Where's Waldo is a race I look forward to all year. It is the race that I "have to do." I have to admit it was a little hard to get up mentally for this years race, as States was such a mental "high".
Going into the race I was a little concerned in finishing under the 16 hour cutoff. I was instructed by my brother that I had to do the 5:00am start and not the early start of 3:00am. I have never finished under 16 here.
This year the course was wheeled. It measured 66.36 miles. So, maybe next year it will be changed to closer to 62.2 miles for the U.S.A. 100k championship? I hope so. It is truely a "trail" run. 99% "pillowy" single track. Just the best ever.
Kyly and Michael Christianson a.k.a, "Crusty", were doing the early start as a relay. Not sure why, Kyly is having the best year ever and running super strong. Micheal has been fast in the past but was just a little undertrained.
Would I see Kyly coming off Mt. Fuji? (short out and back of 2.2 miles to the summit.) No way, she would be running too fast on the first climb. Afterall, I don't run with the "big boys" who might see her.
The plan for the first climb was just to stay steady, follow Ronda for a good pace. I have to admit, running in more daylight than in years past helped with the pace. By the 2nd aid station at the bottom of Fuji I was already 28 minutes ahead of last years pace (mile 14.8). Just before summiting I see Craig and Jeff (brother) coming down. They were going easy, as Jeff has AC in three weeks.
Running into Charlton was fairly uneventful. Except that I do hate the section between Mt. Ray aid station and The Twins aid station. I struggled with these rolling hills as always. Kyly did great. I win the "bet", she did this section faster than me. I told her she was running like a studette!!! She got into Charlton in 7:20. She "ROCKED" that 35 miles!
Getting into the approximate halfway point is Charlton Lake. Kyly would be there up to two hours before me and she aggreed to hand me my beans and Pediasure. Problem, I was ahead of schedule by 45 minutes at this point. I don't see Kyly prior to the aid station on the trail as planned. She was to walk me in as I eat and drink.
At the Charlton aid staion I finally find my drop bag. They moved the location from years past. Kyly is right there thank goodness. She is a little surprised to see me. I am surprised as much as her. She is "on it" again. Makes sure I drink the Pediasure first. Thank you! I hate burping that stuff up if I drink it after the beans.
I ask her to walk me out as I eat. She obliges. I eat and walk. I notice Kyly only has on one sock on her right foot and nothing on the left. Sorry Kyly. We walk and talk. She asks me how I'm doing. I said that I have been "pushing it a bit." She aggrees given my time into Charlton. I am actually quite worried with the pace I have set... I am wondering if I had "pushed" too hard given my ability. I like walking with Kyly as she always knows what to say. She bids me fairwell and I am thankful for her and the calories.
I run many sections after this that I walked in the past. I was pleased.
Onto Maiden Peak. I struggled terribly last year here. This year I manage to do this 4.5 mile section 26 minutes faster. I believe it is about 3000 ft of gain in that 4.5 miles, but not completely sure. Yes, it is a pretty good climb followed by running Leap of Faith trail. (super technical and super steep down after summiting.)
The downhill into the last aid station is my favorite. First there is the challange to run the Leap of Faith trail and then just take advantage of all the down.
Man I love "Free Speed!!!"
Last aid station. I look at my watch for the first time in many hours. I have 1:24 minutes to get in under 14. I don't know if that is possible as I have never ran this last 7.4 miles faster than 1:44 (that's 20 minutes faster than in the past!). But I give it a shot. I run it in exactly 1:24. "Ouch."
I catch up to Sean Meissner. He was not having a good day so he decides to go after the "Wet Waldo" award by jumping in all the six lakes. I run past all there Rosery lakes, a first for me. Run with Sean as much as I could but he is given new life after the last lake. I just take advantage of a sweet downhill finish.
I look at my watch and see that I have five minutes to get to the finish as I get off the trail. That is all I can do. My body is hammered. I finish in 14:00. That is all I could muster.
It was a tough day. I am paying for it today. Kyly would have liked the projectile vomit show similar to States. Well, only did this four times instead of 14!!!
I get to the finish and I see my brothers. Yes, Jeff's twin brother John came to see his first ultra. He said he had a great time. Kyly is there again. They were all guessing I would be in just under 15. I guess I had a good day. A PR by 2:17.
I was asked what hat I would like for finishing under 16 hours... "Vanilla" please. It will be added to my "Tomato" and "Blueberry" Waldo hats. What a wonderful race. My favorite. Next year 125 will be allowed to run this "pillowy single track." It doesn't get any better than this.