caps were coming back up. Not good. When we commented on the heat, the aid station timer looked at the thermometer on the table next to him and remarked, "The good news is that it is DOWN to 90 degrees now."

Too much information. RD Lisa later said she didn't think it got that hot today but it felt plenty hot to us, especially on the roads.

I hatched another little plan, since I was going back to the camper again to feed the dogs and let them run around for a few minutes -- I'd get some ice cream from our freezer for Jim! One of my fondest memories from my Appalachian Trail trek was the ice cream Jim would sometimes bring me at the end of a hot day on the trail. Nothing could be better! He's also done that for me in hot races like Vermont and Rio del Lago. Maybe ice cream would appeal to him in another hour.

Jim was appreciative of the ice cream when I saw him at Cold Springs Turnoff (11:09 hours for 39.6 miles) and sat down for a couple minutes to eat it. He wasn't optimistic about it staying down, however (it didn't). He was slowly losing ground from the heat, dehydration,  and lack of electrolytes and calories but still on a good pace to finish. At this point he could have walked the rest of the race and finished..

I made another quick trip to the camper to get some more ice cream, then high-tailed it back to the main aid station so I wouldn't miss Jim when he came in again. I got this shot of Andy Jones-Wilkins but I don't know what mile it was for him. He was setting a blistering pace:

Jim arrived at 6:50 PM, forty-five miles in 12:53 hours, still a decent pace for this race. Despite throwing up, or maybe because of it, he was looking better than he did at the last couple aid stations. He sat down for about six minutes to eat some soup, drink water, apply lubrication where needed, and wipe his face and limbs with a wet cloth. I'd brought him some more ice cream, but he didn't want it this time. Phooey. Guess I'd have to eat it so it didn't go to waste . . . <grin>

Then he was back out on the Rick's Basin loop again for five miles. I hung around the aid station waiting for him, helping other runners as needed. Some of the volunteers had left. Most of the 50-milers had finished, and the 100-milers were coming in less frequently now.

Hans came in a little before 8 PM and announced he was dropping at the end of 50 miles. He'd been suffering most of the race from a back or hip injury sustained at Cascade Crest a week ago. Several chiropractic adjustments had helped but weren't enough to get him through this race. He bagged it so he could maybe heal before Wasatch next week. Susi wasn't expecting him yet  so he sat and talked with me for about fifteen minutes about his plans for the next two or three years. Unfortunately, he probably will be doing more European races next summer and may not be in the US as much so we may not see him for another couple years.

Jim appeared again about 8:30 PM; his official time in was 8:49, but I think that's wrong. We were both pleased that he'd done the first half of the race in about 14:30 hours, an hour and a half faster than he'd run the first 50 miles at Leadville and on a tougher course. That meant he had more than 21 hours to complete the next 50 miles! I wasn't as aware of how crappy he was feeling at that point -- he just looked tired -- so I was more optimistic than he was.

When I quizzed him about his fluid and caloric intake I learned that his nausea was getting worse. He drank some ginger ale and ate a few saltine crackers while he sat to rest and felt a little better after twenty minutes. He refused soup or any other solid food. He took only water and espresso gel with him, saying he'd get some Heed at the top of Fred's.

I didn't rush him since he had so much time left. He'd asked me earlier a couple times if he was last because he'd seen so few runners and felt like he was just creeping along. I assured him there were at least five or six runners behind him (I could see that many 100-milers on Ski Hill and Teton Canyon Roads) and reminded him that even a DFL* was perfectly acceptable since his objective was simply to finish within 36 hours. (* Dead Frickin' Last)

At 8:57 PM he checked out of the base aid station and began his third climb to Fred's Mountain. It took him about two hours round trip last time, so I didn't expect him back until about 11 PM.

By now it was pretty dark and I had two hours to kill. I spent part of that time on the computer in the administrative building. Someone posted the link for the live Teton race results on the ultra list, so I clicked on it and WOW! There was Jim's time from just a few minutes ago when he came into the main aid station!!. I was totally impressed and complimented the race directors when I returned to the aid station. They were very pleased by the feedback and introduced me to the woman who does their website and the volunteers inputting the aid station times during the race. They were even posting photos from the race, but I'd missed those. For a relatively new race, these folks have really got it together.

