Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Ropes, Cliffs, Bears, and Beauty That Hurts

The Cascade Crest 100-Mile Endurance Run is one of the toughest one-hundred-mile races in the world. It's a very large, one-loop course which starts and ends in in Easton, Washington, eighty-miles east of Seattle. The course is run entirely on trails (and a few miles of dirt roads) in the Cascade Mountains. Elevation ranges from 2100 feet at Easton, to over 6000 feet on parts of the course. There is about 22,000 feet of elevation gain and the same amount of elevation loss during the 100-mile trail run. Podcast Version
Photo of Mount Rainier (background), with Thorp Mountain summit in foreground.
Yes, this is part of the course!
Photo by Glenn Tachiyama,

Cascade Crest is an ultra-running minimalist's "dream run." It harkens back to the early days of what 100-mile mountain runs used to be like, long before ├╝ber-hyped runs like Western States and Leadville became synonomous with 100-mile ultra-running. In fact, Cascade Crest reminds ultrarunning old-timers a lot of what Western States and Leadville were like before they had big-name sponsors, super-stocked and well-spaced aid stations, and the large number of entrants and potential entrants wanting an entry spot. Cascade Crest has none of that. But what it does have is enough of everything you need to get through the race, and more than enough adventure to satisfy any self-sufficient nutcase ultrarunner (like myself).

I arrived in Easton after having done a fair amount of traveling. I've had a busy Summer. Our good friends from Spokane, Stacey and Randy Probst met me at our campground on the day before the race. They were going to help crew for me, just as they had last year. Ooh...last year...that's the year that I had my first experience with this race, my first true "mountain" 100-miler. I ended up dropping out, (which is called DNF'ing), at mile forty, with a torn hamstring muscle. I had tried running on it for a while, and ended up really screwing-up my lower back, as well. Those are not fond memories for me. It took a long time to fully recover.

So I had a score to settle with this course and with myself. I promised myself to train smarter and harder for the mountainous terrain. How would I do this in the Midwest, pray tell? It just so happens that I got the opportunity to go to Western States training camp in May, courtesy of my buddy Pat Perry, and I also got to pace him for the last 40 miles of Western States in June. The month afterward, I ran a 50-miler at Mount Hood, for some additional training. I had also worked some special gym training into my routine to simulate climbing uphill for up to an hour at a time, non-stop. I've got to say that this really helped, this year.

Waking up on race day is always strange at this race. Cascade Crest starts at 10 a.m., instead of a "normal" 100-mile start time of 6, 5, or even 4 a.m. The 10 a.m. start is a real pain for non-west-coasters; (that's noon, my time). So I was starting a race mid-day, that I knew I couldn't possibly finish in under 24 hours! This can be an additional source of fatigue for this race.

We got to the starting area at the fire station in Easton, about an hour before the race. I got to see a lot of my Northwest ultrarunning friends. Olga was there; Eric Barnes, Stan Holman, Kendall Kreft, and Rob Hester were also there. Olga had a big crew there to support her, including Rob.
Eric, Olga, me, Rob

After a pancake breakfast and the Canadian and U.S. anthems, a fire horn blew, and we were off! The course starts on a trail and then turns onto a gravel road, and is flat for a mile. When we got to the woods, we started a "leisurely 3000-foot climb" on switch-backed trails to Goat Peak. From here it was up and down until we got over Blowout Mountain, where we picked up the Pacific Coast Trail.
Me at Goat Peak
Photo by Glenn Tachiyama,

Uphill Slog.
Photo by Patrick Perry

Me (on left) near Goat Peak.
Photo by Patrick Perry

Me and Pat.

