I carried a digital voice recorder with me on the race so I could have a detailed account of what I went through, allowing for a better race report. I’ll be using a lot of direct quotes from myself. I’ll clean up any language with the appropriate censored versions. Anything that comes from the digital voice recorder will be preceded by DVR.
My Garmin split times will simply be listed by themselves. My battery died after about 13 hours, so everything after that came from Blaine’s Garmin, my pacer. My goal time to finish is 12 hours 35 minutes. It was a long race. This will be a long race report.
I got about 3 good hours of sleep last night. Not bad for pre-race night. Showered to warm my muscles, dressed, and had a half bagel with peanut butter and jelly. I wasn’t hungry and couldn’t make myself eat more.
My running clothes, watch, and music
Hydration pack. My voice recorder is in the middle.
Out the door a little after 4:00. Arrived at Vivian Park in Provo Canyon with about 20 minutes to spare.
I hid my car key under a rock, put my two drop bags in the piles for Aid Stations 5 & 8, paced around, and ate a Krispy Kreme donut.
Drop bags and contents
I spotted a mouse scurrying away with his share too. At five till we gathered around the starting line in the dark for a few announcements, and then we were unceremoniously sent on our way at 5:00 am. The race starts at an elevation of 5200’.
Mile 1 9:08
I had a mini LED flashlight with me, but there was plenty of light from everyone else’s headlamps, that I didn’t need it.
DVR: 1.5 Miles / Provo River Trail / 8:30-9:00 pace
Mile 2 8:31
DVR: 2 miles in. Passing Bridal Veil Falls. Pain level is a 1. Just some slight twitches in my knees.
DVR: We left Provo River Trail at 2.2 on the Bonneville Shoreline Trail heading uphill. Lots of traffic.
You pretty much kept the pace of the guy in front of you. It’s steep, so there’s lots of walking with short jogs in between. Nearly impossible to pass anyone. It looks like they opted not to set up Aid Station 1.
Mile 3 13:11
DVR: 3.6 miles in. Power hiking up to Squaw Peak on a mountain trail. Traffic is still thick, but people are passing through the brush to the side of the trail. It’s light out now.
Mile 4 13:44
DVR: It’s 5 miles in. I’m breathing heavy between words. The time is 1:04:08 (6:04 AM). Still working my way up to Squaw Peak. I’ve passed some people which will probably hurt me later in the race. I just ate a Lara Bar. Apple pie flavor. No real pain yet. Only 45 miles to go. :(
Mile 5 19:24
Aid Station 2 at Hope Campground: Mile 5.58 / Arrived at 6:15 am
Run by a scout troop serving up hot pancakes and sausages, among the usual ultra fare: potatoes with salt, PB&J, salty snacks, candy, soda, Red Bull, salt caps, gels, Power Ade, water, and fruit.
DVR: Mile 5.6 / Just left Aid Station 2. My body demanded a sausage as soon as I laid eyes on them. It was delicious. I also ate some melon and filled my bottles up halfway. They can hold 20 oz each.
Mile 6 21:50
DVR: 6.2 miles in. I’m breathing really hard. It’s 6:30 am. Still going uphill. I turned on my iPod and am listening to Be Your Own Pet. Passing a few people.
Mile 7 19:27
DVR: Breathing less heavy. 7.07 miles. 1 hour 46 in. (6:46 am) I think I’ve reached the summit of Squaw Peak. Elevation 7800’. I have about a mile of downhill ahead before I start climbing again. Utah Lake and the surrounding cities are in the distance. Feeling pretty good.
Mile 8 9:37
DVR: 8.75 miles. 2 hours 1 min. (7:01 am) I just finished the downhill from Squaw Peak (Elev. 7,050’) and about to head up to Kolob Basin Overlook. I’ve been listening to Death From Above 1979, which made the downhill single track even better.
DVR: 8.9 miles. Consumed a honey ginseng gel that I picked up at AS 2. Tastes pretty good. Currently walking up a dirt road towards the next peak.
Mile 9 10:58
DVR: 9.57 miles. 2 hours 13 min. (7:13 am) I just peed for the first time.
Mile 10 12:41
DVR: 10 miles. 2 hours 19 min. (7:19 am) Nearing the top of the mountain. Not much pain yet.
Aid Station 3 at Rock Canyon. Arrived at 7:21 am
DVR: 10.2 miles. I just left AS 3 where I ate potatoes with salt, melon, Sprite, and an electrolyte strip. Got out of there quick. It’s 7:24 am. Trail is muddy and snow is starting to show up. Feeling ok.