Below is the "leader board" that was continually updated during the race with the times and distances of the first three men and women in the ultras. That was good information for the crews to have at the main aid station because most weren't checking the internet during the race:

It got very dark very quickly after Jim left the aid station around 9 PM. The moon didn't rise over the Tetons until almost midnight. Its egg shape was a little eerie, but it lit up the clear night sky. Runners probably didn't need their lights for road sections between about midnight and 6:30 AM. I took this shot of the main aid station while I was waiting for Jim to return:

A little before 10 PM Monica Schultz and Philip McColl came in. Monica dropped officially from the 100-miler and Philip got his 50-mile finish. AT 10:52 Kevin O'Neall mysteriously appeared from behind the aid station tent -- he'd gotten off-track at the end of the Rick's Basin loop. He called it a day after 50 miles, saving his knee and energy for the Javelina 100 in a couple of months.

About 11 PM we could spot a light near the aid station that was coming down the wrong path from Fred's Mountain. I shouted, and the runner said it was OK.

Turns out it was Jim. Damn. What was he doing???

He never made it up to the aid station at the top of Fred's. It had taken him almost two hours to cover less than two miles up and then back down because of severe nausea, a total lack of energy, and sore, swollen feet. He was shot and wanted to quit. I knew how badly he wanted this finish and I wouldn't hear anything about dropping out. He could still finish this!!

I talked him into lying down and letting the medical folks attend to him to see if he could be revived sufficiently to carry on eventually. He had the time, even though he'd have to repeat those miles up to the top of Fred's. Maybe I could do it with him, bum knee or not.

Volunteers led us to a nearby tent with a padded massage table. They wrapped Jim in two sleeping bags and brought over a heater to keep him warm. He asked me to take his shoes off, which brought immediate relief. So did the foot massage I gave him!

Dr. Naomi was aroused from sleep in a nearby room when the chiropractor (also named Jim) said my Jim probably needed an IV to recover -- not to get him back out on the course necessarily, but simply to make him feel better if he DID quit. Bless Naomi, she got up and dressed and was Jim's calm, gentle angel for the next couple hours as she brought him back to life. What an excellent "bedside manner" she has!

Naomi asked us lots of questions about Jim's level of distress, his fluid, electrolyte, and caloric intake, nausea, pace, cognitive level, etc., then determined he was most likely hyponatremic. She didn't know for sure without chemical testing down at the hospital in Driggs where she works, but his "history" and symptoms indicated a serious lack of sodium in relation to water in his body -- despite the fact he was dehydrated from all the barfing.

That was a new concept to us. We thought hyponatremia was caused by drinking too much water in relation to sodium intake and didn't realize you could become hyponatremic when dehydrated. Naomi explained that Jim probably had water in cellular spaces that was in much higher proportion to the sodium left in his body. Jim-the-chiropractor later commented that his adrenal glands had effectively shut down.

I was wishing I'd nagged Jim even more than I did about his electrolyte consumption during the race. Maybe that's why he's gotten so nauseous in some previous 100-milers. It hasn't been a problem as much the last couple years so I thought he was taking enough in. Naomi told us nausea is one of the first symptoms of inadequate sodium. So are cramping (Jim had only a little leg cramping) and swelling (his feet were swelling), although swelling can also be a sign of too MUCH sodium. I've always had problems figuring out how much electrolytes to take because there are so many variables, and now Jim was suffering because of "not getting it right."

I was also wishing I'd mentioned the nausea to Naomi earlier in the day because she said she'd talked with several nauseous runners in the afternoon and helped them get their sodium levels back up. They were still running, so whatever she had them do must have worked.

By now Jim's endocrine system was so screwed up it was unlikely he'd be able to resume the race. He didn't have the will to get back out there, either. He felt so bad he had no desire to finish.

Naomi gave Jim the option of getting the sodium he needed either intravenously or orally. She recommended orally, explaining the body would accept it more quickly. Jim agreed to try it. Naomi poured a little mound of large salt granules from a packet  into his hands. Jim licked it up, nearly gagging, and chased it down with a little ice water, He didn't like it, but he gradually got better after several doses. He eventually graduated to crackers and ginger ale, and was finally able after about ninety minutes to sit up. He was pronounced fit to leave about 1 AM. That's when he officially dropped from the race, but only after I asked him if he'd regret his decision in the morning and he said "no" very clearly.

I got all his drop boxes and gear into the truck while the Jim-the-chiropractor helped Jim walk a hundred yards to the parking area. He was able to get himself to our camper and into bed, depleted psychologically as much as physically.

It wasn't supposed to end like this. At least he didn't have to go to the hospital -- or morgue. Hyponatremia can be fatal..

Next entry: awards ceremony on Sunday, Jim's recovery, lessons learned

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

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2007 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil

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