Why a DNF seemed so right

Welcome to a beautiful 75° January day in sunny Florida. Venturing from the blistering cold weather of upstate NY. This should be a nice break from the winter that I’m not to keen to anyway. I was greeted after my flight at the airport by my good friend Tom and his wife Debbie. Tom offered a room at his house and agreed to crew and pace me through the trails in central Florida. We were about to embark into some uncharted worlds. We would collide straight into the trail system of the Wild Florida 120 Mile Endurance Run.

The race was my first late afternoon start (3:00pm). I particularly enjoyed the sounds of it, knowing I could get in a decent breakfast in my body and didn’t have to wake super early. The race itself was 120ish mile point to point through Centeral Florida starting at Micco Landing Trailhead just off route 98 to E Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway Trailhead. Elevation gain was less then 1000 feet which was totally out of my running guidelines. Traversing through prairies, wooded forests, boar damaged fields, swamps, beach like roads, and just about everything that will likely shred your feet if you not careful. The drive was long and I did my best to fill Tom in on what I thought I would need or want throughout the ten different aid stations on the course. A personal shuttle lasting the same amount of time as the one offered by the race. The beauty of this place when we arrived was breathtaking.

An hour early we arrived. Runners already sitting in their finest folding chairs, lathering on sunscreen, and preparing for the long trek head through sunset to sunrise and trying to beat the second sunset if lucky enough. A race against time that ended with your fate after 36 hours. Meaning you had from 3pm on Friday to 3 am on Sunday to complete to course. I was preparing myself for an incredible adventure, but this was about to become a war. A war with intense battles and becoming helpless to a kidnapped body.

Point to point race my favorite, I was amongst a pool of seventy seven other runners. When I signed up 125 were willingly going to explore these trails. It’s so easy to just click a bottom to join races, but it takes true guts to show up and actually run them. We received some pre race instructions and some very helpful tips for use of the mandatory Guthook app. on my cellphone. Oh yeah, this app. allows you to find your way back to the trail if there was any reason you thought you could be off course. I will say now that this was a necessary tool for my wellbeing and navigation during the night sections. With a last minute photography of our group, RD Sean Blanton gave some really great word of encouragement and why we all stood there today. What I took away from it was, I seek adventure and enjoy the confusion from struggle. I am fearless, knowing pain will soon approach gripping tightly. I’m a bad mother fucker, and if what I do was easy, shit everyone would do it. I then turned around and a took my first steps into the Florida landscape.

My stride was on point and foot placement seemed like an video game I was about to master. I soon found my rhythmless pace again as I was by myself flowing through the trails. The trails weren’t like any other I stepped foot in. Huge cypress trees engulfed in Spanish moss. Palm trees parts littered the trail beneath my feet. Prairies as far as my eyes could see. The trails were soft as my foot mushed into them almost like the gym mat in elementary school. I was so happy to be able to be doing what I love.

I greeted Tom at the first crew station. This was not a full functioning aid station so I used the nutrition I brought along from NY with me. I took a few minutes to compose myself and wondered when will I get my first pickles. I bid farewell to Tom and told him it would be a while till I seen him next. Get the pickles and PBJ ready. Approximately seventeen mile would pass before I would seen him again. The war was beginning, I just failed to realize it was happening. My body was ready to be kidnapped and I did nothing to prevent it.

I ran through knee deep swaps, through turned over earth from the countless number of wild pig herds looking to fill their hungry bellies. Amongst the horses and cattle that looked at me in confusion wondering what this thing was running through their yards. I ran like I was free, as I made my way into Kissimmee Prairie Park aid station five mile 35. Tom greeted me ask how I was and if he could get me anything. I asked for pickles and peanut butter and jelly sandwich. He got exactly what I asked for. I also knew I need so sort of electrolyte. I asked him what they had and he replied, “Gatorade”. I gave him my collapsing cup and drank the liquid down. I waited my usual five minutes and departed Tom. “See you in 14 buddy”

I ran watching the sun start to fade into the palm tree soaked horizon. The rain was on and off that day, but it was a Florida rain. Light sprinkle that didn’t last to long. Just enough to cool you down, like getting misted from the garden hose. Darkness was about to set in and not just as night. As some of the worst fears I have ever face as a runner.

My body was losing control. I literally stopped running my stomach was knotted. This has never happens to me. I felt as if I was about to be sick and I’m only at mile forty. How could this be? What have I done? How will I finish knowing I am so far away? I love meeting new trail friends but now I wanted nothing to do with them. I didn’t want any of them seeming me struggling, in pain, showing weakness. Cramming was incredible as I ran through it and push forward. At mile fifty-six I left all sorts of me on the ground in Florida. Bringing the warrior I thought I was right to my knees. I was deeply disappointed and quickly felt defeated. I had so long yet to go, how could I even continue feeling this way.

I made it to Kicco shuttle aid where Tom was waiting for me. I literally limped in with pain told him I needed a break. I have been puking since mile 56 with no end in sight. I wanted sleep and that just what I did. With the rain coming down harder I hopped in the crew vehicle and dozed of hoping to sleep of any illness I was fighting.

My short nap lasted an hour. A fucking hour I slept, and when I awoke I felt even worst. I now had the shakes and my internals felt as if there where getting shredded in a meat grinder. This was it, my first DNF. This would feel so right at this moment. Just quite and this pain will all go away. I can believe this thought is possibly racing through my head. I felt weak, sadness, and pure disappointment that I was willing to give up so easily on my goal. I actually spoke these words to Tom. “That’s it, I think I’m going to quit, Florida will be my first DNF.

I had to do something to straighten my mind out. I needed a life line to awaken that warrior spirit I know I had deep inside of me. I needed Ashley and she answered my call. “How’s it going!” she exclaimed. ” I’m literally dying my body is dying”. I said. “I think I’m going to quit.” As my eye’s started to water holding back tears. My voice cracked as I tried not to cry. We chatted for what seemed to be hours to me about if I would feel comfortable with a DNF and how maybe I can change the way I feel. “You still have a long time to figure out a plan.” She said. She reassured me things will get better and I could do this. The rain was getting worse outside. We discussed options and different variables on what my true goals were. How the daylight would be here in a few sort hours and that could be a great start of a whole new chapter of my race. Knowing I made it through this brutal night and the sickness may pass. I could possibly reclaim my body and get back into this race. Her last word of encouragement were, ” You know if I were there with you I would drive you to were you need to be, kick your ass out of the car and see you at the next aid station.” “Call me when you get there you can do this Scott.”

