Born to Run 2016 5-14-16

“Here we go again…”

BTR2
100 runners… 400 beers…

Minus the morning alarm at 4-4:30am most days, training for the Grand Slam has been a blast. The mileage has been high, but thankfully my body hasn’t revolted too much. The quality workouts have definitely been challenging, but getting my ass kicked through the marathon training block was good preparation. Before training for WS, my weekly mileage topped out around 80 miles/wk. We’ve been averaging 100 mile weeks throughout the majority of this training block, with the big week landing right on top of Born to Run weekend.

Running 130 miles with 15-20k in vert was not going to be an easy week. In fact, it was going to be 20 miles more than I’ve ever ran leading up to a race. Looking at the training calendar on Sunday before the week and with an overnight trip to LA for work, I had to tetris the shit out of the early week to get in the workouts and a gym session. With Thomas’ help, we made it work and banked 70+ miles before BTR.

Being our third trip to ranch, my dad, Kris, Alejandra, Carly and I had hopefully worked out the camping kinks from years past. My dad and Kris rented an RV, so the gals could shit and shower in peace. We headed out to the ranch early on Friday morning to secure a good location far enough away from the debauchery, but close enough to stumble back to the campsite after each evenings festivities. After setting up our site and picking up the RV, we had several hours to relax before the afternoon activities began.

The Friday of Born to Run weekend is truly a dirtbag reunion. Throughout the year, we track and cheer on each others training, racing and adventures, and get to spend 2-5 days catching up over many shared miles and beers. This year would be more of the same, as it’s always great to see the Clemen’s brothers, Patrick, Tyler, Rob, Gregorio, Crista and Peter, and everyone’s favorite sober driver… Whiskey Jerry!

After catching up and cruising around the main camp, which serves as the starting line, finishing line, main aid station, main stage, vendor site, bonfire site, restaurant and bathroom, we had a quick bite and then made our way back to the main camp to hear Luis provide Saturday’s race details.

For those of you reading this blog that haven’t been to a Luis Escobar race, you’re truly missing out. With so much focus today  on immediate gratification, participation medals, selfies and a generation focused on comfort, it’s VERY refreshing to participate in events that are simple, tough and focused on self reliance.

There’s not much to a Luis Escobar trail briefing, but if you’re ever late to the start of BTR and need race details, here’s the elongated version:

BTR has the following races:

  • 4 day
  • 200 mile
  • 100 mile
  • 60 mile
  • 30 mile
  • 10 mile
  • Beer mile
  • 0.0 mile

 

  • BTR has two, approximately 10 mile loops (Pink with 800ft of vert and Yellow with 1,500ft of vert).
  • Pink, then yellow… pink, then yellow… pink, then yellow… Complete as many times as needed to finish your race
  • Follow the color of ribbon based on your loop
  • Turns will be marked with a white and red striped ribbon before, during and after the turn
  • If you see a blue ribbon and pass over/through it, you are off course
  • Don’t be a dick!

If you ever want to see Luis flip his shit, be sure to ask or email him questions about course maps, GPS accuracy, gluten-free and/or vegan aid station options or why there’s no toilet paper in the shitters…

After the trail briefing and a Patagonia-sponsored hill climb event that was won by a former professional decathlete… former decathlete really… we went back to camp to relax and prepare for the beer mile.

If it’s a Luis Escobar event, chances are high there will be a beer mile. It’s not for everyone and definitely not for the weak of stomach, but it’s a race I recommend for those that love to run… and obviously love to drink beer.

The basics of a beer mile:

  • Drink one 12 ounce beer
  • Run .25 miles
  • Drink one 12 ounce beer
  • Run .25 miles
  • Drink one 12 ounce beer
  • Run .25 miles
  • Drink one 12 ounce beer
  • Try to survive the last .25 miles without puking or passing out

With 100 runners at this years BTR Beer Mile, the competition would be fierce but not as fierce as the logistics. An out-and-back course through the main camp area, racers would be forced to dodge and weave their way through the masses, while attempting to locate and down their brewskies.

After the prerace chant:

I can drink more than I think I can

I will be drunker than I think I am.

I…Will… Not… Puke…

Ramen!

We were sent off to by a Chris McDougal shotgun start… yes, the same Chris McDougal that wrote “Born to Run.”

After six minutes and 20 seconds of a beer running blur and some stiff competition by several runners, I was able to defend my 2015 BTR Beer Mile crown. Now if only I can transfer this beer mile success to ultra racing.

BTR1
VICTORY!!!