Mile 11 16:46 (I don’t ever stop my watch, so my split times include time at aid stations, etc)
DVR: 11.8 miles in. Running for 2:49:30. It’s 7:49 am. Running over patches of snow. Still climbing. Seems like forever. Starting to feel a little fatigued in the legs. There are some tiny pebbles in my shoes, but not big enough to stop to get them out.
Mile 12 18:45
DVR: 12.1 miles in. 2:56 min. (7:56 am) I just crested Kolob Basin. I’ll be running along the top of this mountain for about 1 ½ miles. Elevation is around 8400’.
Mile 13 12:11
DVR: Almost at 14 miles. 3 hours 18 min. (8:17 am) The sun just hit me, which I’m not thrilled about. I stopped to tighten my laces in preparation for the coming downhill. Lost a little time.
Mile 14 13:39
DVR: 14.23 miles. (8:23 am) I just finished crossing a series of glaciers that covered our trail. I was really careful to place my shoes in the foot holds others had made. It was a steep incline reminiscent of the Speedgoat 50K. The lady in front of my was almost through one section before she lost her footing and slid 10 feet down into some bushes. My Brooks Cascadia shoes have given me good traction.
DVR: 14.6 miles. 3 hours 29 min. (8:29 am) Approaching AS 4 on the edge of this mountain top. I’ve been slogging my way through mud and snow. My shoes and socks are both wet. Toes hurt from banging rocks and smashing into the end of my shoes on the downhill. I’ve got The Gossip playing on the iPod. Nervous about the next 7 miles of downhill and what it will do to my legs.
Mile 15 16:47 (snow crossings really slowed me down)
Aid Station 4 at Horse Mountain / Mile 15 / Elevation 8500’ Arrived at 8:30 am / Didn’t stay long
DVR: 15.35. 3 hours 40 min. (8:40 am) I can hear that my pace has quickened. I left AS 4 a little bit ago. I ate more potatoes with salt, watermelon, and Sprite. I got a bigger rock in my shoe and it made it’s way right to the center under my foot. It was causing me discomfort every step, so I had to pull over and get it out.
Mile 16 8:49
Mile 17 8:16
DVR: Mile 17.1. 3 hours 55 min. (8:55 am) Running down the mountain towards Hobble Creek Canyon. I just passed a guy taking a dump on the side of the trail. Glad it’s not me. Knees getting sore. Starting to feel it. Definitely. I still have a long ways to go. Hard to believe I’m not even half way. It’s really pretty out, but I’m in full sun, so I’m heating up. I’ve been listening to Le Tigre on the way down.
Mile 18 9:58
Mile 19 9:58
Mile 20 8:49
Mile 21 8:33
Aid Station 5 at Hobble Creek / Mile 21 / Elevation @ 5500’ / Arrived at 9:36 am
DVR: Mile 21.2. 4 hours 41 min. (9:41 am) Just leaving AS 5. Spent a long time there since I had a drop bag. Took some pain meds, a salt cap, and ate some pretzels, half banana, and a quarter PB&J. Sprayed some Icy Hot stuff on my legs. They are burning after that long downhill. My right seriously hurts. It’s sunny and hot. I’m wearing my shade hat from my drop bag, which helps. I have a series of 3 big climbs ahead.
Mile 22 16:09
DVR: Mile 22.28. 4 hours 49 min. (9:49 am) About 5 minutes ago a truck passed and I recognized the girl in the passenger seat. It was Carly from work. They pulled along side and we chatted for a minute. They were camping up the canyon. The pain in my right knee is getting worse and my feet are killing me. It doesn’t help that they are wet from the snow.
DVR: Mile 22.8. 4 hours 57 min. (9:57 am) This hot day just got hotter with this long stretch of Hobble Creek Canyon road we are hiking along. I’ve never been this far back. There are some beautiful estates back in here. I’m only about 10 minutes behind my goal time despite forgetting to add in time for aid stations
Mile 23 12:08
DVR: Mile 23.3. 5 hours 5 min. (10:05 am) The $300 headphones I got many years ago have given out, or at least the right ear has. No more music for the rest of the race. The race director, John, drove by handing out Creamies to runners. A chocolate Creamie has never tasted so good.
Mile 24 16:40
DVR: Mile 25. 5 hours 30 min. (10:30 am) Half way. Trying not to think about doing another 25 miles, that are much tougher than the first 25, and that I’m already in a lot of pain. Crap, too late. I’m still running on asphalt up Hobble Creek Canyon. It’s rough on the feet, especially in trail shoes, and radiates heat. I went on to complain about pain for another 30 seconds or so.
