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"Never forget that life can only be nobly inspired and rightly lived if you take it bravely 
and gallantly, as a splendid adventure in which you are setting out into an unknown country, 
to face many a danger, to meet many a joy, to find many a comrade, to win and lose many a battle."
~ Annie Besant
One of the more interesting places to hear tales of splendid adventures into unknown physical and mental territory is at the awards ceremony of a 100-mile mountain trail race! Jim and I know all about facing danger, experiencing joy, finding like-minded individuals, and winning or losing "battles" on the trail over many hours or days.

Even when we don't run the tough 50- or 100-mile Bighorn race distances we enjoy attending the awards brunch for those intrepid souls who put it all on the line, testing themselves against time and the "wild and scenic" terrain that is the Bighorn Mountain Range. Both of us have been in those two longer races here and we know how difficult they are -- exponentially more difficult than the 50K and 30K, primarily because of the tighter time limits.

It's fun to experience your own trail adventures and test your own mettle against the course, the clock, and Mother Nature. It's easier now at our age, however, to listen to the tales our younger friends have to tell!

THIS bunch always has lots of stories to tell!  L to R: Jim, Matt and Anne Watts, Phil Wiley.
Phil finished 39th of 115 hundred-mile finishers in 27:50; Matt tied with Davy Crockett
in 63rd place in 30:16:22. Anne and Jim both ran the 30K this time.

So once again we found ourselves in Sheridan this morning for the 20th annual awards ceremony for the 50-milers and the 10th for the 100-milers. We've been to most of these brunches at the Bighorn race since the year 2000.

It was 56 F. and overcast when we got up at 6 AM in Dayton. Brunch, which usually consists of pancakes, sausage, fruit, juice, and coffee, is served outdoors on a little street across from the Sports Stop in Sheridan, about 20 miles away:

Runners, crews, and volunteers line up for a tasty breakfast.

Sue and Bill Johnson, old friends of ours from Billings, are in the foreground.

Brunch was scheduled half an hour earlier this morning because of a 70% chance of thunderstorms after noon.

It was mostly cloudy during the ceremony, as you can see in these pictures, with a breeze that encouraged most folks to keep their jackets on -- or try out their new finishers' jackets. Brunch and awards were over by 10 AM, well before the storms rolled in.


Awards began for the 50-milers about 8 AM. Finishers got their nice jackets yesterday when they came across the line. Only the overall male and female winners and top three in each age-group were recognized today, which made that ceremony go pretty fast.

Although there are fewer runners in the 100-mile race, their awards take longer because all of the finishers are always called up one by one to receive their finish jacket, buckle, and age-group or overall award, if they get one. They deserve that recognition.

Phil and Matt with their 100-mile jackets and buckles.

The 100-mile finish jackets are pretty unique this year. They are long-sleeved quarter-zip pullover  jackets with mittens that roll up, made out of a heavy-weight synthetic knit that feels like a wet suit. Sounds funny, but that's the best way I can describe them.

It was amusing to watch some of the recipients fiddling with those built-in "mittens."

Dennis Aslett is sporting his new jacket, with the tags dangling down, in this photo from the awards ceremony:

We were joking with Dennis about (among other things) not having Jody around to dress him properly this weekend! We missed her; she's competing in a triathlon elsewhere. I don't know how she did, but Dennis overcame problems with asthma during the race and finished second in the men's 60-69 age group with a time of 31:31:59.

After all the ribbing Dennis gave Jim last year about the big rock Jim won for first place in the 60-69 age group in the 50K, Jim teased Dennis this year about getting a smaller rock than his. The first-place rocks ARE bigger. It was hilarious to listen to these two cut-ups before and after the ceremony.

Dennis proudly displayed his haul for me:

At 62 he is this year's oldest finisher in the 100-miler. His age is 61 in the age group results but 62 in the overall results. I think that's one of those timing glitches I mentioned in a previous entry. It didn't affect the standings in his age group, though.

Each year the Bighorn staff comes up with handsome, useful finish garments or gear for all the races. Anne Watts still talks about the convenient canvas bag the 30K runners received last year, large enough to carry a laptop computer (it is more like a laptop case than a duffel bag). Jim and I still have all the finish vests, jackets, and bags we've ever earned at this race since 1997, plus most of the entrants' and volunteer shirts. We can't say that about most other ultras. I think ATY is the only other one. (Oddly, we like the volunteer shirts every year at Leadville much better than any of the entrants' shirts!)

Wendell Robison MCs the awards each year. He is on the race committee
and usually runs the 100-miler but wasn't among this year's finishers.

There were a few glitches during the awards ceremony due to the new chip timing system, which delayed some of the results.

MC Wendall Robison (photo above) deftly smoothed over each delay by calling out numbers in the random drawing for running gear from the Sports Stop like socks, lights, packs, hats, etc. Everyone in attendance could put their name in the basket to be eligible for a prize. Neither of us got one of those this year but we have in the past.

More stories:  Jim, Dennis, Anne, and Matt

We enjoyed spending more time at breakfast with Matt and Anne Watts, Davy Crockett and his son Kevin, Phil Wiley, and Dennis Aslett.

Davy's hand doesn't look as bad as it did on Friday but he said it still hurts. I forgot to ask if he's right- or left-handed:


Davy and Kevin wait for Davy's name to be called for his award;
Phil and another 100-miler are in the background.

