Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile race reports - Viking's on pg 2

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Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile race reports - Viking's on pg 2

Postby UltraQueenga » Wed Feb 10, 2010 10:22 pm

No hay grandes distancias...solo mentes pequenas. – Jose Pablo Salazar
There are no great distances... only small minds.

I don’t even know where to begin. I’m still quite overwhelmed after a great race, so much so, that I don’t feel fatigue, aches and pains, though I’m sure there must be some damage lurking under my skin. I will try to spare you too many details leading up to the race. I ran a lot, hit a new high in my monthly mileage (480km January) and a also hit a low where I must have been really close to mental burnout. I was feeling fine leading up to the race, but mentally I had some days I’m not very proud of. And the stresses related to logistics were just the extra I needed, but it seems the more stressed I am before a race, the more calm I am DURING the race, which is all that matters, I guess. On top of it all, we toed the start line with serious sleep deprivation, having slept 3 hours on Thursday night before our 6:00AM flight and then only another measly 4 hours on Friday night before the race. I tried not to think about that too much. I had visions of me nodding off like at Sulphur. :(

This was our first race in the States and our third 100 miler. We hestitated a long time before finally deciding on taking the big leap South for a race. Travelling too much before and after a race does not appeal to me at all, especially if I have to do the driving. But, we were going to fly (great fun at the airport flying into the US) and drive the 80-90k between Houston and Huntsville, TX, so it was ok. We had a smooth flight to Houston, got out of the airport fast, got up to Huntsville in good time, checked into Motel 6, then went to IHOP for lunch. I’m on a protein kick these days, more on this later. We picked up last minute supplies at Walmart and attended the dinner and briefing. We dropped off one bag each for one of the aid stations and planned to share a drop bag at the start/finish.

THE COURSE
The course is a 20 mile loop (32k) around Raven Lake, through pine forest on what they call single track, though sometimes it felt more like double track because it was wide enough to pass easily. The trails had lots of roots. They really should call it Rooty Raccoon, because there where no rocks on course. Personally, I had no problem with the roots, I love technical trails. Stubbed my toes a couple of times and at night tripped and fell once into a cushy sandy spot with no harm done. But some people had real nasty bruises and cuts. One fellow Canadian had 10 stitches on his knee and he went on to finish his 50 miler in 10:10! Second female Jamie Donaldson finished with a huge nasty bruise, so there were plenty of tricky spots for everyone. Then there were some nice and easy jeep roads, the occasional boardwalk/bridge, all over really gently rolling terrain. We also had The Swimming Pool (a giant puddle with a sloppy detour around it) and about 3-4 really muddy spots where it was a challenge to keep your feet dry.

THE ORGANIZATION
The marking was amazingly well done and the aid stations were staffed with very helpful and knowledgeable people. I can’t praise them enough. They should run Pearson Airport and we’d be flying out of there in record times! The RD, Joe and his wife Joyce are super and surround themselves with a very supportive community of runners. Joe is an awesome ultrarunner himself and really knows what runners need, so he has the race details down pat. I must have thanked him at least three times after I finished, I just couldn’t help it. He had the pre- and post-race meals catered and they put on a great spread, so were very happy. The kit had a long sleeve fleece and the buckles, well, the buckles are just beautiful.

THE RACE
I don’t have my official splits yet, so I’m going to have to rely on memory for this, but I will add them later, because they are worth sharing. We had chiptiming and a mat at the start/finish. I only found out when we got back that they were posting live updates during the event. Doh! The aid stations had paper&clipboard timing and were keeping track of us.

THE GOAL
The ultimate goal was to finish uninjured under the 30 hr limit. No race is worth a trip to the hospital and/or months off running, so I would back off if necessary and just run to finish. The secret goal was to run a good race and break my previous PR of 26:13 from Haliburton. The top secret plan, devised with my grade 2 math skills in about 10 minutes before going to bed on Friday was to run a sub-24 hr race and looked like this:
Loop 1 in 3:50
Loop 2 in 4:00
Loop 3 in 4:20
Loop 4 in 6:00
Loop 5 in 5:50

