Angeles Crest 100 Race Report by Ashley Nordell
we have some amazing athletes on the nuun ultrarunning roster. they all inspire me. ashley nordell is one of them. she’s won the angeles crest 100 before.. this year she took 2nd in 22hr 45min for the tough 100 miles in california. below is her report – thanks ash!
Angeles Crest 100 Race Report
I truly believe running one hundred miles is an epic adventure, however the outcome. I have done AC twice before, and I still head into the race wondering how I can possibly finish. Not in a negative way, just in an “awe for the distance” way. The distance and course just seem so unobtainable. Even when the race is over, I reflect back on the day and night and am amazed what the body is able to overcome. This race I had to overcome quite a few barriers, but it was still an amazing experience.
This year my school I teach at started a week later, so my first week of school and the week leading up to AC were the same. It was a bit of a stressful week. My dad came out to pace Ken Ward from Oregon, so we had a full truck all heading over to Wrightwood. I love the pre-race gathering of people, it always feels a bit like a reunion.
The morning of the race began with a beautiful, starry sky. The temperature was perfect, and there was a really fun group of runners. I enjoyed the morning with Prudence from Bend, Oregon, Roch Horton from Salt Lake City, Utah, and several locals (Rob McNair, Tracy Moore, Scott Mills, and many more). I planned to run my race on splits, rather than trying to keep up with any specific runner. I was ahead of pace for much of the day. I didn’t feel great, but I didn’t feel too bad either. I took a rough spill at mile 27, but it shook me up more mentally than physically. I had a rough patch of feeling sorry for myself coming into the first medical check, but things got better coming off Mt. Williamson. I was enjoying the views and loving the course. I ran on and off much of the day with a local runner, Brent, who I ran parts with last year. He, too, was hoping for 22 hours, so it was nice to have someone aiming for the same goal. Cooper Canyon was my first real low. It is every year. By that point I realized I would really only be able to stomach Powergel, Sustained Energy, and nuun. I didn’t realize until Shortcut, mile 60, how poorly I miscalculated the number of gels I would need. Miles 30-52 were a roller coaster of ups and downs. The nice thing about AC is that you can see crew at almost every aid station the first 75 miles, so I was able to see my husband Josh often, and he would send me off to the next point with positive encouragement when I couldn’t come up with any on my own. I came into Chilao (mi. 52) feeling fairly good. Last year I felt great here too, then ate a lot, and felt pretty sick the rest of the race. I really wanted to preserve the slight balace I had managed to sustain with my stomach, so I made the choice to try to get away with just a few sips of soup and some gel. I left with my pacer John and soon realized my energy was running low. John has paced me this seven mile stretch for all my AC races and knows just what to do to keep me going and on target. I had three gels for the next hour and a half, so I took two early and saved the last for the mile climb into Shortcut. I think I made OK time, but by the time we reached Shortcut, I was feeling really spent. I also found out here that I was completely out of Power Gel. I had a couple in my drop at Chantry, but nothing for the next 15 miles. My new pacer, Kyle, rounded up what gels we could find, so we headed out with a random assortment Gu, Crank, and Hammer Gels. I found out coming down from Newcomb that I don’t like Crank Gel. I had barely taken a taste when I threw it all up. Once I was sick, the few calories I was holding onto were gone. We came into Chantry with me in pretty bad shape. I was dehydrated, sick, and exhausted. Mt. Wilson was not sounding so fun, and that is usually where I start feeling strong. I sat down and soon was shaking from the cold. I can’t even remember what I ate or drank, but I left the aid station feeling horrible. Kyle and I walked much of the next three miles, which had me discouraged because I usually try to run much of it. At Hoegees intersection, we began the LONG climb up Mt. Wilson. I have never felt so fatigued. I literally would lay down in the trail and tell Kyle to make me get up in one minute. He let me take a couple of these brief “naps” but kept me accountable to my minute. I struggled with both Wilson and the climb up Sam Merrill. I came into the Sam Merrill aid station (mile 90) so nauseous, all I wanted to do was sit on a cot. I couldn’t get anything down. Five steps out of the aid station and I had to stop again and take a break in the bushes. Poor Kyle! Two years ago I felt so good at that aid station I ate several donut holes and couldn’t stop complimenting how great they were. I couldn’t even think of that this year. About 10 minutes after leaving Sam Merrill I started to feel a bit better. We kept a pretty good pace the last 10 miles. I managed to eat half a gel, but nothing else. When we arrived at the last aid station, I noticed we could at least still go for a sub 23:00. I knew my watch was a few minutes behind, so I wasn’t sure exactly how much time I had, but I told Kyle I wanted to go for it. Roch Horton was thinking the same thing. We both took off and it felt like we were sprinting those last 5 miles, although I am sure anyone who saw us would say otherwise =) The new finish has a slight uphill, but at that point I don’t think I noticed. I just wanted to be DONE. At last, with five minutes to spare, we crossed the finish. Finishing this race felt very rewarding because of how challenging it felt during the run. I was so thankful that I had Kyle to push me those last 40 miles. He had to endure a lot to keep me going strong. And although I swore a hundred times during the run that I was not doing it again, I’m already ready to try again for what I had hoped to do this year. I appreciate how many people work to help the runners succeed- crew, pacers, aid station workers… the support was amazing!
ashley raced in a nathan 2.0 race vest. i probably run in this pack more than any other.