Mountain Lakes 100 Race Report
Raining and 40 degrees ….. The perfect way to start off a hundo, right? I
put on my rain coat and laced up my Altra Lone Peaks, stuffed my Hammer Gels and Heed in my vest pockets and prepared to toe the line at the Mountain Lakes 100. Even with the cold rain the runners, crews, volunteers and race directors were all in a great spirits
The first loop of the course was about 26 miles. As I started I found myself
running on mostly gravel roads with a little section of single track on the way to the first aid
station, Breitenbush, and then onto to the first crew spot, Rd 380, about mile 11. By mile 5 I had managed to impale my leg with a dead tree branch that was hanging onto the trail. By mile 10 my whole body was starting to get sore. I knew it
wasn’t going to be my day and it was going to be a finishing race instead of the fast race I had originally hoped it would
be. I accepted that and settled into an easy comfortable pace. It was nice to see the friendly faces of my crew, Daniel and Corie, at the Rd 380 aid station. They quickly replaced my Hammer Heed mix, Hammer Gels and filled my water before I headed back out.
I made my way back to Breitenbush (about mile 21, aid station 3) I was running about 30 feet behind Gevara Tebbi when I heard him yell and start swatting at the air around him. I instantly stopped. He yelled to run fast because there was a swarm of yellow jackets. I saw an option to go through some underbrush and
made a path around that section of the trail managing to avoid the yellow jackets, at least for the moment. Leaving the Breitenbush aid station for the second time there is an out and back section, it was cool to see the other runners heading into the Breitenbush aid station. The best part was seeing my good friend Marie, who was running her first hundo, looking super strong.
Next stop was Olallie Lake, back at the start line. While this was a crew spot my crew and I decided to skip that aid station and meet instead at Olallie meadows, only another 3.5 miles down the trail. Even though it was a mile hike in for Daniel and Corie to that aid station we decided that would be a better place to meet so there would only be 25.5 miles until I saw them again at the Clackamas aid station, versus almost 30 miles. As I ran though the Olallie Lake aid station I could tell most crews were meeting their runner there as there was a huge cheering crowd. I was happy to get through that aid station, off the road and onto single track. I could tell my overall body soreness was building at a faster rate than I would have liked and I was slowing down faster and sooner than I would have liked.
As I reached the Olallie Meadows aid station the rain had stopped and although it was still cloudy it was starting to warm up so I handed my rain coat off to Daniel and Corie. I quickly drank a bottle of Heed as they refilled my pack before I headed down the trail to Pinheads, 7.5 miles away. I made it about 3 miles before running into a swarm of yellow jackets. One got me good right behind the knee. It started swelling and made bending the knee uncomfortable. Stopping wouldn’t make the pain go away so my only choice was to keep moving forward. Shortly after the sting I caught my toe on a rock and fell hard. I managed to catch myself with my hands, although I saved my knees my wrist took a beating and started to swell and become painful.
Luckily, when I got to Pinheads one of the volunteers had some medicated wipes to help relieve the pain from insect stings. My wrist was still throbing but the sting started feeling better. I made my way to the Warm Springs and then to Red Wolf aid stations. This section of the trail had some beautiful spots as I ran through areas of red, yellow and orange leaves. Looking around at the amazing scenery helped take my mind off the pain that was building in my body. When I reached Red Wolf I could smell some delicious food cooking and they asked if I wanted a quesadilla. This wasn’t an ordinary quesadilla this was a cheese beans and avocado quesadilla and the most amazing food I’ve had on a race course. I took one to go and about half a mile later I wished I had taken two.
I made it to my crew at Clackamas Ranger Station, about mile 55, a little before dark. I grabbed my head lamp and some warmer clothing since the sun would soon be setting. I started my journey around Timothy Lake and was about a mile from Clackamas when I saw the lead three guys finishing their loop around the lake. They looked strong and were running well, I so wished I was one of them. As I made my way around the lake I was starting to feel slightly discouraged I wasn’t able to convince my body to run any faster than it was. About this time I noticed the full bright moon shinning on the lake and felt a very tranquil peace come over me. Even though the race wasn’t going how I had hoped I was thrilled to be out there and able to see and experience everything. I saw several groups of the people sitting around a camp fire at the lakes edge, what a perfect camping spot and perfect night. I met my crew again at the Dam aid station. Since I would see them in another 4 miles back at Clackamas it was more of a quick “hi, how are you feeling” thing and I went back out on the trail.
I was looking forward to getting back to Clackamas and having Corie’s company on the trail for the last 30 miles. I added several more layers when I returned to Clackamas, if I had known how cold it was actually going to get I would have added even more. Corie and I left Clackamas and headed back to Red Wolf and the delicious quesadillas. I was hurting pretty bad, but could still keep a decent pace. Once we left Red Wolf things started to fall apart. My hip flexors decided they had had enough and were on strike, my right IT was completely pissed off at me and to top things of as I was slowing down it was starting to get really really cold. I was now a focus on just getting from aid station to aid station. I would try to warm up a little at the fires at Warm Springs and Pinheads, I knew I couldn’t stay long or I wouldn’t want to leave.
As Corie and I made our way to Olallie Meadows and through the coldest part of the night, I noticed two things. One, the ice crystals that had formed on the ground and plants were absolutely beautiful. Two, I was completely exhausted and my body wanted to fall asleep on my feet. I would start to zone out and my brain would think the light from Corie’s hand held was snow on the ground, I would try to then walk around it and almost fall off the trail. Even after I knew it wasn’t really snow my brain kept trying to convince me it was. Once the sun started to lighten the sky I began to wake up and regain some energy. I began calculating what pace I thought I could keep and how many miles it was to the finish line. I knew it would be close, but I thought I might still be able to pull off a sub 24 hour finish.
We passed Olallie Meadow aid station without stopping. I was now on
a mission, I thought even if it wasn’t the race I had hoped for it would still be nice to pull off a sub 24 hour finish. The section from Olallie Meadows home was the longest 3.5 miles of my life as I kept watching the time. 8:00 am on my watch came and went and I thought crap I missed it. I came out off the trail and started around the corner to make my way to the finish line, I heard everyone cheering and yelling to hurry
and then I saw the official race clock…. It said 23 hours 59 minutes and 25
seconds. My next thought was oh man this is really going to hurt, but I have no choice other than to sprint (or what felt like a sprint at the time) to the finish line. Off I went for the 200 feet or so and managed to cross the finish line in 23 hours 59 minutes and 41 seconds, for a sub 24 hour finish.
After finishing Corie and I quickly made our way into the warming tent where Daniel had my Hammer Recoverite ready. Once we started to warm up we ate some delicious eggs, bacon and pancakes as we all visited with other runners, pacers
that were warming up in the tent with us. We found out the temp had dropped to 19 degrees last night (a lot lower than the originally forecasted 33), no wonder we were so cold. After breakfast we all took a short nap in the car and waited for Marie to finish. As the 2:00pm cut off grew near we were all getting a little nervous. At 1:45 we saw her come off the trail. I was so excited to be there as she finished her first hundo.
While Mountain Lakes 100 didn’t go as well as I had hoped it would I had an absolutely wonderful time and would highly recommend this race. The race director did an amazing job organizing the race
and marking the trails. The aid stations were top notch they had anything and everything you could want along
with amazing volunteers were mostly runners so they knew exactly what you were going though and could help. Of course I would have not been able to even do what I did without the support of my amazing team, Daniel and Corie.