Photo by Patrick Perry

My crew was waiting for me at Tacoma Pass, which was at mile 23 for me. I was feeling great, so I just filled my water bottles with water and powder, and I took off.
Course Profile to Tacoma Pass

Next on the agenda was making it to Stampede Pass aid station, where my crew would be waiting. I first had to make it to Snowshoe Butte aid station and through a few climbs and descents to reach my goal. I also had some entertainment along the way. There were a lot of wild huckleberries and thimbleberries that were ripe and ready to eat, right along the trail. I had a few, whenever I slowed down enough to grab them. I also caught up with a couple that was hiking with large packs. I said, "on your left," and the female hiker said, "no; it's my trail, too, and I won't let you pass!" She then started flailing her hiking poles and walking fast, in an attempt to keep me from passing her. I ended up bushwhacking around her quickly. Her husband (or man friend) looked embarassed as I said hi, while passing him. Quite the fun time at mile 30! This is also where it started to rain.

Scree section.
Where's the trail? A lot of trail was obscured by huckleberry bushes.
"Trail victim" being helped by other runners.

Photos by Patrick Perry

It was a light rain at first, but started picking up steam. I crossed a couple of sets of power lines that were humming loudly in the rain. One more climb and descent, and I was at Stampede Pass, (mile 33). At this point last year, I had thrown up, from having run in the heat at too fast of a pace. This year, I was a little chilled by this point. I got some food and Randy opened an O'doul's non-alcoholic brew for me. Just like it had at Western States, it really hit the spot. I took off my short sleeved top and donned my long-sleeved merino wool top, and also my feather-weight Patagonia windbreaker. I picked-up my headlamp and flashlights, because it was starting to get dark. I was feeling well and confident, so I told my crew to meet me in Hyak, a full twenty miles away.

Tacoma Pass to Hyak course profile

The next aid station to point for was Meadow Mountain. This was at the same place where I had had to drop out, the year before (with a busted hamstring). It was easier going than I remembered, but the tall bushes on both sides of the trail soaked me to the bone every time I had to wade through them. This was annoying. I finally got some more fun entertainment. A skunk appeared ahead of me on the trail. It kept looking my direction and sniffing, and wouldn't move for a full two minutes, until it finally ambled slowly into the brush.
Old Growth Forest section. (by Pat Perry)

It felt like it took forever to run the seven-plus miles to Meadow Mountain. It was nice to see the aid station, but I wanted to get out of there in a hurry. I had started to feel really tired. Not tired physically, but just worn-out mentally. I pressed onward toward my next goal, Ollallie Meadows.

It was another long-ish leg of the race. The trail had become very slick with the mud and wet rocks. Sometimes I had to slow down to a slow "mall walk" to get through some technically difficult sections without slipping and breaking anything. My mental concentration wasn't in the best of shape, and neither was my equilibrium, at this point. This was not good!

I ran onward. I was cruising along just fine, or so I thought, and all of a sudden I slipped a little to the right and was gone! Gone, down a steep cliff-side, that is. I slid about 20 feet before I caught myself on the passing bushes. Somehow, I had held onto my flashlight through all of this. I pulled myself back up to the top, using the bushes on the hillside. Shannon Willford, of Kelowna, BC, came along right then, and helped me up over the edge. My disappearance and reappearance from the trail had been a little shock to her, (as well as me). I was skinned-up and bruised a little, but was still pretty much okay.

I gave a spare flashlight to Shannon, who was having lighting problems, and we took off. From this point on, my equilibrium felt trashed.

I ambled on. I got to the Ollalie Meadows aid station at mile 48, and I was hungry. I ate two hot pierogies, (a potato-based food), filled my water bottles, and left. I also had some coffee, to try to clear my head. Two guys and Shannon left slightly before me. The next section seemed to be especially trearcherous with a lot of loose rocks and overgrown trail. I took it slow, because my "sense of uprightness" (as I like to call it), was not working properly.

