Trail Run Race Report
- Zach Violett
100 miler was a great success! I had a goal of finishing and being sub 24. I
finished in 20:16 and in 4th place. I never had a rough spot and did an
excellent job following my pacing and nutrition plans. I walked every hill over
2-3% and ate a GU every 20 min. Steph paced me for the second half and gave me
a lot of encouragement and helped me throughout he cold and pain.
proud and happy with my result. I'm already considering the next one…!
Extra Long Winded Version:
going, you can hold this pace. Just a little further." Says Steph, my
pacer (who happens to also be my girlfriend and coach).
down at my Garmin and it's 7am, we are holding 8:32min/mile pace and it's mile
97 in the run. How did I get myself into this one..?
started sometime last year. I got the itch to do my first 100 miler. I figured
Western States would be a great one. I'd put in for the lottery and if I had a
good one maybe I could race my way in.
training run I mentioned this plan to Jeff Browning. He said Western States is
great and all, but that's a lot of pressure for my first 100 mile. Maybe I
should consider a different race for my first. He suggested the BigHorn in Wyoming.
The way Jeff was raving about the race I figured he got a cut of my entry fee
if he recommended me. I left saying "sure, that can be my back-up if I
don't get into Western States"
unsuccessful lottery and a few races later, I realized that getting into
Western States is really difficult. I wan't even close to racing in. Time to
re-evaluate. What was that race Jeff mentioned? I did a little research and it
looked pretty incredible. Big mountains, all single track, BBQ & party
after plus is one two weeks before WS100. The prices were still at the lowest
rate, so I signed up. Heck there was still Leona Divide to try to race into
WS100. My training would be the same either way.
Divide went well, but I was still far from racing in. Time to accept Plan B.
Let's do this BigHorn thing. I'd been sticking to a decent training plan. I was
doing short (1hr) runs before work on weekdays, then long runs (3-5hr) on
weekends. I was feeling in good shape, but kept traveling for work and would
miss big blocks of training. June rolled around and I wasn't sure if I was in
great shape or not doing nearly enough. Time to find out.
I took off on a Monday after work to start the long drive. We decided to break
it up over 3 days and try to enjoy the drive. We pushed to Boise the first
night and got a hotel. Tuesday we rolled into Yellowstone National Park in the
early afternoon. I had never been there and was quite excited to explore. Tons
of wildlife and beautiful scenery
greeted us. Saw animals, saw geysers & sulfur pits, did a nice hour
jog and got back on our way. That night we camped a few miles outside of the
Park and slept listening to the river the whole night. Wednesday was a short
easy drive to Bighorn State Park. Sheridan was just a short distance away over
the mountains. We then drove up and up and up and I started thinking "Do
we go this high in the race?" WE reached the summit at 9,500ft and I was
starting to get nervous. That was a 5000ft climb and the other side looked the
a little time in Sheridan, went for a short jog on the race course to check
trail conditions, did race check-in got ready for the big show.
morning rolled around with a nice relaxed 7:30 wake up. Made 2 eggs with
chicken and Veggies plus ate the rest of the pasta leftovers for breakfast. 9am
was the race briefing in Dayton. Pretty relaxed with the typical warnings.
Watch out for bears, snakes, poison ivy, and other critters. Be ready for the cold, the heat, the
dark, the sun and everything in between.
up my nutrition plans and made sure I had enough with me. My plan was a GU and
a salt tab every 20min from the start. Normally in 50milers I do every 30min,
but with this length I wanted to stay on top of it. I'd also try to eat and
do the national anthem and next thing you know the race director is yelling
"GO!" Off we go. A few start off like a 10km 'ok that is interesting'
is all i think. I drift back to 20-25th place. There I find a Jason Leman from
Portland. He is smiling already and seems to be quite excited. We talked for a
bit and he helped calm my nerves saying that the guys up front will slow down
or blow up. Don't stress it. After a few miles of flats, we hit the first
climb. 6.3 miles averaging 9% with 3000ft of climbing. Time to do some
walking. I caught Jason and we spent the rest of the hill walking together and
on-off chatting. It was great to get to know him better and it kept me from the
foolish mistake of charging through the field. However, I have to admit it was
hard to go slow. I could see guys ahead running the uphill. I just had to keep
reminding myself that it was really early and there was no way I or them could
maintain that speed.
reached the mile 6 summit together and had not put ourselves under at all. We
were right around top 20 and feeling good. We kept a nice pace for the next 6
miles until the Dry Fork aid-station. By that time we had worked up to 16th
place and were still relaxed. I saw Steph for the first time and she seemed
really happy for me. Said I was being smart and to keep it up. Grabbed more GU
& water and off we went again.
