It was my success earlier this summer at the Ute 100, if “success” can be used to describe an incredibly long and difficult weekend traversing the mountainous terrain of Utah, that left me wondering what it would be like to do a less strenuous 100 mile event! Almost a month after the Ute, I had been up in the Sierra with Dan where I realized I still wasn’t recovered from the Ute. The 100 mile fatigue is a deep fatigue. I wondered though, if I could be ready by late October for the Jalloween party, and if so, how much of a course like the Javelina Jundred could I actually run. Let’s be honest, this event also looked like what I imagine burning man would be if everyone just put on some running shoes – and that’s an intriguing thought. I went, I saw, and I learned some things, including that I can in fact run a long way, and that the typical Javelina runner really doesn’t mind if you have removed the ass section of your shorts. Also, real tarantulas are a thing, as are fake rattlesnakes. Oh, what a time!
The Race Report
This was my second 100-mile race, I decided 2018 was going to be my year to really get into this stuff, I just forgot to train for either of them. Training is for dummies anyway (the title of my future book?). Sandra D and the kiddos were along to crew me on this one. Having a crew was great and made a huge difference! If you were camped out there, you may have seen our purple and green monstrosity of a mini van, with the popup on the roof. Yes, that was us in the Jucy Van. It was our second time using one of these, last time it was the Grand Canyon, yet another running adventure. Jucy is a pretty decent option for people to travel on the road with kids.
Fountain Hills is a nice and tidy little city. Almost too tidy, I was thinking “y’all sure you want a bunch of dirtbag trailrunners up in this joint?!” As it turned out, they did indeed want us up in their business, literally. Everyone in town seemed happy to have the business that the race draws in. We felt welcome. The Comfort Inn made a good first night’s home after the long drive from California, and gave everyone a little reprieve from the confines of the Jucy Van.
Packet pickup was jumping with a DJ and food, but we got in and out. We rolled up to the race HQ around 10:00 in the morning on Friday to find that pretty much every crew had already set up! We squeezed into the very last available spot for a popup, thanks to another friendly crew who only set up one tent so we could fit. Some more spots were opened later after several distressed crews formed into a very salty mob. Ok, they were actually well behaved and all was smooth sailing, but arrive at 7:00 if you are serious about setting up a spot. Coincidentally, we set up right across from Stormy and his wife, who I had met at the Ute 100. Stormy and I shared some inspirational miles out there and celebrated eachother’s hard earned finishes together. He and I decided to grab a quick run to preview the course a little, just going out the first 3 miles or so, then heading back in. We agreed, this was going to be a very runnable course and the temptation to go out fast would need to be met with very deliberate discipline to slow down. He planned to be about the same pace as me, though as it turned out we wouldn’t see each other until late in the race, the next day. I haven’t talked to Stormy since the race, so I will hold off on telling his story.
This event is a BIG event, and Aravaipa does an extremely good job on the production. Every detail was looked after as far as I was concerned. The aid stations were well staffed, and I didn’t detect a hint of anything going other than smoothly. So a big “thanks” to all the volunteers and staff.
As the sun was getting low and I was going thru my pre-race meditation in motion, none other than JV – The Legend – approached with a beer in hand. “Looking fit there, my friend,” I hear from over my shoulder. The New York accent with a SOCAL twist gave away JV before I looked up to see who was commenting on my svelte runner bod, ha!
It’s always good to see good people, and we had not hung out since our excursion to Evolution Basin, where he proclaimed I had put him through training for the Barkley. Good times. There were a handful of elite runners around, the Usual Suspects representing Hoka were there, Scott Jurek was out there, Pat Reagan, Catra Corbett, etc… but JV is the unsung hero. I’m happy to call this guy a friend and someone I have been with on most of my “why are we doing this again?!” adventures. There are not many folks around who have surpassed 150 Ultra finishes, and countless self supported jaunts. I imagine that those few who have, must share the same charisma and good nature as JV. After a quick chat we both resumed our pre-race traditions. My energy was building. The sun was going down, bedtime arrived, then the music started around 5:00 AM on Saturday…
The energy in the morning was high, with Jubliee MC’ing from atop a converted taco truck, jettisoning bubbles into the desert sunrise. The music was pumping and would not stop until well after this race was wrapped up. I could feel the bass vibrating through my body…
JV was sitting on the podium. Fire dancers were running around, half naked, I mean most of the runners were half naked, or in some kind of costumes. Ultra’s seem like costume parties as it is – a bunch of (often tattooed and pierced up) denizens, wearing the most outrageous stuff, all go run really hard for hours and hours. So in some ways this was just another day on the farm, except bigger, brighter, and way more radical. Pretty typical of ultra distance events also is that the field is really diverse and you can count on spending a day among some of the best people who have all coalesced to share this moment. Sandra looked a little nervous, the kids didn’t know what to make of it and I was calm on the outside, but inside… very, very stoked and ready to run!