LOOP 1 (miles 0-20 / 0-32 km)
We started promptly at 6:00. It was very cold, around 3C and clear. We chatted at the start with fellow Canadians Monica (running 100 miler #2 of 30 this year!), Phil, Kendra doing her first 100 and met Rolly Portlance from Sudbury, a “frequent flyer” at this event (14th RR100). It was a slow start with 345 runners starting at once. For Stephan and I this was really different from the 40-50 runners we started with at Sulphur and Haliburton 100s. Lots of runners, lots of old timers, really inspiring. It was still dark and we hobbled through the trails, listening to conversations and the occasional epithets when someone stubbed their toes on the roots. Often it was a walk or really slow run, but I was happy with the pace and just wanted to get the feel of the course until we get to spread out. By 7:00 I turned off my headlamp and looking at the clear sky I was planning on dropping off both my windshell and my lamp at the the aid station before the 10k out-n-back loop. But it didn’t warm up much, so I only left my headlamp and staring at my bag decided I don’t know what I want, so on I went with a cup of Heed and some chips from the tables. My drop bag was unorganized and this was going to haunt me throughout the race. (I hereby vow to improve my drop bag packing technique and get my sh!t organized, so help me God!). This loop went by fine, it really hit me that I’m running in ‘warm’ places, because there was so much greenery and these big tropical looking plants. The forest was awesome! You could see herons and big white birds on the shore wading in the water. I even decided to get off the trail for a moment, crouch and examine the ground in front of me while I fertilized the ground behind me. It was all good! Finished the first 20 miles in 4:04 by my watch.

LOOP 2 (miles 20-40 / 32-64 km)
I spent a few moments at the start, refilled my Camelbak with water, stared at the disorganized bag, grabbed some smoky almonds, beef jerky (craving protein!), grabbed my Garmin to measure 2 loops and left. It was still rather chilly at 10:00AM, I was trying to shed my jacket and run in my t-shirt, but it wasn’t warming up much. Eventually, around 11:30 it was getting warm enough to run in a shirt. I put on sunscreen, fearing really hot sun beams. But the temperatures never really climbed above 15C and there was this sticky chill on my skin. Weird. Despite all this, I managed to feel hot and the second half of this loop felt slow. No bathroom breaks on this one, except maybe a short pee stop. I was popping my electrolytes every 45 minutes and popped 2 Advils at 12:30. Feeling more comfortable, though I could feel the sun was bothering me a bit. I was listening to the conversations around me and enjoying the different accents and southern drawls, sometimes sounding like a movie. I ran with a woman from upper Texas doing her first 50 miler, talked about kicking back on Sunday and watching the Super Bowl. The 50 milers had joined us after 7:00 and filled the already busy course on some sections. Talked to another woman from Portland, OR doing her third 100 miler, like me, and shared some experiences. The three of us finished the out-and-back loop and got into the Dam Rd aid station about the same time. I was getting hungry and grabbed a “hotdog special” which silenced my protein cravings just fine. It was basically a toasted quarter sandwich containing half a hotdog cut lengthwise, fluorescent orange cheese melted all around it. It was so good I grabbed another one, had some Coke and Heed and off I went. I was feeling great and was not having my usual gastrointestinal issues. Finished the loop around 2:20PM, so in about 4 hrs 20.

LOOP 3 (miles 40-60 / 64-96 km)
I refuelled with some almonds, beef jerky, dried apricots and left on this third loop just after 2:30PM by my watch. By now it felt like the sun was not as hot and I was just starting to enjoy the trails. I ran with a bunch of people for short times. At one point I came across this Romanian guy who had run with Stephan earlier in the race, then slowed down a bit. He asked where I was from and when he heard I was from Canada, he realized who I was and knew already that I was from Romania. So we switched to Romanian and talked about races we’d done, places we’d been to and would like to go to. We also cursed at the roots, the temperature and made jokes. We ran a good chunk of this loop together, including the 10km out-and-back loop. He took a longer break at the aid station, so I grabbed my headlamp and said goodbye. He later caught me for a short while, but I guess I was on a mission to finish this last loop before darkness set in and then I never saw him again. We had a clear sky and I enjoyed the long sunset, eventually switching my lamp on around 6:30PM with about 2 km to go. I passed Stephan, who was having a rough patch and told him I was feeling great and had to keep moving before I crash, too. He encouraged me to press on. I was aiming to be in and out of the station by 7:00PM and was going to change into tights and long sleeve and t-shirt, refuel and get out of there by 7:00, which I did. Loop 3 done in about 4hrs 15, I think.

