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2008 Wildest Run In The West

August 26, 2008

Wholly smokes!  Can I just say what a day!

Again, this is a “report” by a non-participant.  LOL.  Anywho… Chet paced a friend of ours, Scott, who ran the Wildest Run In The West, 100k race this past Saturday.  Scott’s running the Angeles Crest 100 miler next month and Chet’s running Wasatch 100, so this was going to be their last “big” runs before their 100’s, Chet limiting out at a 50k and Scott at 62 miles.

The race is run along part of the Western States 100 course.  The event starts at French Meadows Reservoir and finishes in the town of Forest Hill.  Friday night we had planned on going over to Auburn to meet Scott for a quick dinner to just touch base before the race.  Late Friday p.m. we get a call from Scott expressing his *enthusiasm* over the fact that he was going to have to get up somewhere around 2:30 a.m. to get to Forest Hill to meet the shuttle bus to the race start.  Needless to say dinner was off as Scott was planning an early evening.

The pressure was off us to get the final items packed for camping.  So we finally rolled out of Reno around 5-ish and headed over the hill with plans to camp at Robinson Flat campground, where Chet was going to meet Scott the next day to pace.  The drive was mellow, a quick stop at Popeye’s Fried Chicken for dinner and then we headed for the long drive up to Robinson Flat. 

We got there well after dark and found the campground empty except for a couple other groups.  We finally decided on what seemed to be the most level campsite and proceeded to get our 4-Wheel camper set up, dinner eaten and everyone situated.  As Chet and I were getting ready to call it a night, we’re standing outside the camper and he says to me “do you smell a fire?”  I took a couple sniffs and confirmed his senses.  He headed over the to campfire ring and sure enough it was HOT, I mean really HOT.  Well the previous campers had left the fire and to potentially add insult to injury, they had left a ton of scrounged wood piled over the campfire. 

We proceeded to disperse the wood, making sure it wasn’t yet too hot and drown the campfire, which was explosively hot!  At the same time we noticed loads of beer cans in the fire pit.  Ahh, gotta love it.  After we felt comfortable that the fire was out, we crawled in for our nights rest.

Gabriel woke up around 6:15 am, much earlier than Chet and I wanted to wake, but who can blame an excited 3 year old.  So we got up and as we got out of the camper, must to our surprise the cans in the fire pit was only the tip of the trash iceberg left by the previous campers.  I proceeded to cook us up a classic camp breakfast of eggs, bacon and warmed up left over biscuits from dinner.

A little before I actually got around to cooking, Chet took off deep into the woods to meet nature’s call.  We brought Truckee with us this trip, and the enthusiastic dog who can’t bear to be left behind of Chet bounded off after him.  G and I were chilling at the campsite.  Not long after Chet took off, Truckee was back.  I thought it was rather odd, and he was more than willing to just sit next to me – more odd.  I didn’t think much about it until a minute later out of the woods comes Chet dashing trying to get his shorts situated.

Well, while Chet was in less than mobile position, the dog decided to barrel through a yellow jacket nest.  Both got attacked.  Chet ended up with at least 4 stings and countless bites and the dog got tagged at least twice on the face, as he ended up with two Ginormous welts on his snout.  I had to try to not laugh at the time, all the while praising God it wasn’t me (I’m highly allergic and I don’t have a recent script for my epi-pen).  As I tried to find appropriate treatments in our camper and in our first aid kits, I discovered we where highly unprepared for bee stings or the like.  I finally found some Benadril – expired in 2006, but figured it was better than nothing. 

So, after that adventure we sat and enjoyed some breakfast all the while calling the dog a dork.  After breakfast came camp clean up time.  There was no rubbish containers at the camp, so Chet picked up all the garbage (ewww, can we just say people – pack it in pack it out PLEASE, especially contraceptive wrappers) including broken glass from the fire ring.  While Chet was doing outdoor housekeeping, I was doing interior housekeeping getting the camper cleaned and packed down for the day.

