Almost dnf'ed. Story follows.
First let me say I'm just getting in to my hotel room. I started not to do the report until tomorrow, but what else do I have to do besides deal will all these aches and pains.
I made it to the race in plenty of time and waited around for the start. Pretty low key, ready set go. My plan was to hold my heart rate in the 140's and not worry about pace. On a level surface that would be sub 10 minute miles anyway. However, I was soon to learn that this course was anything but level. After about 2 miles you start this wicked ascent. No one was running it but the eventual winner, Valmir Nunes of Brazil. Last years Badwater winner. Many of us wondered why he was at this race, turns out he has a connection with the race director, and is training for Spartathlon, a 152 mile race run in Greece. The ascent is so steep that if it had rained, you wouldn't have been able to get up without holding on to trees. The first two loops went well, I did them both in under 1:30. Each loop was 7.77 miles, and I had to do eight. Also, it was unseasonably hot with no cloud cover. On loop three, the heat was starting to slow me down. If you look at my splits, you'll see that they got progressively slower. After finishing loop four, I seriously thought about dropping. But after staying in the s/f area for a few minutes, I decided to go back out. From here on out, I thought about dropping after finishing every loop. This race had a twelve hour cut-off for starting the last loop, and I finished loop seven in 11:57. I was the last runner allowed to start the 8th loop. I left, and a lady left with me since I was going to be the last runner on the course. I thought there was a fourteen hour cut-off, and I knew I was going to be cutting it close. So I took off on the last loop mostly running until I got to this steep ascent. I thought I could handle it one more time, but when I finished the climb this time, I was dead on my feet. I had to sit down at the aid station. this is an unmanned station, and is about a quarter through the loop. At this point it is closer to go back the way you came than to finish. I told the sweeper, I was going to drop here and head back. This lady, Carolyn said, why don't you think about that, maybe walk for awhile and see if you feel better. You know that climb took a lot out of you, and maybe you'll feel better in a bit. I said, I'll never make the fourteen hour cut-off. She said, they let you continue, you'll be listed. This perked me up a bit and I started walking. But after a little while, I had made up in my mind I was going to drop at the half-way aid station. I was dead on my feet, and could manage to run only a tiny bit on downhills. We made it to the half-way, and these guys had been nothing but great to me the whole time. When we got there, they said they were hoping I had made the last loop cut-off. I said I've got to sit down and make a decision here. While there were no more significant up hills, I just didn't think I could make it. But I sat for a few minutes, ate a bit, and said let's go. By now it was starting get a little dark, we were back in the woods, and I was glad Carolyn had loaned me her flashlight. And she had her headlamp. There was no more running to speak of, and we just powered on. I was now feeling better, I hadn't been much of a conversationalist during the first half, and Carolyn sensed that, and didn't try to engage me. But now we were getting to know each other. We went down the significant downhill, and made it to the bottom where it was pretty much flat to the finish. The crew at the finish line saw our lights, and started yelling my name. I told Carolyn that it was a double edged sword, it was nice to hear my name, but I knew they knew it because I was the only runner left on the course. We took it on in, everyone was great, taking our pictures, making me feel like a star. I finished in 14:25 It turns out I was also the second place Veteran, read old man, so I also got an award for that. While I was the last person to finish, I will say that there were people behind me that didn't make the cut-off. Also, 36 people started, and only 11 finished. I made sure Carolyn understood how much her encouragement meant to me. And this also underscores the value of a partner late in a race like this. Had she not been there, I would have dropped. I am so thankful to have finished this race. Apparently with no injures or illnesses.