Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Ultra

Jeff and I left Thursday afternoon of last week to pace our cousin Bryan in his quest to finish an ultramarathon. The race took place in the Big Horn Mountain Range in lovely picturesque Dayton, WY. After a briefing session Friday morning, our Krause team was ready to go. Jeff, Shelley and I were the approved pacers with Jeff running about 40 miles, Shelley 17, and me 20. His crew chiefs were his dad, Kenny, and his son Kennan. It was a full family affair.

Jeff's first pacing job started earlier than expected when the course changed because of the amount of snow still up in the mountains. Jeff picked up Bryan at mile 24 at his first rest area/pit stop. Here Bryan would change shoes, socks, maybe shorts, and then refill his beverages. It was tough to get Bryan to eat much. Nothing really sounded good, but that didn't stop his pacers and family from picking up his leftovers.

At each aid station, even at aid stations we ran into in the middle of nowhere, they had crews ready with food. Some of the crews had to pack in all the food on horseback while others could use ATVs. It was amazing to eat hot soup when you were freezing cold. Most stations had sandwiches, soup, all sorts of candies, pop, water, and electrolytes.

Jeff and Bryan ran from miles 24 to 40 where I picked up Bryan for our run through the night. Waiting for Bryan and Jeff to come into the Footbridge Aid station knowing that I was going out with Bryan to run through the night left me feeling very anxious. Looking back, I would definitely pack differently for my portion of the race, but I wouldn't give up my shift. Bryan and I had 20 miles to cover. We left at 10 pm and ran until just past 6 am the next morning. We even encountered a moose that Bryan managed in his sleep deprived state to shoo-away from me. We were able to see the last rays of sunshine and the majestic sun rise the next morning as most of our path followed the Tongue River which was raging!

When we returned to the Footbridge Aid station the next day, Jeff picked up Bryan again after a few hours of "sleep" in our car. On a side note, just to get to this aid station by car, Kenny had to forge three rivers in our Sequoia. If you are ever questioning the all-terrain capabilities of a Toyota, don't. Kenny caravanned us to each place safely without a dent in the car! Jeff took Bryan to mile 77 where we met them back at the Dry Fork Aid station. Bryan was definitely feeling the effects of staying up all night and running 77 miles at this point.

Shelley met Bryan at mile 77 where she was to take him all the way home to mile 100. Because the course had changed, not all the cut-off stations where aware of the new cut-off times. Bryan was assured at mile 77 he had enough time to make it home, but an aid station felt different at mile 82. I can't even imagine trying to make your point about cut-off times when you have been running for a day and a half.

We are so proud of Bryan going for his goal. We know that we would sign-up again to help him. While waiting for Bryan at the appointed aid stations, I had the fabulous opportunity to get to know his son Kennan and dad Kenny better. I couldn't ask for better family members and a more entertaining and exciting time.

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