LOOP 4 (miles 60-80 / 96-128 km)
I went out strong on this loop after knocking back a Red Bull, refilling my Camelbak, stuffing some beef jerky, smoky almonds and apricots in my pocket. I changed socks, applied BodyGlide to my feet and felt refreshed. I popped 2 Advils and some salt pills, too. This loop was feeling great, did a lot of running on the smoother sections and slowed down a bit on the rootier ones. I was making good time, kept a good pace. I got my foot muddy at one of the big mud puddles and cursed a bit. I watched the fast people finishing their 5th laps, listened to the noises the birds and frogs made. I was relieved to know there were no aligators or snakes or anything other than the odd raccoon or armadillo on the course. I get so easily spooked, it’s not even funny. At one point I heard rustling along the trail and when I looked I saw an armadillo frantically trying to get away. Cute little guys. On this loop I took a sideways trip and fall, landing on my butt in a cushy sand pit, which woke me up a bit. Later on, I made a couple of bathroom breaks and was happy that everything was working well. I was passing a fair number of people and caught up with this guy from Guatemala. Jose Pablo Salazar (no relation to the great Salazar) and I were about 7 km from the finish. His English was bad, so we spoke Spanish. I asked him to take it easy because I haven’t spoken it for longer than 5 minutes since my university days and I’m rusty. When I told him that we’re making good time and have an honest shot at a sub-24, he told me he would like to stick with me. It was around 10:50PM by now and I was hoping to be in and out of the start line by 12:00 midnight, so I can focus on the remaining 6 hours and my last 20 miles. We finished this loop around 11:50 PM, so in about 4hrs 50.

LOOP 5 (miles 80-100 / 128-160 km)

I did a quick refill, grabbed more jerky, almonds and apricots and a fresh set of batteries. All along I was running with only my headlamp, but also carried a spare flashlight and batteries in my pack. I did not want another Haliburton blackout and was even planning on changing batteries along the way just to increase the light and wake me up a bit. I had another Red Bull and was still very hyper. In the first 20 km of this last loop with Jose Pablo, I lead the way, running the runnable part, walking the rooty bits. We talked about running, how we got into it, what our goals were, all kinds of things. This was Jose’s first 100 miler. He was an amazing guy, had suffered an accident of some sort that left him paralized for a few months, then he got back into it. He was a motivational speaker for people with addiction problems and had a very positive attitude. His 3 kids and wife were back home, but he wasn’t alone here. He had a couple of friends at the start area, cheering on him, sitting under a huge Guatemalan flag. So nice. Running with him was the best thing that happened to this race. We ran on as a great team. I gave him electrolytes at a couple of stations and then spent 2 hours trying to remember the word for apricots in Spanish (albaricoque). Running in Spanish was definitely different, but it worked out fabulously. It was getting cold on this last loop and we were drinking hot chocolate and coffee at the stations. Apparently it dropped to 2C, which indeed we felt. We had to keep running to stay warm, because walking was not warm enough.
My power started waning after we finished the out-n-back 10 k loop. I was so happy I wouldn’t be going out there again. About 12 more km left to the finish. Jose Pablo was starting to come alive and grew wings on his feet, while I felt the exact opposite happen to me. I was starting to ache and was struggling on the jeep roads. I was now trailing behind Jose Pablo, who kept a strong walking pace. Every now and then I had to run a bit to catch up with him, but I was so so so grateful he was there and kept us moving forward. We made a very short stop at the last aid station and prepared for the last 4 miles to the finish. These were endless miles over winding trails that no longer felt “gently” rolling. We ran the smooth parts, walked the rooty stuff and I tried to keep the gap between us under 10 metres. I was seriously struggling. Jose Pablo had a Garmin, but no watch, so he would ask me the time and I would ask him how much we had left. We were at about 4:50AM with just 5 km of this craziness. He was going strong and I was trailing behind until we got to about less than 1 km where we ran almost side by side. We had passed a number of people on this last 8 miles and were passed by only a couple of fast moving clusters. When we caught sight of the finish line, he grabbed my hand and we ran the last 300 metres holding hands. The clock read 23:21:50something. We were elated, hugged and I broke out crying like a horse. I’ve never ever shed a tear on my runs, but this one was just an amazing experience!
The race director gave us our sub-24 finish belt buckles and we hugged and hugged and thanked him, too. The Guatemalan contingent gathered around us, cheering. It was so awesome.

POST RACE

The thing I hate most about 100 milers is the first two hours after I stop running. I was feeling wretched and within minutes of finishing I became dizzy. Doubled over, I rested my head in a camping chair, doing my best trying not to faint. It was freezing and they ran out of propane in the big tent, so my best choice was going to the car and staying warm. First, though, I asked a volunteer to help me dig out 2 Endurolytes from my drop bag and within 10 minutes I was coherent again. I walked like John Wayne to the car and fellow Canuck Kendra helped me out and turned on the engine for me. I changed into dry clothes and put on every piece of clothing I owed. I was feeling so cold and was afraid my legs would seize up any minute. I managed to rest a couple of hours before I ventured out of the car feeling steady enough to walk. I hung around the finish line, talking to Jose Pablo, his friends, the organizers and waiting for Stephan. He motored in just before 8:30AM, finished in a time of 26:21, exactly 3 hours after me. He had a tough go, but he was tougher and never gave up. It’s a PB for both of us and we left with good feelings about racing again in the States, far from home.

