Pocatello 50 Miler 2010 – Run or Die


if you stopped running, you would die. i couldn’t feel my hands, or my arms. the t-shirt i had on was soaked from the rain down low. i can’t remember a time when i was this cold, and i’ve gotten frost bite on my toes backcountry skiing before. i have been in similar, and frankly much worse weather conditions. but in those instances i was wearing more than just a t-shirt!

ok rewind to friday, which was like an ultra family reunion at the sign in for the pocatello 50 miler. jared and ryan put on such a great race the year before that pretty much every runner i knew for 1,000 mile radius was there to run either the relay or the 50 miler.  that included my good buddy and fellow montrailian sean meissner.

the race started at 6am. it was in the 30s and kind of threatening to rain at that point. i had my jacket but handed it off to my lovely assistant linda barton one minute before the start. not a smart move. the start was as expected.. nuun ultrarunner luke nelson blasted off the front, joe grant following him with a few of the relay runners in the mix as well. i was content to keep them in sight for a while.

had you asked me before the race i would have said that scott jamie, joe grant, luke nelson where going to battle, with nuun ultrarunner karl meltzer pulling away for the win as it got more technical. as i got up and started to get ready karl emerged from his truck and said he wasn’t running today. his ribs hurt too much. probably the best decision he could have made.

back to the race… by my math i came through the first aid station 1-2 minutes behind luke, joe and scott. i could see them just up ahead of me, i was in 4th overall. i was well within my ability, not pushing any anaerobic numbers on the heart rate and feeling very confident. as we got to the first climb i noticed the carcass i had heard jared and luke joke about. it acted as a sort of confidence marker. i was in fact off course the second i looked down slope at the carcasss, rather than up slope at the markers going up the bushwhack section of the course. i ran out the trail that along the river for a few minutes. i started to think about what luke said “if you don’t see a marker in like 100 feet you are going the wrong way”. realizing i might have gone the wrong way but convincing myself i hadn’t see a red marker indicating that i was off course. eventually i freaked and ran back cursing as i went anaerobic to get back on track. looking at my watch i had wasted about 8-9mins.

i could see jumpin jay aldous up ahead of me (one of the talented runners & bloggers on the MRC site). i focused on power hiking the bushwack and caught up to him. pulling away from the others below. we hit the false summit and continued up. i remember what roch had told me and followed the barely visible streamers to the left, then to the road where i picked the pace up a bit. jay told me later he had to “regroup” at the top. i ran alone on the road and missed a right hand turn that dropped you down to the 17 mile aid station. i ran a bit more vert then started to drop down following the main road. i came to a gate with no flags on it and knew i was off course… again! back on track i then passed trevor and then jay again.  i ran into the aid with station with ajw and host of others hot on our tails.

the aid station wasn’t very good for me. i had told jay “i’m not going anywhere without my jacket”, knowing the last climbe as another 1,000 ft higher than the first one. there were loads of people blocking the aid station when i ran in. i started to go the wrong way. i got a bottle and a thrive ball and headed out. problem was i had no fuel, no jacket and no thought process and hadn’t dropped my trash. total shit show really.

after running uphill for a minute i realized i had no fuel. i ran back to the aid station and grabbed gels from the table feeling pretty stupid. on the climb i realized the extreme cold had sapped a bit more energy from me than expected. even though i had eaten as planned, i was bonking. maybe it was the extra urgency i ran trying to make up lost time, who knows.  having not grabbed any nuun i was now onto my emergency electrolyte pills. of course i dropped them in the mud. i then decided to walk a bit and get my head straight. a few friends passed me at this point. one was jay who said “you didn’t grab your jacket!”. at this point i was too far to go back for it.

the next climb i tried to recover a bit. in the process i got passed by a couple runners. i was still in a t-shirt! so i was focused on regrouping and getting ready for the last and biggest climb of the day. as the aid station approached and the terrain flattened out i started to feel good. down into the 2nd major aid station i passed a couple of runners. this is where the race ended however. jared and ryan had some unprepared folks getting hypothermic on the ridge. jared actually esported a couple of people off who he thought “wouldn’t have made it”. wow. really with the storm it was almost impossible to follow the course markings. jared is such a bad ass that he wouldn’t have cancelled the race if he didn’t absolutely have to. i was disappointed but i understood.

as i write this a whole week and a half later my forearms and thumbs are still a bit numb. the nerves have not returned to feeling “normal” after being frozen during the race.

all in all a great experience and a great training session. i had a side bet with sean meissner.  i think he needs a porn mustache to go with his pink vest, but it looks like we’ll have to wait until next year to settle the score (if none of that makes sense click here).