I asked Tom to grab my rain gear from the back. I now actually thought about what I was about to attempt. It’s wasn’t about trying to keep top of the pack anymore, this was about my strength and courage to complete what I thought was so far gone already. Let’s talk about scared as hell, as the driver side door opened up and I could feel the cool breeze and hear the rain pounding against the ground. I was handed my rain jacket and a fresh tech shirt. That was it as I told Tom to dropped me a the check point.

I wish I had a picture to capture that how alone and frightened I was hobbling down the road towards the blinking light that signaled my right turn back onto the trail. The rain was now the heaviest it’s been all night. I had made my decision that I would not stop for anything and I would finish what I started. I wanted it and I now will fight to get what I came for. I am an ultra runner and this is what I do.

I tried to really enjoy as much as I could during the sun lit hours. The course with it’s many diverse systems of running through swamps, palms and cypress trees forests, prairies lands, farms fields, and sand covered roads. But for the remainder of the race my internal systems would not let me enjoy it how I wished. My body rejected any calories I tried to ingest like it was some sort of foreign material not meant for consumption. My last and final ejection came at mile 111 on my watch.

I finally seen a headlamp through the clearing. I knew it was Tom coming to find my already crippled body still moving forward. It was nice to see him and have someone I felt comfortable around if I need to be sick again. I knew the end was near, it was night for the second time. I was ready to be done. We broke free from the trail to see the finish line. I don’t walk through a finish, and gathered what energy I had left and made my final approach. I ran and crossed the finish line of the worst / best race of my career. I completed the Wild Florida 120 Mile Endurance Run.

Special thanks to Tom and Debbie Parson for all that you did to make this happen. Tom for crewing and pacing me.

Race Director: Sean Blanton( Run Bum) for an incredible race that will be a top favorite for sure.

And to a the volunteers that kept me moving and smiling knowing the struggle I had handed to me.

2019 recap of some pretty epic shit.

Here I am again, reminiscing about another year that is now fading quickly away into the past. Another 365 days gone, bringing forth light into a new beginning. A rebirth into the next chapter of my life with endless dream to capture and vast lands to explore. I will wipe my slate clean from resent accomplishments that will no longer valid in 2020. Arising the new opportunities that most humans would think insane. I will run long and aim high to make this year so fucking epic. I have made a promise to myself and will not deviate from the plan. I’m an ultra runner and this is what I do!

2019 Races

January: Bandera 100K

February: Black Canyon 100K

March: Castle to River: 50K

April: Palmers Pond 50K

June: War Hammer 100M

July: 0 SPF 1/2 marathon

August: Twisted Branch 100K

September: Webster Trail Classic 10M

October: Midstate Massive Ultra Trail 100M

The year of traveling the beautiful country in which I live. That pretty much sums this year for me. I completed in some really large events like Bandera and Black Canyons and some that just had the homegrown grassroots type of vibe. All testing out my will to complete the miles dealt to me as I battled through dusty rock surfaces, torso high water crossings, thunderous rain storms, sleep deprivation, and I watched day turn to night and night turn to day. I never stopped the forward motion to complete everything I set in front of me.

I have definitely set my goals high this year. Aiming for the completion of two back to back 100K’s in places I have never ran. This would take place early in the year with training that was difficult to keep. Yes this scared me, and I would be alone with no one by my side. Traveling to trails I’ve never stepped foot on until race day. I came to these states and accomplished my mission . Setting a new 100K PR of 9:50:05 at Black Canyons 100K

After returning home, I was ready to tackle my hometown 50K’s. Again new ones never attempted by me. Some of the most difficult 50k’s I have done in my short running career. Knowing this would all help my transition to my first 100 mile attempt in June. I ventured to Breakneck Point to Palmers Pond NY.

My first ever attempt at 100 miles. I had no idea what to expect. I have never been so scared standing on that start line waiting for my first steps forward. My stomach was in knots, my muscles were tense, and my mind not able to hold on to a single thought. I was Kentucky and it breathed some of the most beautiful forests I had ever ran in. Just amazed my eyes as the mile slipped beneath my feet. I believe the total miles were 102 and I will never forget this single moment I captured that day. It was not only my first 100 mile I completed but won it!

I raced revamped Twisted Branch 100K approximately two months following the War Hammer 100 race. They say three times a charm and that it was. The race this year had slight deviations from previous years due to land agreements and trail re-routes. This made for another epic adventure thought the Finger Lakes Trail System. One race that will never disappoint me and challenge my being.

I decided I needed some alone time after months of training. Months of non stop grinding miles for races to come. I needed to be translucent to my adventures and my surroundings. Mountains were calling my name and Colorado was were I need to be.

It was awakened on my plane ride home to New York. I was going to attempt my second 100 only months after my first. Midstate Massive Ultra Trail. Traversing through four states of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island.

I never thought at the start of 2019 I would be stepping foot at the beginning of my second 100 mile attempt. Toeing the line and pushing my body to limits found only in ultrarunning. I crossed state boarders, and pushed my way to my second 100 mile finish line. I never gave up on my goals. I dreamt the thoughts in my heads, wrote the plan, and executed them with precision. I used my body like a machine, fueled by passion for what I love to do, and the love of my running community that believed in me. Thank you all for such an incredible 2019.

If anyone has any questions about races I completed this year feel free to message on here or my Instagram @sparrsr.

Here’s to 2020

#happy trails

Mid State Massive 100 Crew trip

Thank you so much for this write up and tackling this adventure with me

Emerging Trail

Lessons learned from crewing another 100.

This past weekend Sheila and I got to crew (along with Ashley) as our friend Scott took on a 100 mile trail race across Massachusetts. The midstate trail  in Massachusetts. He would start in New Hampshire – Run all the way across Mass, then cut into Connecticut and Rhode Island before finishing up back in Mass. The event is called the Midstate Massive Ultra Trail

I was along for driving and aid stationing while Sheila and Ashley would help me crew while they did the pacing for the final 50 miles of the event.

Scott had an incredible race – capped off with a top 5 finish on trails he had never stepped foot on before. I wanted to put together a little something about what I saw as some of his reasons for success.

  1. Preparation. Not just the running (but this is…

View original post 679 more words

Exploring Colorado’s elevation gain

My plane arrives mid Saturday afternoon. Touching down the pilot announced overhead through the loud speaker to tell the passengers,” Welcome to Denver were we have clear skies and 70 degrees.” Peering through the window I seen grayish walls of rock towering over the horizon. My heart flutter with excitement and a bit of anxiety. Would be able to climb these mountains, and what if the elevation I would be chasing paralyze me from moving higher into skyline.

