Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Pigtails Challenge 2014

Rob Smith winning the 200!
First of all, I'd like to acknowlegde Matt Hagen for providing me with most of the pictures in this report. Also, great pictures were taken by Ross Comer, Jerry Missing Link Gamez, and Takao Suzuki.

Matt, wearing his 150 buckle proudly
Second, I'd like to again thank all the volunteers for giving up their time on a holiday weekend to help often tired and cranky runners meet their goal. This event would not be possible without them!
We had a great weekend again this year. Although not everyone's race panned out as planned, it was a great time to hang out with friends. At the end of the race weekend, I decided to put this race on again and just take it year by year. Next year, I will be adding a 100K distance for those not yet ready for the 100 mile or more. It could be a PR course for many, or give those who take a little longer plenty of time to finish. The 100K runners will start with the 100 milers, run the 6 miles out and back, and then complete 6 loops to make the distance 62.4 miles. I'm sure they will have enough energy after finishing to pace whoever is left on the course or stay and volunteer ;)
This year, the bathrobe was a big hit. I will bring it back next year for those who don't already have one but still offer another piece of clothing for runners to add to their wardrobe. It was quite fun seeing everyone line up at the start of each race looking like they were heading to the spa!

200 Mile (6 finishers/13 starters=46%)

150 Mile (5 finishers/7 starters=71%)

100 Mile (22 finishers/35 starters=63%)

Normally, the 150 has the lowest finishing rate but fared best this year. The number of Pigtails finishers continues to grow!

As usual, I invested a lot of work into getting this race ready because I am a control freak and can't stand it if I don't do my best. I am, however, doing a better job at asking for help. Jess Mullen once again acted as my Volunteer Coordinator and put together a great group of people. I'm sure she does not want this announced, but I think she will go for the whole enchilada next year and hopefully be one of the few women to finish the 200 mile (just me and Francesca Carmichael so far). The day before the race, Tracy Brown, who took 3rd woman in the 100 this year, and Maylon Hanold, helped me load my U-Haul. It was nice to take a lot less time doing that than in previous years. Tracy and I even had time to go grab Thai food for lunch!

Tracy is under that hat somewhere

Jess chillin'

Race morning started out stressful when I drove to the start and found the gates closed! Alex Swenson had spent the night and said that the Sherriff had no instructions to leave it open, so he locked them. Alex was allowed to stay in the parking lot but everyone else, including my U-Haul truck were stuck outside! I called the Park Ranger (totally nice guy Sam Whitman) and told him the situation. He sent someone over right away and the gate was opened well before the 6 am start. Still, most runners had to scramble getting their canopies set up and had to haul gear a little further than they had planned. By the time of the race start, everyone had finished setting up and moved their cars closer. Robert Lopez, who was scheduled to start the 150 on Friday, came and volunteered at the start, which helped a lot. Ross Comer volunteered Thursday morning as well. AND, he returned Sunday afternoon at the finish. Definitely a great guy to have around.

The 200 milers do a short out and back (total 2.6 miles) before completing 21 loops. The weather was perfect-dry and upper 50s. My husband and I left as soon as they started to set up the middle aid station. When I came back, I saw Bob Satko sprinting in after his first full loop, totally energized and clearly running faster than he should have been. You see, Bob was going to run the 200 miles and then run 50 more. Conventional wisdom dictates that one should probably pace oneself. But Bob is not normal, as many of his friends will tell you. He does have a big heart though, and was able to raise over $10,000 towards Fanconi's Anemia research, as his grandson Blake was born with this condition. He had another fast loop then settled down when his pacers were able to rein him in.

Bob in the midst of his 250

Jonathan Symmes and Alex Swenson emerged as the leaders after Bob slowed down. But it was getting warmer and warmer. Runners were returning with sweat beaded on their foreheads. I was able to offer them ice and had a bucket of cold water with a sponge. The watermelon was getting eaten as quickly as we could cut it. Each runner had their issues. For Richard Bae, it was reflux. His first half was a bit of a struggle (after a late start getting lost driving to the park). He spent a lot of time trying to eat, sitting, and resting and not feeling better. Finally, he went to the store and bought some Zantac and BAM! his symptoms improved. He was able to eat more, and his second half was speedy! Unfortunately, he lost too much time to catch the leaders but was able to hang on and get his 200 mile finish. I wonder if he might come back next year and try to improve his time....