I finally got to a dirt road section. The road went downward at about a 25-percent grade and was covered in loose rocks. I didn't do any running on it. I was scanning to the side of the road, looking for the infamous "roped section" that I would have to climb down. Finally, I spotted it, just on the right side of the road. I also spotted something moving to my left. I looked over and saw a black bear, (which appeared to be about 400-lbs in size), standing still and looking at me and my bright set of lights. All I could muster was a muffled "hi," whereupon he decided to saunter back into the woods on his side of the road. He was not feeling conversational, obviously, and neither was I. I headed for the ropes.
Even though I was alone, I actually said out loud, "you gotta be kidding me," when I first set my eyes on the roped section. Here, in the middle of nowhere, was a rope that seemed to go forever down a steep hill, over logs and all kinds of stuff...into the dark, wet well of this crazy night. The first part went over some downed logs that were slick with rain, mud, and wet moss. I slipped and fell right away, and ended upside-down on a big log, still (thankfully) holding onto the rope. An impulsive, hysterical titter came out of my mouth. I could tell that insanity was not far away, at this point.
Photo by Patrick Perry

I decided to secure my flashlight on my belt, and to just use my headlamp while descending the rest of the way. This helped, but it still took an inordinate time to get down all of the roped sections. Part of the problem was the type of ropes that were used for this purpose, which were climbing ropes that had a 10% stretch rate. When I would get to the bottom of a long rope, it would get "real springy," and I would not feel real secure. After the race, I talked with the race director about this. I'm going to donate my 563-foot long 7/16" diameter Bluewater II static line for the roped section. This rope only has a 1% stretch rate, and feels solid as a rock while descending. I used to use it for vertical caving. I don't cave with it, anymore, and I think this would be a great addition to the race, if they choose to use it.

I finally got to the bottom. Big change: now I was standing on a rails-to-trails (wide) section of trail. I followed the markings. They led to a large concrete-framed opening in a mountain. The tunnel section! The tunnel is a 2.3-mile long abandoned railroad tunnel that goes under Snoqualmie pass. I started running, and made myself run most of the tunnel. It was great to be out of the rain and I started to dry-out and warm up. After what seemed like an eternity, but was actually only 30 minutes or so, I was on the other side.

I followed the trail for a short way, and then was funneled through a parking lot and onto some asphalt, parallel to the I-90 interstate highway. Yuck...pavement! The markings finally led me to a road that crossed I-90, and I could finally see the Hyak aid station on the other side. I heard some yells and a cowbell, as I approached.

I arrived just 1-hour ahead of the mandatory cut-off. I had lost a full 45-minutes of time on the clock in the last 14 miles or so, due to my depleted mental acuity. The two guys that had passed me and Shannon were there, but they all seemed to be taking their sweet time at the aid station. I just wanted to leave, and get going. Randy & Stacey were there to help me get moving. Randy was going to pace me for the next two sections, which were mainly dirt roads. He doesn't have any night trail experience, so this was a perfect part for him to pace me. We got our stuff together, and headed out.

We ran on a flat, paved road for about a mile, and then took a left onto a dirt road. This road goes upward for 7 full miles toward the next aid station at mile 60. I tried running parts of it, but was relegated to a walk for a lot of the uphill. I felt like crap, and Randy did his best to keep my attention from wandering. And wander it did. He later said that I wasn't making any sense, and kept slowing down and veering toward the side of the road. This was not good.

I dropped out of the Cascade Crest 100-miler at the mile 60 aid station, due to "mental fatigue." No matter what I tried, I couldn't get my head clear enough to continue. It was the safe thing to do, before I got onto any more (slick) rock-strewn trails, climbed anymore mountains, or negotiated any more cliffs.

My legs and body were fine at that point, though. If I could have screwed a new head onto my body, I could have made it just fine. Coffee and food...nothing worked to snap me out of my haze. What led to this mental demise? I've had a busy Summer. I've been working a lot of hours, traveling, race-directing races almost every weekend, doing my duties for my local Track Club and the Trail Nerds, and basically wearing myself into the ground. This was compounded by an unusually hot and humid July and August in the Midwest, which had an effect on most runner's training, including mine. I had arrived in Easton slightly exhausted, to put it lightly.

Also, I realized after the race that I was hypothermic from the constant rain and 40-degree weather for 30 miles. (I was so cold that I didn't even start shivering until I had warmed-up at the aid station for a long while, and my body temperature was sub-94F).

