Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Pinhoti 100-Mile Trail Race – Team Sully

     This was by far the most amazing experience I have ever had in running. I was a crew member and pacer for my friend Jason Sullivan. We started out Friday morning meeting at Bo’s house. Jason, Bo, Nick, Onyx (my dog), and myself all packed into my truck and started our adventure. We hit the hotel in Oxford and got some last minute items before we passed out for the early morning.

     We woke up at 4am and got packed back into the truck to head to the starting line. We met up with Joe, Andy, Kelley, Marie-Ange, Scott, and some other runners and hit the road. It was nice seeing so many people heading to the start together. As we got to the start the runners checked in and they were off; as were we to get to the 1st Aid Station. All the runners came running past looking strong and moving well as the sun came up. This would be our day until it was time for each of us to pace Jason. He would come into the Aid Station and we would get the items he would need for the next 5 to 10 miles.
     At mile 26ish Jason would hit a low spot due to the high tempters reaching 87 when we were expecting high 50 to mid-60.  This was concerning to all of us because we would not see him again until mile 41. As we got to the mile 41 Aid Station we had plenty of time to get things together for him and this would also be where I would start my 20 mile run with him. As I watched the runners come into this AS I would see 1 out of every 4 drop all having problems with the heat. I started freaking a little bit and just got my head in a place where I knew the only job I needed to do when I picked him up was recovery from the heat. I would go down the board walk and run in with different runners to see if they needed anything as they pulled into the AS. At one point I saw Marie-Ange coming up and I could tell her head just was not in the run anymore. After talking with her; her head was never in it from the start. We all hit points where we just loose something with “the run”. I have been struggling with this myself. I talked her into running with Jason and I once he got there hoping this may help keep her going.

      As Jason come running up we got him, Marie-Ange, and myself ready for the next leg of the run. I knew they needed to get as much water into them as they could. That was my focus for the next 5 miles. Smooth jog and drink. Keep them moving and shoving water down there face. As we got to mile 45 they were doing a lot better with their water. We pulled in got our night gear and headed back out. This leg of the run (after all the rocks) I could see Jason picking up his step but still tried to keep him moving smooth and steady. I could see that Marie-Ange was just running at this point to hang out and was still planning on pulling out at some point, but was really happy to see her moving with us and giving Jason good advice about his gluten free diet and recipe tips. You could tell it was getting Jason’s head off the run for a bit. It was really her that was pacing him through this 5 mile section not me. I tried to just hold a pace and let them enjoy their conversation. As night fell on us we would really get in some great conversation and I could tell Jason was ready to pick up the pace, but with the single track that we were on it just was not going to get much faster. I think I tripped 15 times in this section. I knew when we got to the next AS Marie-Ange was going to call it a night, but was happy she decided to go that far with us. I have so much respect for this girl; going 55 miles when your heart is not in the run is something amazing and shows so much strength. As we hit the AS we left Marie-Ange in the hands of our crew as she would ride with us the rest of the night and Jason and I moved forward. When we left the AS Jason asked where she was and I just acted like I did not hear the question and started talking about something different. We started what would be the last section I would be running with him on an open fire road. Running the flats and downhill and walking the up hills. I say walking but when Jason power walks I have to jog next to him to keep up. If you have ever seen the Petagree commercials with the little dog running next to a big dog walking then you know what I’m talking about. He keeps getting stronger and faster as the temperature dropped. We finished this section and pulled into the AS where Bo was waiting to get his peace of the trail and keep Jason in a good place as the night went own. Bo is one of the best people anyone could ask for in a pacer and crew member. He was with me on the foothills and I knew Jason was happy to be picking him up for the next few sections of the trail.

     I would head back to the truck and continue my crewing duties. I say that lightly as I would spend most of the night in and out of a dream state trying to rest up so I could drive us back. Nick, Marie-Ange, and I drove around lost for a bit until we finally found the next AS. We pulled in and got some stuff set up for when Jason and Bo would come in and I climbed into the back seat and tried to get a little sleep wile Nick crewed. When we hit the point where Nick (another person I know Jason was happy to have. Nick crewed and paced him at WS) would pick up the job as pacer and Bo drove us to the AS where we would wait the next 5 hours until it was time for Bo to get back to running. This AS was mile 95 so we had time to get some sleep. As we all curled up in the truck I would go in and out of a dazed dream state where there were moments where I was not sure if I was dreaming or really awake. It was funny to me how Onyx was the best smelling of us all. We had been spraying each other with my cologne all night and cracking jokes about it. I woke up and helped Bo for a minute to get Jason’s aid down to the AS and went back to the truck and curled up in the back for some sleep. I was passed out when Nick came up and hoped back into the truck to drive us to the finish.

     As the sun was coming up over the mountains and the event was almost over it was a surreal moment for me. We all ran out to meet Jason as he came running into the school. We ran a bit with him then watch him cross the finish line. As we crossed into the school Jason let out a yell that I’m sure could have been heard the 100 miles back at the starting line. The Joy on his face was something you cannot describe in words. Jason finished strong passing many runners the last 50 miles and finished 59 out of a total of 230 registered runners in a time of 27:14:20.  

     This adventure, seeing so many friends, making many new ones, the time running on the trail with Jason and Marie-Ange, time spent with Bo, Nick, Marie-Ange crewing, seeing Marie- Ange going that far with so much strength, seeing Jason and others cross the finish line, and some of the conversations and time spent renewed me as a runner. Epic’s back baby. As Marie-Ange so gracefully said after this weekend’s experience the burnout is OFFICIALLY over and we’re off the bench. I cannot express the gratitude that I have for Jason for letting me be a part of this and him trusting me to help with his run. These are not just running friends we have become a type of family through running these Ultras. A type of family I am proud to be a part of.

Here is a link to Jason's race report. I think it is only fitting to add it in.

1 comment:

  1. I couldn't have had a better experience with you and everyone else. Once you go through one of these together, you always have that ultra family bond together.