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Tualatin OR 97062
Telephone: 503 927 1012
Set impossible challenges then catch up with them. The 100 K challenge was until now a seemingly impossible feat to accomplish. Raising money for a cause worth running for is also difficult. It took me a lifetime to discover the ultimate experience in ultra running. If I can raise money while doing what I enjoy most will make it all that much more worth while.
The trail gets a bit bigger and has a nice downhill slope. I push. I want the hat. I am feeling the best I have in 10 or more hours. I am at about mile 61. I figure I got a mile or so to go.
And boom! There it is. I am out of the woods. I follow some old cables. I see the ski lodge, the finish line. I hear the PA, my name, Lake Oswego (where I live).
I hear the crowd. I can't believe they are cheering for me this far away. I am so dang happy.
YES!!! I cross at 8:36 PM, 17 hours and 36 minutes after I started at 3 AM. So long ago. Meghan, the race director who I saw at mile 27 congratulates me and hands me my Waldo 100 K hat. The ultimate prize. I hug Ania, the kids, Mr. Mango. I stand speechless.
Leaving Maiden aid station they tell me it is all downhill (not).
I take one more photo and ease my way down the steep loose rock section. I tell myself this is not the place to get injured. I still have a long way. It is a bit technical. I get to good downhill runnable sections and pour it on. I am really moving. The low point is over and now it is time to ride the highs. I am on what I call a penta-sacharide high. The gel packs of Gu synthetics filled with malto-dextrose keep my muscles fueled. They usually don't last very long at this 55 mile point but frankly speaking my quads are not tired. My nutritional method of eating real food and gels later in the race has paid off.
I get into the last aid station at Maiden Lake. This place is amazing. I get my face wiped with a nice moist towel. I meet some folks I volunteered with here last year. I am beyond words to describe how I am here now one year later to the day as a runner. The victory is mine just being here. This is a peak moment and I am living it. I glance at my watch. Exactly 7:00 PM. Two hours to get my hat. I am off. No time to fill my hydration pack. I later run out of water but carry a few drops of brew till the end.
I have 7.5 miles to the finish and the volunteers say it is all downhill. Actually no. First a walking climb out of Maiden Lake aid station. Then I start an easy down hill. It is up and down. I travel fast on the down hill. Carefull not to twist an ankle. Then I go into something you can call a "zone". An effortless pace gliding thoughtlessly relaxed. My gels and brew keep me going until I hit the Rosary Lakes area and the scenery is a nice diversion.
I cross a stream and trails start to flatten out along the lake shores.
There are campers around. A boy yells out "3 more miles". I look at my watch. I have about an hour or more to finish. I will get the hat. This is way longer than expected. Later I drop off the lakes back into the dense forest. It is already dark. Thank god Mr. Mango left my light in my pack or I would not see a thing now.
The last two miles of this leg I leave my friend behind. I forget he has all the fluids and I start feeling weak. I find someone else who gives me some water and continue to the Twins aid station.
I have seen this place before. At mile 27 I was toast. Now I feel as fit as ever.
Mr. Mango finally arrives at the aid station and he is elated. He just covered 7.5 miles at altitude and so very happy. He pushed on through his pain and labored breathing and helped me out in the mean time too. We both did it together.
At that point it did not matter who was pacing whom. Our frienship goes back to when we were in college together in New York mid '80s. Since then he survived a gun shot wound in arm and back while at work in NYC and 911. Now he survives 7 miles in the Oregon Cascades.
Top of the Twins mountain, 7300+ ft. Mile 43.
It is nice to see my family. I tell my wife "never again doing this". I could hear her think "yeah right". We have a family hug and Mr. Mango and I head out to the 2,000 foot climb up the Twins.
I realize my friend is out of shape. His breathing is labored and he falls into a pace too slow for me. His pain draws attention away from my pain. I become his pacer now. It was supposed to be the other way around.
His foot starts hurting. We are barely a mile into the run. I ask him why he tilts his head back to drink from my hydration pack. Too late, he starts choking. He has never used a hydration pack before. Finally he recovers and we continue running.
I have mentally prepared for this point. Mile 37 to 45 was going to break me so I have to proceed slowly. No problem with that as I had to stay with my friend. If I were to quit the race it would be at mile 45 as it is only 1 1/2 miles from there to the car. Stopping after that would make no sense as the trail head is long and arduous. However, I gradually feel my strength coming back.
The crew finally arrives at mile 37 after getting lost.
Nice relief of pain after wading in Lake Charleston.
My drop bag is sitting in the sun. The contents boiling. Never mind. I drink my broth. No need to heat that up. My berry smoothie is hot too. I lotion up and off I go to the Forest Service Road. I have 5 miles or so to see my pacer. I am now half way and finally starting to feel better. Interesting how seemingly insignificant thoughts can be so powerful. The idea of soaking limbs in a lake, being with my pacer, seeing my wife and kids at the next aid station are strong motivators for me to continue.
This is the easiest section of the course I run. Just mostly rollers. I get into the Road 4290 aid station at 12:30 PM. Ania, the kids, and Mr. Mango are nowhere to be seen. Then I realize I am a half hour ahead of schedule. After Charleston Lake I run with Ben Grass a friend with whom I ran 150 km in Peru. The time flew by and I was finally able to pick up the pace. He was a late starter and meets up with me at mile 32. I arrive early at the aid station and worried something may have happened to the crew.
I have to decide to either keep waiting and risk missing the 4:30 PM cut off at mile 45 or go alone without my hydration pack. Two terrible choices. I decide to wait. If they are lost I am stuck with just my 20 ounce water bottle and 25 more miles to go. Finally, enough. I get read to go. A shame for my friend who has come all this way from NYC and miss me at the aid station. Then just after 1:00 PM they arrive. The bad struts on the car combined with the washboard road and not seeing the exit sign caused some delay.
I turn right onto Bobby Lake Trail. Then turn North (left) onto the Pacific Crest Trail and start the climb up to the Twins aid station. I am running and walking and realize I may be lost. My brain confuses me and tells me I should have turned right. Why did I turn left? I did not read the sign, but did see it. I have been alone for a long time now. I see no runners. The Waldo website was right "be prepared to spend a long time alone in the forest". I almost decide to go back when I spot a runner checking his map. I left mine in my pack with the kids. My confidence restored when I see other runners I carry on.
This is about 3 miles to the Twins, so I will probably be out of Gu-Brew when I get there. I have not been eating synthetic gels until now, trying to save my stomach for the last 20 miles from that stuff. This approach (eating regular food for the first half of the run) worked well for me. I have heard of too many runners forced to stop from nausea and indigestion. I also take 2 S!-Caps an hour which I carry in my wrist band. In Peru I suffered from cramping but today these electrolyte supplements work like a miracle.
My muscles feel great, but my Achilles starts to hurt. The shoes I recently bought are digging into my heel. People who run by comment on my shoes and ask how I like them. I suppose these guys are up on the latest trail shoes. I mumble something but they already pass me.
Most of the single track in the next section is up hill.
The crew helping me out at mile 20.
In 10 hours I will be about where the sun is coming over those mountains. My prize would be the waldo hat in 50 miles if I finish before 9 PM.
Dropping onto a road for about a half mile I cruise into the Gold Lake aid station. It is still dark and the campers are sleeping so we must be quiet. I fill my water bottle with Gu Brew, an energy drink. Moments later I am off again and 15 minutes ahead of schedule. My concern was not to go to fast and burn out to much glycogen and wear out my quads, but I feel good now.
Finally I start the first big climb up Fuji Mt. (as if climbing a ski hill is not big). I think this climb is about 2500 ft. I mostly power walk. I start to see light in the sky. It will be dawn soon. As I get to the Fuji Mt. aid station at mile 12 the bugs are awake and so is the sun. I force myself to eat from my drop bag I left the night before for the volunteers to haul up the mountain. It was actually a large plastic container filled with food. I have some vegetable broth, and a berry smoothie.