Mile 25 14:22
Mile 26 12:29
Aid Station 6 at 26.2 miles. / Arrived at 10:45 am / If this were a marathon, I would have finished in 5 hours 45 minutes. Spent about 6 minutes here.
DVR: Mile 26.3. 5 hours 53 min. (10:53 am) I ate a slice of apple with peanut butter, watermelon, potatoes with salt, and a cup of Red Bull. I took 3 salt capsules before I reached the aid station. I didn’t top off my bottles because I didn’t drink that much on the way there. I should probably be drinking more. I don’t feel sick, just tired and sore. Happy to have left the paved road and be on a dirt road following a stream. Still about 10 minutes behind my goal pace.
Mile 27 20:09
DVR: 27 miles. 6 hours 3 min. (11:03 am) With all the walking uphill and drugs I’m taking, my knees are hanging in there. Nothing hurts to the point that I’m unable to keep going, and that’s all I can hope for. I think I’ve hit the post marathon second wind you hear so much about.
Just kidding. I’ve never heard that.
Mile 28 16:56
DVR: 28.8 miles. 6 hours 33 min. (11:33 am) Walked a mile with Wayne from SLC who gave me some ultra tips and shared race stories. He said he takes a gel every 20 minutes. I’ve only had one the entire race. Once again, I feel I am being extremely insufficient on the amount of calories and salt I’m taking in. The trail is getting quite steep.
[side note: In case you were wondering why I didn’t eat more, it’s because I wasn’t hungry and feared making myself sick. I didn’t increase my salt intake because I didn’t know any better. I was very ignorant as to what constitutes proper salt intake on a race of this distance. I had to learn these lessons the hard way.]
Mile 29 18:47
DVR: 29.75 miles. 6 hours 51 min. (11:51 am) Still going uphill. Ate another Lara bar and a piece of candy. Both my water bottles are nearly depleted. Stopped at the last stream crossing to wash my face and head. Filled my hat with water and let it drip down into my clothes. Trying to bring my body temperature down. I’m feeling overheated.
Aid Station #7 at Sheep Canyon / 29.98 miles / Arrived at 11:55 am and left 3 minutes later. / Elevation 6600’
Mile 30 17:03
DVR: 30.1 miles. 7 hours in. (noon) (water gurgles in the background) I just passed the 7th aid station, my favorite so far. I slurped down 3 cups of hot chicken broth. It might as well have been soup from a 5 star restaurant as far as my taste buds were concerned. Best thing I ate the entire race. I also ate more potatoes with salt, but they had them heated. More watermelon too. I’m currently rock hopping up a creek bed trying to keep my shoes dry as I record this entry.
Mile 31 21:27
DVR: 31 miles. 7 hours 17 min. (12:17 pm) I don’t know where I’m at, but it’s gorgeous in this mountain valley. I keep crossing the same little creek that is meandering along the trail. If it wasn’t so blasted hot and the trail constantly uphill, this would be almost enjoyable.
DVR: 31.22 miles. Thank heavens for chap stick. I had the foresight to carry some with me in my hydration pack. On another note, I just realized I haven’t peed since 7:10 am this morning. I’ve been drinking like crazy, but I don’t think it’s enough.
DVR: 31.74 miles. 7 hours 32 min. (12:32 pm) I’m crawling up this hill. Seems like I’ve been going uphill forever. Sometimes I wish I didn’t bring the elevation chart with me, because then I wouldn’t know it’s still about 10 miles to the highest peak. I am exhausted. I’m being passed consistently by faster walkers. Many of them who don’t look like runners at all, and by that I mean they are carrying a lot of extra weight.
Mile 32 21:58
DVR: 32.38 miles. 7 hours 51 min. (12:51 pm) I want to die. This hill is so effing steep. I’ve been passed like 25 times. My pace is hitting 45 minutes per mile. I think I’m almost to the top though. I’m supposed to meet Blaine in 10 minutes and I have around a mile to go. I feel like %#@!.
Mile 33 18:59
DVR: Entering AS 8 three minutes late. Not bad. The last mile of downhill really helped. My right knee is KILLING me. Whenever I run, it’s hitting a pain level of 7-8. If it gets any worse, I won’t be able to run at all. There’s Blaine!
Aid Station #8 at Little Valley / Mile 33.5 / Arrived at 1:03 pm. Left at 1:15 pm / Elevation 7200’ / Location of my 2nd drop bag
DVR: 33.67 miles. 8 hours 18 min (1:18 pm) Leaving AS 8 with Blaine. He was great helping me fill up my bottles and bringing me potatoes while I sat down to change my socks. Ate some watermelon too. Pretty much what I’ve been surviving on all day. I swallowed 4-5 pain pills straight from the bottle and took more salt. Blaine looks like he just rolled out of bed, fresh as a lily. I feel terrible.