Daro completed the first 50K and was contemplating stopping. I told him he had all weekend to quit, so just rest and get up again. And so he did. He rested for over an hour and decided to start walking. He came back saying that wasn't so bad and did another loop. Then he took another extended break. Then he went back out. Did 6 more loops. That was 106 miles, much more than what he thought he could do the day before. He called it quits and left. But at the rest stop, he kept thinking to himself that he didn't feel so bad and returned to do some more loops. When all was said and done, Daro completed 153 miles. He was running out of time to complete the 200 but said he would be back again next year. So proud of you Daro! In the start picture, Daro is on the far right. You remember him now don't you? I don't have a picture of Richard because he was late to the start but he was the one who looked like a Zen Master-seemingly floating along.

Daniel Kuhlmann won the 200 last year and returned to defend his title. The only problem was that he kept getting so sleepy would lay down for a while. His pacers were telling me that he seemed to have dibbs on that bench out on the trail Actually, it sounded like he was sleeping anywhere he could lay down. But he was sneaky in the end and passed Richard in the last mile, finishing one minute before him on 59:22, taking 3rd male.

Danny in one of his awake moments

Rob Smith ran a smart and consistent race, completing the 200 in 52:32, which was a 5 1/2 hour PR, the third fastest time in the 200, and about 30 minutes faster than my time in 2012. Rob is a great guy and winning couldn't have happened to a nicer person. Congrats Rob!

Ras was running the 200 for the 3rd time in 3 years and did not disappoint. Every year, he has to do something challenging beforehand, and this year it was hiking 800 miles of the Arizona Trail with his wife Kathy. They only had 10 days of rest before coming to my race. He was struggling a little until George Orozco paced him. He needed a little more of a sugar boost, and once he did that, he was able to pump out some solid loops. Congrats Ras for being the only runner to complete all 3 editions of the Pigtails 200! But I have to embarrass you and tell the story of your chafing nipple. This had not happened to Ras before so he was not really sure how to manage it. Enter Eric Sach. Eric told Ras that he needed to slather a thick layer of Vaseline on his nipple before applying a Band-aid. Eric took the liberty of putting on the Vaseline, which was a little too close for comfort for him, "Whoa dude!" Ras took over and managed his own chafing. He even went as far as trimming the chest hair around his nipple to that the band-aid would stick better. I called him the One Nippled Pirate.


Kyle Lemke, who is only 24, came with his family from Ohie and rounded out the 200 milers. You could see the determination in his eyes but also the pain and fatigue. It was very exciting for me to see him get through this. I can see a bright future in his endurance running!

Lots of support for Kyle

After a long night, there were 5 less runners. They all seemed to drop at the same time. Alex had been injured prior to the race and did not train as much as he would have liked. Although he had a sizeable lead and had plenty of time to finish, another 70 miles was not appealing to him. He ran an impressive 124.8 miles in 25:31.

Jonathan had finished secomd in the 100 mile in 2012 and also second in the 150 in 2013. His goal was to be the first person to own all three buckles. Unfortunately, his race came to an end when severe shin pain was too much to bear. He had to stop after 24 hours and 28 minutes with 115.4 miles. I learned later that x-rays did not show an obvious fracture. I don't know for sure if he had anymore studies to look for a stress fracture. Hope you are doing fine, Jonathan!

Both of the gals who started, Rebecca and Sarah, were strong and consistent in the first day.They both had many male admirers. Sarah completed 96.6 miles in 23:29. Once the rain started on the second day, she could not get herself motivated to run another 100. Food did not seem appealing to her either. Rebecca developed a lot of pain in her feet. I had warned the runners before the start that the parks department had laid down new gravel recently, and I expected this would present a problem. After the race, I spoke to the park ranger and he said that they had not laid gravel in 15 years and thought it would be nice for the runners to have a fresh surface. Unfortunately, it was not ideal. Rebecca completed 87.2 miles in 24:45 but then gave her feet the rest that they so desired. It was nice of her to return the next day to visit.

