Written by Traviss Willcox - http://www.traviss.co.uk
Rio Del Lago 100, well that didn't go to plan, at mile 78 I decided I had enough, now I could make all sort of excuses about the blistered feet, chafing I am scared to even look at, the painful ankle, the fact I was borderline on the medical check or simply dead legs and lack of sleep. I compromised with the medics to have a sit and sleep in the car for a bit to let things settle down but the reality is that I just did not fancy the "meat grinder" twice more in the dark, 6.5 miles of roots, rocks and general clag of endless little sharp ups and downs basically just trying to stay upgright rocking along at 25 minute pace placing every foot fall. Zero fun and and 1am the thought of that was just too much. Now I'm sure you're all thinking well 78 miles is a long way, you did a 100 last week and another two weeks before that, you understand, it was my 13th 100 of the year, I don't know anyone in this country who has done that many ever, even the best of folk DNF at 100s from time to time, they're tough. Some days they just don't work out, you need to rest and recover.
The day started badly, ten minutes before the start my garmin strap broke, minor pain, nine minute before the start the clip on my that holds the batteries in snapped off, major disaster. A quick fix job with a bunch of industrial strength plasters sorted that, ish, not impressed with Lenser! Rio Del Lago isn't in the super tough category, 12000 of climb but no altitude to speak of, does have some serious climbs, "cardiac" is no fun in the light going up, down in the dark is ridiculous. "K2" was worse (imagine the start of Beachy Head but steeper and maybe 6 or 7 times as long) it was about half way up here (at mile 27) that I decided I really did have dead legs, I could not climb! So basically turned around and went backwards for a bit! It was hot too, mid 80s and zero wind, that didn't help!
It's a bit of an odd course 31 miles out, two 8 mile loops 31 miles back and then a 11 mile out and back over the first bit of the course which contains the infamous "meat grinder" - so that's it really, I had a sit in the car, would probably have had a bit of a cry if that was the sort of thing I'd do, changed my clothes shoes as I have world class chafing and at least different shoes will hurt in different places but I've made my mind up. So I shut my eyes and think sod this. The game was simply to get out of 78 not sit in the car and have a sleep, The Verve lied, the drugs do work. So I could write some bollocks about toughening up, digging deep and the hardest thing I've ever done and that kind of stuff, but I was upright and this is why I am at these things. It would probably take 10 hours to do 22 miles, I had no other plans so got out of 78 and got it done. It wasn't pretty but buckle #25 earned. I just really wanted that buckle...
Rio Del Lago was in theory my main focus for the autumn US 2014 trip, unfortunately tacking on Javalina 100 the weekend before had rather negated it being any chance of a good run but was still very much looking forward to the event as had seen some nice video's of the event both official and unofficial and read some positive race reports about the event. The website and pre-race communications gave the feel of a "big race" and not to mention that it's in "Western States" country and in fact in a generally very nice part of the world an added bonus. The week leading up to Rio Del Lago 100 had been fairly busy as I'd driven up north from Phoenix, around the back of Grand Canyon, down to Las Vegas and then the dullest drive imaginable across Nevada from Las Vegas to Reno before rolling up at the pre-race weigh in and check in on Friday afternoon. On the plus side this was held at the race start/finish so could get a feel of where to park and know where to go and it was a nice sunny afternoon, on the downside was the briefing that went on for an hour and told me exactly nothing I didn't already know. I'm not totally sure what the RDs are trying to get across at these things as I've been to a few now that are really telling me nothing I hadn't already read on the web site, but they had pizza so all is forgiven! Oh and the one thing that wasn't (or I missed in the pre-race stuff) mentioned was that you needed a second parking permit for race day that you picked up in the morning!
