Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Jemez 50 Miler (52.3)

I just got back from the Jemez 50 miler and it is the new leader of the hardest 50 miler in the country award. Wow, was it tough. Andrew and I flew to AlbeQ. NM and drove to Los Alamos. We went to the pre race briefing and dinner where Andrew won an Ultimate Direction waist pack. I won squat! Here is my report of the days events.

At the start, The Posse Shack, it was a great, there was coffee, soda, bananas, muffins, and a million donuts, mmmmm donuts. The race starts at 5am (4am Phx time) and at 4:58 I was in the porta jeff by the start line. I got out just in time to head off down this dusty road with 170 other morons for a day of fun in the mtns of NM.

The race starts at about 7500 ft and heads up rolling hills for about 5 miles thru a canyon to the first aid station and a quick bottle fill. I am just trying to settle in get a feel for my knee that has been bothering me since Zane Grey. My knee feels normal meaning it was popping in and out and clicking and in tolerable pain. Climbing is much easier than downhills, we would be doing alot of both today. After passing thru AS#1 we headed up another canyon for a 1900 ft climb in 2 miles, gradual for this course. I was following Betsey Kalmeyer, the 6 time winner of the Hardrock 100. She can climb, but we weren't pushing too hard yet. I could still see Andrew and Jamil way up the mountain so I thought, I must be doing o.k. As Betsey and I got to the top AS #2 (7.1 mi) we topped off bottles and started down a very steep canyon, switchbacks that were so steep we should have just used them as steps and gone straight down. There were little pebbles covering the ground and at every turn we would slide on them around the corner. After a few of them, I took a look out at the horizon as the sun was coming up and DOH! slip and fall. Now my arms and body are across the trail and my legs are dangling down the hill, Betsey looks back to see if I am o.k. and she goes down. We both get up, dust ourselves off, and continue. I told her I would take credit for that one. We start running again and I notice my knee doesn't really hurt as much, I think I just popped it back in place. Almost to the bottom and Betsey slows down to go around another steep switchback and her legs go out, she hits the trail rolls off a rock and down to the next switchback and wraps around a tree. If not for the tree she may still be going. She got up and kept running. She now has blood dripping down both legs. Now at the bottom of this canyon we are running along and we come to a waterfall and a ladder, what? This is a first, so we climb it and keep going. That was weird. After a couple miles of rolling trail along a creek we pull into Caballo Base aid station. (10.1 mi) This would start the first of 3 climbs over 10,000 ft. The climbs in NM are steep and long. Caballo went on for about 2+ miles and climbed 2200 ft. This was an out and back section where I would soon see the leaders come cruising down, very cool. The first guy came thru and then no one for about 5 minutes, then towards the top they were more frequest. I saw Jamil fly by and then Andrew, we chatted very briefly, all is good, get going. At the top of Caballo (10,440 ft) we turn around a tree and head back down. I stopped, got some agua and looked around, the views were amazing. I was nervous to test my knee on such a long steep downhill but it felt great, I was cruising and having a blast passing people coming up saying wrong way and crap like that, anything to make me laugh. It is all about me you know. Pulling back into Caballo base (14.2 mi) I took the First Endurance Liquid Shot for the first time. Major race mistake to try something new on race day but my stomach has never had any problems with anything so I said what the hell, I have heard great things about this new product. It is true, it gave me quick, even energy for hours. I planned to take one every 10-ish miles and I had good energy all day. Now heading for Pipeline AS was an uneventful climb of about 3 miles and 1500 ft. Running into 17 mile AS I saw Neil Blake, a local NM buddy of mine that I was excited to run with. He was in a chair nursing a bad hammy, he was going to call it a day but we took off together. Heading for the Caldera Preserve you start by basically going off a cliff for about 1/4 mile straight down, but sliding or falling the whole way. This did no good for Neil's hammy so he checked out and had to go back up the schute to drop. He has bigger fish to fry soon. The next section is rolling dirt roads thru a huge grassy meadow until we get to the 21 MI AS. Topp off and keep going,