up running with Jason for most of the first 25miles. He shared some 100 mile
knowledge and we got to know each other. I'm looking forward to spending some
time on the trails later in the year once we are both recovered. Around mile 25
Jason's stomach started acting up and he needed to pull over. I went on solo
over the next 5 miles passing a few people and going cautiously down into
Footbridge Aid-station at mile 30.
is the start of a 14mile and 4,400 foot climb. I filled up my pack with GU,
water and grabbed my jacket, shirt and headlamp. I know it was gong to be a
slog and wanted to be prepared. I left the aid station just as Jason got there
smiling so I knew he was still doing well and would be right behind me. I
figured we'd see each other somewhere. I started the mix of hiking and jogging
the flats. Next thing I knew I had passed somebody and was at the next
aid-station. I didn't need anything so blew through and passed somebody there
as well. I was starting to wonder what place I was in. Had I worked into the
top 10? I was feeling great and kept at the hill walking everything over 2-3%
slowly working through the field and by Elk Camp aid-station caught my friend
Gary Gellin. He was having a rough patch but was in good spirits. He gave me a
ton of encouragement and kept telling me how awesome I was doing. I didn't
realize it but I had just got into the the top 5. I was feeling good and Gary
gave me that little extra motivation to keep trucking.
turnaround point I got to see Steph again. She seemed almost surprised that I
was the the turnaround so early. Had I gone out too hard? I hope not, I still
felt amazing so I wasn't worried yet. I filled my pack again and got ready for
14miles of downhill. Steph looked ready to go and she jumped in as my pacer.
Steph was coming off an injury so the plan was for her to bail if her leg
started hurting or if it was too big of an effort. Other than that she would
keep me company through the night as long as she could. We took off knowing
that it would get dark really soon. We started catching up on what had happened
so far in the race and Steph was checking me over to make sure that I was being
smart and doing a sustainable pace. She was excited to hear that I felt great
and was really thinking I could hold top 5. Somehow in that excitement she
forgot how to run and while we crossed a meadow she tripped and fell. She did a
nice roll and got up laughing. 50 miles and no falls for me, half mile for her
and she fell.
reached mile 50 at 9:45 of racing. That was a bit faster than I planned but I
was happy with it. Right about then the decent began. We let the legs run
knowing that it would be dark in 30min. Any gains now would be way faster than
in the dark. We passed another person and I was working hard to hold back my
excitement. We were in 4th and going strong. We covered a few miles and a bit
after Elk-Camp needed to turn on the headlamps and slow down a bit. It was
getting quite dark and despite my 200 lumen headlamp, I wanted to relax and be
smart by keeping our feet under us.
from the bottom I hear this "zoom Zooom ZOOOOM". I look back and see
an extra headlamp. Its Gary and he is moving twice our speed. He is all smiles
and we let him by. He is back feeling good and looked untouchable. Wow, I don't
think I could run that fast on that technical terrain in the light, much less
via headlamp. Good for him.
Back at Footbridge
we stocked up on another 12 GU's, lots of water and we get ready for the next
big climb. This one is very steep and I knew it would play into my abilities.
All those years of ski racing still allow me to power hike without putting in
much effort. Steph and I started off knowing that this is when the race would
start to get hard. 5 miles of 8% climbing going up over 2,000 ft in vertical,
with more rolling up after that. I got into my 'fast walk' and tried to enjoy
the dark. This is when Steph really started to help me out. She was giving me
encouragement saying how good I was doing for mile 70+. She also kept saying
that I was walking too fast and she had to jog too keep up. Not sure if it was
true, but it was a major ego boost. We caught Gary a mile or two later and got
to give a quick 'Hi' to Nikki (who was pacing Gary) before passing. On and up
we walked. When it flattened out I jogged. Next thing I know something was
hurting in my right ankle when I jogged. I had slightly rolled it on the downhill,
but it was pretty minor. Now it was really starting to hurt.
walking felt fine so I ignored it. Then each flat was getting worse, and the
downhills even worse. Not good! We got up to "Bacon" (Yes, they had
bacon) Aid-Station and all of a sudden we were out of the trees. The
temperature dropped significantly and the wind picked up. We were now at
7,000ft elevation and it was cold and exposed. We both had on every piece of
clothing we had with us. All we could do was push to the next aid station and
hope they had a tent and a way to warm up.
mile or so we could see the lights from the dry-fork aid-station. I was
freezing cold and my ankle was really starting to be a problem. At this point
Steph tripped over a rock and landed on a bunch of other rocks. This was not a
funny laugh it off fall. She was already having a very hard time with the cold
and that put her over the edge. I realized this was going to be a very
difficult final 20 miles! 3 miles later we finally got to the aid station (Yes,
that light was visible the whole time). They had a tent and a space heater.