Around noon we headed over to the Robinson Flat Aid Station.  Still, the first runner hadn’t come in, which was a bit surprising.  Chet expected Scott between 1-2.  So as we were hangin’ out visiting with people, G was entertaining himself throwing sticks and the like.  A little while later we see him carrying the trash bag down the hills side to the meadow.  We tell him to take it back to the Truck.  Not 20-seconds later we hear screaming and crying.  Chet and I go to check it out, but we weren’t in a big rush, as it wasn’t a frantic horrid cry.  As I get to G, all I see is a TON of blood, I mean a lot pulsing out of his little leg.  His leg is covered and the rocks under his leg are covered in blood. 

I was actually surprised with how calm I was.  I immediately bent down and put pressure on the wound to try to stop the bleeding.  Chet was directly on task getting the first aid kit out and within seconds we had things under control.  I carried G over to our chairs so we could irrigate out the wound and assess the damage – how deep, how big, stitches needed?  While G had been carrying the garbage back, a piece of glass from the irresponsible previous campers had poked through the bag and punctured G.

Fortunately, the cut wasn’t very big, smaller than a dime, but it was rather deep.  The glass probably went around a half-inch up diagonally into his little leg.  But, it didn’t need stitches.  Whew!  So, some iodine solution, a lot more pressure and we got the bleeding under control.  So, once G was treated, he was less upset.  A few m&m’s and cups of HEED from the Aid Station staff and he was chipper and back to his normal self. 

Yet again, for the second time during the day, I realized we weren’t quite 100 percent on the first aid supplies – as we were out of children’s Motrin and I didn’t have any kiddie bandages (not that it matters, but I REALLY like the NextCare waterproof kids band-aids as they really seal out the dirt from all sides!).  So, I decided that after Chet took off with Scott my next stop was going to be Target in Auburn to re-supply a bit.

Around 1:15 Scott made it to the aid station.  He looked good, although he said the first 30 miles were really tough.  So, after restocking Scott and getting Chet and him situated, off they went.  I wouldn’t see them again until Michigan Bluff, approximately mile 52 or 54, so I had some time.  When Scott came through, he was about the 7th or 8th runner through though, which was pretty good.

Off I headed to Auburn for the re-supply.  After getting new Benadril, a sting/bite stick, band-aids, children’s Motrin and a bunch of other stuff we headed back to Forest Hill and to Michigan Bluff.  We got to Michigan Bluff around 4:30.  We got there and I started getting our chairs out and everyone (dog, G and myself) situated.  As I was setting up one of the wonderful aid-station volunteers came over and asked if I was there for the run.  Come to find out, at 4:30 none of the runners had come through! Wow, that was really surprising.

So, G and I hung out.  As time passed, I heard that the field, which had started at about 30 runners was down to about 21 runners.  Okay, that’s not terribly surprising considering how hot the Canyons can get and it was definitely a very warm day.  Time continued to tick on and still no runners.

I was expecting Chet and Scott to come through anywhere between 6-7 pm.  6 pm rolls around, still no runners.  As time is passing you hear about more and more runners who have dropped.  Another very nice gal (and I feel AWFUL that I didn’t get her name) whose husband was running and whom I had a nice conversation at Robinson Flat showed up.  She told me that shortly after Chet and Scott had left Robinson Flat word came in that the runners had taken a wrong turn on the course.  They had fixed it after Chet and Scott, but I had no way of knowing if they too had taken the wrong turn.  Oh well, it sounded like they would eventually get to the next aid station, it was just a wee bit longer distance.

Finally, 7pm comes and somewhere around that time the first runner FINALLY comes in (the aid station staff expected the first runner around 2:30).  He looked great, though he was without his pacer.  But, there was definitely a spring in his step.  Way to go.  Shortly after him, his pacer came in, he was running really strong.  A while later the first women and second runner came through.  She looked fabulous as well.  As time passed, it started getting darker and darker.  I was getting a little concerned.

