|Carrie, Kevin, and Julianne on the course|
Conceived by Race Director Luis Escobar, the Born to Run Marathons were created "for runners by runners" and consisted of 100 mile, 100K, 50K, and 10 mile running events. As the event website put it: "Join us for a weekend of camping and trail running on the beautiful East Creek Ranch in Los Olivos California."
Like the description on the website, the event was understated, casual, and comfortable. One runner afterwards called it "authentic." It seemed an entirely appropriate description of the event.
|Barefoot Ted talks while we sit in the sun|
|Raffle for Moeben Sleeves and Drymax socks... everyone got something|
|Barefoot Ken Bob talks barefoot running|
|RD Luis addressing the crowd... yeah, he's the one in the chicken suit|
For runners like Kathy Higgins, it was a first 100 Miler.
Not content to merely complete the distance, Kathy would end up smoking the course in 21:21, distinguishing herself for not only blasting through each aid station looking as fresh as if the gun had just gone off, but for leaving her numerous pacers literally in the dust 10-20 feet behind her.
Kathy had an incredible team of friends and family supporting her all night, and turned in a jaw-dropping performance (literally... each time she would blaze past we would be left looking at each other with our mouths open and eyes agog). Amazing.
For Mauricio Puerto, it was a first 50K run entirely barefoot.
Having never run more than three miles barefoot before, Mauricio decided to run the 100K distance barefoot "mostly because it was something different and was an adventure." During his run Luis would allow him to drop down to 50K after finding some sections of the trail quite hard on the feet; Mauricio would run or walk every step of that 50K barefoot.
We saw Mauricio several times on the course, and while his gait signaled to us clearly that he was having some discomfort, his words were always positive and his smile cheerful... he would exchange words with us as if there was nothing at all unusual going on, and then he'd move on down the trail.
For Christi Crovato, Scout Phillips, Kevin Stuart, Julianne Whitelaw, Michael Epler, Carrie Dent, and many others, it was a first 100K.
|Carrie, Kevin, Julianne, and Christi on their way to 100K|
I was there with my good friend Christi to see if we could make her first 100K attempt a success. It was a success, but for far greater reasons than we had anticipated, for not only did Christi finish the run, but she enjoyed nearly every step of the journey and made new friends along the way.
While completing Christi's journey, we met others on a similar track... they were there for their first 10 mile, 50K, 100K, or 100 Mile run. Not everyone finished the run that they set out on, but we all learned a little something about each other and ourselves before the weekend was through.
|Christi and Scott Kennedy, who was running in the 100 Mile|
|Scout finishing her first 100K|
As for the ranch... man, was that a beautiful ranch.
East Creek Ranch
The owner of the ranch was one Mr. Chamberlin (his first name escapes me at this time). He had graciously allowed us to inhabit the land for the few days as we camped and ran, providing, of course, that we leave the land as we found it.
The ranch was beautiful, with sweeping, grassy fields and large gnarled trees that provided both interest and shade, both while we reclined on the grass in the days before the event...
|Enjoying the sun and the breeze at East Creek Ranch|
...and while we ran the 20 mile loop the next day.
|Beautiful trees giving shade on the pink loop|
Which now, of course, leads us to the course itself...
"This course is not easy."
It was a funny thing.
The night before the run as we sat chatting in the campground, we all felt surprisingly unconcerned about the run itself. In less than 12 hours we would be getting up to run 100K, a distance far longer than some of us had ever attempted... yet the atmosphere in the camp was one of contentment and happy anticipation.
Not that Luis hadn't tried to warn us, however.
Prior to the event, in fact, Luis had sent the following e-mail out with "need to know information" to all the runners (the bold formatting is my own):
It is not easy. The course is twenty miles separated into two ten mile loops that intersect in the center...Etc. etc. etc., you get the idea... then he finished with this:
The course is very runnable but it is not easy.I don't know about you, but I think he was trying to communicate that... well... aw heck, I'm just not sure.
Actually, I had a brief start upon first seeing his e-mail, then realized he was doing exactly the right thing by reminding us that while we had signed up for a "relaxed" event on a "flat" course with "gentle, rolling hills" - well, we would still have to run 62 miles. Or walk it. Or whatever.
In every race, I try to remember to respect the distance. Luis's reminder was a timely one: have fun, but respect the distance.
A good night's sleep, and then... we run
The campfire and music were going until about 9PM at night, at which time Luis named all the runners who would be competing in the 100 Miler the next day into the loudspeaker, then bid us all goodnight.
We were woken at 4:45AM to the sound of Luis announcing "Wake up, it's time to get up!" before blasting some Merle Haggard over the speakers. We started giggling in our sleeping bags like kids as it dawned on us: we'd be running our 100K today!
|Gathered at the start for coffee and instructions before the race|
At the starting area, Luis went over the instructions one more time, which included such gems:
"First, you'll do the pink loop. It's NOT an exact loop. It's about 10 miles. There's one aid station. How far away is it? I don't know. About a bottle."And, finally, my favorite:
"The pink loop is marked by pink ribbons. They'll be on your left hand side - keep them ON YOUR LEFT. Except for sometimes... when they'll be on your right. Other than that... KEEP THEM ON YOUR LEFT."
"We are not tracking your time and when you start and stop each loop - I don't care about your time. If you care about your time, keep track of it. This is ultrarunning. No-one cares how many seconds you came in on."
"This is ultrarunning. In the next 24 hours, something bad WILL happen to you."Swearing the oath... and the start
After Luis had finished, Caballo Blanco steped to the front and we all raised our hand and swore an oath:
"I understand that doing this run with Luis and Caballo might not be a good idea. If I get bitten by a rattlesnake, lost, injured, or die, it is my own fucking fault. Amen."
We all swore, clapped, and cheered, then stepped to the starting line... then with a shotgun blast from Mr. Chamberlin, we were off and running.
And now, pictures from the course
After that, we spent the day running, hiking, laughing, and talking.
The course consisted of one 10-mile "pink" loop that started and finished at the S/F area, then a 10-mile "yellow" loop that did the same thing, but over different ground. Luis called it a 20-mile figure 8, but all the runners seemed to think of it as 10-mile loops... it was easier to process in your head while you were out there.
I could go into more detail, but that's really all there is to it, so instead I'll share some pictures from the course... I took my camera with me on the 2nd yellow loop, having decided on the first time through that it was my favorite and knowing I'd like some more pictures to remember it by.
|The majority of the terrain was grassy fields with rolling hills|
|More paths past cool trees|
|Scott and crossing the creek bed behind Christi|
|Single track with great views... favorite part of the course.|
So... how was it?
The running itself was awesome. Christi and I completed our run in 13:13, or thereabouts. Our splits for each 20 miles were fairly even: 3:50, 4:10, 4:40, then we did the last 2 miles in 23 minutes.
|The approach to the S/F area and Home Base... nearly there!|
|Julianne finishing her 100K|