Some thoughts on not finishing:
A "good DNF" means having no regrets about the decision to stop running (for the circumstances on that day). I have no regrets about it; I would have been a darn fool to continue. The last 25 miles of Cascade Crest are the most difficult and treacherous part of that course. Going into it with an "addled" brain would not be smart.

A good DNF also includes learning from the experience and having a clear plan as to how to be successful if you attempt the same race again. I pity those who don't have a clue as to "what happened" that made them DNF. I already have a plan, and am planning my revenge on the course in 2009. My crew wants to go back to support me. I may even have a pacer for one or two of the trailrunning sections, Stacey and Randy's cross-country-running daughters.

The race continued well for many others. My buddy, Patrick Perry did the Trail Nerds proud! He held strong and finished in 29:37. He agrees: this race makes the Western States 100-miler that he did in July, look like a cake-walk. My Northwest buddy, Olga Varlamova had to drop out of the race at mile 68, due to an injury. Eric Barnes (another friend of mine) finished his first 100-miler in style!!! It was nice seeing that Jamie Gifford (a male runner from Seattle) won the race. He had to DNF, last year. Darcy Africa was right on his heels for a first place female win, and 2nd place over-all spot, right at 21:15. Most of the field took more than 28 hours to complete this beast.

After I dropped, my crew drove me to the campground, and I wrapped-up in a sleeping bag and slept for 3 hours. The sleep did me a lot of good. I ate and took a shower, and we headed to the the last aid station to cheer Pat and other folks on, and then to the finish line.

I'll be back, next year. I'm planning to show up early to camp, and just "chill" for 2 or 3 days prior to the race, to be well rested. I'll also continue to hit my harsh gym and running plan for the next year, to stay in shape for the steep Cascade Mountains.

This course is a real doozy, but is so darn beautiful, that it hurts. If you want an extreme running challenge, take it on. Just don't take it lightly.

Happy trails,
Bad Ben

Photos by Glenn Tachiyama:

More photos:

Pat Perry, confidently heading down the trail.
Photo by Glenn Tachiyama,

Some views along the course taken by me:

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Short CCC100 Report: I Only Fell Off of One Cliff.

I'm back from brutalizing myself in the Cascades of Washington. I only fell off of one cliff, though.
See the full race report (with photos) or podcast here.

Short story: I dropped out of the Cascade Crest 100-miler after 60 miles, due to "mental fatigue." It was the safe thing to do, before I climbed anymore mountains and negotiated anymore cliffs. I had slid twenty feet down a cliff just 20 miles prior to quitting. It had been raining heavily, and "stuff" happens on slick rocks and mud after dark, you know.

Part of the reason for my fatigue, (besides the tough course): The 10 a.m. start for this race is a real pain for non-west-coasters; (that's noon, our time).

My legs and body were fine during the race, though. If I could have screwed a new head on it, I could have made it just fine. Today, I'm just a little stiff, tired, bruised, and scratched-up. No foot blisters or problems, though. No regrets about my decision to DNF, either. It was appropriate for the circumstances.

By the way, Patrick Perry from Lee's Summit did the Trail Nerds proud! He finished in 29:37. He agrees: this race makes the Western States 100-miler look like a cakewalk. My NW buddy, Olga Varlamova had to drop out of the race. Eric Barnes (NW runner) finished his first 100-miler in style!!! It was nice seeing that Jamie Gifford (male from Seattle) won the race. He had to DNF, last year. Darcy Africa was right on his heels for a first place female win, and 2nd place over-all spot, right at 21:15. Most of the field takes more than 28 hours to complete this beast.

Some fun points during my run:

Climbing and bushwhacking down the "roped section" of cliff over huge, wet logs and rocks, right at mile 50.
Running into a black bear right before the rope section. (I said "hi," and he scuttled out of there).
Drying out and warming back up, while running through the 2.2-mile long abandoned railroad tunnel under Snoqualmie Pass.
Being held up for 2 minutes by a skunk on the trail.
Having to bushwhack around an insane female hiker who was flailing her hiking poles and walking fast, in an attempt to keep me from passing her.
Picking and eating wild Huckleberries and Thimbleberries during the run.
Drinking an O'douls (non-alcoholic beer) at mile 35, and thinking it tasted good.
Eating two hot pierogies at the mile 48 aid station.
My wonderful crew and the great people I met during the event. The volunteers were top-notch!

