Runtrails' Rocky Mountain Journal
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"Never live in the past, but always learn from it."
- unknown


Jim felt much better by 8 AM, especially after taking a shower (the water wasn't warm in our camper when we got back at 2 AM and he was too tired to wait for it to heat up). As Dr. Naomi predicted, he had a headache and was very thirsty. He was able to eat breakfast and hold it down. He was tired but his legs and feet felt much better than they did six hours earlier.

It was a new day, another sunny, hot one in the Tetons.

We relaxed at our cool, shady campsite in Teton Canyon and eventually made our way back up to the Grand Targhee Resort in the middle of the afternoon. Runners were still coming into the finish area from the 100-miler and today's marathon. The deadline for 100-milers was 6 PM, although the post-race lunch (free only for the runners) and awards ceremony started earlier. All the 50-milers were done.

After Lisa, Jay, and Zach uncovered the awards I wandered over to take photos of the attractive hand-painted plaques made by a local artist that were given out to the overall and age group winners in the marathon and two ultras:

The overall winners received framed plaques, age group winners unframed ones like above.

Although the races are small, the awards here are generous -- top three men and women overall in each race, plus ten-year age group awards two deep that don't include the overall winners (some races include overall winners in age groups). Several categories had only one recipient -- or none -- in older age groups. No females over 50 finished the 100-miler. Only two finished the 50-miler: Elizabeth Hodges (in her 50s) and Pat DaVita (age 73) ran together and finished in about 22 hours.

There was no time limit for the 50-miler. It frustrates me that my sore knee precluded me from running it!! Patience, Sue.

In addition, all runners received special awards as they finished their respective races. I wasn't present when any of the 100-milers finished the race, but heard they got very nice belt buckles. I also don't know what the marathoners received. The 50-milers got nice ceramic medallions like these below, modeled by the effervescent Olga Varlamova. Olga volunteered many hours at the main aid station during the weekend after deciding not to run the 100-miler because of an injury. She was a godsend to the race directors and runners, as well as a breath of fresh air with all of her antics!

Before the overall and age group awards were given out Augie (standing, below) led interested runners and spectators in several interesting movement exercises. Augie, a physical therapist, manned the aid station on top of Fred's Mountain during the race and was another godsend to many of the runners, especially during the night. I took these photos of the movement exercises:



Participants looked like they were having fun and it should have helped the runners stretch out some tired muscles from the race. Jim participated but out of camera range.

Co-RD Zach Barnett and Dr. Naomi Sklar, Jim's medical angel last night, watch the movement exercises:

RDs Lisa, Jay, and Zach began the awards ceremony about 4 PM, calling up the 100-mile winner first -- Andy Jones-Wilkins, who set a new course record of 19:35, over four hours faster than Mike Wolfe's previous winning time. Here Andy (gold shirt) receives his award:


L to R:  co-RDs Zach Barnett, Jay Batchen, and Lisa Smith-Batchen
with first male 100-miler, Andy Jones-Wilkins

You can read Andy's account of the race, including his bouts with nausea, in his blog at http://ajwsblog.blogspot.com .

I got a photo of the leader board minutes before someone's little cherub discovered how much fun it was to rub out the words and times (while Daddy watched him do it, no less):

I believe this is Matt Hart, second male in the 100-miler in 20:53, also under the previous course record:

Next is Laurie Andrews, first female 100-miler in 27:45:

First-time 100-miler Mike Evans, below, was pleased to win an age-group award:

Mike's wearing the nice wool shirt all the 50-mile and 100-mile entrants received, one of many things that makes this race extra-special.

Seventy-four percent of the runners who started the 100-miler finished this year, which is a fairly high percentage for such a difficult race. Some of the reasons are the excellent volunteer support, well-marked course, and generous (realistic!) 36-hour cut-off. The last three official finishers were all in the 34-hour range (Meredith Murphy, Leigh Corbin, and George Velasco). Two or three runners finished over the time limit. They are unofficial and not counted in the finishing percentage.

One of the interesting facts Jay announced as he called up overall and age group winners was that several ran the marathon the inaugural year of the race, the 50-miler last year, and the 100-miler this year. That elicited a comment that there would have to be an even longer distance next year, which brought a collective groan from the crowd!

The last awards photo is of Tim Arrington, who won the 50-miler in 8:34:

Keri Wheeler was first female in 9:15. You can see results for all three races at the Grand Teton race web site at www.tetonraces.com

After the awards were presented in the marathon and ultras, it was time for the prize "raffle." With numerous race sponsors, there were numerous goodies to give away! First several key volunteers were presented with certificates for free Montrail shoes, which was a nice reward for their many hours of service. Then all the runners who were present received gifts including shoes, Nathan packs, water bottles, Nuun and Hammer Nutrition products, socks, and many other items. Jim got an energy drink mix that we've never heard of but will try.