POST SCRIPTUM
It’s Wednesday evening and we’re sitting around at our computers catching up on email and web stuff. We had a sore Sunday, walked around like John Wayne in the parking lots, but by Monday we were resembling normal walking, just slightly slower. Sunday night we crashed at 9:00 and slept 10 hours straight, which was just therapeutic. Aside from a bit of soreness overall, we’re feeling good and are itching to go for a light short run. We are more than thankful to our families (I love you Stephan), friends, running buddies and race organizers for a good experience. I am especially thankful for meeting and running the last 45km of my race with Jose Pablo, who ran a sub-24 in his first 100 miler. How cool is that!

BTW, here is a photo of the famous sub-24 hr buckle: Image

Edited to add: OFFICIAL SPLITS
4:03:29 - loop 1 in 4:03
8:25:01 - loop 2 in 4:22
12:42:42 - loop 3 in 4:17
17:58:08 - loop 4 in 5:16
23:21:58 - loop 5 in 5:23
Last edited by UltraQueenga on Sun Feb 14, 2010 10:47 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile Trail Race

Postby Half-Mary » Wed Feb 10, 2010 10:39 pm

Wow! What a great experience!!! Great race, and great report!

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Re: Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile Trail Race

Postby MINITEE » Wed Feb 10, 2010 10:40 pm

I was so freaking excited to check in & find that you had broken the 24 hour marker. * I bow down to you * :D

The two of you continue to amaze me with what you have accomplished, especially over the past 10 months.

I can't wait to sit down over breakfast or a nice cold Strongbow and catch up.

Wear that buckle with PRIDE! You certainly have earned the right to.

Cheers!
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Re: Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile Trail Race

Postby Hammie » Wed Feb 10, 2010 11:32 pm

Wow :shock: :shock: :shock:

What an incredible race, and what amazing people to do it with.
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Re: Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile Trail Race

Postby eme » Thu Feb 11, 2010 12:19 am

Congrats! Sub 24:00 :shock:

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Re: Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile Trail Race

Postby HCcD » Thu Feb 11, 2010 7:45 am

Congratulations on another awesome, smokin' race, Kinga :clap: :clap: :clap:

The things you learn on this Forum ...
broke out crying like a horse. I’ve
:shock: :lol: :wink:

Also, surprised that you took so many Advils and not Tylenol, from everything that have been written about taking Advil in endurance events ... i.e. ibuprofen versus acetaminophen debate :? :?
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Re: Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile Trail Race

Postby Strider » Thu Feb 11, 2010 7:49 am

Well friggin' done - that was quite the detailed and moving report. Thanks for sharing. Love the buckle and that sub-24 makes it, oh that much sweeter.

eta: weird, well different, nutrition choices - care to explain the jerky, almonds, and apricots combo.
Last edited by Strider on Thu Feb 11, 2010 8:32 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile Trail Race

Postby Tori » Thu Feb 11, 2010 8:08 am

Wow what an amazing feat! I am so completely impressed. I love how relationships develop during these ultras. A real chance to connect with some fantastic people.

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Re: Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile Trail Race

Postby Annelizabeth » Thu Feb 11, 2010 9:12 am

So how many languages can you communicate in?? I think thats a great mental way to break things up.. just start thinking in another language.
Amazing race for you. So do you wear the buckle?

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Re: Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile Trail Race

Postby ian » Thu Feb 11, 2010 10:50 am

Extremely impressive to shatter the whisper goal in the sort of race that requires an epic effort just to finish.

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Re: Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile Trail Race

Postby VeloCarrie » Thu Feb 11, 2010 10:56 am

All I want to say is meeting you will be the highlight of 2010. I can't wait. :D
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Re: Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile Trail Race

Postby Kristen » Thu Feb 11, 2010 11:02 am

UltraQueenga wrote:No hay grandes distancias...solo mentes pequenas.


Y no hay pequenos triunfos... solo triunfos increibles!

Many many congratulations! Wow!

And that is one very cool belt buckle. 8)

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Re: Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile Trail Race

Postby Spirit Unleashed » Thu Feb 11, 2010 11:49 am

Great report...thanks
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Re: Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile Trail Race

Postby jgore » Thu Feb 11, 2010 12:22 pm

Congratulations on a great race and a very memorable experience. Well done. Fantastic report, too.

