Race Report from LPTRunner, Jodie Taylor...
OMFG! Now that was pure torture. I am a proud Hellgate 2012 finisher of the “Baby” year. Last year, Horton called it the “Sissy” year because the weather was relatively nice, freezing temps at night with 40s-50s during the day. This year I heard him calling it the “Baby” year. I could not have prayed for better weather. 40s at night and 60s by afternoon, although it did feel a little warm mid-day. Shorts and short sleeves were definitely the proper attire the whole race. Also, to make it even “babier” there was no infamous river crossing at mile 4, just a little creek, where I barely got my shoes wet. However, despite all of the easier conditions, in no way did it offset the difficulty of the course itself.
The 1st four miles are smooth and runnable. They make you think, “I can do this…” Then the climbing starts…and never stops. It goes on and on and on and on…because it’s sometime around 1am, it’s dark and all you can see is either right in front of your where your headlamp lights the way or where you still have to go by looking at the trail of headlamps ahead you up the mountain. It looks awesome until it registers in your brain, “What?! I have to go all the way up there?!” I don’t know how else I could have prepared for those 1st 13 miles other than to hop on a treadmill, set it on the highest incline setting and run for 3 hours non-stop or else just move to the mountains. When I did reach “runnable” sections, I floored it because I knew I needed to make up a lot of lost time. I’m soooo slow on uphills.
However, I could only run for so long until the trail would suddenly turn into treacherous single track with GIANT loose rocks covered by leaves in the dark. I do NOT know how people (like Robert) run over these rocks as if they were pebbles. Last year when I was crewing, every time I saw Marcel at an aid station, he always had something crazy to tell me about the trail, words and pictures still don’t do it justice. He would say, “Jodie, OMG, the rocks are giant!” “Jodie, you would not believe what’s in there!” “Jodie, OMG! The hills!” “Jodie, OMG, they weren’t kidding when they called it the FOREVER Section!” Now I painfully know what he was talking about.
Jose and I caught up to each other and ended up running the majority of the race together. Our strategy naturally fell into place. I led the pace on the downhillls, he led the pace on the uphills and whomever was in front at the time was the lucky one who got to lead us through the scary giant leaf covered rock sections. I really really really did not want to mess up my ankles at this race. I would not have been able to keep trying like I did at Big Horn.
Let me tell you, I have never cursed so much during a race as I did at Hellgate!
During the latter half of the race, we got to see Jeff and Lynn Mallach at the aid stations. It was great to have their support, especially when we were becoming very tired. They really boosted our moral and got us moving along.
I will say, I did start doubting myself during the Forever Section, the 2nd last section of the race. Time felt like it was ticking faster and I felt like I was moving slower and slower.
When we reached the last aid station, we had 1 hour and 55 min left to “run” six miles. Sure, no problem…except the 1st three are all uphill. We have to climb up the mountain to get to the other side. I told myself, I had to get to the top in 45 min and “drop the hammer” at the top, this is where Coach Robert told us we need to drop the hammer and pass everyone to the finish line. I knew the last 3 miles were very runnable (I remembered Marcel telling me he was running 7min miles down the mountain), but the question was would my legs still be able to carry me? Usually at the end of races, my legs won’t do what I tell them. I’ve never “dropped the hammer” in an ultra. In fact, I must like to hold onto the hammer(s) because I’m so slow and tired by the end.
When Jose and I reached the top, we did just that and flew to the bottom, passing everyone that passed us on the uphill. It felt great to run! Seriously, it did.
Jose still had a little more to give, he made it across the finishline and I followed suit. We received our congrats from Horton, and our awesome Patagonia Hellgate 2012 100k++ finishers nano-fleece running hoodies and drymax socks. It was perfection! I finished somewhere close to last place, but I don’t care, I’m soooo happy and relieved I finished under the cut off time!
And a BIG CONGRATULATIONS to Robert, who came in 10th place overall and shaved a whole hour off of is best time! Amazing! At dinner before the race, he said he wanted to PR but he was also contemplating trying to shave off 30 min to finish under 13 hours. He totaled all of his best splits and found that he would make it under 13 hours if he ran is best the whole race. Well, he did better than that! He must know the secret, the secret, the secret…Amazing job! Congrats to Jose, it was great to run with him again and or shall I say to experience the self-inflicted pain together. Angela is the toughest! Jose and I thought we had colds, but Angela, she bested us and came down with the worst cold ever and still ran more than half of the race!
Hellgate 2012 the baby year, that’s just fine with me!