Despite the injury Davy still managed to finish the race, tying with Matt in 30:16:22. Anne paced Matt and Kevin paced Davy in the last miles of the race. Anne was in the 30K, Kevin the 50K. That's one of the neat things about having all four races finish the same route in the last 18 miles.


My quick count of online race results shows 750 total finishers out of a reported 950 entrants in all four races. There is no information about how many people actually started or DNFd each race, and I haven't asked Cheryl.


There were 115 finishers in the 100-miler under 36 hours; only 21 are female.

MC Wendell Robison (far L) introduces the overall male and female winners, Zach Miller (visor)
and Emily Judd (turquoise jacket).  Co-RDs Cheryl Sinclair and Karen Powers are behind the
awards table. The guy with his back to the camera is the official race photographer.

The oldest male was Dennis Aslett at age 62 (four men from 60-62 finished this year). Male finishers ranged in age from 22-62.

The overall winner was 35-year old Zach Miller in 19:13, who led wire-to-wire and finished over two hours ahead of second-place Nick Pedatella, who's no slouch.  

Overall winner Zach Miller (holding insulated bottle)
talks with another runner after the awards ceremony.

Female finishers ranged from age 29-50, with only one in the 50-59 age group (Hiromi Hatta from Japan). Emily Judd, age 29, was first female in 23:40.

Zach Miller and Emily Judd thank everyone for their support; Co-RDs Cheryl Sinclair
(dark blue jacket) and her sister, Karen Powers (yellow shirt) listen in the background.

50-MILER & 50K:

There were 149 finishers in the 50-miler and 178 in the 50K. You can see all the times and age-group winners at the link above.


The 30K, which Jim and I both ran/walked, had 308 finishers ranging in time from 2:06 to 8:07 hours.

As mentioned in yesterday's entry, Jim's time of 4:26 placed him 5th of nine men in the 60-69 age group, 102nd of 129 men, and 215th of 308 total finishers in the 30K. My 5:15 time was good for 4th place of ten women age 60-69, 149th of 179 females, and 262nd of all 308 30K finishers.


Historically, my time and placement in this race was totally pathetic for me. Gee, I wonder why?  <wink>

Ridge above Upper Sheep Creek, as seen from Horse Creek Ridge

I do not regret participating in this race, however. I first wrote "running" because old habits die hard, but changed it to "participating" because I probably ran no more than two of the eighteen miles.

I had fun, despite some pain during and after the event, and I really enjoyed the scenery I wasn't able to see prior to the race like I usually do. I've been on the entire 50 miles of the original course and my favorite part is that 3,000-foot slope up or down between Lower Sheep Creek and Horse Creek Ridge.

It also felt good to push myself hard enough again to get really tired by the end (the pain part wasn't so smart, though). I used to do that frequently in races and hard training runs. I don't do that enough of that now except on long mountain hikes during the summer months.

Looking back at the fence line below Horse Creek Ridge

I'm still surprised I got as "competitive" as I did during the race. It was great fun to try to walk faster up Horse Creek Ridge than the folks in my race who were near me. It was also fun to deliberately blow through the aid stations to get ahead of several other 30Kers, then try my best to stay ahead of them until the end.

And I was mostly walking, for Pete's sake!!!

This is probably as good a reason as any for me to stay away from races. I push myself too hard and that's not so good for the long-term health of my Granny Knees. It's important that I delay the need for total knee replacements as long as I can. It's better that I just do long hikes on my own, and go slower with no running.

Getting tired is OK; having knee and hip pain is not. I still intend to climb plenty of mountainous terrain this summer but I'll work up more gradually in distance and elevation than I did yesterday.

Pretty flowers going down to the Tongue River Canyon

Jim's time and place was historically poor for him, too -- because he had to do a lot more walking than intended. I know it was frustrating for him to have to go so slow yesterday.

I'll write more about what's going on with his bum knee in another entry. The pain he had during and after this race doesn't bode well for the remainder of his race plans this year and he's very, very discouraged.


This is our last night at the Foothills Campground. We'll be heading toward Silverton, CO in the morning.

We wonder how much running and hiking we'll be able to do in the 14,000-foot mountains in the San Juan Range, which also received copious amounts of snow during the winter. We also wonder if the Hardrock 100 course will be impacted as severely as the Bighorn course was. I believe it's been cancelled only once for too much snow (and once for too many fires).

After the awards ceremony we ran some errands in Sheridan, then returned to the campground in Dayton for lunch. Driving back on US 14 it looked like we were in for a real gully-washer:

Storm clouds gather over the Bighorns.

The campground is nearly deserted again and everything from the race has been removed from the park next door. It's always a weird feeling after races when everyone leaves and there isn't any sign that a race even occurred -- kinda lonely, in fact.

We spent most of the afternoon relaxing our tired bodies. We aren't 35 any more.

Jim watched several movies on cable TV while he has the opportunity ("Titanic," "Clear and Present Danger," and "Shawshank Redemption"). We won't have TV reception for several weeks where we boondock on national forest land near Silverton.

I read a good chunk of an e-book about hiking the Continental Divide Trail. Now that I've bumped up my mileage and have gotten up to 8,100 feet elevation, I'm looking forward to some great hikes in Colorado this summer.

The longer I sat at the computer, however, the more sore I was each time I got up to do something. I sort of cured that by taking Cody for a walk around the park and campground. I was wishing I was up in the Bighorns again. The mountains are calling me . . .

It remained cloudy all afternoon but despite those ominous clouds, we never did get much rain in Dayton.

Next entry: hi, ho Silverton!

Happy trails,

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

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2011 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil