Western States 100 Report by Bob Murphy
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Ok, it wasn’t that dramatic, but I did have some super highs and some super lows. I felt really strong going up Emigrant Pass, but the ice took a lot of mental and physical energy to get through. I went down a couple of times and took a standing 8 once. I changed my style from slow and careful to reckless abandon. I didn’t want to go that fast, but I had better footing the quicker I moved on the ice. Going fast will take a toll later in the day. The highlight of the high country was when I lost my footing and slid down a steep hill without hitting the ground. I heard the guys behind me say, “wow, did you see that guy!” I wanted to turn around and taunt those wimps, but my heart was beating too fast.
I was having a real low when I came into Robinson Flats. It was so great to see Cheryl and Rex and Bobb Ankeney was also there. I think the elevation was really affecting me and I was totally intimidated and distracted with everything going on around me. I remember two totally distinct conversations. I was saying how much I was struggling and I’m pretty much out of it and they were telling me how good I look and what a great time I had and I was kicking some serious booty out there. I left Robinson Flats convinced they didn’t even listen to me complain. I went around Little Bald Mountain which had awesome scenery and the scariest part of the whole race – a sharp switchback on the ridge line covered in ice. Cheryl and Rex were at LBM aid station and I felt so much better. I told them that I was back in it. They told me that I was never out of it…little did they know. Well, maybe they were right.
I was running pretty well through Deep Canyon, Dusty Corners, and Last Chance. I had some tummy problems – thank goodness for the porta-potty at Dusty Corners. I was dreading Devil’s Thumb throughout this time. I finally had a heart to heart with myself. My mantra was, “it ain’t no worse than HURT”. I started up Devil’s Thumb with a mission – get to the top, no whining, be tough. I power walked the whole thing, no stopping. I passed a bunch of folks, but the safety patrol guys kicked my butt. It reminded me of going up Nuuanu with Jeff Huff on the way back from Waimanalo. I was disappointed that my crew was not allowed at the top of DT. I weighed in a pound light and wanted to get out of there. Had a nice run down to El Dorado Creek and put my game face on for Michigan Bluff. I stormed up Michigan Bluff. I ran some of it and was passing all the folks that passed me on the way down DT. I got to the top of MB and it was so great to see Cheryl and Rex. I told them I was feeling great and I was back in it. They smiled and gave me that “you’re an idiot” look that hid their true admiration and love for me. :o) I told Rex to meet me at Foresthill at 8:30 and be ready to rock.
I made it to Foresthill and there was a party going on. That’s the best I felt all day. My legs were still strong (thank you Jeff Huff!) and I still wanted to run. I saw akabill for the second time during the run (he was on safety patrol) and he yelled encouragement, it was great to see another friendly face. Rex and I started out with our flashlights, ready to hunt. I wanted Rex to lead the way and that worked great. For never having been on the trail, Rex was just awesome. He kept a good pace, never got lost, we had a couple of laughs and even turn off our lights to look at the stars (I was peeing at the time). Rex gave me a Dramamine for my tummy upset that I attributed to motion sickness caused by the flashlights. That really helped. We moved great and made good time, in and out of the aid stations. Rex got me across Rucky Chucky and we stormed up to Green Gate and got there at 2:00am. We passed a bunch a people and arrived in good shape. Rex gets an A+ for the 18 miles from Foresthill to Green Gate. Great pacer, great friend!
At Green Gate, we met Cheryl. Jeff was sitting, wrapped in a blanket and didn’t look well. Jeff was very positive, telling me I was running well and looking strong. He was having a bad tummy the whole day and was dehydrated. It definitely makes you realize that this is a high risk of failure sport and there are many, many things that can prevent you from finishing. It also makes me realize how lucky I was to finish.
It started out great with Cheryl. We were moving pretty well for about an hour until I got hit by a truck, at least that’s what it felt like. We didn’t stop and kept moving. Cheryl pushed and pushed and I was trying, but I just couldn’t keep the legs turning very fast. I even drank black, ugly coffee at the Auburn Lake Trail aid station. Somehow, Cheryl got me moving pretty good to Brown’s Bar. The rising sun also helped. I was still moving pretty good on the uphills, but I was not moving well on the downhills. Unfortunately for Cheryl, I have only run with her when I’m a complete basket case. If Rex gets an A+ for his 18 miles, Cheryl gets sainthood for her 20 miles. She kept me going and fed me ham and bacon. I owe you girl! We made it up to Robie Point and I knew I wouldn’t finish under 28 hours. At this stage of the run, I normally just want to finish, but I ran hard enough to get under 28 and I just blew it. If I had any energy left, I would have screamed. Rex met us at Robie Point and it was great to see him again. Cheryl kept telling everyone we saw that I would finish under 28 and I was getting upset because I didn’t see how we were going to make it. We stormed up the hill from Robie Point and we were actually running towards the unseen Placer High School. I kept looking at my watch and asking where is the school. We turned left into the school and the track is right there. The track felt great and my legs felt light as a feather. Cheryl and Rex started yelling and screaming and my spirits soared. I remember telling myself to enjoy this moment. I heard my name and saw the time (27:52) and I was holding back the tears at the finish line. What a great event, so many people to thank, so much to be thankful for.