My trip planning has become pretty reckless within this past year. I know the particular places I want to travel, but I don’t want any sort of set schedule. For example, I will fly into Denver, rent a car, and that’s it, that was my plan. An unforeseen future with no where to be. I just know my flight leaves at 4:15 on Tuesday afternoon. Let’s not forget I’ve never traveled to Colorado so this will be a whole brand new beginning. Another chapter in my life of being an ultra adventurer.

I grabbed my basic economy rental, which they upgraded to a Jeep Wrangler for free. Yes!!! as I planned on sleeping in the car anyway. It took me a few moments to figure the always upgrading technology, but as soon as I did the speakers command me to make my first turn and head towards Rocky Mountain National Park. I contacted a buddy of mine that recently move to the area and he agreed to me up with me there. As well as he gave me a few areas to explore and a few food recommendations.

Day 1,

Rocky Mountain National Park:

Elevation: 8300-9600 feet

I meet up with my buddy John-Alex for a hike from Mill Creek trailhead in Rocky Mountain National Park. Huge mountains surrounded me and my fist sighting of an elk in the wild was extraordinarily . I wasn’t sure what to expect from my body. I have done the Adirondack and Catskill mountain hikes back home, but these were the Rocky Mountains. The ground was dusty brown and the shrubbery reminded me of an aired dry climate. The pine trees were thin, their branches soaring towards the sky. Sounds of water flowing was magical as I came to embrace the land we call Colorado. We hiked a total of eight miles and my body was completely in tune with the higher atmosphere we walk in. I was ready for day two tomorrow.

Day 2,

Brainard Lake

Elevation: 9800-11000 feet

Twin Sister Peaks

Elevation: 8800-11000 feet

Holy shit, where did the nice weather just go. The air temperature was forty two degrees out with a slight wind chill to help. I did my best to gear up not to overdress and shed layers as I warmed up. My pack found its home comfortably resting on my back. The trail changing like a chameleon changes color. Hopscotching rock faces, rooted overgrowth, and I even found my first bit of mud pockets to navigate over. The landscape was breathtaking. Stoping multiple time for pictures. I felt great as my body seemed to acclimated accordingly to the changing elevation. I made my way to the base of Mt. Audubon. I was told the wind gusts were almost unbearable. A gentlemen described it to me that his face went numb and he looked as he was dressed for the part. I decided to run/hike around the base of the mountain and I wasn’t disappointed. I seen the first glimpse of seasonal change. It was time to relax, enjoy the reason why I was here in the first place, before my return run back to the car.

Total miles were 11.8

After a quick nap I punched in a new destination into my phone. Arriving at Lilly Lake I could see this was a popular tourist destination. Multiple trailhead surrounded the water. I noticed no one venturing across the street to where I was headed. Huh weird. I enjoyed the delivery system of my last hike so I continued with this same strategy. Hike the uphills and run the down hill. Immediately I was headed up to the summit, sort of at a fast packing pace but nothing to crazy. Oh yes, this was a well maintained trail. Reminds me as if I was hiking the Appalachian. Up….up….up I climbed looking out through the clearing at times to understand how small I really was in this world. I could tell I was getting some serious gain in because my watch told me so. A little under a thousand feet in almost a mile. Not to shabby. I did feel my breathing becoming a little odd but didn’t figure anything of it. I thought that it was just the climbing. But then as I got about another mile or so my heart rate became irrational. Is this how I was reacting to higher elevation. I slowed to control my breathing and it lowered my heart rate. I did this multiple times during my hike to the peak. Eventually slowing down enough to control it all completely. Did I finally experience how I reacted to elevation. How would I know I’ve never experienced it before. However, I realized during my push to the top my body experience something. I relaxed to soak in the view before my final decent to the base to eat dinner next to the lake.

Total miles were 6.7

Day 3,

Spalding Mountain

Elevation: 12700-13800

Dryer Mountain

Elevation: 12100-13800

I awoke at four in the morning in hopes to catch a sunrise on a summit. I plugged in a mountain and away I drove. Once again spending the night in a parking lot of a local department store. Sunrise was at six-forty and the drive was about two hours. I was sightseeing on the drive to Mt. Evens and that might have coast me some time. I had another forty-six minutes to get there. I seen the sun peaking it’s faint orange glow from behind the blackened triangles. I decided to find a pull off and this is what I captured.

Heading back to Mt. Evens I eventually came to the trailhead. I made numerous stops along the way to see the changing of seasons and to witness mountain goats playing of the cliff walls. I grabbed my two soft water bottles and headed out. The trail was well marked caving it way along the mountains edge. Consisting of dirt and smaller rock I did occasionally find myself pulling my way up large rocky outcrops. There it is again, about half way to the first peak I was breathing heavy my heart was trying to win the Kentucky derby. It was the same feeling as yesterday. I slowed to catch my breath and once again my heart rate decreased. The feeling I can only describe as trying to run up a flight of stairs while engaging in a great conversation with a friend. As long as I decreased the rate in which I hiked my body was completely satisfied and able to continue moving forward. I made it to the first peak. 13,852 feet to be exact, the highest peak thus far for my trip. It was completely awe inspiring. A complete three hundred and sixty degree view. I need to go no further. I stayed to etched this moment into my brain before my returning to my car.

Total miles 3.1

I pulled out my phone from my pocket. Accessing the maps, I look for my next mountain. And right there I seen it…Leadville. If you know me at all you now know the direction my vehicle is headed. I made it into the small town with a little time to spare before my afternoon hike. The town was cute. Of course it was, it had that old mining town feel. I was in desperate need of a shower. I broke down a booked a room for the night. After unpacking I keyed in on my next adventure. I arrived at the trailhead in the last afternoon. The mountain looked enormous and so different. Like the rocks were melting away from the cliff side. All around me this is what it looked like. I started the long haul up from the base. The trail was narrow and I was already walking atop of broken rock. This was the most difficult trail to follow, my eye only keying in on sections of trail a few times. I knew where I wanted to be and I just needed to get there safely. Passing an abandoned mining camp I continued my climb. I pasted a few snow covered valleys. How could help myself to not stop and play as if I were a kid. Making my own way to the summit the rock slid beneath my feet. I was hand and foot climbing at this point. Make a slow progress now not to get fatigued from the elevation. I could feel it, but did what I needed to compensate. Around four thirty in the afternoon I arrived at what would be unknown to me, my last summit of the trip. 13,825.

Total miles were 3.3

To sum it all up, my adventure to Colorado was a true success. Yes, I felt the elevation as I climbed the mountains. I found my breathing and heart rate increase rapidly as I moved closer to the peaks. I now understand how my body reacts to the higher elevation. But this was very manageable as long as I payed attention to how I felt during my hikes/runs. I was very nervous to take on this trip solo, hearing some of the effects that elevation can do to the human body. This is almost alway were my ultra adventures start. If it scares me, it’s probably a good idea to actually do. Do epic shit!

I got Twisted again in 2019

A full year has elapsed since I push myself through the trails of Naples NY. Twisted Branch 100k has undergone a few course modifications and is now a brand new member to the Western States qualifying race family. The question I ask myself is,”Can I possibly finish as well as I did in the past years”?

I step from my vehicle and make my way across the parking area to check in. A beautiful Friday afternoon with a few clouds in the sky. Forecast for the weekend mid to high 70’s with possibly rain by late Saturday afternoon. But who are we kidding, if you know this area of NY anything is possible.

This year I didn’t bring a tent to sleep in, car camping was in my future plans for the night. I did the normal walk around after receiving my bib, greeted many of my trail family, and I embraced in the usual conversations of ultra running. Remembering the 4 a.m. start can creep up very quickly.

Crawling into my truck, my eyes begin to close and I fell into an immense dark space. Relaxed and comfortable my body is ready for sleep.

My pack is all ready filled with the essential fuels and liquid that with keep my body in motion for the next 65ish miles. My body well rested and ready to tackle the unforgiving course of Twisted Branch. My mind in a state of euphoria, as thoughts dance around never holding on to just one for a few moments. I look at the lit arch that signifies the start. I bend down and retie my shoes one last time. There is it! My mind captures and focuses on a very strong sound. It’s the sound of my breathing as I take a few deep breaths.

The count down begins as I hear the chirping of the race watches getting ready to consume the vast amounts of data for the day. The racers gathers closer to the arch as the signal to Go is heard throughout Ontario County Park. I propel my self forward and start my journey for the third year in a row. Let’s get Triple Twisted!

Along the tiny gravel soaked path, headlights illuminate the blackness of morning that incapsulates each runner. I make my way along to the stretch of single track that signals my brain that the course began. Silhouettes of outlined humans buzz by me on both sides and the only thing I could think of is,” I’ll see you again real soon”. I remain focused and get into my running mojo. My thoughts start to wonder as my body settles in for a day of ultra racing.

The trail is damp from the morning dew and a slight rain from the over night. The vegetation slap-jacking my lower body, enough to dampen your soul. My headlight beamed along rolling fog-outs that made it difficult to see the trail at times. But I’ve been here, I know how this works. I understand the directional flow and recognize the tiny reflections that twinkle from the sides of the trail. I have no worries about where I’m headed. I just wanted to keep my feet dry as long as possible.

I managed to push through the early morning feeling completely composed. The sun just started cresting over the horizon. Packing my headlamp away I was making great time. Stoping at each aid stations to rest even if it was for just a few seconds. I found through my past races, that each stop was a value to my performance later in the day.

The trail was tranquil, I found myself alone very early in the race this year. There was no grouping of runners. I could hear no voices in the distance. Just the sounds of my pack rustling with each movement of my body. My feet as the struck the ground with every preplanned placement, as if I was playing a live chess game. The roots spread across the ground overlapping one another like interlocking fingers. Green engulfing the forest as I continue my adventure.

My legs where covering ground pretty quickly and I crested the peaks and removed the miles behind me. Running away through densely populated pine trees that made you feel as if I where running on clouds. Their needles softening the earth beneath me. The sunlight flickering through the tree tops. I was alone but exactly were I wanted to be.

I felt unstoppable running into the later part of the day. The course sucker punching with any chance it could get. Definitely keeping me aware with one wrong mistake I could jeopardize everything I have worked so hard for. This course has chew up and spit out even the seasoned ultra runners. I could see the sky darkening with anger. You could smell it coming. The air dense with moisture.

I made my way up the final climb. The rain was pounding my all ready fatigued body. I focused on the runner ahead of me. Driving my legs deeper into the muddy soil. Slowly I moved closer to the thick clouds as my feet splashed wildly through the puddles. The finish was so close.

Descending through the final switchbacks, I could hear the cheering of the crowd. The rain clearing at this point, only lasting enough to completely ruin all your electronics. Jumping root and rocks, I screamed through this portion of single track. There it was, the Twisted Branch wooden arch signifying the finish. I sprinted the final fifty yard to the end of my adventure. I definitely was Twisted.

Three years and three 6th place finishes

Thank you RD Scott and Patty

Thank you trail steward Jeff

Thank you Twisted Branch race committee

Thank you volunteers

And a special thank you to Ashely for all that you did for me that day. You are an amazing person!

War Hammer 100

I had never heard of Slade, Kentucky. A place were over 40,000 people migrate to each year from around the world to test their strength and ability as athletes. To utilize the natural landscape given by this area to either make or break them in there sport. Most of them carrying ropes,carabiners, and chalk bags. But this weekend is not for the climbers, this weekend is for the four Ultra runners from Rochester Ny. This weekend is for us!

I traveled solo to Kentucky Thursday morning the 6th of June. Meeting Mike and Natalie there that evening and picking up Laura Friday afternoon. That’s it, my crew of three, and three very respectable individuals in the ultra running community back home. I was in good hands for my first attempt at a 100 mile distance.

I slept great Friday night, not sure if the nervousness would overcome me. My crew and I went over the final logistic of how the next days events would unfold. Weather for the whole weekend included rain, rain, and more rain. Another obstacle I figured I would have to counterbalance. Race start time was 6am and we arrived about 30 minutes early.

26 of us showed up at Natural Bridge State Park to run the 2nd War Hammer 100. Each and every one of us for different reasons why, as we pinned the bib to ourselves. We all counted down the last ten second like a church choir and I slowly began to move forward.

I have begun a journey that will either make or break me. I had no time schedule, no aid station layout, didn’t really know when the major climbs were. I did load pre race, a GPX map of the course on my phone incase flags were tampered with or I got lost and could find my way again. This was highly recommended by the RD. But in all I just wanted to be me, with only one goal. Finish my first 100 mile run.

I felt good, my body responding well to the rhythm of my feet and arm movements. With not even a mile in my feet were soaked, having to trek through my first stream crossing. That of many throughout this course. I broke out nice and slow as I wanted to stay in the middle of the group as we hit the first sections of roads that met with our first area of single track.

We hit a few small hills and I was able to squeeze by some runners. I was now with the lead pack. There were five of us running at a pretty good pace. This is how it stayed for the first 20+ miles and we did it due to course markings were hard to find or non existent. I had to keep pulling my phone out to make sure the group was on track and going the right way. It felt good running together, like we were old friends just going out for a long run. I helped clear whatever nervousness I had. I knew in my heart this would last for long. I would be running alone till mile 55 when I could get my first pacer.

