|Photo Michael Lebowitz - Long Run Pictures|
I actually didn't know if the race was going to happen because of a fire that began within the course on the Wednesday night before Craig Thornley (race director) sent out an e-mail notifying us of the fire and said he would keep us up to date regarding the race status. On Friday morning the website stated it would be announced by noon if the race was rerouted or cancelled; looking at the fire website and all of the trail closures, it didn't seem promising. None the less, I started my drive not knowing if I would be racing or turning around and driving back home. By noon, the news was good and Craig had gotten his reroute approved, the race was on! The new course still included a majority of the original course, just cutting out the area of the fire and it ended up adding on a few miles, rather than running 100K, we got to run something like 108K, lucky us!
I traveled solo and slept in my car the night before, certainly not the most comfortable but I rarely sleep well before a race so this would be nothing new! We started in the dark at 5 a.m. with our headlamps and we immediately started climbing. After a bit, there were 2 men in front of me (the eventual 1st and 2nd place) as we continued to climb. At the top of the climb the terrain flattens for a bit and then began some downhill. As expected, a few of the guys right behind me passed me as we descended. Ian Sharman, Yassine Diboun, Jesse Haynes and one or two others. Alison Bryant was right behind me and we chatted and continued to run together through the 1st aid station. I realized I had forgotten to drop my headlamp shortly out of the aid so I quickly ran back and dropped it. As we started the next climb Allison was right in front of me. I followed her up and we seemed to have similar climbing paces. We reached the summit where we had to turn around and run down the same trail for a while, this was nice because I could see how close the next women were. Denise Bourassa was close behind us. I passed Alison on the descent and this was the last I would see of her for the rest of the race. Throughout many of the next miles I ran with a new acquaintence, Gerad, and enjoyed the conversation as it made the miles go by easily. It was fun to go through aid stations as Denise's crew was always there and cheered for me along with some spouses of other Boise runners. Eventually Gerad had to make a pit stop and I continued running alone for a number of miles. I suffered with a side cramp for a few miles but thankfully it subsided and didn't return the rest of the race. I ran along enjoying the endless singletrack and beautiful scenery when at one point I was startled by a voice behind me. It was Gerad who had caught back up and he informed me that Denise was right behind him. We entered the next aid station and Gerad, Denise and I were together. Gerad and I left the aid station just before Denise and began the long climb up to Maiden peak. Suddenly I realized I had to start running faster if I was going to stay ahead. Denise had picked up her pacer, Ken, and also had picked up her pace! I started to have some doubt that I could keep the lead knowing she had her pacer pushing her. Climbing is certainly my favorite part of races and I knew I could push myself up Maiden Peak. Gerad had gotten out in front but by the time we reached the last section of the climb, a rocky and steep part to the peak, I had caught up to him. I passed him as we made our way to the peak and then we turned around and headed right back down. I saw Denise beginning the last of the ascent as I reached where the trail split, I knew she was right on my tail. The first of the descent is rocky and steep so I picked my way down, trying to stay upright. Soon the rocks gave way to a smooth, downhill singletrack where you could run as fast as your legs would let you. I hit the last aid station - only 7.5 miles to go. I got a quick drink and snack and headed out. Gerad soon caught me and said he thought Denise was only about 30 seconds back. Stressful! I have trained with Denise and I know the speed she has. I also know she is strong at the end of races and also had a pacer who could possibly push her to go faster. I didn't know if I could keep my lead but I decided I would run as hard as I could for as long as I could. I thought about the $250 difference in prize money and the fact that I was missing my son's basketball tryouts to be here - I was motivated. I ran harder than I actually knew I could after 60 tough miles. I passed a few more of the gorgeous high mountain lakes and tried to take in the scenery. On switchbacks I would look behind me, fully expecting to see Denise. As I dropped on to the final 1/4 mile to the finish line, I realized I was going to hold on for the win. I crossed the finish just behind Gerad, 6th place overall.
I was excited I had won and excited to be done! I have to say, the Waldo 100K is certainly one of my favorite courses out there, maybe my overall favorite! It has plenty of mountains to climb and the scenery is second to none. The views from the peaks, all the singletrack, the high mountain lakes; it makes the miles go by quickly. The course was marked perfectly and I never really worried that I was possibly off course. The aid stations were plentiful and the volunteers were friendly and encouraging.
I really have to hand it to Craig and Meghan (Arbogast) and their crew for putting on such a great race, especially with all the curveballs thrown their way this year! Congrats also to Tim Olsen who won the men's race! It is a must do race for sure. As with every other race, I wore my Montrail Mountain Masochists, DryMax socks and carried Clif Bloks for some energy between aid stations. I drove home after the race, making it home by 2:15 a.m. We just found out that my son made the club basketball team so we were both winners that weekend!