I'd never had to do a race weigh in (and there were 3 more during/after the race) so wasn't exactly sure of the strategy, go in "heavy" or "light" as fairly easy to influence your weight by a few pounds, I decided to go in "light" on the basis I was more likely to be dehydrated as the forecast was pretty warm. 186 was the result there, so that was OK and then I could drink again and have pizza! lol
Rio Del Lago has the benefit of starting from a place called Beal's Point at Folsom Lake State Park, being American they had the foresight to build a great big parking lot so that was a zero issue and knowing that and having everything sorted in advance I didn't worry about getting there too early, rolling up about 0415 for the 0500 start. The race capacity is 500 and they had 160 odd runners and the car park I suspect could easily handle 500 people. I then wondered why I had even got there that early as had the #5 best parking spot (so I could use the car as a drop bag at mile 78) and dropping off my other drop bag took a good 30 seconds of time! So was faffing around in the car when the garmin strap broke, damn, well the catch thing came off, so a plaster to keep that closed and that was sorted and then I decided to change headlight batteries. Would be dark for about 90 minutes at the start and had the ones left over from Javalina in there which still seemed good and would probably have done but thought, be sensible change the batteries for fresh ones, you'll be grateful you did later. And that's when the battery housing catch snapped off, wouldn't have minded so much if I was forcing it off or trying to un jam it or something but just pressed it and "are you kidding me?" (That wasn't the actual expression I used!) More plasters to hold that closed, I was not impressed. Wandered over to the start to hear the announcement about the second parking permit so grabbed one of those, quick chat to Ed Ettinghausen and then we were off.
The first thing I noticed was that my "moderate effort" level running was at 8:45 pace rather than the 9:30 kind of effort at Javalina which rather appears to confirm my thoughts about the altitude at Javalina being a small factor, Rio Del Lago although having some 12000' of climb isn't high, around 900-2000 feet so nothing too much at all to worry about for a sea level chap like myself.
The Rio Del Lago course is a bit of a hybrid one, not an out and back, not point to point, not loops and not a big loop! It's basically 31 miles out, two 8 mile loops at Cool, 31 miles back and then 11 miles out and back on the original part. So you do the first 11 miles four times. This makes for a few tricky thoughts about drop bags and in the end I decided to just have one at Cool, which you visited 3 times at 31, 39 and 47 as the base point for the two 8 mile loops. In retrospect this was a mistake as should have had another at mile 11 at Horseshoe Bar, dropped my head torch off there and had another one at the Cool drop bag with another light in it, that way I think I could have gotten away without wearing a pack. I was wearing an Anton Krupika UD one, and he has never run with a Lenser 14 in the back of it! It just irritated me the whole time and just couldn't seem to get it comfy and was loathe to pack "padding" for it just for the sake of it. Need a rethink on this! But anyway, back to the plot. Yes, this race had a plot!
The website describes the course as being 99% on trail but that's really a bit of a lie, I'd say 70% on what I'd call trail (and US single track is two foot wide nice stuff not the muddy rutted clag on the back end of the TP100 (I'm so over the Thames Path!), 20% on wide double track width, 7.5% on fire road type stuff and 2.5% on tarmac. Part of the course goes on the Western States trail, maybe 15 miles of it? All nice stuff.
But to start off with to Granite Bay and the first Aid Station is all nice, bit of tarmac and fire roads around the levy of Folsom Lake before entering some very nice trails in a wood (I saw a stag here on the second morning, looked at me and then ran across the trail in front of me, and lots of runners who were very encouraging and incredibly fast, or maybe I was very slow) so that was a nice start as the field spread out and had a few easy miles of getting in to things in the dark, where the hills came from when coming back this way 77 miles later I have no idea! As usual I started fairly near the front and was in pretty much the right place, overtook a couple of runners a couple overtook me, couple of brief chats, music on, head down, game on.
All was well to the first aid station, handful of M&Ms and filled up both water bottles (my plan was to carry two till the 47 mile point and then just use one) and was soon off, in fact my aid station discipline up to mile 78 was very good. Evidenced by the fact that I was constantly being overtaken by the same people, there were a couple of girls who must have gone past me at least six or seven times after aid stations.
Between AS1 (Granite Bay) and AS 2 (Horseshoe Bar (there were a few horses around on the course all of whom were very good around the runners and gave wide berths and generally happy to see us (and probably think silly sods))) is the section known as the "Meat Grinder" on fresh legs in the daylight I bet its really rather pleasant, lots of little ups and downs and rocks and roots, sandy bits, would be muddy if it was wet, in fact would be lethal if it was wet but somehow didn't seem too bad in the early morning dawn light, impossible to get any kind of rhythm, very choppy terrain I'd call it, seemed longer than the official 6.3 miles I must say and it was hard work but made a decent effort at it although I was passed by a lot of runners through here. Rattlesnake Bar is only two miles beyond this and the day was warming up now, but the early start meant we were well into things now and still only 0730! I'd long since taken off the headtorch and was now firmly in, fiddling with the pack to get it comfy mode, it never happened. I'm going to have words with that Anton chap!
Once the Meat Grinder was done it was all really quite pleasant, running alongside and above the not terribly originally named American River on nice single track, the trees just turning in to the autumn colourings (there were a few fantastic red/orange/yellow ones about although rather more on the drive down from Reno which was higher up) and you can kind of imagine you're in one of those running videos rolling through grassy meadows or woodland or on the edge of the river bank type scenery, very nice. Then about mile 19 some chap comes up behind me and asks me if we're on Cardiac Hill, I figured that if he had to ask that we probably weren't and not 200 yards later we came to the sign that said "Cardiac Hill" I was interested in the "Cardiac Bypass Trail" but thought we'd better stick to the official route! lol An 800' climb up a series of switchbacks as the day was warming up was pretty horrible and my new plan was to get back to here in the daylight if at all possible, I failed miserably at that as in the night it was dreadful, very steep rocky downhills on tired legs are no fun!
There was quite a long slightly uphill section after this by a ditch of somesort that I made a very careful note of as then in the dark that would be downhill no matter what my brain was telling me, a few hundred yards of road before the Auburn Damn overlook and on to the Western States trail, one of the helpers here kindly said it was all down hill to the No Hands Bridge AS, he was porking! Lots of uphill bits although overall downhill, do wish people wouldn't say that sort of thing, I really then find it quite discouraging when a hill arrives and its like, huh? Am I on the right trail? (In fact US races seem to do a poor job of removing markings, I saw pink, green, blue and purple ones as well as the orange ones we were following) there were a couple of streams to cross as well but nothing that couldn't be tip toes over on rocks, although the chap in front of me on one of them did a worse job than me and only just saved himself from a full on dunking but did get a wet foot.
No Hands Bridge is another lie, had hand rails and everything! I presume at one point it didn't but was 15' wide and you'd have had to really try to fall off it! After the aid station here is the infamous "K2" climb and this is probably where I started to suffer a bit, was doing OK, marathon was 5:30 kind of time which on the trail we were on was fine for me, but K2 was a real struggle, a 1000' climb in under a mile straight up, getting warm (would get up to 84F I think it was and no breeze) and it was STEEP! Now I have been up worse climbs than this but this was pretty bad. My legs weren't happy, both ankles felt real stiff and it actually got to the point at one stage were I really felt that I physically couldn't push myself upwards! So I actually turned around and walked backwards for a while! But as with these things, they do come to and end and at Cool I was looking forward to leaving my back pack behind for 16 miles which had been a continual bug bear digging in my back!
At Cool I was very impressed that they had ice cold Ensure on offer, so a bottle diluted by ice and water and just ice in the other one, lost the back pack, lost my shirt and off I went like a rocket I felt like on a lovely mile or more of lovely downhill tarmac, must have passed half a dozen people here, who duly caught me up back on the trail but it was nice for a while! The eight mile loop was quite scenic really, only tainted by the fact it was hot now and I was hot, hot, hot! But meadows and woodland and generally easy single track where you passed depressingly fast runners going the other way (you did the loop once in each direction) who were already 10/12/14 miles ahead of you.
