Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Western States 2009 Review

Before I begin my review I want to say with a heavy heart that the Weekend was a bit subdued at times to mourn the passing of Dan Moores. One of the bright spots was seeing the ribbons on race day shirts of the runners and all the auburn running shirts out there to show that Dan was a very special person and we will all miss him.

Sorry folks no pictures so to speak even after arriving at Squaw Valley Thursday before the race. This was a great event to be a part of and I hope all of you get a chance to participate or watch the race some day.

I met up with John Nichols on Thursday afternoon in Auburn after I had stopped at Auburn Running to checkin on the buzz happening at the store. It was packed with runners just wanting to buy last minute things or chat about the race..a good feeling. Nichols and me made it to Squaw Valley and pulled into race central to see standing outside Karyn Hoffman and other runners we know..Race Central felt like home..you know many of the folks walking around or these would be soon to be new friends since you where all there for WS. Rena Schumann and Mark Lantz had been there since Wed....Mark was all nerves and hoping for a top 10 finish. Friday morning had us all making our way to the runner check in, and purchase of WS gear. Such a happy time for all with the view of the startline and hills to climb right from the start. We all had put in a lot of $$ for raffle tickets in hopes of securing one of three slots for 2010. These would go to a select group of friends if my tickets would be drawn..For some reason I was confident we would get the draw. The major discussion was about the predicted heat in the valley below predicted for Saturday.

Friday evening I has asked Nichols if he wanted to go get some dinner..he initially said no. He would have some powerbars for dinner etc..He did join me and his crew member Gus as we went out..As soon as he saw the all you can eat WS dinner special he changed his mind...Dang Nichols three plates of pasta and a full side of chicken wings turned out to be his pre race meal! We all joked that he better bring extra toilet paper on race day!

Saturday Morning started at 3am with a wakeup for Nichols..The race starts at 5am the time flew by to the start. I finally got a bit of nerves as I watched the runners line up in the dark. I was thinking about Dan, and my chance to toe the line next year. With the gun off they went..And our day began. I quickly packed up and got the gear ready for my drive to Robinson Flat...I was to meet Nichols there. I arrived at Robinson about 9am. I ran into Mark Lantz's parents there and they where nervous for Mark since they know he just loves the competition. Robinson was a huge party! There must have been 200-300 people all waiting for their runners to come through. Dave Mackey and Hal Kroener came through first, Jurek looked comfortable in third. Lantz came flying up and about 40minutes off the lead in 15th place..Just as we started working on him Skaden blew by without stopping. Lantz had a blister and stopped to work on that then was off. I waited for Nichols and he passed through about 11:20am he was scrapped up after a fall. It was heating up by then with temps in the high 70's at 6000ft. As I was leaving I saw Jenn Shelton..the gifted young runner who gets a lot of press..she was done for the day. I could see it in her eyes and would find out later that I was right...many more would drop as the day wore on.

Next up for me was get to Bath Road...This is the Auburn Running Store aid station..about 2miles from Foresthill School. Here there was a large picture of Dan Moores on a story board. Runners where asked to sign the board as they passed through...it was a nice gesture. Here I had gator and fruit for Skaden and Lantz. Skaden came in first and was at 11th place..he looked good and was feeling ok..The temps where now well into 90's at 3:30pm. Mark was about 20minutes behind Skaden and in 13th place..He was worried about others catching him. His main competition was Andy Jones Wilkes who was about 6minutes ahead. I told him to focus on catching him and keep moving.

With these duties now done I headed back to Foresthill and mile 62 aid station and began my waiting for Rena Schumann. We had talked early that it might be about 7pm when she would arrive. Most runners with the heat where all registering about one hour or more behind their projected times. Jurek had dropped at Devils, Mackey was hanging by a thread to the river and the drop list was nearly equal to the remaining runners on the course. Reports where slow on where runners where and I had heard Rena was on course to arrive at FH about 8:50pm. It would be a long night with headlamps from the start...Rena had some friends from work that showed up and I talked with them when Rena came into sight about 9pm...She was ok..had some issues at Devils and El Dorado. But she was moving and that was fine..We got out of FH about 9:12pm..headlamps blazing. She was not feeling too well and was tired. This would be the theme for the night.

From FH we started the slow downhill strides and got used to the headlamps and tunnel vision it brings. It was slow going but we started to pick off a lot of runners. We saw Karyn Hoffman near Cal1. Rena was moving along pretty good on this stretch and it was a very strong consistant running pace as we moved passed more runners. She had some issues with dry heaves now and we had to stop and focus on getting that better as we got close to the climb to cal3(fords bar)...We approached cal3 and wondered where the aid station was! It had moved down the trail about a half mile...it made the run to the river only 4.5miles that was nice. But things where getting tough for Rena and the stomach.

We kept it moving to the river..it was about 2am now and it was amazing to hold on to the cable and move slowly across. The volunteers standing in the river to help where the bomb! As we crossed to Farside Rena changed her shoes and we saw Karyn Hoffman come up from the river..that was the last time we saw Karyn it was tough out there... I had to really begin to get Rena to keep moving and there where streches where she ran strong then had to stop and cough etc...We had a very good stetch with Ling Ru and her pacer Pete Defty..I lead a group for a couple of miles and felt Rena had a strong stetch. At ALT Rena had her lowest point. It was now about 3:30 I was telling her to just focus on 3miles per hour and get in by 9:30am. She wanted to stop and take sleep against a tree. I just could not let her do that. We where hitting the splits I set for her and just wanted her to keep moving. Lots of talking on my part and focusing her on run and walk stretches. The ALT med folks suggested she take it easy since she was dry heaving and wanting to sleep. Knowing Rena that is not what she would really want that..We took a few extra minutes here and moved on to Browns..She ran really well to Browns Bar (maybe her best yet) she was revived a bit and the Hashers Aid Station was busy at about 6:30 the sun was up and that helped her mood.

Push on to HWY 49..here we had her last med check and weigh in she was up about 3 lbs since ALT and the nurse was questioning that...Rena was ok..not puffy yet and going to the bathroom so I pushed to get her through to the finish. Rena perked up a ton as we ran down to NoHands bridge...blasting some AC/DC she got all charged and as we checked in two runners looked back to see us and said..."We knew you two would catch us"! She flew through there like a rock star...She was running really strong. In fact it was kind of hard to keep up with her...when you pace you take on the runners strides etc..and when you suddenly pick up the pace it is hard to get the legs to react.

Near Robie point we saw Tim Twitemeyer running down to no hands..he was all smiles and excited. His assignment was to get the remainder runners into the finish that where close to the 30hour cut off...he was great as I watched him later help those folks out..pretty neat.

We got Rena to the track at 9:23am ahead of my 9:30 prediction! That was the bomb. Mark was there with his 9th place finish to see Rena cross as where his parents. I was a mess!

It was a great experience and helped me understand what 28 hours of running looks like..I am happy to have helped out and look forward to next year.



  1. Awesome job, congrats to you and your runner, what a great experience for you for next year!

  2. Congratulations, Tony and Rena!!! Sounds like you had a real adventure and next year: YOUR turn!!!

  3. Tony thanks for your comment, I would definitely be interested to hear more, I have a crew/pacers for AC100 and they are starting to ask me questions about what should they be doing so any insights you can share would be priceless.

  4. Wow, glad I found your blog. Great report, and good luck with your mission!

  5. Great stuff Tony!

    It's epic running through there in the dark on race night. With the huge aid stations and everything it does not even seem like the same world that we are on when we run those deserted trails all alone at other times of the year.

    Well done Rena!

    Cheers, Paul