Yep; I'm already planning my revenge on the course for the 2008 race. I'm also going to donate my 563-foot long 7/16" Bluewater II static line for the roped section. (I don't cave with it, anymore). That bouncy (10% stretch) climber's rope they used was just awful for the task at hand.

I'll write-up a proper report later, and include photos.

Happy trails,
Bad Ben

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Race Report: 2007 Mt Hood PCT 50-Miler

This was my 2nd year in a row for completing the “Mount Hood Pacific Coast Trail” 50-Mile trail race, in Oregon. This fifty-miler is a trail run on the Pacific Coast Trail, and is an out and back course from the Timothy Lake Area to Mount Hood's Timberline Lodge (and back).

Course Profile.

I had planned to run another event on this same day, my 6th Minnesota Voyageur 50-Miler, but when I found out that my “Ultra-Blog-Buddy,” Olga Varlamova was going to be co-race director, I just had to go back. Of course, with the event being held the same week as the Oregon Brewer’s Festival in Portland (and me being a homebrewer), I had a another great reason to go back. Any excuse to run on this beautiful course on any given year is alright with me!

My wife and son also went. We all needed a break from work, our normal routines, (and the thick Midwest humidity). I have a nephew and a few friends that live up there, so that also makes it a natural vacation destination for us. We also used to live in the Pacific Northwest, and we always try to find ways to get back to our original “home turf” for a while.

We flew-in to Portland on late Wednesday night. By late, I mean our plane arrived at Midnight-thirty (our time), so we finally got to the De Luxe Hotel in downtown Portland at about eleven-thirty (Portland time). We used to stay in this same hotel back in the Nineties, when it was a discount hotel called the “Mallory Hotel.” It’s a vintage hotel with gorgeous high-ceiling rooms, furnished with period furniture but with all of the “modern trappings” of our modern lifestyle. I really like this hotel, and with a location right next to the light rail line, it makes it very handy for getting around Portland. It’s pricey, but if you shop well ahead of your stay on the internet’s “discount” hotel and travel sites, you can get a room for about one-half of normal price.

The next morning after breakfast, my son and I decided to walk and take the light rail system all over downtown Portland. A little after noon we went to the Brewer’s fest to check-out this year’s offerings. The weather was perfect; the attitude of the crowd was great, and we had a pretty darn good time. We paced ourselves and didn’t go too nuts; after all, I still had a mountainous 50-miler to run on Saturday. We met some interesting characters, and (somehow) got interviewed for a new Northwest Brewing publication, based upon my son’s and my previous professional experience in the brewing industry, and my trail running and ultra-running exploits. Go figure!
First Beer in Portland
Oregon Brewer's Fest Server.

We were on our feet for about 16 hours on Thursday, and ended up walking at least 15 miles for the day. In retrospect, I don’t think walking a lot on Thursday or Friday had much of an affect on my race performance. One of our high points on our Thursday walk, was seeing a guy in full drag wearing a fanny pack and a big, floppy & flowery hat, rifling through some trash to collect recyclables. He’s “a regular” in the downtown area, and does his part for the environment.
Recycling can be a drag, for some.
Light Rail is Good.
The MAX is handy.
The wall at Voodoo Donuts.
A bunch of Savages in this town!
Espresso at Stumptown Coffee.
The bathroom at Stumptown Coffee. A bunch of Savages in this town!
A great place to find Dub, Reggae, Hip-Hop or Punk.

My son ended up spending Friday and Saturday with my nephew, so my wife and I had some quality sightseeing and race day time together. We left Portland in the early evening on Friday, after rush hour had subsided. We already knew the race start location, so we spent our time getting to and settling-in at our lodging for the evening. There was no air conditioning, but there was no need for it. Just open the windows and let the spruce, cedar, and hemlock-scented (cool) forest air in. In the background, you could hear a river crashing its way toward its final destination with the Pacific Ocean. It was a little slice of Heaven on Earth.

