February 10-12, 2023
My one word for this race is: epic. This ultra is unique in that everyone in every event (e.g., 100M, 100K, 50M, 50K, 10M) had to be over 50 years old to start. What's amazing is how many really senior folks finished. Amazing: They're like Caleb in the Bible! Co-RDs Dan Wilson & Beiyi Zheng were super nice and supportive of RC, and let me set-up within 100m of the race HQs/start-finish. That let me see most folks coming and going to pick-up packets, most of whom arrived raceday morning. Runners' Church service started on time, and I thought I had a good message prepared; however, there were a number of folks rushing up later and throughout the RC service which kinda threw me off. (I would try to reset for the late-comers, but that got me out of rhythm.) This is definately an area I need to come up higher in because I only have 15 minutes to deliver an opening prayer, message, and closing prayer. Pray I will improve in my delivery! I got to Danny's pre-race briefing late (because I was trying to wrap RC stuff up), and I somehow missed an important racecourse change. This would come back to bite me later since I didn't plan my logistics right for the multi-loop course not returning to the S/F until our last loop. But who doesn't like extra mileage, right? The GMU course had us leave the S/F area for 6.4 miles and through this massive tunnel under I-__ to get to the 8.6-mi. loop we'd repeat 6 times before returning to homebase. The one thing we didn't get to see was the "3-corners" state flag monument (see photo, above, a hallmark of the original 2 x 50-mi. course. The surface of the run was a combination of sand, "moondust", and rocks, rocks, rocks! I hit the ground three times, my first loop! The surrounding mountains were just epic. Scenes like these really show us how small we really are on this planet. There were two aid stations manned by seasoned ultrarunners--super-nice, super accommodating, and resilient under the fierce winds and constant "moondust" infiltrating everything! One of the aid stations was manned by Elden and Debbie Gelano, RDs for Heartland 100 in KS. Great to see them again, all the way from Wichita, KS. And Elden is a non-sleeping super-hero. I think he took a 30-minute naplet from the time the race started; they were cooking and tending wounded all day and all night and all day. Incredible. Their efforts eclipsed the efforts we put out running! And then some.
The Three-Corners monument. We didn't get to run past it this year. Bummer.
I was able to meet many new folks, and reconnect with many old friends, such as Max Roycroft (from Dallas-Ft. Worth), Catra Corbett (No. Cal.), and Kim Sargeant (Galveston, TX). Perhaps my favorite conversation was with Kim because she told me of her harrowing trek just to get to the race, and then to be walking the entire thing on low-sleep. Amazing! Catra told me about her penchant for 200s, now her fave distance, and she filled me in on important details...should I ever want to try my hand at the longer distances. One thing about Catra is that she is, perhaps, the happiest kid on the trails! She is like Tigger from Winnie the Poo, no matter how many hours she's been at it. If you just pass by her presence, she will will ratchet up your joy meter many notches. What a spirit, and what a lesson to me, 'cuz I wanna be like that: emmanating JOY on full throttle, no matter what's going on in my little world. Like Rick Warren opens up his book, The Purpose-Driven Life: (Line #1) "It's not all about you." I love that line. And I wanna be that light, not hidden under a basket-of-gloom, but shining bright and "lighting up others"! Amen. Max filled me in on our mutual run-buddy, Butch, and others. All-in-all, great converstations out on the trail. As I said, I missed the critical course change info, and ran my first loop with an extra 6.4 miles off-course back to the S/F. A guy told me about it, and asked the RDs if they'd give me a credit for an 8.6-mi. loop since I'd be returning to the course with a near-13-mile deviation. They didn't have to, but Danny and Beiyi agreed to credit me with a loop for which I was very thankful! Still, just returning to the loop was not my only challenge: I had to get my critical gear from the S/F area to the aid station. So, I packed up my Camelbak ruck and humped about 15lbs. 9+ miles at a good clip to the aid station. I was running strong, but I got hot spots on the bottoms of my feet, and just tried to ignore them. Well, that was dumb. I ended up with two grody blisters on the pads of my feet, and nearly DNF'd at mile 98, they were so crippling-painful. But, God is good, and He gave me strength to overcome and I finished, eventually. I was "stove up" for some days afterwords because of those blisters, but they eventually healed and I am happy to report, I'm running just ticky-poo now. But note to self: TAKE CARE OF HOTSPOTS before they become nasty blisters! Jeepers. At 63, I still feel like a rookie sometimes! But thanks to a great race management, it was a great venue for Runners' Church, and I believe many were encouraged and edified, and the Lord glorified during the GMU Endurnace Events. Thank you Dan and Beiyi and all the race volunteers for such a great event. Much Peace and Joy and Blessing to you all!
Me and Ms. Happy-Trail-Sister, Catra
Kim & I sharing some great convo