I start up the steep but short 1.5 mile climb to the summit. Soon I get to the top and enjoy the rising sun and a great view of the Cascades and the high lakes. I get someone to take my pictures as it is such a great spot with perfect light. I only stay a few minutes and then head back down.
Saturday was the big day. Up at 1:45 AM. Start at 3. I run for about a hundred yards then begin the climb up the ski trails. Two girls chatting like it never ended. The noise echoes. Who has anything to say at 3 AM? Eventually it stops. I must have left them behind. It was pretty interesting to watch the headlights creep up the hill. After a mile or so we get to run.
The ski slope keeps going up and I fail to see a sign to enter the forest so I continue up the hill. In the distance though I happen to spot a light. I turn around and go back. A nice single track awaits me in the forest. I feel pretty good.
I press on. Soon I am with another runner. I run ahead and turn left. Apparently in the wrong direction. Again. I was following arrows instead of ribbons place by the Waldo folks the days prior to the race. I am beckoned to go the other way. I am alone again and hear only my breath or the trickle of a nearby stream. It is night in the forest. I have 58 more miles to run.
Climbing the Twins, 7300 ft.
When I first heard of the Waldo 100 K 2 years ago I feared the worst...being lost deep in the forests of the Oregon Cascades, stuck somewhere with blisters on my feet unable to continue and with the aid stations too far ahead to get to. I could not imagine ever running this far.
So I had my good friend Greg Mango fly in from New York City to pace me at mile 37. Little did I know that he had not run in 10 years and was not used to the elevation. He also had an injured foot. But I needed him to carry my pack and some supplies.
One mountain down 3 to go at around 6 AM, 3 hours into the run.
I was new to ultra trail running. I had never run 62 miles, never ran a trail ultra marathon, and never ran a trail race at elevation. The most I had ever run was a 50 miler on pavement and flat terrain.
I had no idea how my body was going to react to being on my feet for 18 hours, how to eat, and how to be ensured to get what I needed. So I had my 8 and 10 year old sons Marcel and Sebastian, and a friend meet me at mile 20 with supplies. My wife Ania and the group would later also be at mile 37.
Three weeks before my run I had done a 5600 ft. vertical 27 miler. Two weeks before I was in Yellowstone running 14 miles at night (and ran into some Elk), and one week before I ran up to the top of Jackson Hole Ski resort to 10,000 ft. in the Tetons. I figured I could at least do 1/2 the race. Relentless forward progress was my mantra.
My kids' Polish teacher was soliciting funds for an orphanage in southern Poland and when I heard of the needs of sister Kararzyna, the nun who runs the orphanage, I felt compelled to do something about it. The building was in bad shape and the kids needed medical treatment.
I run before dawn until after dusk in the forests of the Oregon Cascades.
My focus for the last 5 months has been to finish and raise funds for an orphanage in Lutownia, Poland. I also wanted to get the prized Waldo 100 K hat if I finished by 9 PM.
This photo taken on Mount Fuji at mile 14 with The Twins and Maiden Peak at mile 43 and mile 52 on the horizon.
This was to be the race of the year. 100 KM (62.5 miles) of running that climbs 3 mountains (12,000 feet total of vertical) and is 99% on single track in the Central Oregon Cascades (read below for race description).
RUNNING INJURIES • SPECIALIZED ASSESSMENTS • SPORTS MEDICINE
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Copyright, © 2013-2015. Run2bwell & Hans Kroese. All rights reserved.
WALDO 100 KM ENDURANCE RUN
I push on and summit. I stay on the top for about 5 minutes. I know this is a race but I won't win anything. I want to enjoy the view. I may never be here again. I made it to the top of Maiden Peak! Enjoy the moment.
I say goodbye to the volunteer at the top who registers my number. No way you can cheat. Everyone gets accounted for. I am excited that the hard part of the race is over. I have only about 10.5 more mile to go and for the first time today I believe the hat may be in reach.
Maiden Peak mile 52, 7700 ft
I pack a few gels with me, say good-bye to my friend and off I go. I know it is mostly downhill until the next aid station at mile 50.
There I begin the climb up Maiden Peak, the scariest part of the entire race. I had just completed 55 miles in 14 hours. Now I am expected to complete a 25% grade to the top totaling 2 1/2 miles. No way I can run at this point. The start is just 10% or so. It gets harder.
People pass me. I should have been a mountain climber to make things easier. There are rocks to the top I am told that add to the excitement of being "almost there".
The trail on much of the mountain goes straight up the fall line. I put one foot in front of the other, left right left right, etc. I see some female climbers (runners), we both fake it and say we are doing fine.
This is a 27 minute mile pace, that's how steep it is. It just goes on forever, then I see the spot where it gets real steep. I don't know it is only a 1/4 to 1/2 mile climb from here. It is super loose and tennis ball size rock.
At the 37 mile aid station still looking good.
My friend Greg covers his leg of the race and helps me out too. Upon his return to NYC none his friends believe he covered 7 miles as a pacer in a 100 KM race in Oregon. He still had another 2 miles to get to his car.
The geology of this section is interesting. I am not running nice, and it does not feel good. I sit for a moment and someone offers me help or Gu, I don't remember. Within only about an hour 15 minutes I see Charleston Lake.
I know the mile 32 aid station is near. I see the signs on the trees. Then the crowd cheers. That always feels good. That is why I always clap and cheer for others at these races. I love the feeling and I hope others do too. I can't wait to get into that lake to heal my feet.
More single track
At the Twins aid station I run into the race director Megan. I have to sit and tell her about my issues. She does not take pity with me and somehow motivates me to continue by telling me it is an easy downhill 5 miles to Charleston Lake and I should wade my legs in the lake. I have to get there first. This is mile 27.2, one more mile than a marathon. Try not to think that I have 35 miles to go, or 20 miles to go, etc. Just run the distance to the next aid station.
I splurge on the watermelon, grapes, peanut-butter sandwiches. Seeing the food gives me appetite after running almost 7 hours. I think about the next two 5 mile legs before getting to the 37 mile mark where I will meet my support crew. I have no choice but to resume running. As I leave the Twins I know for the next half mile or so I will still have to climb.
I encounter a runner who could be my father. You are never too old to run. Throughout the run I spot him in various forms. This time he was stretching. The next time I see hime at mile 37 with his pacer he appears to be overheating. At mile 58 he is shaking and in the care of medics. You never know what will happen during an ultra. It often brings the best of us to our knees. The distances are unpredictable. It is truly a humbling experience, but worth every inch of pain.
My expectations are shattered. I should still be fresh at this point.
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I share with my kids that I am in pain and worried that I may not be able to make it to completion. I decide to ditch my hydration pack and carry just a bottle with Brew. Less to carry will save on energy. This was never in the plan and involves some risk as my bottle carries only 20 ounces. I also bring a whole wheat sandwich with salmon for the road. I have to eat on the run or I will not make it.
My mental preparation is short circuited. My expectations shattered. I was to arrive at mile 20 still in top shape. Instead I am already tired and not looking good, I find out from the kids.
The next section is worse than the preceding one. I knew it was going to be a long haul to mile 27 and it is up hill most of the way. What seems like a flat stretch of 3 miles is actually a climb. I am very tired and not even at the half way mark yet of the entire run. It is a slow climb that is hard for me to run. It is going to be a very long day, forget ever getting the Waldo hat. It is 8:30 AM and I am around mile 21. The temp is perfect in the 60's with a blue sky. I've been running 5 1/2 hours.
Just seeing my kids lifts my spirits and I am off. I will see them again at mile 37.
Back at the Fuji aid station I am excited for the couple thousand foot, 6 + mile, downhill run to the Mt. Ray aid station where Marcel, Sebastian, and Mr. Mango await me. This was supposed to be a restful 6 miles. It turns out to be a long and tiring run.
I am very disappointed that it isn't more downhill. As I near Mt. Ray aid station I see signs posted on the trees with funny sayings like "If it doesn't hurt now, it will soon". I cross the Waldo Lake road and enjoy the cheering crowd. I see Mr. Mango running towards me. I am 15 minutes behind schedule.