We made distance on one other. I moved through the thick vegetation almost bushwhacking at times. Running smoothly following the pink and white striped ribbon to the best of my ability. I think I’m in third place and holding strong. But I could see anyone in front of me or behind.

By this time I have traversed though some of the most scenic forests I had ever seen. The forest in Kentucky are rich in green and filled with old growth wood. I am alone to start to take it all in. But I say clam and collected through every hill, water crossing, road section, and mud pits. Wait I could see runners.Yes I was not alone anymore, I could at least focus on something in the distance rather than my own thoughts of how I was feeling. I would catch up and make small talk with them, but quickly reduce my pace to make sure I didn’t burn out. This was something that kept crossing my mind because my longest run as of now was 65 miles. It was good because it they brought me through most of the first half of the race. Thank you Zane and Thomas!

I again lost sight of them at the long road section. They were moving so much faster than I was. Damn alone again but now I noticed my feet starting to bother me. My shoe selection didn’t like the road. I knew my feet were swollen and my shoes were tightening. The trail lugs just dug into the bottoms of my feet from the hard pavement not giving in. I couldn’t wait to get them off at the next aid station in about 10ish miles. That’s were I would see my crew and get my first pacer.

I eventually caught back up to Thomas and we chatted for a bit. I knew we were so close to aid. We both made it in together and I could see Zane still recharging from the first 55 miles of the beautiful Kentucky country side. The last 8 miles felt like forever and my crew was ready for me.

I decided to do a shoe and change into dry cloths. My feet were water logged, wrinkly, and almost a fake white color. They almost looked dead. It felt good sliding them into dry socks and shoes. It felt fabulous to have room to move my toes and my socks felt warm. Laura and Natalie were amazing getting everything I needed as Mike was ready to go, ready to help me tackle this course. We ran the next 17 miles together. I was power walking the hills now and running the rest. Headlamps now illuminating the ground beneath us. I felt alive again, it felt good to hear words of encouragement from Mike. We past Zane about an hour ago. Shit I was leading for my first time ever in a race. I was in first place in my first ever 100 mile race! I remember asking, “Is this a good pace, am I doing ok? Mike’s response was ” I’m watching you painting a masterpiece just be patient.” I ran free in the trails of Kentucky’s single track.

We made aid stations transition only five minutes. Quick pb&j’s, pickles, and Sword sports drink. This became my ideal station food and continued all the way to the next crew point.

15 minutes at crew aid stations now became our thing. I could relax a little and take it all in. Still leading and seeing no one other runners in sight. My pack was quickly replenished and set beside me. Mike took Natalie to filled her in on my progress, pace pre mile, aid station food just all of it. I did another change of clothes to be dry again. Laura by my side with anything I needed.

I was up out of the chair a moving again forward. I had a 9ish mile stretch with Natalie. I took each section of trail mile by mile. I already started the count down in my head. Natalie reminding me that I was doing great. How it was inspirational to still see me running into later miles and beyond.

I felt focused now on what I need to do to complete this race and stay on top. At some point in time it was the first time I recognized I could actually win this thing.

We made our way into the final crew aid. It was Laura’s turn and I quickly ask for my final shoe change. I’m crew made fast work in getting my pack filled, food in my belly, and my ass up and headed words the final 18ish miles.

I was now at the end of my ropes. My body giving me troubles after almost 90 miles. Why now I thought after so many mile. I was walking a lot more now but kept moving along. Hearing a soft voice letting me know it was ok to walk. At one point I thought someone threw garbage bags all over the side of the road. It was only a downed tree and I was seeing the glare of the backs of the leave off my headlamp. We laughed about what I thought I seen.

That was it, I needed a break. I made my way to the road intersection and laid down. I could have just slept right there. It felt amazing as my body sank into the warm pavement. Laura lifting my legs and just telling my I was doing great.

I eventually rose to my beat up feet beginning the old man shuffle forwards to the finish. Laura giving me running/walking timed intervals. I could deal with that, it felt better than just slowly moving. It kept me running for at least a bit. Eventually I hear, ” you have two hours and seven miles left, you have a chance to get under 24 hours.” “You came this far why not try.” That’s all I needed

We move into the last aid station and I wanted to just recharge before I charged after the last 3.4 mile. I think it was a 10 minute stop with the first 5 with me laying down and my feet up on a chair. I tried my normal PB&J but that was now hard to swallow. Chips, pickles, and sword was it.

Time for the final push which consisted of all roads. I ran and walked fast. Laura said I had 20 minutes and I really started to run. The last quarter mile was completely up hill and so muddy. Laura was finding it difficult to get grip from her shoes. I moved forward losing sight of her and yelling back the directions to turn.

I was again running up the step muddy hills of Kentucky. Knowing the finish could be around any corner now. I hit the paved road and I started hearing the cheering. With a final sprint I was there, I just crossed the finish line of the War Hammer 100. I just completed my first 100 mile race. Wait…..I just won my first 100 mile race.

Thank you to…

My crew Laura, Natalie, and Mike no word can explain how grateful I was to have such amazing people by my side al weekend.

To Mike and Brandy for a incredible race that I will definitely be returning to next year to the wild trails of Kentucky.

To all the volunteers that made this race possible. That kept the aid stations running. That made me smile and laugh. You were all so incredible.

To all of my new running friends that I meet throughout the race. You are all so bad ass, only 26 of us attempted to run this crazy race. And you were one of them, that says a lot.

To all my trail friends in Upstate NY. You all were a big part of this. The likes, the compliments, the 👍, the times we have shared together on trails, the races we run together, the group runs, the trail maintenance, just getting together and hanging out. I am so proud to belong to such and amazing community of trail runner and more. #trailsroc

Finger Lakes Trail Adventures.

This year has been a great start to my ultra adventuring on the Finger Lakes Trail system. ( FLT ) From unplanned hiking and camping trips, to trying to run through the night getting ready for my first 100 mile race. It really has been a great start to finding my places within the FLT. So let me share my love of the trail with all of you.

The trail system runs just about the full length West to East of New York starting at the New York border of Pennsylvania and extending into the mountains range of the Catskills. I have covered a majority of upstate NY trail system and what a perfect place to be lost for day or even a few. The trail representing the surrounding area it has been placed at time with crazy pine tree forest, to cascading waterfalls, runs the country sides farms, to lands only found in children’s fairy tale books. The adventure is just waiting for you to take.

