19 August 2022

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This was probably the most spontaneous 100 mile race signup for me, ever. I believe I registered 2 weeks prior to race day. I was feeling the post goal race depression after a huge summer with the Tahoe 200 and Bob Graham Round adventures in June and July and jumped onto Ultrasignup to feed my hunger for adventure. Unfortunately, as the title indicates, it did not go as planned and there were signs even before the race that I probably wasn't ready. While I dreaded doing this race writeup due to the "DNF" in the title, I definitely wanted to share some of the spectacular views I encountered along the miles I did get to run.
I used some frequent flyer miles to fly into LA on Thursday and arrived at packet pickup in the beautiful town of Big Bear Lake in the afternoon, still giving me time to check out the start/finish line village that the race directors erected in the middle of town. Once I got my race packet and checked out the vendors, I made the short 2 mile drive to my hotel, a quaint little spot along the main road through town.
I was much more relaxed on race morning as i am used to, especially ahead of a 100 miler. That should have been a sign of things to come. I arrived at the race start around 5:30AM Friday morning, 30 minutes ahead of the start gun. It was a bit chilly initially, but I know the day would heat up quickly, even at elevation. Speaking of elevation, the Kodiak 100 Miler starts and finishes at 5000' and climbs up and over 10,000' at Sugarloaf Peak, with most of the course keeping runners between 5,000' and 7,000' of elevation. While the total vertical gain is just under 17,000', sustained running at altitude definitely had an unexpected effect on me. The race course of the Kodiak 100 consists of mostly single track trail on a single 100 mile loop around beautiful Big Bear Lake. Terrain varies from buffed out to very technical and rocky. Overall, a perfectly rugged course with amazing views of Big Bear lake and the surrounding mountain ranges.
The race started on time and led runners around a small single loop around a couple of blocks adjacent to the start/finish line race village before taking us up and into the mountains. I settled into a comfortable pace right away, probably running too much already of the gradual uphill. I knew I had spent most of the previous month relaxing and recovering from my June and July adventures, so I wasn't in peak condition. I took that into consideration for my race strategy with my only goal being to finish. 
Unfortunately, the day had other plans for me. Rather than a play by play of how my race unfolded, I will provide a rather brief summary of events plus some lessons learned. This race report is mostly about some of the views along the way to encourage others to give this one a go.
The trails were pretty congested early on, but without really affecting my ability to move at my own pace which is always key for me in a 100 miler. Run your own race is my mantra. I felt good. Unfortunately, the day warmed up rather quickly. We started a long descent around mile 15 and by the time I reached the bottom of this canyon, I was overheating already. I was barely able to start the climb back out. In fact, I had to stop multiple times during the ascent out of the canyon and it took forever. Maybe it was all physical, the heat causing serious issues, maybe it was mostly mental (i.e. my account balance of mental fortitude had been depleted over the summer and had not been fully restored, yet), but by the time I approached the top of the climb and rolled into the next aid station at mile 25ish, I was done.
Two fellow Bob Graham Round finishers (Bill Whitfield and I, right to left)
I didnt hand in my bib, but I sat down with every intention to be done and to beg someone for. ride back to the finish in town. Then I heard someone refueling at the aid station table speak with a British accent. After striking up a conversation with this gent about where he was from, we quickly realized that we had both completed the Bob Graham Round in the last 4 weeks. This special bond let me to suck it up and continue a bit further, so we could swap stories of our Bob Graham Round adventures. 
He was kind enough to drag my @$$ around the course for another 15 miles. Unfortunately, my feet and mental state continued to deteriorate and by the mile 40 aid station, I was unwilling to continue. However, it wasn't for the lack of trying to convince me on the part of the aid station captain, who was adamant about my continuing. I had made my decision. My day was officially over when the AS Captain removed (and kept) my race bib.  My newfound friend and fellow BGR finisher Bob continued on his journey and I am happy to report that he earned his finisher buckle.
Ultimately, there were a number of factors that lead to my demise, I mean DNF. First, my mental game was not what it generally is prior to a big ultra. I barely had any pre-race nerves. Second, a combination of heat, altitude and challenging terrain had my struggle physically way too early in a 100 miler. In fact, I sweat so much that I was able to stand my shorts and shirt in the corner of my hotel room. It was hot!
As I am writing this race report, I am still content with my decision to not continue. After nearly 150 ultras, I know what it takes to finish a 100 miler and on this day, I did not have it. No need to make excuses. I do need to learn from this as it pertains to the reasons for my DNF. 





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