Miwok 100K: A DNF ... but a Good DNF

Full report to come later, but this was the best DNF of my life. Its hard to suffer as much as I did and not get an official finish, but I ran 100K and had a blast doing it with a lot of nice people and a great pacer.

My pacer and I missed the Miwok Trail on way down from Pantoll and ended up at Muir beach running in circles looking for the aid station. We could hear a bunch of people clapping and yelling towards the beach and with 55 miles on my legs I ran over to the party expecting to see the aid station. Turned out a bunch of teenagers were having a kegger. I was ready to give up and ask them for a cup by this point as I went from the elation of knowing I had Miwok 100K in the bag to being completely lost. I decided that we should take the Coastal Trail back to Tennessee Valley. It was a gnarly up and down technical trail with many steps in the pitch black. It was incredibly beautiful watching the last bits of light disappear into the ocean. We put on our headlamps and made our way back to Tennessee Valley. I could tell that Stan Jensen who was manning the aid station was used to people missing their cut-offs complaining in utter disapointment and anger. Most people who pull into an aid station this late must be hurting, as they kept asking me if I was OK. I was telling them I was fine and want to finish. The fact I could bust a sub 8 minute pace for the last half a mile into this aid station was an indicator of how great I was feeling. Stan told me I could not finish as there was no support out there. It was a huge downer going from the peace and quiet of the abandoned coastal trail to all the rules of the race, but thats the way it goes when you sign up for one of these things. Next time, I will know where that Miwok trail is and won't make this mistake again.

While this is an official DNF, we covered 100K due to our getting lost around Muir Beach. I feel very satisfied having run 100K even without receiving a medal. I heard that people miss this trail junction every year. I just noticed on the Ultrarunner Mail list another guy did the same thing, but I guess he had the sense to turn-around a bit quicker and get back on course. I am going to suggest they put a sign on this turn as this race is so well organized and put together, no need for another unsuspecting person to make this same mistake.

This was the first time I successfully busted through the wall of doom and gloom and misery into elation since the Furnace Creek 508. I was so miserable between Pantoll and the Bolinas Ridge station I convinced myself I was going to quit. I was being passed by just about everybody out there. I managed to pick up some speed running down Randall Trail to make the cut off by about 30 minutes, but I was feeling pretty pathetic when I met my pacer back at Bolinas Ridge. I was barely able to run back to Pan Toll. My pacer kept calling me a Loser in the Tom Vu style he is so skilled at, yet I could barely walk as I secretly cursed his enthusiasm. Somehow we got back to Pantoll and I sat there on the bench about 95% dead unable to move. Being forced off the bench by a nice volunteer, I started trudging down the hill. Somehow things started getting better on the descent. My leges miraculously started to feel ok again and I started picking up speed. I was running a sub 9 minute pace when an hour before I could barely walk. Even though we missed that Miwok Trail and ended up running up and around Muir beach for 30 minutes looking for that phantom aid station, it was worth it to come back from the dead. This experience of things turning around in Ultra events is what makes it worth all the pain and suffering and is the essential element of what makes these events so amazing. I knew my chances for an official finish were probably dashed as we slogged up and down the Coastal Trail, but being out there in the pitch black quiet and feeling amazingly strong and powerful was hard to understand. From annihilation and despair to elation and strength in 90 minutes. I would change the moral devastation of not getting an official finish, but thats for me to work out in the next few months of therapy.


nrmrvrk said…
Glad to hear that your body handled the 100K very well, but bummed to find out that you didn't get the official finish. Some of that sounds like race politics. Shame too. When I used to talk to Stan at PARC, he seemed like a really nice laid-back guy. If you come into the aid station feeling great, you'd think that they might just sneak you out of there and not say anything. If someone else caught wind of it then you and Stan would both get ripped for it, especially with the popularity of the race and the 150+ people on the wait list.

Bummer, but glad that you definitely had it in your legs that day.
Chris O'Keefe said…
I think in a race this big and well organized, they need to play by the rules and call it off when the time hits. Probably most people that late are so dead its for the better. We were on fire and running a fast pace having been off course and could have easily mad it, but cest la vie. Its the experience that matters. Not the medal. It was one of the best days I have had pushing the edges of what my body and mind can take.