“I challenge you to take off your Garmin’s, throw them on the ground and smash them!!!”
-Luis Escobar ranting about the awesomeness of Suunto, or just bitching about technology…
What is this Born to Run race all about??? Definitely difficult to describe in words, I’ll try my best to put this into an equation for all the mathematicians out there.
Woodstock + Burning Man + Incredible Burritos + Mucho Running + a Shit Ton of Mariachi Music = Born to Run
With the growth of ultrarunning brings more races, more sponsorship, more press and more bells and whistles. Companies like Irunfar and Ultralive now offer real-time feeds of races. You can check out uploaded race pictures, read up-to-date tweets from spectators on the course and even watch your favorite runner blast through an aid station live over the internet. Some say all the popularity and press surrounding our sport takes away from its old school appeal.
Luis Escobar has done an incredible job directing races that protect and celebrate ultrarunning’s old school roots. Don’t expect a bag full of swag, a course map or much toilet paper in the shitters. Luis truly embodies the essence of “Corre Libre,” and his focus on self-reliance is sorely needed in our current air-conditioned society.
Whether or not you are brand new to trail running or a grizzled veteran with multiple 100’s under your belt, Born to Run is an experience you need to attend! With more luchador masks than a Mexican wrestling marathon on Sabado Gigante and the best burritos this side of Guadalajara, you can’t help but smile ear-to-ear when pulling onto the ranch.
My Born to Run weekend started early on Friday morning, as I decided not to face the mini storm that was predicted to roll through Thursday night. Carly and I packed up our camping gear, some light snacks and plenty of refreshments for post-race festivities…
Carly and I arrived at the ranch around 9:00am. We pulled in right behind Michelle Evans, who was planning to head out with Bobby to a wedding on Saturday, only to return Sunday to help sweep the course and clean up. Hope they brought back a lot of bleach! We checked in with Beverly, and headed onto the ranch to stake out some prime real estate.
For those of you thinking about camping out at Born to Run, which is an absolute must in my opinion, I’m going to offer up a few pointers on choosing the right location:
“I’m not entirely sure about this Born to Run thing. I want to try it out, but am a little nervous if I’ll enjoy it.”
There is plenty of space, far enough away from the main camp, for you to have some privacy and still be in easy walking distance to the action (drive past the main camp and look for a comfortable site past the shitters).
“We’re bringing in a crew to support our runner doing the 200 miler. We need to be able to set out enough food, extra socks and likely some morphine in a location our runner will have easy access to.”
Set up somewhere between the main camp and the turnoff to begin exiting the ranch. During the race you’ll pass by your campsite on each loop, have easy access to all your needs, and there’s free beer at the Patagonia and ZAP THREADS tents post-race. Just remember that the closer to the main camp you are, the louder the mariachi music.
“You mean there’s running going on this weekend? I’m just here to drink Fireball and dance with Whiskey Jerry!”
Set up as close to the stage as humanly possible!
After setting up our camp site in the exact spot we scored in 2014, Carly and I spent the rest of the morning relaxing and catching up with fellow Dirtbags. We watched Gregorio dominate the Archery Race, met some new Dirtbags and got front row spots for the Bolla Races.
The Beer Mile kicked off at 4:00pm and I was looking forward to a rematch with Pat Sweeny. Recently returning from his ridiculously impressive cross country run, I assumed he was still in recovery mode. Never sleep on Pat and a solid beer mile performance.
We all gathered around the start line, swore the Beer Mile Oath and commenced to pounding! I finished the first lap in second behind Rob Mccool, who was literally on sub 6 pace. Rob slowed on the second lap, and I was fortunate to catch up, with Pat close behind. As most veteran Beer Milers can attest, the third lap is where the pain really starts to set in. Keeping the beer down at this point is crucial, as burping and belly sloshing is a given. The pace is also important on laps 3-4, as redlining can lead to seeing your lunch for the second time.
Thankfully, the third and fourth laps were uneventful, except for Carly crisscrossing in front of me about 47 times, and my stomach feeling like Sigorney Weaver in Aliens. I crossed the finish in an unofficial 6:48ish, with Pat close in second. There’s not many amigos out there, and maybe only one, that could run 3,000+ miles and then days later drop a sub 7 beer mile. Cat Bradley, the ladies champ, and I took a celebratory lap around the camp in luchador mask and cape, and all the participants took some great pictures on the stage. We also received some absolutely rad luchador bottle openers for the win.
Kris, Alejandra and my Dad arrived shortly after the conclusion of the beer mile. Not sure if a dad can really be proud of watching his son “win” a beer mile, so maybe it was best that they were a little late to the ranch.
After getting situated, we made our way back to the main camp to witness the awesomeness that was “The 0.0 mile Race.” This one was a real nail biter, with mere milliseconds separating first from last.
We cheered as the 100 milers started their journey at 6:00pm. There were some solid runners toeing the line in this race, and I couldn’t wait to cheer on fellow Physiophyx ambassador Bryan Toro, along with Ben Holmes and Kevin Cody on their virgin 100 mile race.