Saturday was race day, and our alarm clock went-off at 4:30 a.m. I had laid-out all of my race preparation the night before, so I had a leisurely time going through my normal “pre-race rituals.” It was a 40-minute drive to the start of the race, but we didn’t mind the drive, because it was so beautiful winding our way through the forests and mountains.

I signed in and I finally met Olga in person, (and she gave me a hug). It’s like we now know each other pretty darn well, based upon the blogging world and emails. I guess it’s no different from being “pen pals,” the get-to-know media of previous generations. St. Louis ultrarunner, Travis Liles was at the starting area, also. I first met him at our Psycho Wyco 50K race in February.
Olga and me.
Travis and me.

The race started on time, and we were off. We had a little half-mile out-and-back on the pavement go get out of the way first, before we hit the trails. Matt Hart, the eventual winner, was about ¼ mile ahead by the half-mile point. He would later tone-down his speed to a “reasonable pace” for the fifty-miler. Travis and I ran together and chatted for a spell, until I had to take a much needed “bear in the woods” break. We would end up seeing each other, throughout the race day.

Once my pit stop was complete, I was running completely alone for a while. It was weird that I saw no one for over 20 minutes; then I remembered that there were fewer runners allowed in the race, this year. I finally started overtaking runners. I caught up with Steve Gruel from California, and ran with him for a long while. We had both played support roles at the Western States 100 this year, and had a lot of fun getting to know each other and talking about that.
Steve on the trail.
Our turn-around point (goal).
Big Trees

We got to the Highway 35 aid station at mile nineteen in 3 hours and 35 minutes. This aid station is at the base of our climb up Mount Hood. I didn’t need anything but water, so I gave her a kiss and told her to meet me at Timberline Lodge.

The slog up Mount Hood has some runnable parts, and a lot of “grunt-walking” parts, as I like to call it. I’m sure that Matt Hart and others of his talent run 80% of the climb, though. For me, the climb had a lot of fast walking, interspersed with the occasional slow jog. Steve and I had picked up Jeff Flaker from Boise, a few miles back. The three of us “new trail friends” were just plodding along and talking, when Matt Hart flew by (from the other direction), coming down the mountain at full steam. He looked relaxed and confident, with a wry smile on his face. That was at four-oh-seven into the race. In about a half mile, Steve and Jeff took off ahead of me. That was fine with me; I needed to run my own race, at my own pace. I passed a lot of runners going up, and a lot were coming down. Many of these runners had taken an early start.
Getting closer to turnaround.
Mile of Sand.

I got to the top of the climb, after having gone through the “Mile of Sand” that is on the part of the trail above the tree line. The aid station at Timberline Lodge was a couple of hundred feet below me, and I made my way down. I got there right at 5-hours and 10 minutes, about the same time as I did last year. No problem…I was pretty much fine. I wanted to eat some potatoes, but the ones at that aid station were raw. I grabbed a “Green Bar” to munch on during the run, and headed out.

The trail heads back up the mountain “a ways,” before descending the mountain. On the way down, I didn’t run as fast as I did the previous year, (by design). Last year, I hit that downhill section really hard, and my stomach “went south,” in a big way. I think all of the pounding may have contributed. This time, I took it conservatively. I got to the bottom okay, but still had a little bit of sour stomach. Hmm. Maybe I wasn’t taking-in enough electrolytes.I got out my secret weapon for this sort of circumstance: Alka-Seltzer. It tends to help my sour stomach, it has some aspirin in it, AND it has a lot of sodium content. I took some food with me for the next long uphill, and let my stomach settle before running hard again.

For the next few miles, my motivation was lacking, somewhat. Nothing much was wrong (with me), I just needed to run more than I was. I needed something to pick up my spirits, and I didn’t want to resort to using my IPod on this run. I finally got to the FS-58 aid station, at mile 40.7. Last year, they had some homemade Lefse here, (which is Norwegian potato-based flat-bread). And there it was! I grabbed two pieces. It really hit the spot last year, and this year was no exception. I started to feel energized again.