Steph and I both ran to it and started trying to get feeling in our hands and
feet while drinking warm soup. I then realized just how cold we were. We spent
almost 15min in that aid station until we felt ok to head back out in the cold
again. By that point my ankle was really stiff.
climb was hell. The wind was whipping, we instantly lost all of the warmth we
had gained. We were back to slogging up a mountain trying not to freeze. I
looked back and luckily couldn't see any headlamps. I had no idea how close the
next person was, but with a 15min break I knew that I could be passed if not
careful. We got over the summit and everything got better. The wind was now on
our backs, the light was beginning to shine on the east side of the mountains
and it was almost all down and flat to the finish.
good miles of running & hiking later we turned off our headlamps and found
ourselves in the saddle with a view of the finish. 12 miles to go and "all
downhill from here". The problem was that my ankle was doomed. It was
hurting every step and the downhills were the worst. That next 4 miles of steep
decent were hell. Each step made me whimper in pain. It took everything I had just
to get to the bottom and I was surprised nobody caught us on the downhill. I
was really afraid that we were going to be passed. The good news was that
everything else was going well. I still had energy and was in good spirits. We
hit a gradual climb and I got up on my toes to run and the pain went away. I
could be pain free if I can actually run in. The next 3 miles I stayed up high
on my toes and we were flying. I was stoked to be feeling good and pain free.
We were also running, not jogging!
We hit the
road for the final 5.25miles and my left calf was giving warnings of cramping.
I went down to a jog and my ankle screamed at me. How could I run in without
doing serious damage to my ankle and not cramping my muscles?
point Steph started to crack the whip. She got us up to speed knowing that I
didn't hurt as much if I was running. I look down and we are doing 8:02/mi. Ok
babe, no way we can hold that, lets slow down. She does, but barely. She says it is all mental and we are
not getting passed. She starts giving me encouragement and we seem to be
holding 8:30-8:45/mi. I'm hurting but I think this is possible. Mile by mile we
work our way towards the finish. Each mile is under 9:00/mi pace and we are
getting so close. We finally get to the edge of town and I start looking over
my shoulder. Nobody in sight! Ok, now can we relax? Nope,keep it up and finish
together all the way into the finish with a time of 20 hours, 16 minutes and 41
seconds. We held our 4th place and had a very strong finish! I gave Steph a big
hug and a kiss and thanked her for the support. Then I looked around and
realized that there was almost nobody around. Two timers, a few volunteers and
Matt Hart sitting in a chair looking as dead as I felt. He points at the chair
next to him and I finally sit down for the first time. It felt sooooo good. We
started chatting and I found out the first two guys already left and that we
were only 7 min behind him (at dry fork they told us 27min). I also realized
that it was 7am and I was really tired.
to wait around for Jason and Gary to finish but I was not doing well and Steph
advised me that we should head back to the hotel and get some rest. I tried to
get out of that chair to walk to the car and almost fell over. Yep, time to go!
of that day was hell. I was so sore and hurting that I couldn't sleep. I was so
tired that I couldn't stay awake. The whole day was napping, eating (but wasn't
hungry) and trying to take care of my body. Every move in bed would hurt my
ankle and staying still would make my muscles cramp up. Not a fun day.
The next day was completely different. The swelling in my ankle went down, I could walk
(with only a slight limp) and I finally felt a little hungry. That was good
because it was going to be a busy day. Needed to pack up, go to awards at
8:30am then start the drive back to Oregon!
were done in a cool way. They take over a block downtown and set up tables
for a pancake breakfast by the
local Kiwanis club. The Awards are relaxed and fun with door prizes for most
racers that attend. I got to catch up with Jason, Gary and Dave Town (from
Bend) to hear their experiences and of course got to meet some new people. I
got my swag and we hit the road. We made good time and got back to Bend by
Monday afternoon. Wow, what a whirlwind trip!
great experience that I'd recommend to anybody. Amazing trails, great
organization, and a very fun experience. It is a darn hard first hundred miler,
but I can't imagine a better one to do as my first.
Zach & Jason post race