If you're lucky enough to be in the mountains, you are lucky enough.

When something bad happens, you have three choices: let it define you, let it destroy you, or let it strengthen you.

The purpose of life is to discover and develop your gift. The meaning of life comes from sharing your gift with others. - David Viscott

Monday, August 20, 2007

Waldo Weekend Wonders

or Waldo rebells!

The course that doesn't want to be a real 100km:)

What a fabulous weekend it was! The wilderness, the weather, the people, and the atmosphere - everything turned out to be top notch, despite some messy stuff.

Mike Bushwhacker picked Stephen and me up at noon from my work place on Friday and we drove to the start area. After hanging out a few minutes we went to check out to our cabin at Odell Lake - nice place! The sleeping bags we brought were completely unnecessary as the cabin had 3 rooms with 3 beds and a kitchen, and it was warm! Half an hour later we went back to the main lodge for pasta dinner and a pre-race meeting. It was awesome to see all my friends there! Craig Thornley, co-RD of Waldo 100k along with Curt Ringstad, did a great job chatting up a storm and introducing a new memorial for the race start - the idea that came from a sponsoring Lodge owner inspired by WS100 memorial at the top of Squaw Peak. Soon all was said and done and everybody retired for the night.

The alarm was set at 3:45 am - and as always I question my own and my friends' sanity in doing such thing as running trail ultra. I can't believe I am about to embark on two 100M races of my own! What a stupid idea! But Mike was pretty calm and we drove up to the start and milled around and inside the lodge (the owners opened doors at 2 am to keep everybody warm!). The somewhat nervous and very excited energy was palpable and I was glad I wasn't one with nerves jitters - but oh, I spoke too early on that. With 5 min left before 5 am start runners lined up and went up the Fudji Mountain, followed by the gong sound produced with help of Mom Thornley (she is a hoot and I wanted to be adopted by her! No wonder Craig is who he is:)). It suddenly got so lonely and empty; I almost took off running behind...

After an hour of doing nothing Father Clem came by to pick me up, we swung by the cabin to wake up Stephen and drove to Charlton Lake, Corvallis' people aid station at mile 32.

The setting-up was already going full force, with Jen (Clem's wife) been in charge of operation. There were such fun and nice people, and put me on cutting watermelon and stuff for before and water bottle fills during the race. And just so that our runners get more frill, they arranged for all the volunteers to have a toga party!

I made sure we all undress under the fabric - otherwise what kind of toga are we talking about? There were no disagreement on this part:) My son was somewhat bored for times as the lake turned out to be shallow and not swim-able, but he spent lots of time hanging out in water and playing with few dogs we had.

With new course been shortened by 4 miles, we expected first runner to come through at 9:30 am. 9:45 rolls around, and not a site...10 am...10:15...and we get a radio report that the early leader Neil Olsen was spotted 5 miles off course in opposite direction by other ham radio operators. The craziness stirred up: How can it be? Father Clem, been a Trail Muster he is and a hyper person, quickly pulled out maps and figured out the exact points where the wrong turn must have happened (and was absolutely correct), but still - why? Soon first 2 of the early starters came in and they seemed to assure the marking was on the trail intersection. But not 10 min back Meghan Arbogast runs in in total distraction and outrage and tells us the story how she made it to that very same intersection and saw the markings go south (instead of north) and the right trail been loaded with logs and branches. WTF??!! She stopped and actually ran out, picked a marking tape, put it in correct spot and cleared some of the logs. But the damage was unbelievable - about 7 of hig-profiled runners and another 10 or so early starters went off course (and as late accounts show, ran between 2 to 10 extra miles). That ruined their race, what happened to be also a USATF Master's Championship!

This was the ring of the day. As we saw people pulling in eventually, the complete mess in standing and the disappointment of putting extra effort, disbelief of happenings, talks about it all were very rigid in the air. I have to add though, this is where the true character of trail ultrarunners came through. Only couple of people (literally) were upset to visible point, everybody else held their chatty and smiley composure and seemed to be in good spirit. Spirit of Waldo! Runners, every one of them, deserved this newly appointed award at the race! We saw John Ticer and Brad Mitchell drop here, but the rest of the field went along.