We later munched on our first round of burritos for the weekend. Pretty sure our group of 4.5 put down close to 20 burritos in two short days. DAMN, that’s one good burrito!
After dinner, we hung out and listened to the Mother Corn Shuckers, and donated some Jello shots to keep the dance party going. We called it an early night, as Alejandra and I would be racing at 6:00am the next morning.
If you haven’t had the exhilarating experience of waking from a deep slumber to a shot gun blast and mariachi music blaring loud enough to make Univision jealous, I’d highly recommend it… No coffee needed! At 4:45am, Sheriff Escobar fired off his weapon and tells everyone to, “Get up! Come check in. Be at the start line at 5:45… and someone bring me some Alka-Seltzer!”
Alejandra and I got ready, took our pre-race poops and made our way to the main camp.
With 400-500 runners toeing the starting line (10 mile, 30 miler and 60 milers all started together), it was important to start out quickly as to not be caught sucking dust for the first 15 minutes. We clicked off a couple sub 7 minute miles, and thankfully were able to separate a bit from the large group behind. Loren Davis, a recent Montana transplant and excellent runner, and I shared the first 5 miles and got a chance to catch up on Bozeman’s skimo and trail scene. There were a handful of runners hammering the first loop, and unfortunately we couldn’t tell where we stood in the 30 miler.
Claire Mellein, a local running stud, caught up halfway through the first loop, and decided to zoom right past us. Feeling relatively loose and springy…maybe it was remnants from the beer mile, I decided to run with her and we made some great time completing the first loop in 1:09.
The second loop “yellow” is a bit hillier and a bit longer, according to most GPS’. The start of this loop is a mile climb, with another significant climb at mile 7. Claire had spent some extra time at the aid station, so I ran this loop mostly solo, sitting somewhere in the top 5. I caught up to senor Sweeny around mile 17, as he was starting to feel the effects of 3,000+ recent road miles. Right after passing Pat he hollers out, “You know, everyone that’s won the beer mile has also won the 50k the next day. No pressure!”
Fortunately, I didn’t feel much pressure as my strengths in ultras (and there aren’t many) definitely don’t reside anywhere even remotely near speed. After passing Pat, there was a short climb and then a pretty nasty descent at a high percentage grade. Moving through the descent, I pass George Plomarity from Patagonia and ask him what he’s up to, “Just checking out the course and getting a few miles in!” Dream job… I think so!
Yellow Loop completed in 1:27
The final loop is shorter and faster, with only one significant incline from miles 6-8. Only taking 2 gels prior to the start of the 3rd lap, I was a little nervous that the lack of calories might catch up, but thankfully I had a couple extra gels just in case things started to go sour. A couple miles into the final lap, I see 2nd place in the far distance, which I estimated to be about 5 minutes ahead. I tried to put some good work in over the next several miles, cresting the final hill at mile 28, and ready to make a push for 2nd over the last two downhill/flat miles.
Definitely my fault for thinking I could breeze through nutrition and hydration for this “short” race. With 2nd place within striking distance, I couldn’t get my damn legs moving without hobbling every few strides. Thankfully the legs loosened up for the last mile, but I still had to play the game of running up to the cramping line and then pulling back. Making one last anemic push, Joe Devreese quickly looked back and easily outkicked me to finish 7 seconds ahead in a strong 2nd place.
Finishing the 30ish mile in 3:37 (7:06/mile pace with 3,000+ ft vert) but cramping the last two miles, I needed to rehydrate quickly! After pounding 30 ounces of Physiophyx (two scoops @ 320 calories), I made my way over to the Patagonia tent to continue post-race hydration. Having a beer at 9:45ish on a Saturday is usually reserved for college football tailgating, but this is Born to Run!
After cleaning up and having another incredible burrito for brunch, we made our way back to the main camp to enjoy the day. We cheered on Arnoldo Arrieta and Oswaldo Lopez, the 200 mile and 100 mile champions, watched some incredible wrestling matches with Crista in full penguin suit, and witnessed an awesome Dirtbag Runners talent show. The AZ contingent’s performance was nothing short of amazing. Nearly certain they were singing a bluegrass, backcountry hillbilly tune, my jaw dropped when I heard, “My neck, my back, lick my pussy and my crack!” Maybe it was the twangy voice, the Deliverance inspired guitar work or the background dancers, but it just sounded so right.
We called it an early night and made our way back to camp to relax and catch some shuteye. I caught up with Peter and Crista over a bottle from my favorite SLO winery, Saucalito Canyon. Had some reservations about Tom taking over winemaking operations several years back at such a young age, but he has done an outstanding job creating some incredible zin’s and blends. Try them out next time you’re in town.
We woke up early, packed up camp, headed north and had a great breakfast at Del Monte Café before wishing my Dad and Kris safe travels
What I learned:
- Nutrition and hydration matter… don’t be an idiot and fuel accordingly!
- I want a Born to Run burrito right now!
- Crista looks amazing in a penguin suit!
- I’m SO PROUD that Alejandra finished her first trail race! She took an early spill but bounced right back up and kept moving.
- Whisky Jerry is still looking for that bottle of Jack that was taken away…