Chris Bellevie was having a great race until he developed sudden pain in his hip. It became so painful at times that he could hardly put weight on it, even with the help of hiking sticks. It was difficult for him to throw in the towel.

Jason Reatherford held out the longest before stopping. He pushed through until over 38 hours and finished 124.8 miles. His feet too took a beating and would not improve despite shoe changes.

Always smiling

Finally, Bob did finish his 250 miles in 74 hours and 29 minutes. On the way, he placed second in the 200 with a time of 57:08, a PR by over 3 hours. He tended to his feet early, had pacers around the clock, and took much needed breaks.

So let's get on with the 150 milers. As with my previous blogs, I spend a lot of time talking about the 200 milers, as should be the case, and thenI run out of steam when it is time to talk about the 150 and 100 milers.

The 150 milers had wet weather to start their run. The pace was fast initially just like all the distances. Soon the pecking order was established. Ryan McKnight thought the pace was too fast and held back. Being an experienced runner, he was right. Ryan did not finish the 150 last year and had to get that monkey off his back. His girlfriend, Genia Kacey, was running the 100 and her presence I'm sure kept his spirits up in the second day. It was only appropriate that he won the 150 and she win the 100. Now he has finished the 100 and 150. Next up-200.

Genia nd Ryan-Rockstars!

Davy Crockett is no stranger to distances of 100 mile or longer. His 100 mile split was impressive (sub 21 hours). He held on to take second. I was so happy to see Reed Glesne finish 3rd in the 150. So amazing for 62! Cassidy Hood finished the 100 last year and came back to finish the 150. He is another candidate for obtaining all three buckles if he runs the 200 next year. Finally, Robert Lopez finished the 150. Just skipped right over the 100 and went for the 150. He was only planning on running 100 and stopping, but it's impossible to stop when there are so many people supporting you. He made it under the cut off with a lot of time to spare.

Totally awesome Robert!

Unfortunately, two runners did not finish the 150. Mike Kuhlmann made his second attempt at the 150. He did finish the 100 the first year. I think he signs up for the 150 to support his son Daniel (or give him a hard time!). Lisa Wood was the only woman brave enough to sign up for the 150. She gave it a good try but had to stop because of foot pain. It was fun cheering her each loop.

Now to the 100 milers. As was the case last year, the 100 milers had the best weather for fast times and fast starts. Gavin Woody and Arya Farahani ran the first 40+ miles together. Then Gavin pulled away and finished in the 3rd fastest time ever with 17:35. Arya had a great run and came in second with 18:51. Such a great finish only to find his car battery was dead after leaving his dome light on. No worries! RD to the rescue. Third male was Nick Paterno, who had a wonderful crew and group of pacers that got him to the finish line in 20:58.

Gavin making the turn around the cone

The women's race crowned a new champion. Hope Fox came back to defend her title but posterior tibial tendinitis proved too painful to continue. She did not want to jeopardize all the races she still had on her schedule. Even my brother-in-law, Cliff Richards, could not convince her to try walking and running after he taped her ankle up. Hope did stick around to see her friend finish her first 100 mile and come in second woman. Angelyca Gregory came in at 23:55. Her first 100 sub 24! Genia dominated with a win of 21:22 and looking totally comfortable the whole way. Third woman was Tracy Brown, my running partner on my days off. We go for a hike or run, depending on recent racing, and then go for coffee. I am so proud of my friend for finishing this 100 after so many days of doubt and recovering from injury. She finished in 24:37, a very solid time!

Some special mentions: Barb Macklow honored my race with her entry. She turned 80 not long before race day. I really wanted her to finish, but the miles and time on her feet proved to be too much. Sadly, her running partner Vicki Griffiths fell a few days before the race and she developed an infection in her knee bursa. It must have been hard for Barb not to have her running partner with her. Incredibly, Barb finished 71.8 miles.

Me and Barb

Karl Jensen has returned every year and at age 64, he ran his fastest 100 at Pigtails this year with a 22:47. It's so wonderful to see him each year!

Max Welker was our oldest finisher. He ran 26:57. Not bad for 71!

And to my final finishers. I know you had a long weekend but your finishes were the sweetest. Betsy Rogers, Andy Lin, Andy Larkin, and Ray Shaw, you are all tough cookies!

Yay Betsy!

See you next year!


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