I am now headed for the dreaded Cerro Grande climb. While not as long as Caballo, this climb goes over furniture sized boulders and then straight up a mountain forest with no trail. I had to laugh out loud at everyone grabbing trees to pull themselves up the mountain or to stop them from falling back down, not sure. Every time you thought you were at the top, oops false summit, keep going. Finally at the top, the clouds are rolling in and I am all alone now. I pop another liquid shot and start the long downhill to Pajarito base. This was about a 5 mile downhill section that was really fun. It went along the creek the whole time, not too steep we were able to cruise the whole way at a good pace. I had that #2 feeling again and finally had to get something going. I was hoping there was a port a jeff at this upcoming 28 MI AS. No such luck, so I filled up and headed out of there with baby wipes in pocket and looking for a good place to squat. #2 in the forest with fried quads is not fun. Big canyon, huge rock, problem solved- 5 minutes lost but also 5 lbs lost. Good trade for the next climb.

So I head up yet another canyon for a 3 mile section to the base of the Paja ski resort. This stop was welcome as I was getting hungry and had a couple PBJ sections and some chips. Me and 2 others took of for the next climb and were a little out of it and took a wrong turn and ended up on the wrong trial for about a mile. Finally we started heading back and ended up at the aid station again to ask directions. They pointed straight up the ski run. This was a double black diamond that went on forever, so after a few more chips, we took off and started the 3rd climb over 10K ft. This was getting really tiring now. with an extra 2.3 miles on our tired legs the climbing got slower and slower. The longest climb of the day took for-ev-er. Finally after the 4th false summit I could see all the way down the hill to the ski lodge, our next AS. We had to go down another double black run to get there. This was soooo painful on the quads. It reminded me of HR when I had to walk backwards downhill. We are only at mile 36 and it feels like mile 60 in a 100. It takes everything to just get out of an AS now. The next section wasn't too hard and was actually runnable. So pulling into 39 MI AS I felt pretty good. Throwing down another liquid shot I got my picture taken with their mascot sheep and took off for home.

All the big climbs now done, all I had was basically a 1.5 mile gradual climb and then 10 miles home mostly downhill. Still full of energy I had a blast running the single track thru the last section of forest before getting to the desert section. I was starting to see more and more runners limping along because of fried quads they could not do downhills. It looked very painful but I didn't have time for sympathy. I had to break 13 hrs and only had 1:15 to get 8.5 miles now. The last 2 sections were really fun, cruising single track and downhills thru the canyons I pulled into 48 mile AS with at 12:30. Topped off and headed out. Downhill my ass! All I saw were switchbacks up, bummed out I started to head up. It wasn't that bad. Once at the top I could see trail to the tunnel under the freeway to the posse shack. Cruising thru the last mile in a race is always cool, just thinking about the long day and all the different things you go thru out there. It is a crazy sport but there is nothing better than giving total effort all day and getting over the finish line. 12:50 total time. 40th place out of 170 starters. Jamil kicked ass again at 3rd place 9:53 and Andrew was 14th in 11:13. Good WMRC showing for sure.

This is a very hard race that I would do again. 2 days later I still feel pretty worked and I think about all the downhills when I walk down the stairs and my legs give out. Well organized, well marked and had very good volunteers. A-


  1. Awesome report, glad you liked the race! Reading your story sure brought back some good memories. Your description of the switchbacks after AS2 was too funny.


  2. Nice run and great report! I too am glad you enjoyed the race and gave it such high marks. :) I gotta ask, is the "porta jeff" term a joke with a friend named Jeff? It makes me chuckle.

  3. Jason, thanks, you guys did a great job! POrta Jeff is named after a friend here. We try to throw a jab or two every now and then. Are yougoin gto Hardrock this year? If so, I will see you there. Take care.

  4. Great write up. I think I was right behind you in line for the "porta jeff."

  5. Congrats and good luck at Western!

  6. That was hilarious...I'm looking forward to this next week.