Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Tahoe Rim Trail 100 Miler - 2014

Pacing is a great way to experience an ultra marathon without having to run 100 miles.  This past weekend, I paced and crewed for Ryan, who ran the Tahoe Rim Trail 100 Miler in just over 31 hours.  It was a long, beautiful, fun weekend.  I got to see most of the course, and hang out with a number of good friends.

View of Lake Tahoe in the early morning

The race started at 5am, but my day started a bit later.  My first stop was the Tunnel Creek Aid Station.  The course passes through that aid station six different times, the first of which is Mile 11.  I got there by 7:15am, too late to see the leaders go through the first time, but in time to see all of my friends who were in the race: Erin, Pedro, Neil and Ryan (and Kim, who was running the 50 Miler).  I then moved on to Diamond Peak Aid Station, at Mile 30, before going back to the condo to take a quick nap.

On the Walk Down from Tunnel Creek

Ultra running requires a great deal of planning.  Almost all runners wear a hydration pack to make sure that they have enough to drink, but eating is also important.  Most people, including me, have trouble getting enough calories during runs over 30 or so miles.  Ryan set his watch to vibrate every half hour to remind him to eat a Gu pack, which contains 100 calories.  He also used a sports drink and ate at the aid stations.  

As I was reminded at Bryce, it is also crucial to have extra clothing to deal with cold (or wet) weather.  Tahoe was hot and humid most of the day, but at about 5:30pm there was a heavy afternoon thundershower, featuring a downpour of rain and hail, and a lightening show.  Ryan was just short of the Mile 50 aid station and got soaked, as did many of the runners.  But, like most of the runners, he just toughed it out and kept on running, then changed into dry clothing as soon as he could.  

Rachael assisting Pedro at Mile 50
Pedro is one tough guy.  He does not do well in the heat, but he hung in there through the daytime, then picked up steam after the sun set.  Rachael paced him from Mile 50 to 80; that 30 mile stretch represents the longest she had ever run, and most or all of it was in the dark.  And, Pedro was sick during the early part her pacing leg, then recovered and took off on the downhill at the end.  She did a great job, and Pedro ending up finishing strong, in part thanks to her.

I paced the same leg as Rachel, from Mile 50 to 80, but had an easier time of it, as Ryan did not get sick (nor did he not take off down the final hill).  I started around 6:15pm, just after the thunderstorm, and finished around 4:45am.   So, I was able to watch the sun set, and I got about an hour of sleep between 6am and 7am before we went back out towards the finish line.

The Thunderstorm
Photo by Jonathan Bretan

Ryan on the climb out of Hobart Aid Station
Mile 62

It would be unfair to write about the day with mentioning Erin's great performance.  She ran strong all day and night, moving up through the pack and finishing in a PR of 29:17.  

Erin, with Helen pacing her

For those of you thinking of running the race: the course is similar to Bryce in terms of difficulty.  Altitude is about the same, generally over 7,000 with a high around 9,200.  The trails are significantly less technical and rocky at Tahoe.  The Race Director did a great job. The course was very well marked, the aid stations were excellent and the volunteers were friendly and knowledgeable.  Crew access is tough at Tunnel Creek, requiring a three mile walk up hill.  It is also a double loop course, but that is not such a bad thing, as half of the race in the dark anyway.  

Ryan at Mile 99.9

1 comment:

  1. Looks like a very pretty setting for a race.