My friend Mark, decided to punish himself by doing this, the Wasatch 100
He asked me if I knew anyone who might be interested in pacing him for a section. Well I thought I did and I asked her, but it turned out she wasn't interested and Mark seemed to think I could do a section.
Lord have mercy
I did my proposed route for the first time on the 17th of July taking a considerable amount of time and becoming somewhat fascinated with the idea.
From then till September 11th, I chased a very fit 37 year old on every section of the course.
We began up in Kaysville doing the Thurston to Francis Peak. I don't remember the mileage on this, but do remember it was over 4000 vertical from the valley floor to the ridge and we followed the ridge for some distance. Francis can barely be seen looker's right and has some radio towers
Gambrelli, after dropping us off, going shopping, taking a nap and getting lunch ran out to meet us, returning to the car parked at the Francis peak finish.
The next section, Francis to Big Mountain pass was my favorite. Grandview Peak can be seen in the background center of the picture. Lookout Peak is on the left.
For a number of years we've done a bike ride on a portion of this section. I call it Session Mountain road to Killian canyon. I'd never seen the terrain leading from Francis to the start of the road.
The shuttle is hell, but Gambrelli handled the shuttles, running support for Mark and feeding me at each section's finish. Good natured about the whole deal, too. Much appreciated for sure.
Anyhow this section follows the ridges for miles and covers significant ground I'd never seen before. Enjoyed the hell out of it and doubtful anyone will be convinced to shuttle it in the future.
I spotted my bicycle at Big Mountain pass and rode home via the morman trail and Emigration making the mileage covered 40+, the most I did during the whole summer.
Next we did Big Mountain to Lambs and continued to Millcreek and down the pipeline trail on a very hot day. We met at Lambs, spotting a car and allowing G to run with us on the first portion.
The views along the ridge are scenic, with the canyon looker's right, the original Morman entry into the valley and "this is the place"
This was the longest run I did (27 miles?) and we both ran outta water even though I was packing 160 oz's.
The next to last portion, Millcreek to Brighton was done last but I'll stick a picture in the proper order. Scott's Peak is looker's right, showing just a hint of fall color. By this time I was getting used to this mountain running and the 14 miles seemed an easy cruise, even running up the paved road to Brighton.
Brighton to Midway and the Homestead resort. I did it three times, the last as the pacer for the race. The second time was the fastest and we cut 21/2 hours off the time from the July 17 introduction. Mark did the Millcreek to Brighton section before meeting me and I could barely keep him in sight even towards the end and his 40 miles.
There are great views of Timpanogus along the way.
At about 15 miles into the section Deer Creek and Heber come into view, causing one to think the end is near.
However the dive and all the rolly polly are ahead, taking an extra coupla hours. We both learned to hate the miles of rolly polly.
A large avalanche running in January off the face of Mill Canyon peak, took out some very old trees. The first time we did the section we spent considerable time scrambling over them and were glad to see the trail was showing, thanks to some serious volunteer trail crews.
The Last 25 Miles
6300+ vertical ascent - 9300+ vertical descent
I thought meeting Mark at Brighton in the middle of the night would be a bit hectic so I attempted to ease the trauma with a plan. The Wasatch Mountain club was having a lodge work party followed by a country shindig dinner and dance. By working on the lodge I could attend the shindig and spend the night for free. Easy huh?
Well I spent most of the day moving rocks in a wheel barrow. Got a great lunch though. Also had a great dinner and napped a bit during the dance. The pacer for the Millcreek to Brighton section wanted me to shuttle his car so he woke me up and we drove over to the top of Millcreek Saw Mark and G running up the road and had him drop me for a chat to see how Mark was faring. Miscommunication left me stranded on the road running from Elbow Fork. I managed to hitchhike and eventually found the car, driving it back around to Brighton. Didn't get locked outta the lodge but did lose a few hours of rest. The scene in Millcreek was surreal to say the least, with runners wearing headlamps scattered all over the upper road, cars with support and camps were scattered also leaving an end of the world or Mad Max impression. Didn't feel to bad about the lost rest, just for that experience.
So, the day before the race I get an e-mail from G.
Unfortunately, Mark is not 100%. He has had a fever/cold the last couple of days and he is losing his voice. But no worries, Mark can take advantage of Bob's "portable pharmacy" to get him through the last 25.
My talk going up Millcreek concluded Mark, although without a voice, would be finishing the race.
We met at around 3:30 and left Brighton by 4am.
It was quite cold and we were both bundled up, wearing warm hats, long pants and gloves. I'd never run at night with a headlamp before.
By the time we arrived at the Ant Knolls checkpoint, I was enjoying myself immensely. Mark after 75 miles was going at a slower pace than I was used to and I was having no trouble keeping up. I'd medicated him with Aleve at Catherine's pass for some shin and ankle pain, myself with aspirin for wheel barrow rock pain and felt great.
I'd spent some time on the descent into Dry Fork, talking to a couple. The woman had already done the Leadville 100 and some other race over 100k. They were both very fit, later leaving us behind, but I got a great silhouette of her coming to the trail 157 ridge as the sun came up.
We proceeded on, stopping at another aide station. I got coffee and sausage at both but we had to add a no doze to the medication for Mark as he'd been up for more than 24 hours and was dozing off on the trail.We stayed with another couple from California for some miles. I believe both were running the course together, rather than one pacing for the other. The day remained cool but the threat of rain stayed low, providing great travel temperatures.
We met and passed a number of others along the trail and had some pass us as we completed the plunge and the dive continued onto the rolly polly. One woman in particular, #80, journeyed the rolly polly distance with us, passing at the end with as much disgust and disdain for the section as we had. We vowed not to have anything to do with that section of the course for as long as possible in the future.
G had gotten some more rest and felt good enough to join up and finish with the last 6 mile section of down into Midway.
She did a great job rejuvenating Mark and we ran most of the last section, including the exit from the trail and the run up the road to the Homestead finish with passing cars and roadside bystanders cheering. I felt a bit foolish, knowing I'd not run 100 miles but only 25.
Mark and G crossed the finish line together with Mark's Dad cheering from the sideline.
Great coupla months for me. I quit smoking first part of July, increasing my fitness and lung capacity by trail running with a friend in training for a hundred mile race, managing to complete my assigned task of pacing the last 25. Enjoyed some new and spectacular scenery.
I received a Wasatch 100 t shirt and a memorable life experience for the effort.
I'm also in great shape for the coming winter.