When they ran out of runners who were present, the RDs invited family members and friends to come up to get something! We've never seen so much stuff given away at a race. I was offered a t-shirt that was too small, so I declined. I didn't go away empty-handed, though. I already "won" the pair of Injinji toe socks from Jim's entry bag because he won't wear them. (I love Injinjis!)

Then it was time to say good-bye to our friends who were still there. It was sad to realize we may not see Hans and Susi for two years. They are such a fixture on the U.S. 100-miler scene. Next year Hans would like to concentrate on European races but he says he wants to return here to do the Grand Slam when he's 70. Unfortunately Karsten Solheim, who is in his 70s, did not finish Leadville this year and thus was out of the Slam. I don't believe that anyone 70 or older has finished the Slam yet, so it's a good goal for Hans. Meanwhile, Hans plans to run Wasatch, Angeles Crest, and The Bear this month, so he's still around! I'm glad he didn't decide to quit running 100-milers after #100 at Hardrock.

Thank you, Lisa, Jay, and Zach, for a memorable race -- not because of what happened to Jim, but because of all the things you do to make the event so special for the runners. I hope we'll be back to run it again.


When we DNF a race, which is becoming all too frequent in recent years, Jim and I try to learn from our mistakes.

Sometimes circumstances like an injury, course sabotage, or really inclement weather during the race are the major factors that prevent us from finishing, things over which we have little control. More likely it's that we didn't train adequately or properly, or we didn't manage little problems in the race before they became insurmountable problems. It's those things that we try to learn from so we can prevent them from happening again.

I guess the main thing we learned this time is to avoid signing  up for a race for which we can't properly heat acclimate! If we'd known it would be so hot between 6,600 and 10,000 feet farther north in the Tetons than where we were in Leadville, Jim probably wouldn't have signed up for the race. We were stuck in Leadville waiting for a part for our truck, which we thought was a good thing because he'd retain his altitude acclimation at 10,000 feet until a few days before the Teton race. His race might have gone differently if we'd gotten to the hotter Teton Canyon campground earlier than we did, although it takes a good 10-14 days to properly acclimate. 

I have bigger problems running in heat than Jim does. It takes me longer to get used to heat (especially with humidity) than it does to acclimate to high altitude. It's no wonder Jim had trouble managing his electrolyte usage and fluid intake when he was running for hours in temps in the 80s, if not 90s, and the last time we were in those temperatures was on our way to the Bighorn race in early June! Months of high altitude living in chilly, dry mountain air had not only spoiled us, it ruined Jim for a race like the GTR in this year's heat. It's ironic that the first year the race was held about a month later and the Fred's Mountain section was eliminated because of snow. This year's weather on Labor Day weekend couldn't have been more polar opposite!

We also learned from Dr. Naomi Sklar that apparently ultra runners can become hyponatremic (which can be fatal, by the way) even when they are dehydrated. I didn't even consider that could be Jim's problem because he wasn't keeping down fluids, either -- he wasn't just barfing up his electrolytes. From what I've read about hyponatremia I thought it meant a runner was drinking too much water in relation to sodium intake. Naomi explained that Jim probably had too much water in his cells in proportion to the sodium in his system.

We both need to read more about this and learn to catch the problem much earlier than we did. By the time Jim was beginning to feel nauseous, it was already too late to completely "fix" the problem -- let alone waiting to seek help as long as we did.

Dr. Naomi was concerned to hear that Endulolytes contain considerably less sodium than SaltSticks, an electrolyte replacement product with which she is more familiar. (They also contain much less than Succeed! caps, which we stopped using several years ago because they were harder for us to regulate and we seemed to be getting too MUCH sodium.) She's not familiar with Perpetuem and the amount of electrolytes it contains.

Jim and I feel we've been regulating our sodium intake better during training runs and races the last few years with Endurolytes and intend to keep using them -- but we'll definitely use more of them on a hot day when we're not acclimated. We should get plenty of practice with this the first few weeks we are home in Virginia's heat and humidity!.

Jim's pretty discouraged at this point and doesn't want to consider any more 100-milers for a good while. Teton was his last realistic chance for a qualifier for Hardrock next year. Even though he's expressed a lot of ambivalence about entering that race, I think he really wanted to give it a go. Now those hopes have been dashed, at least for another year. This is a guy who used to be able to run a 2:47 marathon and sub-24 hour 100-miler. I can understand his frustration at not being able to finish any tough mountain 100s the last two years. I'm pretty frustrated about my inability to do the same thing, not to mention the fact that my unknown knee problem pretty much precludes me from doing ANY running right now. Man, do I miss those endorphins!!!

Definitely time to go home and regroup.

Next entry: OK, so we want to stay out here one more day before heading home . . . come back to see photos of my walk/run in the Teton Canyon on Monday.

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

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2007 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil