This was as close as I was getting to this cliff.
Sara and I were sitting next to the trail watching as other runners went past; I was a mile out from the turnaround aid station working way back up the mountain, she was on her way down.
We were both in rough shape.
We were fourteen hours into the Bryce Canyon 100 in Southern Utah, and it had been a struggle. It was more than 95 degrees, the sun was blazing hot, and we had spent much of the day climbing at an altitude between 8,000 and 9,000 feet.
While our training had been great, the combination of heat and altitude was defeating.
Bryce Canyon is beautiful, but it sure felt like an oven.
The Bryce 100 scared me for a lot of reasons.
Jared and I before the start, when it was dark and refreshingly chilly.
100 miles is really far, but this race in southern Utah also had the added challenge of running between 8,000 and 9,000 feet, something this sea-level dweller isn’t used to.
Another high … The weather forecast. Before we flew out I watched in horror as the forecasted temperature kept climbing … and climbing … and climbing.
Together the distance/altitude/heat sandwich had me lowering my race bar so far that by the time we toed the start line I just had to step over it.
[Goals – in this order: Don’t die, don’t get SAR’d out, don’t burn like toast, finish, finish sub-30]
These are all scary factors by themselves, but the scariest part for me was thinking about running 100 miles alone.
Yes, this is the Bigfoot trail.
Prepping for the Bigfoot 200 last year got me thinking about this age-old question: How would the twitchy trail kids fare during a zombie apocalypse?
Hashing out this hypothetical situation took up miles and miles of chatter among our group and deep thoughts while I was running alone.
It was silly, it was fun, and it eventually snowballed into “5 Bug-Out Lessons from the Light and Fast Ultrarunner Crowd,” for OffGrid Magazine. Jared and I got to share the lessons we learned while prepping for and running the Bigfoot 200 in August.
I loved working on this story, before, during and after the race. I got to talk to several amazing subject-matter experts and learned a thing or two about navigating the backcountry and (hopefully) not dying in the woods.
But I never did answer the original question: Would ultrarunners use their grit and stubbornness to be the last ones standing?
Jared running up front in the Seneca Creek 50K.
We’d talked about. He was going to leave me.
And that was ok.
It was a 20-degree March morning and Jared and I were lined up for the Seneca Creek 50K. The race hadn’t even started yet but I knew I was about to get dropped.
How? Because also lined up were Jared’s very fast friends: Shawn, Pete, Geoff, and Justin. I looked at those fast boys and then I looked ahead at the trail.
He was going to leave me.
And that was ok. Or at least that’s what I kept repeating to myself.
Sara and Jared near Mt. St. Helens in Washington.
Over on RunningFeral.com, Jared writes about August’s Bigfoot 200.
Coming out of the prerace briefing, Sara and I began to understand that we were fucked. The two hours of pre-race information had left her feeling nauseous and left me feeling certain that a section called Klickitat was where people go to die.
We had known when we signed up that the race — through the wilderness of the Northern Cascades — was more than 200 miles with more than 90,000 feet of elevation change. But, hearing all of this in person made it feel a lot more real.
Read the rest back on RunningFeral.
We are ultrarunners, and last year at the Bigfoot 200 we joined an even more niche pack of crazy who don’t stop at 100 miles.
This year we’ll run the Tahoe 200, because why not?
While researching and prepping for Bigfoot last year we realized there weren’t a lot of resources for the ultra-ultrarunner. We had lots of questions — about gear, about nutrition, about feet — and couldn’t find a lot of answers.
Hence, The Endurist.