2010 RUNNING & TRAVEL ADVENTURES

 

   
 
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  THE BIGHORN ULTRAS, PART 2:
THE FINISH & JIM'S BIG SURPRISE
(second of two pages)

SATURDAY, JUNE 19

 
"The key to successful aging is to pay as little attention to it as possible."
~ Judith Regan
 
 

(Continued from Part 1, the start of the 50K)

THE FINISH AREA:  SATURDAY AFTERNOON & EVENING

I had about an hour to eat lunch at the post-race BBQ and socialize with friends before Jim finished his race.

Scott Centennial Park in Dayton, WY is a wonderful venue for the post-race activities and the weather was perfect for a picnic in the park today. Lots of runners and their families and friends were already hanging out when I arrived around 2:30:

 

 


All the runners finish right through here. See the finish banner in the background?

From about noon until 9 PM volunteers (?) were busy grilling different kinds of burgers and hot dogs and serving up baked beans, potato salad, pasta salad, coleslaw, chips, fruit, desserts, and beverages in the shelter:

All day and evening volunteers, families, and friends cheer on each runner who comes across the finish line. It's especially fun to watch this at Bighorn because you get to see some runners from all four race distances as they finish. Most everyone is happy, whether they ran 18 miles or 100 miles -- they finished, by gosh!

The next photo shows the "business end" of the finish area (i.e., the view from the back) where the finishers' awards were still in boxes, waiting to be distributed as the runners came in:

Volunteers record precise times, cut off bib numbers, and hand out the finishers' awards as each runner finishes (I'll show the finishers' garments and bags in the June 20 entry).

There are separate awards ceremonies on Saturday afternoon for the 30K and 50K races. I got there in time to hear the 30K awards presented by Michelle (L), Karen (kneeling), and another young woman . . .

. . . but missed the 50K awards presentation. I'll explain why in a minute.

If you notice in the photo above, there is a big pile of rocks neatly arranged in rows. Those aren't just any rocks. They are special Bighorn Mountain rocks that have probably been lying around for millions of years. Up close they are quite handsome, with many variations of colors and shapes.

Each of these particular rocks has been screen-printed in gold with the Bighorn logo and the various male/female age groups. They are awarded three deep in ten-year age groups in all four races. That's a bunch of rocks and probably cost the race staff more than most awards given out at ultras! The ones you see above are for only two of the four races. The 50- and 100-mile awards will be given out on Sunday morning at brunch (more about that in the June 20 entry, too).

As you'd expect, rocks this size are probably kind of heavy. Indeed. Michelle repeated (no, she pleaded) several times that if the award recipient wasn't present to collect his/her rock, would a friend please take it to them so she didn't have to mail it??

Yikes. Those rocks weigh 10-15 pounds or more!

It was nice to see that some of our Billings friends received awards for finishing in the top three in their age groups in the 30K:


Kyle Forman (R) gets one of the rocks.

Last year when I ran the 50K I finished so late that I missed the 30K and 50K awards and most of our friends in those races had already gone home. This year I got to the finish line earlier (since I didn't run!) and was happy that many of our friends were still there.

One of the places we used to live is Billings, MT, just a couple hours north of the Bighorn Mountains. Lots of runners come down each year to run the Bighorn races. I was delighted to see several of our pals from Billings still hanging out in the park; most of them were in the 30K race: Kyle Forman, Janet Leone, Diane Legate,


Kyle and Diane give me big smiles.

Sue and Bill Johnston, Kathy and Bill Harrington, Deb McGill, and others. Some still live in Billings and some have moved to Michigan but brought new friends from there to the Bighorn race. When you find a great race, you want to share it with friends!

I was especially glad to have some time to chat with Kyle Forman, a good friend and my former massage therapist and yoga instructor during the five years I lived in Billings:


Kyle (R) talks with Sue Johnston (in blue shirt)

I also found two happy Asletts soon after Jody finished the 100-miler. They aren't from Billings but we first got to know them when we lived there. They live in Idaho:

Not only did Jody finish strong in fourth place overall among all the women in the 100-miler, her 27:30 time was also a big PR for her (on any course) AND she looks fresh as a daisy!! OK, she's a little dirty but she sure doesn't look like she just ran a hundred miles in the Bighorn Mountains!

I also found a group of friends from the Virginia Happy Trails Running Club (VHTRC) who were waiting for other runners to finish the various race distances. They were all still hanging out when Jim finished mid-afternoon. Probably as large a contingent of runners comes from Virginia to the Bighorn races every year as from the adjacent state of Montana.

These races are like reunions for us, seeing friends not only from around the country, but around the world. Sharing trail experiences with friends is one of the main things that draws us to ultra races.

JIM'S FINISH

Between all the mingling, eating, periodic checking of the results board, and cheering in the finishing runners, I kept my eye on the path leading into the park so I wouldn't miss Jim again. I felt bad enough about the near-miss at Dry Fork.

Lo and behold, I spotted Jim when he first came into the park. I had time to run around the back of the finish area and get into position so I could get some shots of him as he ran toward the finish line:

 

See that grin? Jim was VERY happy with his 7:26 time. So was I; it meant he'd be easier to live with than after his last two races!!