After the first lap I put my shirt back on as didn't want to get sun burnt, another bottle of ensure (all the aid stations were fantastic by the way, all very well stocked, all had cooked items and ice, to the point in fact that the only thing I ate that I brought or packed in my drop bag were two little packets of M&Ms, oddly the one thing they didn't had which I thought was part of the permit requirements for all US ultras was Oreo Cookies! Not one could be found... odd as I think they have been an absolute staple at every other one, and what was especially good was that they had some wrapped things, like little Clif Bars, or Milky Ways (which are Mars Bars for the British readers!) and things like that so you could stick them in your pocket and munch as you moved, far more efficient.)
The loops took me 1:58 and 2:04 which now sitting here doesn't seem terribly quick but did feel I made a reasonable effort at them! At the end of second loop (mile 47) was the first weigh, in 3 pounds down, no problem, drink lots was the advice and it was toasty by then so I was! Had a sort out as the pack had to go back on and I then put my mid weight jacket in as well which I had pre-stuffed the pockets with hats and gloves etc and now wouldn't fit in the bloody back bit! Mental note to try these things before rather than faffing about when you're hot! Decided to lose my cap as well here. I had invested in a "skull candy" hat thing for the first bit which is supposed to deflect sweat around your eyes as guessed early I'd be sweating with the head torch on, folks, don't do what I do and try these things out beforehand, wasn't the most successful experiment ever, 100 milers are not the places to experiment!
By now I was getting pretty tired, I was through 47 miles in 10:42, ideally I would have liked to have been at 50 miles in 10 hours or so, but that drifted out to nearer 12 in the end and was suffering a bit from both chafing and blisters (or at least what I thought were blisters, I would have bet $1000 that I had more than one! Seriously one small one on the outside of my right big toe, it's a blister on a blister probably on a blister but I could feel stuff sloshing I swear on both feet!). The chafing was mainly at the top of my right thigh and getting sore to the point where I was fiddling around with my shorts constantly to try to adjust them off the sore bit and at times walking along with my hand in my pocket holding up the liner part off my leg, not a conducive technique to flowing running!
The run down from Cool was on the Western States trail which was a nice steady descent for a few miles which was nice payback for the K2 ascent and then back over No Hands Bridge and the ascent back to the Auburn Dam Overlook, now the other way with another 25 miles on the legs really did all feel uphill! Couldn't quite make it to the next aid station before I needed the headtorch so sorted that out and so the night began and as usual the adventures start for real. They had some Subway sandwiches here so had one of those, bit of a crime eating it walking down the lovely bit of downhill tarmac, but walking was making more progress than standing there eating it at the aid station and then there was a marginally downhill bit and made a very conscious effort to run as much as this as I felt able to. The trail had a good few trip hazards, roots and rocks and even a few steps but felt I made good progress despite an almighty kick of a root that almost had me flat on the floor but managed to recover. Ouch, unfortunately that wasn't the last time that would happen.
Cardiac Hill in the dark on the way down was horrible, suspect would be tricky enough in the light but at night it was a hand gripping trees and branches and trying not to break my neck descent. Not that it's really that bad I suspect, but on tired legs these things are hard and not sure how long I took to get down but it wasn't pretty but after that I again felt I made a decent effort in the dark, running was still involved or if not then at least decent forced march pace as the ever worsening chafing and sore feet would allow.