Photograph of Watkins Glen by: Peter Stamford

I have only covered a fraction of the 580 miles of the main FLT trail and just two out of six 412 mile branch trails. Each of them having their own characteristics from running the full length of the beautiful gorge at Letchworth State Park or traversing the steep Bristol Hill section. I can only imagine the others branches coming from the power falls of Niagara, and stretching north with the Onondaga trail.

In closing, New York has a beautiful trail system that it just sitting there for you to make lifetime memories on. Suitable for all levels, to the extreme outdoor junkies, to the relaxing stroll thought a water fall filled state park. Whether you live here or are just passing through, do a little research and definitely take some time to make the Finger Lakes Trail part of your adventure. Stay in some of the unique small towns while your in the area. The FLT is one trail system I have truly came to love I believe you will too.

What’s the plan?

I would love to say I have a plan. I plan that will take me to where I want my life to be. But let’s be real, how many of our life’s plans go exactly like we imagined in our heads.

I venture through life’s paths trying to understand my purpose. From my very existence, to the many questions I have about life itself. Why has there been so many crazy turns. Rounding some with amazing views and sometime going off road to the point getting stuck in a thick mud seaming like I’m sinking and never going to pull myself free.

Throughout each day I have so many questions. Rather it be climbing tall mountains or moving across the uneven surfaces I call trails, my mind races with the how’s, why’s, and what’s, the purpose of mine.

Which brings me to my point. It doesn’t matter who we are, where we come from, or the fact that we think something is not possible. In fact everything is possible, no matter how big we might think it is. The key is that first step that might make us terrified. Take it, it’s yours!

Paths, might not be clear, some might seem broken, but believe me they lead us to the most amazing places that only could exist in dreams. Trust yourself to own your life.

Life is a beautiful, place full of endless blank pages and we are the artists. Create your own world, changing the vast landscapes we envisioned in our minds.

If we break the barriers of our past traditions we can empower the life that sets you free. Our purpose here is what we want it to be. Don’t be afraid to create the universe.

We are all this Strong!!!!!!

Black Canyon 100K

Here I sit on a plane again to another foreign land in the United States. A little over a month ago I trekked the 62 miles through Camp Eagle ( Bandera 100K ). Will my body hold up to the unknown landscape, the weather, and altogether again another 62 miles at Black Canyon.

I arrived in Phoenix Arizona on Wednesday to give me a little time to do some site seeing. Since this was my first ever trip to Arizona I planed on seeing the Grand Canyon. I stayed in Prescott approximately 1.5 miles away from the outlets where I would catch my shuttle for race day and the Grand Canyon. A great half way point for both.

I ended up Going to a few different places.

1. Prescott National Forest 2. The Grand Canyon 3. Red Mountain 4. Granite Mountain All with there breath taking views and characteristics unlike I has ever seen. Each one rich with history fascinating my mind with many questions of my existence. “How fucking lucky am I” is what I thought a lot.

Race day was an early rise, like 2 am. I didn’t want to be late and try to always be punctual, otherwise that feeling of nervousness sets in for me. Like the one when you think you lost you cell phone. It hasn’t rained since Thursday and there was mention of switch the course due to high water at Agua Fria river.

I had my clothes laid out the night before. Temperature where supposed to start in the 30’s and climb up to low 50’s. I went with base layer shirt, tech shirt over top, and a shell jacket for my upper. Lower was just shorts. For my head was a buff to cover my ears and if I needed, I could always have that variety of options with a buff. My go to shoes of choice of course are Saucony Peregrine 7.

I arrive early at the outlet mall parking lot. The lights illuminate the runner as they gather last minute items from their vehicles. My nervousness starts to set in, as I see the shuttle buses awaiting in the distance. Did I eat enough? Do I have everything I need? Is my body strong enough for another 100K? I have to pee!

I gather my gear and find my place on an empty set in the first shuttle. 40 minutes to think about the race, how I will plan to strategize and how not to be burnt out in the final half of the race. Luckily I had a nice lady to chat with that sat next to me that pasted the time away. My phone buzzes, as does a lot of other runner phones as well, and I pulled it from my pocket. An email stating the course will be changed to the high water route. The time was 3:34am

Reading this means we will go to Black Canyon aid station and do a few out and backs to complete the course. The water level on the river must be to dangerous to cross. Unfortunately to me this means the race will not be a true point to point and one that I was really looking forward to.

We make are way to the parking area, cars are filling the grassy lot and we are the first shuttle to pull in. Head light flowing behind like a lit up dragons tail. I thought to myself ” look at all these people willing to get up and do this” and some people don’t even know we exist. Nothing on TV, no news coverage, nothing just word of mouth. We were like black silhouettes walking in darkness.

I step from the bus and see the huge lines to the Port-O-Potty’s. “Nope” I thought and headed to a little wooded area that many runners already headed for. What the hell, this mud was sticking to my shoes. Like thick glue and not coming off. Making my feet feel heavy and only another fun reminder that I have entered into a land I was unfamiliar with.

I could see fires burning behind the massive party tent and figured that’s where I would hang out after I checked in. My feet kept gathering this thick red mud from the Mars like ground. Like I was wearing platform shoes from the 70’s. I made my way to the fire to get warm, scrapping my feet alone rocks. The fire was taking the cold chill from my body. “Come on daylight bring on the sun”.

7am was fast approaching as runners stated stampeding to the start line. This mud, as the ground thundered with feet pounding trying to remove it. I figured it will eventually fall of which it did, in massive chunks just for another runner to collect it. I was cold and to make matter worse it stated to rain.

I did the best I could to stay warm with no avail. I walk into the sea of runners trying to make camp in the middle to try to block the wind. I was still getting wet and was ready to just start the race to create warmth. I do believe that was the mindset of everyone else crouched amongst one another like herded cattle. With a few word that I could not hear I did make out the count down starting 10,9,8….

The race itself constructed of gravel roads and single track, but due to the course change there was a 3ish mile section of paved road that you ended up running several miles on. The only part in the race that really fucked with me. I’ll explain later.

