Before I write any resembling a race report I must profusely thank my wife Jen for her abundant support throughout not only the race itself but during the months preceding while I was moonlighting with the trails. She’s wonderful, supportive, and a tremendous strength in my life. Without her sacrifices (there are many) this would not be possible. I may be the one running but it’s her that gives me wings.
I must also thank my sister Sona, who’s not a runner, for soaking up “ultra” and crewing me through the night – a special kudos for white knuckling the rental minivan over a rocky landslide covering the road to Olallie Meadows AS!
Prior to the race I was fortunate enough to be offered the pacing services of Hao Liu. I’m so glad that he took the time out of his busy schedule to both pace AND crew for me. Being in the 100 mile club himself and a coach for Team in Training he was superb in adding depth to Jen and Sona’s ultra knowledge then stepping in to guide me the final 32 miles!
I offer my infinite gratitude to the Coastside Running Club for their support of all things running. The shinning standouts are Eric Vaughan, George Miller, and Ron Little. If I hadn’t of stumbled upon the CRC through Eric’s direction, my life would have been vastly different today. There’s so much positive & supportive energy amongst these gentlemen (and the families behind them) that without it I’m certain running would’ve fallen as just another fleeting hobby – likely replaced with a 1 year stint in amateur curling to then be ousted by competitive gardening.
The Course and My Race Expectations
The Cascade Crest Classic 100 was founded in 1999 – a single 100 mile loop centered in the small town of Easton, WA which also sits at the low elevation point of the course of 2,200′. The course covers almost 21,000′ of elevation gain and loss with a high point of 5,840′ at the summit of Thorp Mountain at mile 84. Aside from the fire roads, the course’s terrain is very technical – even more so with this year’s new tunnel bypass section I’m coining “the downhill rock slalom” which challenges even the “trail from hell” for the ranking of most difficult section.
This being my first 100 mile race I had a hugely difficult time tuning my expectations with reality. Coming off wildly successful 50 mile training runs the gravitation of success continually pulled me towards a time goal ranging from 24-27 hours with 27 being a worst-case scenario. To ground myself, I settled on this game plan: The first 50 is a training run, the second 50 I can race. Sporting my new hair-do (which caused quite the commotion) I set forth on a journey into the 100 mile club my pace charts set, my crew instruction written, and my pacer eagerly awaiting my arrival at Kachess Lake (68).
Race Time: Start to Stampede Pass (Miles 0 – 33)
The start was at 10:00 AM on Saturday, this allow for a fabulous breakfast buffet at the start/finish firestation. I was absolutely addicted to the hand-picked huckleberry pancakes; they were all I could eat (I downed 4-5 of them before the race). Following the American and Canadian national anthems we were set loose into the wilds of Easton to tackle our first climb up to Goat Rock.
The pre-race nervous chatter settled into roving conversations of, “hey I was at that race” or do you know such and such. There were a lots of people from the CA Bay Area representing: Sean Lang, Adam Blum, Mark Tanaka, Chihping Fu, Wendell Doman … and those are just the ones I know. Needless to say there were many familiar runners and crew peppered throughout the race.
Goat Peak came and went without issue. I felt I was holding a good pace and was placed about mid-pack. In retrospect we gained altitude quickly and I didn’t properly monitor my heart rate and adjust my pace accordingly (letting it inch up to 170 at times).
My memory fails me on the sections leading up to Tacoma Pass (mile 23). But arriving I was looking forward to seeing my crew for the first time. As I ran in, I was welcomed to a Happy Birthday! It was fabulous. And I was treated to a heaping slice of German Chocolate cake – my favorite. I took a huge bite then comically began choking on the coconut shavings. After a pristine taping of my left foot I was off.
The paramount memory in traversing from Tacoma Pass to Stampede Pass was running the PCT (what a wonderful trail). The clouds were lapping the ridge tops like waves and spritzing a cool mist on the shrubs lining the trails. Peering down at those mist covered shrubs I pondered a conversation I had with the ranger a few days prior about it being prime huckleberry season. These bushes fit her description to a “T” waist high manzanita-like shrubs with purple berries that highly resemble blueberries. While running I cautiously grabbed a handful and chewed. Wow! Nature’s fruit, chilled to perfection and misted to further enhance it’s juiciness. I couldn’t get enough – and it helped pass the time: I’d spot a big juicy one, run to it, do a quick grab, then enjoy). It invoked a sense of independence from the race a feeling of “nativeness”. That is what life is about – those simple moments of perfection.
Stampede Pass in my mind morphs with Tacoma Pass. I remember my wonderful crew taping my other foot and swapping my GPS watch and checking that I had a headlamp (it’s required here to leave with one). The feedback I was getting was your not eating enough – my GU fueling was well into collapse. I was sick of the flavor, it viscosity, everything about it and I was only at mile 33. My appetite was still good however. Off I went back onto the PCT to enjoy the race ahead.