Sunday, August 9, 2015

Angeles Crest 100 - 2015

     This year's AC 100 delivered the overpowering mixture of heat, sweat, dirt and strong emotion I've come to expect from the biggest event on the Southern California ultra running calendar.   So many friends, so many runners, so many stories all unfolding at once over a 100 mile course.  It is impossible to follow everything and everyone.

     So let's start with last year's race.  Last year, I paced Michael, who came into the race exhausted from running Western States and trekking across Iceland, but still managed to complete the grueling course.  This year, Michael was more rested, and he broke 24 hours.  Marshall paced him from Chilao at mile 52 to Chantry at mile 75.  Jimmy chased him from Chantry to the finish, and made sure he got under that 24 hour mark.  Wish I had seen more of that adventure.

Michael, on his way to a sub-24 hour finish
Marshall and Dom with him

    This year, Flo and I paced David.  David is a lifelong athlete, who played hockey in his youth and who has hiked the entire Appalachian Trail in four months.  More recently, he has turned to ultra running, but with mixed success.  Although he has the strength and fitness to run any course, his stomach simply refuses to cooperate.  And, if you cannot eat or drink, you simply cannot finish an ultra marathon.  As a result, David came into this year's AC 100 with a record of no finishes in four attempts.

David coming into Cloudburst
     This year, David trained harder and more consistently than he ever had, despite having other priorities in his life, including a beautiful young daughter.  He was out on the trails at all hours, fitting in his training whenever he could.  He prepared well for the race, and got to the starting line in great shape.  I hoped and believed he could finish this year, but it was not to be.

David C, getting help from Flo and David V

      Despite running a smart and tough race, David's stomach failed him yet again, this time around 55 miles or so.  It does not matter what kind of shape you are in, nor how tough you are, no one can run that last 45 miles on an empty stomach.  David toughed it out to Chantry, reaching Mile 75 just ten minutes ahead of the cut-off.  We hiked up Mt. Wilson together, but by the time we reached Dead Man's Bench, he was the last runner on the course and the sweeps caught up to us.  We timed out at Mile 84, at Idlehour, and got a ride home with the volunteers.

David, somewhere between Chilao and Chantry
Photo by Floris Gierman

       I enjoy watching great athletic performances, and  I love watching a graceful runner striding through sub-five minute miles at the LA Marathon.  But what I really respect and admire is effort. Often times, great effort and great results are highly correlated.  But not always.  And, the athletes I really respect and admire are those who work hard and smart, without all the adulation.  David, here's to you, my friend, you put on amazing and inspiring performance out there.  I hope you decide to try again, and believe you can finish.

      There are many other stories to tell, and I only know a very few of them.  Ryan ran well, and was smiling every time we saw him.  He had two great pacers, Erin and Helen.

Helen and Ryan 
at Islip Saddle

      It was a disappointing day for Guillaume and Team France.  Guillaume is a great runner, as well as a brilliant scientist, and he has more zest for life than anyone I've ever met.  Guillaume led the race for the first half, but had to drop out at Short Cut, Mile 57, because of rhabdo, I believe.  No doubt he will be back.  Allez!


Guillaume arriving at Islip Saddle
two-time AC 100 winner Dom in the background

    The women's race featured two amazing local runners, Kelley and Katie.  Both worked incredibly hard leading up to the race, and both were focused like laser beams on race day.  Katie finished 4th, and Kelley finished 5th, just five minutes behind.  If I have any regrets from this year's race, it is that I did not get a chance to see more of these two great runners giving it their all on race day.

Kelley, with Craig and Erin

      Will was also well-prepared.  He trained with Kelley and David, among others, and was in great shape on race day.  He ran smart and tough, and had a great race, finishing just five minutes behind Kelley.  Will is always in a good mood, and never has an unkind word for anyone or anything  I was therefore amused when, at the Chilao aid station at Mile 52, he was fairly clear about not wanting to eat one of the snacks offered by his crew.  

Will on his way to a great finish
David V in standing behind Will

Will, with Jeff in the background

        Sim was not particularly well-trained for the race.  But, he has great physical and mental talent, and on race day he ran smart and tough.  He finished under 25 hours, a great result for anyone.  If Sim ever decides to focus on running, look out!

Sim and Kevin

       I was lucky enough to see a good portion of Anton's race, as he was near David much of the day.  Anton trained hard, but he has been living in Alabama recently, so he had little opportunity to run on hills or at altitude.  Anton ran tough, and finished just under 31:30.

Anton at Cloudburst
Photo by Erin Chavin

Anton is always smiling

     The AC 100 would not be possible without the volunteers and race staff.  And, it would not be nearly as fun without so many friends hanging out.

Chilao Aid Station

Jessica and Amy

Race Officials at Chantry Flats,
handling the tracking system

Thanks guys!

       Here are a few pictures from the finish line.  All of these are copied, from once source or another.  If you took one, please let me know and I'll give you credit if you want (or take it down if you prefer).

Anton at the finish line

Kelley at the finish line