He was so busy moving through the finish area that he missed Rich Garrison's finish less than two minutes later. At that point, I didn't even know about the lively competition between them.

Jim was focused on only one thing after he got his time recorded and received his handsome finisher's jacket: taking a shower. He looked better than he felt. He was tired and grungy and didn't even want a hamburger until he got cleaned up. (He loves hamburgers.)


Soft fleece embroidered half-zip jackets for the women's (L) and men's finishers in the 50K

That's the great thing about being camped only two or three hundred feet away -- he could go back to the camper, take a shower, put on clean clothes, and walk back to the picnic area to eat and socialize in less than half an hour.

Of course, it was during that very half hour that the 50K awards were presented. Even if we'd realized when the ceremony was going to be held, Jim wouldn't have stayed. He wanted a shower now and he wasn't expecting to receive an award.

After we ambled back over to the park and he got his hamburgers and all the fixin's, Jim was ready to socialize with friends. He has his post-race priorities! (Usually he doesn't have the option of a shower right away, though.)


Tom Corris (L), VHTRC member and VA resident


Janice O'Grady, former RD of the Quicksilver ultras in California and now RD
for the upcoming inaugural North Fork ultras near Pine, CO (Jim's next race)


Mike Dobies (L, in VHTRC shirt even though he's from Michigan!) talks with Mark and Margaret Heaphy  from MT and Allie Wood from CO (far R). We'll see all of them again at Hardrock soon.

Jim had just finished eating when we saw Matt Watts coming in from the 100-miler. We hustled over to the finish area. Anne and I ran to get a good position behind the finish banner.

Although he had a serious lean, Matt was able to push to the finish in a fine time of 30:43 and flashed a big grin. Good job!


Jim (L) cheers Matt at the finish.

Matt was barely through the finish area when he headed for the river to soak his feet. Jim joined him there:

Jim sat down again to talk with other friends while Matt got some food to eat. I decided to check out the results board again. I wanted to see what Jim's official time and place were.

THAT'S ONE BIG ROCK!

Well imagine my delight when I saw that he was first in his age group!!! He edged Rich out by less than two minutes.

By then Rich had come over to talk with Jim and knew that Jim had "beaten" him by a slim margin but neither knew they'd placed 1-2 in their age group.


Gene Bruckert (L) and Jim relax after the race.

I looked carefully at the 50K results that had been posted (not all the runners were done yet) to be sure that Jim was first in his age group before going back to our chairs. I didn't want to get his hopes up and find out I was wrong. When I told him he won his age group, he didn't believe me at first. He was too tired to get up and verify it, however, so I volunteered to go a hundred feet away to get his rock!

Karen verified his place, gave me his big rock with an even bigger grin (she was happy for him AND glad she didn't have to mail the rock!), and I presented it with some fanfare to Jim.


That's one big rock!!  It says:  Bighorn Mountain Trail Run Finisher
Dayton, Wyoming   2010   First Place  60-69 Men

Jim was pretty floored, not just with the handsome rock itself, but with the concept of winning his age group. After everyone was finished we learned that he was first out of seven male 60-69 finishers; we don't know how many started in his age group (one or more may have DNF'd). No men over 70 finished before Jim. (Ed Demoney and Gene Bruckert were the only two M 70+ finishers in the 50K.)

You can see the 50K results here.

Jim also ended up in the top half of the whole 50K race, 74th out of 160 finishers. (There were over 200 entrants but we don't know how many of those were DNFs and how many didn't start).

That happy circumstance hasn't happened in a while, either. Good job, Jim!

He thinks this is the first age group award he's received since he began running ultras in 1997. That's hard for me to believe, considering all the road race awards he collected before I met him. This man has a 2:47 road marathon PR, which is doggone fast. Like me, however, he's never placed as well in ultras as he did in road races, even though both of us have enjoyed running ultras so much more. Age has a lot to do with that -- we shoulda started running ultras when we were younger and faster!

Another factor is that many ultras don't even give AG awards. They are much more common in road races. There are times when we've probably won or placed in our age groups but didn't even know it because age wasn't recognized.


Dennis Aslett (standing), Jim (white shirt), Anne Watts, Gene Bruckert (R)

The funny thing about The Rock was that friends like Matt and Dennis started kidding Jim right away about it. They were proud of Jim's accomplishment but you know how guys can be when they tease their buddies . . . and a big rock isn't exactly your traditional age group award.

The best part was when Dennis appropriated one of the little plastic flags used to mark the course through the park and stuck it in the ground next to Jim's rock so everyone who walked by would notice it:


Dennis Aslett (standing), Anne Watts, Jim, and The Rock

Too funny. Jim took it all in good humor, still surprised by it all and kind of in a post-race daze. We both had a great day and enjoyed relaxing in the park watching runners finish until the 9 PM cut-off for all four races.

Soon after, Jim went to bed a tired but happy puppy.

So here we are, trying to keep the weight down in the camper and what does Jim do? Wins a heavy rock award!

< grin >

We're curious to see what that thing weighs. We'll have to find scales somewhere . . .

Next entry: just how bad was Dry Fork Ridge on the way to Riley Point this morning?

 Happy trails,

Sue
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, and Cody the Ultra Lab

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2010 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil

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