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Re: Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile Trail Race

Postby spaff » Thu Feb 11, 2010 1:03 pm

Great race Kinga! Congrats again. Thoroughly enjoyed your report. You seem to be getting stronger and stronger with each one and learning so much along the way about what works for you. Such a great start to your year.

Congrats to Stephan too!

Enjoy a bit of down time now before it's time to start thinking about the next race.
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Re: Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile Trail Race

Postby Chainsaw Baby » Thu Feb 11, 2010 2:10 pm

Great report! I was tired just reading to loop 4!
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Re: Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile Trail Race

Postby CinC » Thu Feb 11, 2010 2:20 pm

amazing. amazing. amazing!!

both of you are incredible! great job!
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Re: Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile Trail Race

Postby Doonst » Thu Feb 11, 2010 5:06 pm

Now that's a race report! Spectacular!
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Re: Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile Trail Race

Postby Maryka » Thu Feb 11, 2010 8:58 pm

Great report! I am in awe.....Image
As I prepare for Haliburton 100, I'm sure I'll re-read it several times in hopes of absorbing just a bit of your ultra-wisdom and spirit.

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Re: Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile Trail Race

Postby Nature Girl » Thu Feb 11, 2010 11:13 pm

Kinga, you are totally awesome. I have copied and pasted this report into my homemade "How to Run an Ultra like a Champ" manual. I would love to know what you have in your drop bags, other than the almonds, jerky and apricots (or is that a no-no like looking in a woman's purse?).
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Re: Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile Trail Race

Postby UltraQueenga » Fri Feb 12, 2010 8:16 am

Nature Girl wrote:Kinga, you are totally awesome. I have copied and pasted this report into my homemade "How to Run an Ultra like a Champ" manual. I would love to know what you have in your drop bags, other than the almonds, jerky and apricots (or is that a no-no like looking in a woman's purse?).


Yeah, the drop bags. Well, I got frustrated with how I packed, because I felt I was spending too much time opening big bags, getting stuff out, putting it in my camelbak pockets. I was trying to be in and out of the drop bag in 2 minutes or less. I should have packed small ziplock bags with stuff and that way I would grab a baggie and maybe add a few things, but at least have it in a baggie and just grab it and go.

One guy I ran with for a while told me he preferred races with fewer aid stations, because you tend to waste time at them, especially if you have a badly organized drop bag. We did the math and realized that the RR100 course has 25 aid stations in total, which means if you spend an average 3 minutes at each station, that's about 1 hour and 15 minutes wasted. And if you stop longer, the number grows, so you need to stay focused and keep moving.

The contents of my drop bag at the start (shared it with the Viking) were: Red Bull, first/blister kit (bandaids, NewSkin, scissors, needle, medical tape), macaroons (that I didn't crave), 2 bags of beef jerky (one strips, one nuggets - the BOMB!!), smokey toasted almonds, dried apricots, emergency gels, electrolytes, advils, clothes, socks, spare pair of trail shoes (I didn't need), a dollar store poncho, space blanket, small towel, spare flashlight, batteries. My other drop bag (individual) had fewer clothes, a dollar store poncho, almonds, gels, apricots, Red Bull, medical tape and spare batteries.
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Re: Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile Trail Race

Postby purdy65 » Fri Feb 12, 2010 10:11 am

She can write, communicate in any given language on the race course, complete 100 miles in less that 24 hrs - what can't she do?!! :D :D

Congrats Kinga! Amazing accomplishment.

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Re: Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile Trail Race

Postby Dr. S » Fri Feb 12, 2010 10:26 am

Kinga you are a machine!!!

What a great race, you made it sounds almost easy and fun!! LOL

You're an inspiration to me and many others I know.
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Re: Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile Trail Race

Postby klc » Fri Feb 12, 2010 12:04 pm

Way to go Kinga! Congrats on your awesome results! Your race report was such a pleasure to read - I felt like I was there on the trail with you!

So, what's next? How long do you take to recover from something so gruelling?

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Re: Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile Trail Race

Postby Jo-Jo » Sat Feb 13, 2010 9:08 am

You are a talented and humble ultra runner. Reading about Loop 5 with Jose brought a tear to my eye. How cool that two strangers could meet up on a trail and help each other achieve their goal. :D

I'd love to volunteer at an Ultra.

Thanks for sharing this journey with us.
Technophobe Extraordinaire
"Princess" J0-JO...The Awesome Running Machine.
"a precious, unique and quirky individual"...definition given by a Toronto Cop
An Ever Loyal and Devoted Official Doonst Fan.
"In the midst of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer" -Albert Camus
"Keep Going. Never Give Up." Spencer


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