After eating the absolute best Mexican food you’ll ever have at any ultra (thank Luis’ sister), we jammed out to the Drive-In Romeo’s and called it a relatively early night.

Ahhh, the beautiful shotgun alarm at 4:30am accompanied by Banda music blasting at 1,000 decibels… only at Born to Run.

Alejandra and Joanie would be the only racers in our group. Not ever having run past 14 miles, I was excited but really nervous to see how the day would unfold for Alejandra. Joanie was also tackling the longest distance in her racing career, and was hoping for her first 60 mile finish.

Luis rounded up the 400+ runners racing everything from 10 miles to 60 miles around 5:45am for a detailed set of race instructions (please see abovementioned BTR race details), and sent the group off on the pink loop around 6:00am. In order to get the most vertical feet possible for my 37 miles in the morning and to also dodge the early crowds, I decided to run the yellow loop continuously.

BTR4
Go Time!

Heading into the first aid station only two miles into the morning, I met up with Samantha Pruitt and Katherine Nestor. They were volunteering the early shift along with Caroline Boller. After catching up for a few, I headed back onto the yellow loop. No more than a few minutes later, I ran into Melissa in the middle of her 100 miler. She was 12+ hours into the run, and had gotten lost for approximately 5-6 miles early in the race. I decided to spend the rest of the loop with her to see how she was holding up.

Melissa and I spent the next 8 miles working the hills and keeping a good pace. With approximately 1,500ft of climbing throughout these 10 miles, I was impressed with Melissa’s strength this deep into the race. Minus a brief trail mixup at the last yellow loop aid station, we made up some time on her 24hr goal. She kept up on her nutrition and hydration, didn’t bitch or complain, and we made it to Ethan with 40 to go. I wished them well and headed back out on the yellow loop.

Climbing out on the second of many yellow loops throughout the weekend, I came across a runner looking fairly haggard, in the bushes. After he didn’t answer if I asked if he was ok, I made my way off the trail to check in on him.

Rookie mistake!

Looks like his morning coffee was making its way through, and I felt like a giant ass for not hollering from a safe distance.

Several miles later, I ran into Alejandra making her way through the course. She looked great running a downhill section and was keeping a good pace. I checked in with her to make sure she was eating and had enough water and food to make it through the loop. I was impressed that she was motoring along so well and she wasn’t having any problems, so I decided to take off and wish her luck.

The third loop was uneventful until the last mile when I came across Ethan and Melissa making their way towards the ridge climb approximately 4 miles into the yellow loop. I decided to turn around and head back up with them, as I was interested to see how she was doing and selfishly wanted to do some more climbing.

We made great time, considering Melissa had nearly 80 miles on her legs, and we had found out on her last yellow loop that she was leading the women’s race. Outside of forcing her to take some gels, she did great managing the variables as being up all night and running through the hotter portion of the day was likely taking its toll.

BTR3
Finishing up 80. Hey, what the hell is that???

Making our way into the last aid station on the yellow loop, we came across Alejandra and Carly checking in at the same time. They were a few miles into their last pink loop at approximately 23 miles and looking great. Knowing that Carly was along for this last loop, I was certain Alejandra would finish. It didn’t hurt that there was no way to get back to the finish without continuing on the loop…

BTR5
30 miles…Check!

Finishing up the morning 37, I stopped for a quick lunch and headed up towards the finish line to watch Alejandra finish. She killed it, finishing faster than her expected time and I couldn’t have been prouder. Not entirely confident on her ability to finish considering her longest training run, she absolutely proved me wrong finishing much stronger than I did on my first ultra.

After making sure Alejandra was fed and hydrated, I decided to try and track down Melissa and Ethan as they were making their way through her last 10 miles. Catching up to the pair as they were climbing up the ridge, we hit the last 5 miles hard and were privileged to watch Melissa negative split the BTR 100 and pull out the W!

After cleaning up, we made our way towards the main camp to witness Saturday nights BTR debauchery. Prom Night was the theme of the evening, as dirtbags from across the globe, dressed to the nines, danced the night away fueled by jello shots and fireball.

After another early night, I woke up early to the sound of someone rummaging around the campsite. Joanie had finished her 60 mile race, and was still kind enough to tippy toe around to not wake anyone up.

Another successful BTR in the books. Until next year…

 

What I learned:

  • Alejandra is much tougher than I gave her credit for
  • Joanie is much tougher than I gave her credit for
  • Melissa is much tougher than I gave her credit for
  • Damn, I love the Mexican food at BTR!
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