What was lovely single track in the day was a myriad of trip hazards in the dark and navigation was a bit of a worry, they had put out a lot of glowsticks but there was one stretch especially where I knew on the way out had been a bit tricky, an unmarked junction (though I think the "wrong way" just went straight to the river) but what is clear one way in the light isn't always so clear the other in the dark and there was what seemed like an awful long way with no sign of any tape (which wasn't reflective nor did it have reflectors on like at Javalina) so could have missed that as wasn't always easy to spot in the dark unlike the glowsticks. My trace was pretty much on the line so wasn't THAT concerned but did worry that there may be a parallel path to the one I was on above or below me (was on the banks of the American River at this stage). All was good though, I suspect in reality there was simply no alternative, so once you were on that trail you were on it and no point marking it if no junctions etc it was just probably the longest stretch on the course without a marker (which overall was very good, there were only three points I had any worries, the two mentioned above and very early on there was a right turn that really could have done with a floor marking of some sort (there were lots of these about too) as you were very much on the obvious line and the turn was across a clearing so by the time you were looking for the next marker it was behind you and right so easily missed (or maybe that was just me!)
I was back at Rattlesnake 15:49 in and 34 miles left, now in normal running of course you'd be thinking 8:11 for a 50k and change isn't very tricky, especially if you looked at the course profile and see the last 30 miles is pretty flat. Ho, ho, ho! It was to take me almost 13 hours to get through that distance, and I think this is what is so difficult to explain to people who haven't done these things, just how is it possible to go that slowly. Trust me, it's easy!
Up until this point I felt pretty much I was going at my best effort levels with the state I was in and the course I was faced with. Horseshoe Bar came along quickly, which it should only being a couple of miles away, pizza and another Subway thing here. Lots of other hot options but I actually rarely fancy anything hot even when its available and don't like soup or pasta which is a common ultra "hot" food. So off I went in to the clag. Officially 33.3 miles, 3 lots of the "meat grinder" and 3 lots of the nice "levy" bit where I'd been trolling along in the 8:xx pace area earlier.
4 hours 15 according to the timing for not much over 11 miles of which at least six miles of it was really decent, it was just torture, in the dark I was having to place my feet almost every step through the rocky bits and I just ground to a halt, an additional complication was runners coming the other way with their pacers in places where you just couldn't step out of the way, there were some very close encounters with girls which were OK but not so sure I wanted to be so close to some of the chaps, you could always tell the runner from the pacer as the pacer would always kind dart up a bank or hang back or do something but the runners (myself very much included) half the time just struggled to get out of the way so in the clag we were dancing around one another. Luckily nobody was going very fast so nobody likely to be getting flattened! The funny thing here is that 5 or 6 runners went the other way quite soon after I started the section and just assumed that they would pass me again at some point as even if two of those were pacers these were guys on sub 20 pace and yet only one person passed me in the march back to base, I think everyone struggled there.
I was not a happy bunny at all, I did manage stay upright but I whacked my toes a few times and generally was stomping about one step at a time trying not to fall over in anything tricky, which seemed to be all of it and what was worse with each jarring step my right ankle which had been OK went from being "a bit sore" to "that's really getting quite painful when it jars" and it was jarring every fifth step it seemed as trying to find a level bit of ground was tricky and endlessly trying to land on the left leg is wearing too as you're just constantly shuffling to get your legs in the right order for what seemed like mile after mile after mile. I think somehow what was worse is that you know its basically mainly in the head, I'd been through here at 12:xx pace or so in the morning and now I was pleased with a 25:xx mile!
It was a fraction after 0100 when I arrived back at base camp and I had had enough. My feet were very sore, my chafing was unbearable and to cap it off I was having an attack of the sleepies. I just did not want to go back through that "meat grinder" section twice more, once was bad enough but knowing I'd be on even more worn out legs then was just something I did not fancy. On 70 miles legs it was horrible so imagining what it would be like on 80 and 90 miles wasn't something that filled me with relish at all.