600+ runners going out into the desert right at dawn is something to see! I started in the middle of the pack, where I expected I might finish. The course is beautiful, if you like cactus and desert scenery – which I do, very much so. I was moving at a pace that would put me on a sub 20-hour finish if I kept it up; a bit faster than I planned, but just a bit, and I felt ok, so I stuck with it. The day was getting very hot (almost 90*F) by the third loop, but I had my Ruby-special ice buff on my neck since 8:00 AM, all the way thru sun down. What a life saver, ICE! Ice makes all the difference! The setting sun brought cooler temperatures with it (eventually). I picked up my awesome light belt that Paul of light-belt.com loaned me for this race.
Sandra and the kids decorated our crewing spot with Halloween lights, and set me up with a Red Bull and my first caffeine of the day as I went out for loop 4 into the dark. I was feeling AMPED! Several runners were commenting “you’re flying” and “dood, where’d you come from?!”. It felt good. I was flying, I was running uphill at a sub-9 minute pace, 70+ miles into the race, and feeling good. For me that equates to flying! When I hit the downhill at Jackass Junction, I felt it though, the caffeine begin to wear off, so keeping a steady intake was key for me from that point on. JV was there at the aid station, on his third 100k loop, contemplating the disco. I sat with him for a few. We talked about his summer of insanity tour, or whatever the hell it was going to be called. He mulled over the remainder of his race, “I ‘ve got until noon tomorrow to finish,” he tells me, with about 10 miles to go. It was maybe 10:00 PM at that moment. Hahaha… what a character.
With that, I was off again. Somewhere along the downhill I came across a guy who looked to be cramping, or having some kind of fit, on the side of the trail. I stopped and was in the middle of asking what the problem was, when I suddenly spotted a big ass rattlesnake near him and I think I said something in the realm of “Oh… oh shit! Did you get bit?!”, to which he just responded “My leg hurts…” I had already been accosted by a large tarantula earlier in the evening, so I was on alert, one could say. I approached to get him away from the snake and he starts motioning towards it with his foot, as if it was a stray cat he wanted to shove off the trail. Now, of course I’m not thinking straight, and I know this guy isn’t thinking straight so I assume he actually believes that pushing it away is a good idea. I rushed over to grab him and he picks up the snake and hurls it at me! Fake snake! YOU BASTARD! My language was much harsher, but I’m keeping this post PG-13. Ok, adrenaline is good substitute when the caffeine is wearing off!
For the final loop, Sandra presented me with a pair of my older Patagonia shorts which I had cut the ass-section from and the kids adorned with gold puff paint. It was time to make the magic happen. I ran with and also passed quite a few people on that last loop, and I think by that point of the race, everyone had been very desensitized to exposed flesh and bizarre ideas. At most, one or two runners commented “nice shorts!” To be fair, one guy did run at least part of the race in a thong, so my appearance was nothing overly shocking, I was not willing to risk the worst case of chaffing imaginable though for a few extra high-fives. So, it was more like a half-speedo for me. I have to say, that was comfy – and very airy! I did save them for future runs, ha!
Things were going great still, 80+ miles in. Somewhere around mile 90 (where I later learned I was running 25th overall), my stomach got really acidic, and any running was causing me to heave. I was well under my initial goal of 23:30, and actually I was ahead of my secondary goal of 20:30. I walked in most of the final 10 miles with a young guy named Alex who went out a little too fast and had been mostly walking for the last lap. It wasn’t the way I wanted to finish, but he and I shared some good conversation, and it was really the fist time all day I talked to someone on the course for more than a couple minutes. I ran the final mile to finish in 21:20, which was totally ok with me. I wanted to know if I could run 100 miles, and I had done that well enough to my satisfaction.
Rose and Thorn
The rose on this one was having a crew, and not just any crew, but my family. Even though my relationship with Sandra has changed, we will always be the greatest of friends and I appreciated her support so much. Of course my kids too, who patiently waited for me, only to chat for a few minutes, before another wait of several hours. They probably didn’t realize it, but I was constantly looking forward to getting back to HQ and seeing them, and having them take care of me and motivate me. The thorn was forgetting to take a group photo, or have someone take one of us! I think this one in the van was the only one I took after I realized we spaced out on it at the race! The event was perfectly run down to the last detail, the energy was high, everyone out there was awesome, and my crew did an A+ job. I will DEFINITELY be back! -JD