As the race started we began on the gravel dirt roads making our way to the Black Canyon Trail system. It was cold and windy and already going through my head was” I don’t think I could handle 62 miles of this. I kept a slower pace, letting runners dash by, as I figured this would help me out for the final half. Not knowing what was ahead of me, I ran in hopes of the weather warming. With my hands tucked away in my gloves I stomped through this sticky red colored earth someone calls mud. Black Canyon Trail System was like nothing I have ever experienced. Single track so small it was difficult to pass the runners in front of you. Twists and turns as almost able to high five athletes behind you. The breath taking views that made it most difficult to keep your eyes on where you were headed so you didn’t miss a sharp turn and face plant into a cactus. Switch back up one side of the mountain and back down to a cheering aid station. What a course, how happy I am to be able to live in this moment.I ran with purpose today from aid station to aid station. I felt on top of the world and that I was running in harmony with my body. Miles peeled of the bottom of my shoes and my body grew stronger with the warmer weather. Passing by runners in front of me and now passing by me as I started the out and backs. “Good job” was flying all around my ear as each person came and went. The course was pretty much set on single tack with small sandish like pebbles. Sometimes traversing larger rocks that you could easily lose traction and roll and ankle or lose footing to have you body kiss the ground. This I could see as other runners skin cried red. Thick tacky mud was brutal in the beginning miles, but dried as we ran. I couldn’t imagine dealing with it the entire race or running this race all day in the rain. Rolling hills, across gravel maintenance roads, and cactus filled land, you make your way to Black Canyon City, yes here is where you hit a few miles of paved road. Where my body wanted to stop.Yes my body and mind fought one another the first time I set foot on the pavement. The easiest part of the race yet the most painstaking for my thoughts. I kept telling myself” you fought so hard putting one foot in front of the other on the trails, don’t you fucking stop on this road”. What a struggle this was and every time I made my way down this blackened stretch of nothingness. Feeling like this war was never going to end until I hit the rainbow patch of trail leading you to the out and back of BCC or finish line. In the end the aid stations where spot on with volunteers that would make you feel like you were family. The race, even knowing it was changed at last minute, was an exciting experience, and I think just about any trail runner would love the physical and mental challenge. Unpredictable weather could cause adjustment in gear and mental strength , and your ability and to conquer the canyon. This year I did, and I PR’ed my 100k. Finishing Black Canyon 100K in 34th place with a time of 9:50:08.Thank you: Aravaipa Running

To all the Volunteers that made me feel so loved 💗

Thank you: East Coast Trail Runners making memories with me on the trails!🤙

Bandera 100K

My 2019 ultra marathon adventure begins with the Bandera 100K. Such and iconic 2 look 50k race and a Western States qualifier at that. Set in the beautiful hill county of Texas, just NW of San Antonio. I did my research for sure, hence the reason I signed up for the challenge of running a race the first week of January. I understand the training that would be involved for a 100K and I wondered often, would I put in enough, will I even make the cut? Will I be ready for this ultra adventure and the pain I’m about to endure over the next 65 miles.

A week before the race, and what little I thought of the course and location was thrown right in the garbage. I received and email stating that there was going to be a change due to trail conditions at Hill Country State Natural Area. The race will now take place at Camp Eagle 2.5 hours away from where I booked my place to stay. Panicked, I started to send out emails, Now I will have to change up everything I have been thinking about for months. Or will I?

As I took a minute to breath as I thought this is what I do. I’m quick to change up things on the fly. Readjust to the upcoming circumstance and provide what is needed to get to the final destination. Think about it, how many times during a race everything went completely how you expected it to, the weather was perfect, your nutrition was on point, you felt like you could run forever? This was just one of those times.

My plane touched down at about noon in San Antonio. This would be the first time I would ever set foot in Texas. The sun was shinning and you couldn’t ask for a better Friday with temperatures at 67° outside without a cloud in sight. I picked up my bag and proceeded to get my rental car. With key in hand my adventures starts here.

Remember I have 1.5 hours to my Airbnb from San Antonio. And now a 2.5 hours from my Airbnb to Camp Eagle so I will not bore you with my drives everyday picking my packet up Friday, to driving back and forth on race day to picking up my drop bag on Sunday to my drive back to airport on Monday.

Race morning I woke up around 3 a.m knowing the drive I would have a head of me. The 100K start time was at 8 a.m. and I wanted plenty of time for drive, in case of a flat tire, getting lost, or any possibility what ever worst case that I could think of that could happen to me. I arrived with plenty of time to spare and got a great parking spot right at the start/finish.

The temperature a freezing 23° and it was supposed to climb to a high of 71°in the afternoon. Talk about bipolar state. My race gear I tried to keep as bare a possible knowing I would be shedding cloths in no time before noon. With reading a few emails I found out that aid stations would be every 5ish miles and one aid station ( x-roads ) we would hit three different times during the 50K loop course. So my drop bag with extra shoes and clothes went here. I figured I could shed layer or add here. I only packed a handful of gels and 1.5 liter pack.

8 o’clock could not come fast enough. The cold was getting to me. My hands were frozen and my gloves weren’t helping any. My nerves where making my stomach do jumping jacks and I was just ready excited to be at such a great event. I knew there would be a lot of very talented runners here and I couldn’t wait to see them try to capture that golden ticket. Everyone started herding towards the start line as there was 10 minutes till start. This is it, this is what I travel many miles for, what I signed up for months ago, something I have been training for in the cold back home. One foot in front of the other I made my way under the arch to tackle the iconic Bandera trail race. Hearing the crickets sounds of gps watches beginning the times of their owners. The race started. I’m running in my first destination race and excited to be part of it.

I see the elite groups sprint out to the front, as I barley made my way from underneath the arch. They already looked a mile away. Over gravel road, by a flowing creek, through a dry grassy field I found my way intermixed in that bottleneck running line as we hit single track and placing my feet on so many rocks.

I managed to gimps at my watch a few times and I thought, ” you have a long day, be happy you made it here and enjoy yourself “. I was running a 9:30ish pace and what I thought was the middle of the group. So wrong lol so wrong. I made it to the first aid station and grabbed two slices of oranges just so I could say I stopped knowing I might have been able to skip it. Why is the ground covered with so many rock and not just pebbles huge ones that could put you on your ass in a second.

I was able to gain some ground here passing by a few of the runners ahead of me that stay longer collecting aid. I continued at a pace were my rhythm was flowing, my breathing was in peaceful harmony with my body, and every muscles explosion propelled me closer to the next runner.

The first climb I noticed a small group of runner most female about 6 or 7 of them and about 4 males. I figured let see if I can hang with them. As they powered up the hill passing other runners. Dammmn I thought, these ladies are beast. Here is where I met Tomas.

It seemed as if these girls all knew one another as they all where chatting up a storm. Talking past races and just there lives in general. The guys where less talkative and I just figured the girls where a local running group from the area. But definitely my group of people as I felt right at home with the pace they were maintaining. Wrong again stupid, check your watch once in a while.

Aid station number 2 came and went, I felt great. I continued with the group eventually talking with one of the runners in the back Tomas. It was nice just chatting and keeping my mind of running fo a bit. The course from this point consisted of mostly single track with a few open wide path sections at the top of the hills were to could make up ground from your slower climbs. But so many rocks, I mean come on already with this shit.

