Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Managing Stuff for the Long Runs and Races

It takes me about 15 minutes to gather supplies for a 50K. It takes me weeks to get everything assembled and organized for a 100 mile run. This is partly because I will be running for a very long time as do most runners in a 100 miler. In one of my first posts I borrowed something Ken Chlouber, founder of the Leadville 100, said at the training camp for the 2009 Leadville 100. Forgive me, I am going to repeat it. The story makes the point of why it takes so much planning for most of us.

I went to the June training camp for the Leadville 100 trail run held in August. Sunday night, following the days run from Twin Lakes, over Hope Pass to Winfield, and back, I attended a forum with eight or ten locals who had finished The Leadville 100 ten or more times. The founder of the event, Ken Chlouber, was introducing Duncan Callahan, the winner of the race the previous year, and comparing his finish time to one of older 10+ time finishers. He said something like this: “After Duncan finished, he could have rested a while, gone to his room and taken a shower, had a big meal at a restaurant, gone back to his room and slept 8 hours, had breakfast and come back to the finish line in time to see – (Pointing at the older runner, probably as old as me) – John finish.” (I actually do not remember the name of the person Ken was pointing at, so “John” will do.) Of course, everyone had a big laugh, but it was true. Duncan could have actually done all that in 2009 and still made it back in time to see me finish.

This video is of Hope Pass, Inbound, during training camp.
In a previous section I explained how I try to estimate what time I will reach each aid station. This is especially important for the aid stations that allow drop bags. You need to know how long you will be on the trail between each drop bag station so you will know what supplies you need in each bag. For example, at Leadville, I knew I would be leaving the “Fish Hatchery, Outbound” at mile 23.5 about 9:00AM when I would need sunglasses and sunscreen and a light weight, long sleeve shirt.  (The sun is very intense at 9,000 ft.) That was easy to figure. Twin Lakes, on the other hand, is at mile 39.5 and is where you head out for the top of Hope Pass. The next drop bag is at Winfield at mile 50, the turnaround. The top of Hope Pass is five miles and 3,300 feet away and Winfield is 10 miles away. You have to try to figure out how long it will take to get over the pass and what you will likely need going over the pass?

Approaching the location of the Hopeless Aid Station, Outbound at training camp.

In 2009 at Leadville, We cheated. We were staying in Twin Lakes and our room was about 50 yards off the course. After checking in at the aid station I ran to the room to change socks. There is a creek crossing about a mile out of Twin Lakes and I put on "Drynax" socks and resupply for the trip over the pass. No need to pack a Twin Lakes drop bag and guess what the weather would be. I grabbed what I thought I might need at the room. As it turned out, the weather was beautiful and warm with no chance of rain and I was ahead of schedule. I will stay in Twin Lakes when I run Leadville again. It is about 20 miles out of Leadville so you do end up running back and forth a few times but it is so nice to have your own room at such a critical point in the run. It was especially nice inbound. The water in the creek crossing in the middle of the valley floor was ice cold and it was 9:30 PM. I was still cold when I got to the room to change socks. The room was warm and I could dry my feet in a nice dry towel and warm up before heading back out into the cold.

I knew I would be leaving Winfield for the return trip over the pass late enough that it would be dark long before I was back to Twin Lakes. As it turned out, I was going over Hope Pass, inbound just at sunset. It was absolutely spectacular seeing the sun set from the top of a 12,550 ft pass. I did stop and enjoy it for about 20 seconds. I was wishing I had brought a camera. I had my lights and warm clothing in the bag ready for the nigh in the Rockies.  I was also kicking myself for not bringing trekking poles for the "Double Crossing."

The top picture shows the approximate route of the run out of Twin Lakes across the valley floor.  The second shot is Twin Lakes with Mt Elbert in the background.  
Did I mention Twin Lakes is rather small.

The first 100 mile run I did was the Pinhoti 100 here in Alabama. I ran it unsupported. That is, I had no crew. Fortunately, I was able to guess correctly where I would need what on the course. My wife, Marye Jo crewed for me at Leadville and Wasatch. Having her there to help sort gear and cheer you on is the biggest boost there could be. It also gives you a reason to go on when you have just about given up. I know she is waiting for me at the next stop. And one other thing, if you screw up and forget something or loose something, like a flashlight in the middle of the night, which I did at Leadville, you know your crew will be waiting for you at the next stop to give you the backup.  At Leadville, I was not the only one that never slept during the race.  All the aid stations are easily accessible by car and Marye Jo was at every one, sometimes waiting for hours because she did not know when I would arrive.  That is dedication.  I cannot tell her how much it meant to me, but I did make her meet me at the top of the hill 7 blocks from the finish and run (actually walk) in with me.  She should have received a finishers award too.

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