On June 29th, I reported for both Ultraspire and iRunfar on the world’s oldest and most prestigious 100-mile foot race in the world, the Western States 100. Was a most incredible experience. Here’s my full article, “The Western States 100-Mile Healing Ceremony,” recently published on iRunFar. An excerpt:
“The art of long-distance foot travel encourages this kinship with the natural world while inviting us to venture into our own inner wilderness of possibility that, by conventional standards, discourages such drifting. When we forge this relationship, we are able to understand what some have termed the “ecological unconscious,” or shared emotional reciprocity with environmental conditions. When the world is under siege, we too are being attacked, and so we experience grief, anxiety, and pain. Conversely, when we enter healthy ecosystems exploding with vitality, we heal. The strength and diversity resonates within ourselves. So, for every training run, for every exploration into mountain hinterland, for every running log scribbled with hours and miles, it is critical to remember that we are simultaneously tracking the healing process of both ourselves and of the world.”
Read the full article.
Want to know how to adequately prepare for a 100-mile footrace, one that climbs 18,000 vertical feet over mountains, crosses icy rivers, dips in and out of steep, stifling canyons crumbling of rock, carpeted with poison oak and dense with Manzanita?
“Excuse me…do you mind if we put up our tent in a corner of your campsite?”
It’s evening when we arrive to the campground on the eve of the Capitol Peak 50, and the place is looking full. I startle the family with my fumbling proposition.
A response from the man, “Sure, we have a little kid though just so you know.”
Doesn’t register. I say, “oh, absolutely. No problem.”
Trevor and I proceed to pitch our canvassed abode about 20 feet from theirs. Was more of a formality really, as no quality R.E.M was happening when a baby screams bloody murder all…night…long. The young parents would sing lullabies and then chuckle softly in complete surrender. Nothing stopped the infant’s reign of tearful terror. Never can sleep before these races anyway, so 3 hours was par for the course.
All photos: Glenn Tachiyama
RD gets a flat tire. Race runs late. People thrown off of pre-race rhythms and rituals. A twinge of tension, anticipation and confusion. Alas, James Varner shows up in good form, standard ear-to-ear grin in tow.
And so, the hunt for the finish line commences…
Photo: Glenn Tachiyama
Nothing will get you more prepared to run 31 muddy miles like a full cup of scalding coffee
applied directly to the lap. That’s how my Hagg Lake 50K morning started.
Demanding week at work. Depleted from nocturnal indulgences the night prior from seeing face-melting Phantogram at the Doug Fir. On the eve of the McKenzie River 50K, my ninth and final race of the season, I lay motionless as a spotlight from the rising full moon infiltrates my tent only to expose accumulated exhaustion.
Glow-in-the-Dark Bocce Ball. I think I’ve found the perfect taper week activity.
This epitomized my approach to the Waldo 100K. The proverbial hay was in the barn. I felt strong and confident from recent races and adventures around Mt. Hood. Nothing more to do really but welcome home rest and relaxation. When 3am rolls around and I rise to an eerie gong sounding off for the early starters, the space I inhabit feels calibrated. The body itches for mountains, more than it ever has before. I feel ready to spend the day exploring boundaries, encouraged by good friends and stiff competition.
It’s Friday night. 10pm. Contact lenses already plucked from the eyes. I was intending to wake up with the sun and get lost on Hunchback Mountain for 27 solo mountain miles. A favorite training run.
I get a call from Yassine. He’s on his way to race the Mt. Hood 50 the next morning and we talk race strategy a bit. Yassine has another idea for me.
“Why don’t you just mash up here tomorrow morning and see if you can get in the race?” He says. Doesn’t take much convincing.
A lawn chair. A cold NW IPA. Maybe a good novel. This was my original plan for approaching the White Salmon Half Marathon. Assuming annihilation after running 100 miles up and down San Diego mountains the weekend before, I promised my good friends Willie, Sonya and Nina that I would come and watch their race. The way San Diego turned out, I decided to sign up and run with them instead.
I decided at the last-minute to bail out of Big Horn 100, due to its unprecedented snow pack and subsequent major course re-routing. Fortunately I was able to claim the last spot remaining in the San Diego 100 mile race, happening only a weekend earlier.