Eric Clifton and Courtney Campbell

Lewis Taylor, early leader, first to summit Fudji, hoped to win but settled for 17th.

Roy Pirrung, a National champ od so many races with history back decades ago...very happy:)

Kyly McMurray, never lost her chatting and a great smile!

Caroline Klug - a story of tears as she entered the AS looking for me to "make it or break it" question if her shin pain is dangerous to go on with. I set her down and after a few answers we decided there is a stress fracture developing (if hasn't yet) and a DNF, as tough as it sounds, was in order. It was heartbreaking to see her in great shape and condition and unable to go on to the finish she dreamt about whole year!

People trickled in, station was busy, I was happy to help and kick them out, and by 1 pm we came to close - official cut off. My feet were hurting again as they were at PCT race, and once again I thought that standing is harder than running.

Charlton AS people

We turned the AS down and Stephen and I caught a ride to the finish area. It was only 2 pm, and we had over an hour and half to see first finishers, but soon started to get reports from Maiden peak radio people of runners summiting up - with estimated 1:20 from there to the finish. And Meghan held on to her place and pace! It was such a thrill, Meghan is not only an amazing runner and in top shape this year, she is also one of the greatest people I ever met. Everybody here was super-excited for her! We eagerly waited to see it happen - and it did in 10:48!

A mere 2 min behind her Jeff Browning picked up his lost 22 min and finished strong second overall and first guy.

Nest 4 runners came very close to each other, Bev Anderson-Abbs (also with extra 2 miles to her credit) as 3rd overall and Bushwhacker having a race of his dreams without a glitch, finishing in 11:11, 6th overall and 2nd male master (and picking a paycheck for it).

Since I am known for hugs, Craig put me on "greeting the finishers" line with presents-mugs, hat choice (THE thing to get at Waldo with 3 "flavor" picks this year: blueberry, tomato and vanilla), screams, hugs and kisses. Love my job:) especially when I know 3/4 of the field!

Maura's happy

I was so busy I couldn't even sit down and eat, but I did manage to chat in-between my duties with just about every single one who was present there on Saturday, and I had a grand time. Stephen teamed up with another kid and had fun also. Darin finished his first 100k (and after running a stellar performance collapsed at the finish line, but was revived with a couple of IV). (Notes of RD Craig to follow) With cooler temps, and a shorter course, the finishing rate was the highest ever at 79%. We had 102 start the race and 81 finish. We witnessed some very awesome performances, but Meghan Arbogast's stands out above the rest. Not only did she run a perfect race to win the overall and USA master’s championship title in a new course record of 10:48:48, but she stopped to fix a vandalized intersection so all behind her would follow the correct course. Perhaps a good strategy next year
is to stay behind Meghan, a local who lives in Corvallis, Oregon. Congrats also to Jeff Browning from Bend, Oregon who was first male in 10:50:35. If the course was a mile longer he might have caught her. Mark Lantz from Folsom, California won the masters race, and was also under 11 hours. The Find Waldo winner was once again Lewis Taylor. He summited Fuji first in 2:11 and hung in there to finish 17th overall in 12:30. Penny McDermott swam in 5 lakes to win the Wet Waldo award. The Show Us Your Waldo award went to the great Ed Willson from Eugene. Not sure exactly what he did to get so many votes, but with his cheerful, positive outlook on everything I'm not surprised.

This was a year with least DNF, but still a few friends had to go home with no hat on their heads - but sometimes this is the only option, and we all learn to live with it. I am gearing up for that hat hunt next year!
Full results
Clips from Leap of faith junction at mile 53 by Steve Smucker.

p.s. A hearty congratulations to Ronda on her buckling at Leadville 100M with 24:16 (woohoo!!!), 6th female and 3rd Master. She is on her way to make through the Grand Slam!


Darin Swanson said...

Great write up Olga! Thank you for being there and all your help.

Please note that I only had one IV bag drip into me :-)
In true form though we were "racing" in the first aid room on whose IV bag was dripping the fastest :-)

WynnMan said...

Awesome stuff Olga! Looks all of you had a fun time despite the course debacle. I've had a few of those course mix-ups, although frustrating indeed, more bang for your buck, is the way I look at it.

