A Staten Island triathlete and endurance coach ventures into the ultramarathon realm where there are seemingly no limits to human endurance. In 2013, he successfully finished the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning (picture of 2013 Grand Slam finishers above; I'm second from right), becoming only the 282nd person (since its beginnings in 1986) and only the fourth New Yorker to finish four of the oldest and most prestigious 100 mile ultramarathons in the U.S. in only 10 weeks.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Western States 100 - Mission Accomplished

A short report on my Western States experience.

It was awesome! The organization is top notch, and it was great rubbing elbows with the best of ultrarunning. The progress was easily transferred to the internet, allowing people to track out progress. It was definitely amazing.

The temps

This was perhaps the main concern for a lot of people. California is in the midst of a stifling heat wave. The temps for the first day of racing were around 97 degrees, with the canyons 10 degrees warmer. I usually do very well in the heat, and this race was no different. The heat did not affect me at all.

The overall course

The Sierra Nevadas are BEAUTIFUL. I was so awestruck of the scenery of the beginning of the course that I had to stop at several points and take pictures. The course is a net downhill though, with the downhills totalling 22,000 feet and that just destroyed my quads. There were a lot of water crossings also, making my feet wet, and that caused a lot of blisters to form on my feet. Each step was so painful that it caused me to slow down a lot toward the end. It was with sheer will that I pushed on to the finish line.

Some Notes

The canyons were just nuts. Deadwood canyon, the canyon between Last Chance and Devils Thumb, stunned me. Going down into the canyon was jolting on the quads. Climbing the 37 switchbacks up the other side of the canyon was a torture-fest also. By the time I got to Devil's Thumb, I was a bit incoherent and stunned. I did regain my composure to continue into the following  canyons, and on to Foresthill at mile 62.

 The Rucky Chucky crossing of the American River was rough at night. The water, going up to my chest at times, gave me uncontrollable shivers as I took careful steps across the river.

The last part of the course was just plain cruel. The descent to No Hands Bridge was pretty steep. My already hurting quads didn't want any of it so I had to really slow down in this section. The climb up to Robie Point, the last aid station of the course, was also brutal. At that point I knew I was going to finish the race, but having that hill in the way was just punishment.

I'll give you a more detailed report in the next several days. For now, it's time to travel home and try to heal up for Vermont in less than 3 weeks.

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