Now here’s a quick tidbit of info. As we climbed our group came together as one and I was able to chat with a few of the girls. What was amazing to me is at some point I beat them to the top and on the flat section they would fly past me and catch up to one another. One even saying to me ” I stop for one second to take my shirt off and my girls leave me”. I laughed and she was again with her group.

Mile 10- 20 was the same as I hung onto the group. Let’s talk about terrain shale we. Like nothing I have ever experienced. Large rocks the get kicked up and hit your ankles, let alone running on them for about 80% of the course. They’re sharpe, pointed and unforgiving and you have to run knowing your about to step on 5 or 6 at the same time and each wanting to move in a different direction. Some were even kicked up by runners ahead of me causing switch in foot placement in a millisecond. The air was warm and you could smell this dirt like odor. The tree looked like baby bonsai and there were cactus along some edges to the path. The ones I didn’t want to kick or fall into. There was a few areas of water you could maneuver around, but nothing that was going to soak you foot for hours. There where some wooded area with small amounts of muddy dirt that may it slippery after 900+ runner trekked through.

I was having a great race, but I could see the group separating. The girls getting farther ahead as we started to become lone runners. I was ok with that as I glanced at my watch for the first time in a while 8:13 What!!!!!!! Tomas one of the guys that I have been running and chatting with asked me. If I knew the girls that were up ahead and I said that I didn’t. He then told me it was the elite group of girls and their stating to make there move for that golden ticket. I was just running with the top female ultra runners form around the USA and chatting with them for 25ish miles. This can’t get any better. But I knew I had to slow down before I hit that wall. I could feel it in my legs and something was going on with my feet.

I came into the lodge marking the halfway point. I needed to sit, my legs where telling me ” yup you just ran 32 miles” my feet felt as if there were getting hit by a small mallet. I was getting the right nutrition, consisting of pickle juice, soda, salt tab, gu gel, Oreo’s, PB&J, and chips. Time to get out there and finish this race.

As I stood up I seen one of the runners I’ve been running with just about the whole race. He didn’t look well. I did a time check and I seen I was around the 5:30:00 time frame for 32 miles. I asked Tomas if he was ok and I could see the look in his face. Almost the look of defeat. His wife was helping him as he asked if it would be ok if he could run with me. I said sure and waited for him to get in his feet. We proceeded to the finish sensor and heard the beep to signal our journey to our second 50k loop.

I will not bore you with what went on next I with just give you a small run down of the events. I thought to myself as I ran with Tomas. It doesn’t matter where you live, ultra running is a true family. I came to Texas for one purpose to finish Bandera 100K no matter what. And now I have the honor of becoming a pacer to someone that seems to be afraid of not finishing. We walked, hiked, took pictures and laughed that we both went out to hard. I did agree as I could feel my legs and feet aching. Aid station to aid station we continued this pace. And I just keep encouraging him to take one step at a time. He kept on thanking me for being at his side, as I could almost feel the sadness he felt inside. I kept reassuring him we will finish this together and not to worry about me. Runner came and went as me made our way through 15+ miles when he told me to leave him at the aid station to proceed without him.

When we arrived his wife greeted him. She looked right at me and softly said thank you and I left him to get some aid station treats. As I looked back a noticed Tomas already lying on the ground and his wife stretching his legs. Before I left I asked once more if he was sure about this and he assured me it was. With a quick handshake I was back on my own racing again.

I felt good to get in that grove of running and I had no concern about time anymore. I figured now I will run and have fun while doing so. I came through aid stations taking my time. Sitting a chatting with some local people. Some loving that I came so far to run this race. The people were amazing. Like all aid stations I have been through. They offered seats, they took my pack and filled my water, the grabbed my drop bag, and the even took the peal of the orange for me. Talk about awesome. I was afraid of not knowing the community. Not knowing the local runners and coming to a foreign land. But I can tell you this we are all family no matter what.

I past through the second to last aid stations were I asked one of the volunteers if he thought I was going to need my head lamp soon. He peered at his watch for a quick second and told me ” you have about 15 minutes left of day light so yes ” I pulled it out of my pack and placed it on my head. I knew I was so close to the end, that the big arch was within striking distance and I was on the final stretch home.

Quickly daylight faded. Faster than I expected and I could feel the temperature dropping just as fast. I needed to get to my drop bag and put on a shirt and my wind jacket. About a mile into my run I came across Bam. I runner I briefly met while helping Tomas. Both knew one another and had lite conversation about running while I was helping Tomas along. I said hello and he asked about Tomas. I explain that he told me to leave him two stations back. Hopefully he would finish. As it grew darker Bam said he left his head lamp at the next aid station and he needed to get there before it was to dark. He went ahead trying to beat the darkness.

I was ok with it because I didn’t mind just doing my own things at this point for a bit. I wanted time to think about me a my running and trying to figure out a plan for getting this race done.

I was only alone for about mile were I again could see Bam, a woman and her pacer son grouped together. It looked as if Bam was trying to use the light from their headlamps to guide his way. But they got farther away from him as I grow closer. I eventually caught up with him as now he was hiking. He was in panic mode knowing he was going to have to hike about 4 miles in the dark to his lamp. I told him to stay close behind and I would get him to the aid station. He was doing good until he tripped on a rock crashing to the ground. I stopped and looked at him and said” there’s no reason getting hurt when your so close” I told him to stay in front of me and I would light the way. That I did, shirtless and cold I fast hiked with Bam about 4 miles to the last aid station so he could recover his head lamp from his wife and finish the race.

With a few goodbyes and your doing great I was off for my final leg of Bandera. Alone and ready to push this final 5ish miles. I was warm again, my adrenaline going, I made my way. Couldn’t wait to get off the rocks, my feet were hammered, my legs where spent, and I was definitely ready to be put to rest. I made the 5 miles journey passing a few more runner before coming to see the arch for the last time. Emotional I made the last 300 yards memorable, High-fiving a few strangers, and just embracing this moment. Pam your New Yorker just finished the Bandera 100K !

My final thought: I was scared to adventure alone to a foreign place. Not knowing a single person in this running community. Nervous that I might fail and not have the awesome support from my home town community. A little spec from Western New York making his way to Western Texas. Someone else’s home turf.

But I went there and I made some of the most memorable moments. Others counted on me to guide them. They relayed on a guy the Upstate New York to help them and motivate them to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

The satisfaction of knowing no matter where we all come from, we as trail runners are this huge family that do some incredible crazy shit. My time didn’t matter that day. My trail family did!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thank you to:

Race Director: Chris McWatters

Camp Eagle

All of the amazing Volunteers

Tejas Trails