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!
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!
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!