I started running with a vengeance. I was passing rocks and trees like they were standing still! I passed a few runners along the way. Some of them I had a chance to talk to; like Russ Hammond from Connecticut, whose wife was running the race, and was slightly ahead of him.

I stopped for about 30 seconds at the next aid station, ate some fruit and filled one water bottle. That’s all I’d need, with just six miles to go!

I took off running and was making some good time on the trails. I got to a non-technical section of wide trail near Timothy Lake. It was smooth and fast, and I was cruisin’. I recognized this part of trail…this was the same section that I ran into a bull and three cows, last year!

All of a sudden I was flying “Superman-style,” parallel to the ground, with arms outstretched! I landed hard, on my face and upper chest area. I skidded in the loose dirt and was stopped suddenly by a big round rock. It felt a lot like getting a roundhouse kick in the face, from my old “martial arts days.” My ears were ringing, but the ringing was subsiding quickly.

I took a quick inventory of my situation:
My eyesight hadn’t narrowed and I could still hear. That’s good; that meant I wasn’t going to go unconscious. My nose was broken and skinned-up, my chest was bruised, the inside of my cheek was bleeding, and my knees were bruised and bleeding. There were no “gushers,” just oozing blood. There was one more thing. During my skid on my face, my mouth and nose had filled with loose dirt. I had to use the rest of my water to rinse and gargle the dirt out of my facial orifices. Other than that, I was good to go, especially with the extra shot of adrenaline that was coursing through my veins.

But go where? I had lost track of which direction I was supposed to be running! I looked for footprints. Most of them were heading in one direction. I started walking that direction, and someone with an orange shirt appeared behind me (running). Good. This must be the way!

I took off. I really took off. I passed a couple of runners. Someone that I had run with earlier was coming up from behind. It was John Powell (from Seattle). He said that what I had told him earlier (about finishing in under eleven hours) had inspired him. He knew he could do it, and was making a valid attempt. We caught up with Erin Wolford (from Ashland, Oregon). She and I had played cat-and-mouse coming back from mile 25. She’s an awesome downhill runner, but had run out of downhill on this flat section. She said that we were inspiring her to run faster, and we all made a pact to finish in under 10-1/2 hours. So we cruised.

When we finally got to the pavement again, ½ mile from the finish, we were stoked. And they finally noticed my dirt and "damages." We crossed the finish line in 10:25:15, locking arms. This finish was good enough for a 2nd Place finish in my age group; only Steve was ahead of me in my division. Way-to-go, Steve!

Olga came over and gave me a hug, and I apologized to her, for “injuring” her trail. I got my medal, the EMTs cleaned my knees up a little, I said my goodbyes, and we left. (I was real hungry, you see). I didn’t wash-up much for dinner. I put a pair of long pants on over my grimy and bloody legs, left my running shoes & socks on, put a new tee-shirt on, and used baby wipes on my face, arms, and hands.

Thirty minutes later we were at the Mt. Hood Brewing Company, in Government Camp, Oregon, and we were watching the Tour de France on their flat-screen television. I ordered an Ice Axe India Pale Ale, and a large burger with fries, followed by a Hogsback Oatmeal Stout. Ah…calories in a hurry! We finished up and headed back to our digs in Welches, Oregon.

The next day, we met back up with my son. He and I did a lot of walking all over Portland, which was good therapy for my legs. The plane ride back on Monday morning wasn’t uncomfortable at all, due to all of the walking, I think.

If you ever want to run on a beautiful course and meet some really nice people, you’ve got to do this race. You'd better sign-up early, though. This year, it filled up by March 8th.

Happy trails,
Bad Ben

Click Here for the Endurance Planet Podcast Version of this post.

I posted a report of the Oregon Brewer's Festival Here.

More photos:

No visit to Portland would be complete, without having breakfast at the Bijou Cafe.
Breakfast is served, at the Bijou Cafe.

The OBF always has some crazy characters at it.

The Voodoo Donutmobile