At the weigh in I was now heavy, had put on 7 pounds in 30 miles (which could partly be explained by my pack and head torch etc) to be fair to the medics, they were excellent. It was just a concern, how are the electrolytes and so on, how are you feeling? I suspect they may have seen me wander down the finish line shute too as wasn't paying attention to where I should have been going! But suddenly what you've got is a cast iron excuse to bail on the event. You have someone saying, "it's a concern" which by the time that had been translated in to Facebook speak would have been "I wanted to carry on but was pulled by the medics so had no choice" and everyone would be full of concern and would understand and it would all be alright. Would I like a sit down? Would I like a lay down? Which is game over.
Now one of the bits of advice I give to people is "don't quit in the dark" I had enough sense about me to not just jack it then and I told the medics I really needed the loo, would go and change my gear at the car and then either have a doze in the car or come back and have a doze there. So I went off to the loo, that must have helped with the weight, went to the car lost the back pack, stuck my jacket on, changed shoes to my New Balance road shoes (which I was just wearing as a pair of throw away shoes to save on packing!) as the "blisters" were just so sore I figured that hurting on a different part of the feet was the best option. Changed my shorts stuck on half a litre of body glide and then promptly sat down and tried to go to sleep!
I knew I had ten hours in the bank, 22 miles, I could spare some sleep time.Ten minute doze would do me the world of good and even a two hour sleep would be fine, by this stage any thoughts of a good time had vanished! The reality was though I was basically contemplating quitting but just wasn't doing it till I had given myself the chance to sleep. I knew from my advance planning that there was only one real danger place on this course and it was the 78 mile point, where you had the car and 22 miles is close enough its hard to quit but also far enough now I knew the horrors of it that it seemed a lot further. So basically I knew all I had to do was get out of here and that was it.
Now somewhere deep, deep inside the brain must be a little switch, one way is quit and the other is just get out of the car and get on the levy, its 100 yards away. Just get your carcass on the levy and wander, wire yourself with caffeine and take some ibuprofen. And that's what I did. So I stagger up to the levy (it's a 10 foot climb!) and wander off. For some reason known only to the Gods of sleepyness I was now convinced I'd left the trunk of the car open and I had to go back and check, had my laptop, passport etc etc in it, even the spare key for the car, it would get stolen, it would be a disaster if that happened. A real world disaster not some running around malarky disaster. I had to go back, luckily my legs weren't listening to my head and with each step it was getting harder and harder to turn around. My plan B was then that would provide me with the motivation to knock out the last 22 miles in 3.5 hours for a sub 24! That lasted about six steps.
The other problem I now discovered was that not having a back pack was nice, was mildly chilly, but I knew I'd rather be warm than cold in the night and it would only take a little breeze to pick up and it would be quite cold, I think in retrospect I could have just about lived without the jacket (especially as had to lug the bloody thing for hours when it got too warm next morning, really, really, really should have had a drop bag at mile 11!) but the slightly more problematic thing was that I hadn't transferred the contents of the backpack to my pocket, i.e. ipod, caffeine, electrolytes and ibuprofen. Well at least that solves the problem of probably being a bit heavy on electrolytes. So off I wandered. It wasn't fun, hokas are brilliant at absorbing trail stuff, old New Balance road shoes that are going in the bin in a few days aren't. I went back and forth on it being a good idea to have changed them and a "what was I thinking?" overall, it was probably worth it, although what I gained in less toe pain was made up for in sole pain.
4:15 later I was back at Horseshoe Bar again, 11 miles, dreadful. 11 miles from home. Now had I been sensible I'd have just turned straight around, but there is a pretty girl offering me hot chocolate and a chair, they have a heater, would I like a blanket. A chap sits next to me and says can they wake him up in 10 minutes, I say, OK and me too. I know you shouldn't sit down, and you shouldn't sleep but I had two goals. One was to be there long enough for it to start getting light again, clag in the light is far better than clag in the night and was hopeful that Ed Ettinghausen might catch me up and few hours chatting to him would be far better than staggering around on my own for the rest of the day.
