I'm leaving now to go to Old School to get my cookie fix. Be back in a while.
And now I'm back!
Ken Saveth aka K2, Susan Westmoreland aka Melon, and Mishelle Hancock left out from Tulsa at 9:30 to make the 160 mile trip to the Sandy Sanders WMA to run the 25K in this multi-distance event. My friend Joel Everett with the help of friends and family in Erick have put this trail race on for four years now, and it is an awesome event. We rolled into race central at 2:00 am, and tried to catch a little bit of sleep in my truck. It was not very restful, but better than no sleep at all. I was out the driver's side door at 5:55 and drank some life into me via a thermos of coffee from home.
K2 appears to be proposing to Mishelle. However, he is trying to stretch out his spandex before standing up.
I strolled around and visited with friends and took pictures. Most were into the sun, or into bright lights and none turned out. But here's a couple of bad ones tweaked up. Here I am protecting Polly from a crazed man with a flame thrower.
This picture is bad only because of what looks like the sun in the background sending rays of light in front of Bill's face. Actually, it was just a clamp light that had been on since the dark hours. This is the Stillwater contingent. Those with the purple bids were going 50K. The smart ones wore red bibs.
Melon has her game face on. It's a day when she has 16 miles on her training schedule, and this 25K is long--16 miles to be exact. A good fit.
Joel gives out the course directions. It's not that difficult, but each year a few people get off course.
After a shotgun start (yes, with a real shotgun) we were off. I am in my usual place--right in the back. Taking pictures. It was around 70° at the start and the humidity was high for such a desert climate.
This is a hilly course, and in fact many people moaned and groaned about how brutal the hills were. But that's what makes it a challenge. Melon said her Garmin recorded 2,432 of elevation gain in 16+ miles.
This course has it all--scenic vistas, tall grass, cacti, red dirt, canyons, expansive buttes, lizards, rattlesnakes, giant tarantulas, bright blue skies, and a warm sun.
Ok, this hill was a definitely a walker. John Longan demonstrates the best plan of attack--power-walk it.
I can see for miles and miles and miles and miles....
And Amy runs for miles and miles and miles....
You can tell the trail runners from the trail racers. We're the ones who stop for group pictures. Danna, Mishelle, and K2 seem in good spirits at this juncture.
It's the first aid station--an oasis in the desert. This was at mile 3-ish, and I needed nothing. I bet most folkes just blew by, but those doing 50K and 50 mile would hit this stop later in the day.
From left to right--John, K2, Mishelle, me, and Amy.
The roads had been grated recently, and the running surface was pristine. There were no craggy rocks, no big chunks of loose gravel to run on, and most of the way was nice and soft.
Here we are at the top of a steep descent into a canyon. This would be a tough one if we were running the course the other way.
Kim and Dana get in the picture frame again. They helped me out several times during the race taking pix with my camera so my ugly mug could be in the shot.
Down we go.
I love these trailz. If they were closer, I'd run here a LOT!
We'd no more reach the bottom of the descent before we had to climb right back up the other side. Good training.
I was looking forward to seeing a rattlesnake, but being near the back of the pack, I reasoned that all the runners ahead would scare them away. :-/
I did come across these giant red ants though. Putting my camera on a digital macro setting, I got up close and comfy with them.
The ant photography gave Kim and Danna time to catch up with me. We played leapfrog for most of the day.
Turning a sharp hairpin turn just after the top of our last climb, we headed back down the other side of the butte.
A half mile later, we were climbing again. This was the steepest ascent of the day. The payoff--an aid station with a view. This is where the scrumptious chocolate ship oatmeal cookies were (with chunks of white chocolate and M&Ms.) They were heaven.
The girls refilled and ate cookies too--I was not the only one!
I left out in pursuit of Mishelle and K2. I ran up most of this gradual incline, and near the top, I saw K2 jump straight up in the air and lunge to the right side of the trail pointing in terror at something on the ground! ALLRIGHTY!! Here was that rattlesnake I was wanting to see! But no--it was just a spider. A HUGE ONE!! How big you ask?
I tossed a dollar bill down for reference. This spider jumped right on top of that dollar bill and carried it away into some weeds so fast it made my head swim!! Glad it was not a twenty!!
The pace was slowing somewhat as the temperatures were climbing. I thought I had a little bit of run left in me, so I kept running with a short walk break here and there.
I would let it loose on the downhills, and I allowed myself 50 steps of walking when I needed a break.
Of course, part of the reason I carry a camera is so I don't look like a slacker. When i'm taking pictures, I'm also catching a breather. I reached the aid station at mile 12, and knew I had a mere 4 more miles to go. There was only two climbs from here, and neither were bad at all--so I ran for 200 steps and walked for 50 on the flats and uphills, and ran all the descents. I managed to pass 5 people (one of them was in the 50K.) I almost made it into the mid-packer category.
I knew I had less than a mile to go when I saw this sign. I was off the big loop, and just a gentle hill and then the finish.
Ok, now before you go get popcorn and a soda to watch this movie, I'll tell you how it ends. I come slogging across the finish line to wild cheering from
I had a Leinenkugel and some barbecue, and then started inquiring about Melon. I battled the heat in my last few miles. I also knew she was a good 6 miles behind me and she is no fan of the heat. After cooling down and seeing K2 and Mishelle come in, Mishelle and I drove my truck out on the trail to check on her. We found here at the last aid station sitting under a tent and yapping it up with he aid station workers. She had gotten a little hot, but wad regrouped and was ready to kick this race in the gonads. I put my truck in 4WD and sent Mishelle back to the finish line so I could run in with Melon. We walked most of the way,m but at a good clip. This was a good move as running would have melted us down. She made it to the finish in a good frame of mind and best of all, she snatched a victory from the jaws of the DNF monster. Tough cookie, that Melon.
I kind of get the idea she's proud of this medal.
Behind the shack of a house near the finish line, there was a concrete porch and w blue tarp stretched around it. Inside there was a garden hose and a sprinkler hung from a wire on the ceiling making a Do Wacka Do shower. It was ccccold, but one of the best showers ever!! a bit of a breeze blew the tarp back several times, and opportunistic onlooker could have caught a glimpse of zombie buns, but I heard no screams of horror so I guess I went unseen.
Joel's friends family and volunteers are great. I know there are a few who are not runners, but have been around this now for four years and understand why we do it. :-)
Two years ago when I ran the 50K, I said this was perfect 25K, but a really hot and tough ultra. I'll stand by that. I almost always will do a the longer distance over a 25K given the choice, but 25K is enough for me at Do Wacka Do if it's HOT.