This page last updated: Saturday 20 March 2010
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Western States 100 Mile Race, USAReport by Melbourne runner, Ross Shilston. Saturday June 24th, 1995.
This is the longest running and most popular of the American 100 Mile trail runs (161km) ? It's SO Popular that they have a lottery to decide who gets to run. This year 432 people were selected to run the trail from Squaw Valley, near Lake Tahoe to Auburn, 100 miles north-east of Sacramento, California. Of these 432 entrants only 371 started. The course has a total of 5,500 metres climb and 7,000 metres drop.
Our group, Geoff Hook, Kevin & Margaret Cassidy, Helen Charters and myself, have spent the last 12 days as guests of Rus and Di Mendelson. If Rus finishes under 30 hours he will have competed 10 Western States runs and will receive a 1000 mile buckle. The weather has been unkind this your and the first 35 Kilometres will be run through snow. Because or this the cut-off time of 30 hours has been increased to 32 hours and people have been given the option of withdrawing before the start and they will be given entry into next year's run without going through the lottery. Also there will be people running through the snow section to provide assistance to the runners if the need arises. These people will be wearing orange Ski Patrol jackets and will he running about 1/3rd, 2/3rds and at the back of the field.
The day before the run everyone had to check in and they did a mini-medical. My weight was 138 pounds (62.5kg), blood pressure was, 120/60 and pulse was 76!! Was I relaxed or nervous? At various aid stations you were weighed and if you last too much weight you were made to stop and drink and eat until your weight increased and if you lost 7% of your body weight you would be withdrawn from the race.
5am and the run has startedI'm dressed so as to avoid frostbite and sunburn! The first 7.5km rise from 1,890 metres to 2,650 metres at Emigrant Pass and most of this was walked. The Sierra Nevada mountain range that we ware running through was capped with snow which offered spectacular views but made running difficult.
The first two aid stations at Lyon Ridge (17.7k) and Red Star Ridge (25.7k) offer only water. Aid station personnel were flown into these aid stations by helicopter the night before and now the helicopter was carrying water up to these aid stations.
I quickly lost track of how many times I fell in the snow.
Towards the end of the snow section about 30 people manage to lose the trail. Kevin and I were fortunate enough to see these people running towards us before we followed their Footsteps.
Duncan Canyon at 39 k is the first major aid station and our first drop bag is available here. I completely redressed, new shoes, socks, jocks, shorts, Tshirt. The only things I retained were my sun?glasses, sun cap and my gloves.
We are now running along Mosquito Ridge Road for the next few kilometres. Because of the snow the course his been re?routed to avoid the worst of the snow at Robinson Flat. From Duncan Canyon to Michigan Bluff was the worst part of the run for me. My Feet have swollen and running was painful on my feet, running downhill was excruciating.
Not long alter leaving Duncan Canyon, I'm forced into the bushes for a pit?stop and to test the bio-degradable toilet paper. Too many Power Bars. Even after this I still experienced discomfort for a few more kilometres.
At the bottom of Deadwood Canyon (74k) I've caught up to Kevin again and he said that this was as fast as he goes so if I want to go faster go by. Up I go to Devil's Thumb, a climb of 480 metres in 2.7k.
From there it's down to El Dorado Creek, where the aid station people delight in telling us it got to 46 Celsius. 100 metres along and I was vomiting. Looks like to much Gatorade.
I walked up the canyon to Michigan Bluff (89.6k) sipping wear. Just before arriving I vomited again, diluted Gatorade this time.
When I arrived at Michigan Bluff the first faces I saw were those of Margaret and Helen. "Give us a smile." they say - I've just been sick, I'm tired and my feet are killing me. Smiling was not high on my list of priorities !
The aid attendant managed to make me drink some lemonade and some chicken soup while three podiatrists discussed the options for my Feet. In the end, the insoles of my shoes were removed, my feet were taped to protect the blisters, and toe pads were placed between a few toes to stop my toe nails from digging into the next toe. Helen did a good job of boosting my spirits as I start out towards the next aid station, Foresthill, 10.1k away. I even managed to run most of the way. I did want to ditch my third water bottle but Helen convinced me that I still needed it.