Should I confess to being there for 1:04, and that's hours, not minutes. I did feel a bit guilty sitting there all snug being waited on hand and foot, egg and bacon burritos, hot chocolate, coke, milky ways and the plurals are deliberate! Eventually I gave up pretending I was at a picnic and got going again, I'd seized up a bit of course but there was light in the sky now and it was fairly warm fairly quickly so the jacket came off with the head torch and off I wandered and as I had predicted to myself the rocks don't seem so bad in the light and whilst I was hardly flying I was making better progress, my feet were very sore but it is just easier to pick the line. They'd given me some more painkillers at the last aid station, they didn't have ibuprofen, which I didn't really expect they would do (all the aid stations had electrolytes though so that wasn't really an issue) but they had something I can't remember the name of in a secret stash it sounded like and they were having an effect too. I think I even saw an 18 minute mile!
Ed was maybe only half a mile behind me as we passed so was still hopeful he'd catch me up, the sun comes up and all is well with the world again, the sunday morning runners are out and all very encouraging and Granite Bay hoves up in to view an awful lot quicker than it did the last time I was there! The last few miles were passed half chatting to a running group of women who were being encouraged by this insanely enthusiastic women who just made me laugh encouraging her runners up hills and and zipping back and forth between the runners who frankly I don't think believed a word I told them! One blonde girl walked with me for a bit and told me how she was training for a half marathon, I didn't know if I should laugh or cry when she asked if I wanted to run to the gate which was her turnaround, which was probably 400 yards away or on 99 miles legs, 17.6 miles. I'm not even sure Jennifer Anniston could have gotten me to run that far!
The finish finally arrives and without even trying managed to record a 28:28:28 time and I get given a medal (now I knew in advance you got a medal and a buckle at this one!) and Sandra Muller is at the finish line and gets me the absolute best ice cold can of diet coke in the whole wide world and can't do enough to help the finishers. Buckle and fleece turn up and I'm given a voucher for a free pair Brooks trainers for being the person from furthest away to finish or something like that, bonus! The finish area is brilliant as there is enough food to feed an army and a BBQ chap so I go sit there in the sun for half an hour or more munching on muffins and cookies and a fantastic bacon, egg, cheese roll thing which they call "biscuit" here, which is nothing like "biscuit" in the UK! (Think scone like, but not really) And in fact think it was an English muffin actually (I was real tired!) which is nothing like English muffins either! Suffice to say it was brilliant! Ed finishes not so long after me, I get changed, chat to folk, its a sunny morning in California, all is well with the world. Job done. I eventually say goodbye to Sandra and Ed as have to go do some work but could easily have stayed a bit longer, was just a nice atmosphere.
Rio Del Lago really is a first class event, does carry an approaching $300 entry fee, but as with most things in life you get what you pay for and its a nicely organised event. You get a nice fleece along with the shirt, buckle and medal and you do feel that they've spent a lot of the entry fees on the runners and they attract good volunteers too, there is a difference between enthusiastic volunteers and those that have been in your shoes volunteers, they're all great of course. I think I filled my water bottles once, generally they were whisked away, ice and water please, drink coke, grab something to eat and off I go kind of thing, was just always very efficient. It's quite a tough 100, probably an ideal bridge for those hoping to get in to Western States 100, will be a qualifier for that from 2015 which should ensure it gets a bit more popular.
Oh I hadn't left the trunk of the car open of course...
Things I Learnt
- Stuff breaking right before the start is not fun!
- Have a very very careful think about drop bags and where to have them, even if just empty ones so you can dump stuff off. With more foresight I could have avoided carrying a head torch that bugged me for over 30 miles and a jacket for 10. They're small things but small annoyances for long periods of time are, well,they're annoying!
- When you're really thinnking about quitting, just try to force yourself to get out of the aid station, don't think about anything else, just get out, you don't have to be that far along before its too late to come back.
- Knowing what the danger signs/danger places are even when you're not thinking straight and have absolutely had enough might just be enough to avoid a DNF as somewhere deep in the brain the sane bit might remember and kick you out and keep you moving.