The nice gal I had been talking too, she found out her husband had either dropped or timed out at Deadwood, so she was taking off to meet him at the finish.  I still hadn’t heard anything about Chet or Scott, but I knew that we were getting VERY close to the cut-off for the Michigan Bluff aid station at 8:30 pm.  As I was going to check to see if word had come in on Scott, the third running came into the aid station.  More time passed, finally it was about 8:20 p.m. and time was ticking if Chet and Scott were still out there there had mere minutes to make it to Michigan Bluff.  Finally, I see two people heading down toward the Aid Station, and sure enough there they are.  Scott’s running #4!  WOW, that’s awesome!

Scott came in and got some food and pretty quickly moved through the aid station on his way to the finish.  He was the last man standing!  I couldn’t believe it – there was only going to be 4 finishers of this race.  WOW, just WOW.

I gathered G up and got our gear loaded into the truck and we headed to Memorial Park in Forest Hill for the finish.  We made it to the finish in time to watch the first runner finish, with his pacer who had caught back up with him.  The first woman and second overall finisher came in looking very strong as did the third finisher.  So, as time ticked on to the 10:00 hour, G was doing everything in his power to stay awake.  Finally, in comes Scott the 4th and final finisher.   Way to go Scott!!!!  He was justifiably tired from a very long day, but he finished and that was totally awesome!

Needless to say, it was a very tough day out there.  I was talking with our friend Roger, who had started but was timed out at Robinson Flat, as he didn’t get there until 4:30 p.m., an he said it was a really tough course.  The heat didn’t help a lot of people and the cut-offs were pretty tight, not leaving a ton of room for errors. 

My impressions for the first year of the race is that the volunteers were absolutely AWESOME!!!!  I mean, everyone we encountered was just so nice and accommodating and so sweet to G.  And they were great to the runners.  The course error was unfortunate, as I think it did cause some people to not finishas they missed the cut-offs and that little extra distance did play a factor.  But, the Race Director was totally a stand up guy and accepted full responsibility, but I also have to agree with his position that he had to be attentive to the volunteers and people out there and just adding open extensions to the cut-off times was not prudent for anyone, volunteers, crew and runners.

Fortunately, Scott and Chet didn’t take the wrong turn.  Both had been paying attention to the beta that had been shared about the Course.  It had been announced that the course had changed.  Scott knew that the Western States trail signs were incorrect and so they knew not to take the wrong turn.  That saved them, but it just goes to prove to me at least that it pays to know the course ahead of time, pay attention to the information shared by the Race Director about changes to the course.  If they had taken the wrong turn, it is highly unlikely that they would have made it to Michigan Bluff before the cut-off.  So, good job to them for paying attention.  LOL.

I think next year will be a very interesting year for the event, with such a low success rate (around 40 entered, around 30 started, 4 finished), there might be a little interest in taking on the event.  Who knows, Chet and I haven’t even discussed whether he’ll run it himself next year.

Overall, I think it’s a great event.  Certainly, the people out there were OUTSTANDING!!!  I mean, everyone I encountered, from the Forest Service employees, Park employees, volunteers, everyone was totally awesome.  From what I heard from Chet, the aid station food may need a little re-vamping.  I guess some aid stations didn’t have cups, which isn’t a big deal, but not real convenient for runners who are trying to move through.  Also, potatoes are always a nice addition in long events like this.  But, heck, for the first running of this race, I thought the RD and everyone did a terrific job.  They all learned some valuable lessons and I hope to be back out there next year – crewing of course!  Although, I’ll forgo the yellow jackets and broken glass next year.

After sending Scott on his way back to Reno, we headed down to Sacramento to camp at Beals Point and did a bit of Ikea shopping on Sunday.  For us, even with the adventures, it was a great weekend!  And to Scott – GREAT JOB!

One Comment leave one →
  1. August 28, 2008 9:07 AM

    What an adventure! That must’ve been quite a sight of Chet escaping the yellow jackets, and he’s lucky they didn’t take more advantage of catching him with his pants down! Ouch.

    I’m impressed how calm all of you were when G got hurt – that’s a very easy situation in which to panic but even G seemed to maintain perspective. 🙂

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