Foresthill is a major aid station and it is where runners are able to pick up pacers. When I arrived it was dark. I had my water bottles refilled and enquire as to where my pacer was. I was told they were out of pacers so I was on my own. Terrific 19,000km to come for a run and they don't have a pacer for me!
14 k down the trail shortly after leaving a small aid station my torch died. Waht to do? Go back and put in new batteries under lights at the aid station? Get the small back-up torch from my bum bag? Get the spare batteries from my bum bag and put them in the torch in the dark? I waited for other runners to come along and I ran between thenn to the next aid station 37 k away.
From here to the river crossing at Rucky Chucky (125.5k) I was able to move along quite well. Normally the water in the American River is held back upstream for the run so the runners can wade across. This year there is too much water to hold back and a white water rafting company has a rubber inflatable to ferry the runners across the river.
Helen, Di and Jack (Rus' pacer early on) are welcome faces. Di suggests that I don't need three water bottles at this hour because aid stations are fairly close together. I seek Helen's permission.
About 30 minutes are wasted waiting for my turn to be ferried across the river. On the other side the podiatrists tend to my feet again and I put on another pair of shoes again without the insoles. It's now 4:05am and I had 35.4 k to go.
The next 3k are all uphill then it undulates for quite a while.
After the uphill section I was able to move along at a good pace, and I even latched on to another runner and his pacer, the Bob and Bill show.
At the next aid station Bill issued Bob with a list a mile long of things to do while her went to the rest room. I didn't wait for them and off I went.
Highway 49 and only 10.8k to go. Helen, Di and Jack are here.
I gave Helen my bum bag and took one water battle. I ran down towards No Hands Bridge and there is only 5.5 k to go so I ignored that aid station.
From No Hands Bridge its up to Robie Point, 3.4k to go.
It's after 9:15am Sunday and its damn hot. I need more water than I have got. Luckily someone out training pours water over me.
At Robie Point Helen was allowed to run the last 3.4k to the finish with me. I looked at my watch and decided that if I ran I could finish before 10 am. I turned left and ran straight into Helen. "Where are you going?"
"Doesn't the run go round here?"
"No, it goes up this hill"
I questioned whether we were on the course at least twice and was told that we were going the correct way. I didn't remember it being this long when we trained over this section a fortnight ago. Eventually we arrive at the track at Placer High, Auburn. Now only 300 metres; around here and it's over. I put my arm around Helen so sh has to cross the line with me.
I Finished in 28 hours 56 minutes and 42 seconds, 129th place, and received a warm embrace and a kiss from Helen for my effort. Norman Klein, the race director, congratulated me, places a medallion around my neck and asks Helen, where is his kiss. 1 had to run 100 miles to receive my kiss and Norm just stood at the finish line and received one. Bet that was not the only kiss he received either.
My weight was still 138 pounds, blood pressure was 128/80 and my pulse was 98. I also allowed the medical staff to take a blood sample.
Rus finished in 29 hours 29 minutes 48 seconds. Not bad for a 60 year old!
The Winner for the third time was Tim Twietmeyer in 18:34:58, almost an hour slower thin last year. Second for the second year and first woman for the seventh year in a row was Ann Trason only 5 minutes behind Tim, 18:40:01.
Kevin and Geoff made it to Michigan Bluff (90k) before having to withdraw.
Queenslanders Ian Javes ran 29:54:44 while Greg Barton ran 22:46:48 for 19th place, an outstanding perfomance.
Only 196 people completed the course. 36 broke 24 hours, another 134 broke 30 hours and another 26 broke 32 hours.
During the day the temperature rose to 4OC and even during the night it was quite warm. The worst time was at the finish line after I had finished - there was very little shade.
I always had other runners near me during the ran. It certainly helped to be able to talk to a lot of interesting people and I was surprised at how many picked that I was an Aussie, One of the people I ran with for a while was John Cappis. John was one of the original 14 who started the race in 1977. The following year John was 3rd in 19hours 20 minutes.
After the run there was a banquet followed by the awards presentation. Then back to Rus and Di's to find out what happened to Kevin. Eventually at 9:30pm on Sunday night I went to bed having been up since 3:30am Saturday.
Yes, I did enjoy the run and yes, I would do it again.