Great pics too! Local yokel boy from Wisconsin! legend Roy Pirrung.

Wow! Eric's flaming hot tights, and I had no idea Campbell was a muscular dude!

caroline said...

Olga, I have to say it again...THANK YOU for helping me make the decision to drop at Charlton. I knew deep down that it was the right decision, but needed some help giving myself permission to do it (and to cry)....and overcoming all my emotions, which were screaming at me to keep going. You were amazing -- totally rational, matter of fact, incredibly supportive...and you still managed to make me laugh. I hope that some day I can be there for you...though not in quite the same circumstances or with the same outcome! Have a wonderful couple of weeks ahead! Love every minute of being out there on the trails!

wendy said...

love the toga pictures! Olga, you crack me up. =) You sound happy in this post, and I hope you had a really great time!

Jessica Deline said...

sounds and looks like a fun time! 3 members of OCTR were up there and one of them got lost - ended up DNF. Not sure where she got lost. Maybe was that same place...

robtherunner said...

That sucks that some runners got off course, but shows what a class act Meghan is. I am looking forward to this weekend.

Jamie said...

That's a real crime and shame if someone tampered with the directional indicators for the race. That can be so dangerous on many levels.

Backofpack said...

Sounds like a great weekend - I'm not sure I could've stripped down under the toga though! A little too much skin hanging out for this old lady.

I can't believe someone messed with the course. That is the pits.

Love2Run said...

Great work Olga! Hugs with awards too? Now that's my kind of race ;-) Sounds like a good time was had by all.

Bob Gentile said...

Darin said: we were "racing" in the first aid room on whose IV bag was dripping the fastest :-)
LOLOLOLOL ahhh that is 2funny!!!!

Hey Toga Gal great re-cap & pics..
I will pass on the flame tights, yikes Eric

Glad u had a good time & now focus in for this weekend--wooo hooo!!

Sarah said...

You are the ultimate ultra marketer! Every one of your reports makes me want to be there too. : ) That's a shame about the trail marking vandalism, but its great to see that it takes more than that to get most ultra runners down. Love the toga pics! : )

Thomas said...

Great report, as always, Olga. You would get my Waldo award.

Do you know what exactly happened at that vandalised intersection?

Gabe said...

Great pics, sounds like you were a big help to many people. As always I enjoy reading your wonderful reports. Enjoy today, tomorrow it will be gone.

Eudemus said...

Great report, Olga. Sounds like a wonderful race and it also sounds like you had a good time of your own.

wendy said...


Not sure if you know Gary Hilliard, but since he appears to be in the ultrarunning community, I thought I'd post.


Sounds like he and his family could use good thoughts his way.

Journey to a Centum said...

Great theme for your AS. Looks like you all had a good time. Reminds me of some Toga parties we had in college.

It's too bad someone had to mess with the trail markings. Glad Meghan was able to correct the problem.

Ronda is a rock star!

rick said...

Nice costumes and hey great pictures. So that's what Roy Pirrung looks like. I heard of the man. Tough break for the runner who couldn't go on, just tough.

But Woohooo for Bushwacker. I saw the results at Scott Dunlaps blog. 6th place, battling it out with all the young-uns. Wow, inspiring.

Hey if I don't get a chance to talk to you before CCC, good luck and good running. Nothing you can't handle. Walk in the park. Wish I was there but you are in much more capable hands with Rob.

Bret said...

Was good to see you having so much fun at Waldo. Glad you got to meet my better half, Gail. Good luck this weekend with the 100. I will be thinking good thoughts for you.

bushwhacker said...

you do have a way with words, many many words. one of the many many things i love about you. when can we expect your first novel?? i want my copy signed by the great Olga.

Meghan said...


Glad you had fun at Waldo!

I want to wish you best of luck at CCC this weekend! Save some for next weekend in the Tetons! You are strong and tough and you're going to have a great race!

PS. Love the toga look! You pull it off so well!

Gretchen said...

It's so great to hear you so happy and spirited Olga! Hugs at the finish line are great. Have fun this weekend and take care of yourself.

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