Mile 34 25:23
DVR: [Me interviewing Blaine. Here’s the play by play]
Shane: What time did you get to Vivian Park?
Blaine: About 7:25 am. It was no problem finding the volunteers heading to AS 8.
Shane: What did you ride up in?
Blaine: I rode up in a Honda Pilot. There were a couple trucks and a Jeep that pulled a trailer. I’m glad I didn’t drive up myself. There’s no way I would have made it in my van.
Shane: (watch beeps) 34 miles. 8 hours 23 minutes. (1:23 pm)
Blaine: There were about 4 other pacers that rode up with me.
Shane: I saw a lot of pacers join in at AS 6, with 25 miles to go.
(water rushing nearby)
Shane: Oh crap! (grunting) Ok, I’m going to jump. (More grunting) Ok, I just successfully crossed a stream on some skinny logs and then made a jump for the bank. Glad I didn’t soak the dry socks I just put on.
Shane: Ok, so how fast did the first person come in?
Blaine: The first person got there about 10.
Shane: And I got there at 1ish. So they beat me by 3 hours. Holy crap!
Blaine: The first person already finished. They crossed the finish line about a half hour before you arrived.
Shane: Wow. That’s amazing. Wow!
Shane: What was your experience like working the aid station? This was your first time, right?
Blaine: It’s been great. We’ve helped a lot of people, but there’s been a lot of time to sit around chatting between runners.
Shane: Anybody in real bad shape when they came through?
Blaine: No. As far as I know, no one has dropped out.
Mile 35 21:19
DVR: 35 miles. 8 hours 45 minutes. (1:45 pm) (I sound chipper for some reason.) We are climbing our way up Bald Knoll. Passing through pine trees on a single track trail along a stream. 7800’ elevation. This is further than I’ve ever run before. (since mile 34)
Mile 36 27:23
DVR: 36 miles. 9 hours 12 min. (2:12 pm) Moving slowly up this mountain.
Mile 37 24:37
DVR: 37.06 miles. 9 hours 38 min. (2:38 pm) We are following a ridge trail that goes up and down a lot. We made it over Bald Knoll at 8250’. I was feeling light headed and sick a bit ago. Blaine suggested putting some snow on the back of my neck, which helped lower my core temperature. I don’t think I was drinking enough either, so I’ve been trying to do that more. I feel like crap and am being passed by everyone. 4 more miles to the next aid station.
Mile 38 19:05
Mile 39 17:54
DVR: 39.33 miles. 10 hours 22 min. (3:22 pm) We are about to undertake the mile and a half climb up to Windy Pass, starting at 7800’, topping off at around 9300’. I wish you could see how steep this thing is. We did enjoy some nice, gentle sloping downhill coming in though. Turns out I was definitely dehydrated before. I started forcing myself to drink, usually at Blaine’s insistence, and eventually began to feel better. I have no excuse for allowing myself to get that way, other than I’m totally out of it. After almost 40 miles, my brain is barely functioning.
Looking back on our way up Windy Pass. Thanks to Blaine for snapping these shots with his iPhone.
Mile 40 47:44
DVR: 40 miles. 11 hours 1 min. (4:01 pm) It’s been very slow and painful. I am totally depleted.
(The trail took us through a long stretch of steep snow. It was ironic that something so cold was reflecting burning rays from the sun. The footings were tricky, with plenty of backsliding and falling down. It took forever to get through it.)
DVR: 40.3 miles. 11 hours 16 min. (4:16 pm) (I sound delirious and ill. My speech is labored) Still climbing. I got dehydrated again. I just peed for the 2nd time today. (that’s since 7:10 this morning.) It wasn’t very much and the color was dark yellow. I feel sick. Both my bottles are empty. Blaine’s loaning me some of his Power Ade, which I appreciate. We’ve probably got another mile or so up this effing mountain.
Up, up, up
DVR: 40.86 miles. 11 hours 47 min. (4:47 pm) I’m about 50 feet from the top of Windy pass. Every single foot is an intensive effort of willpower. I am sick to my stomach. Just ill. Nauseated. Dehydrated. If it wasn’t for Blaine sharing his Power Ade with me, I would have been totally effed.
I am just in misery. This climb has been brutal, and longer than I thought it would be. Steeper too. Oh I feel so sick. All I want to do is lay down and die. (I started crying a little here, which seems embarrassing now, but I’m typing word for word what I said, so I felt obligated to mention it. It’s really strange listening to a recording of yourself at wits end, breaking down. Fortunately Blaine was a ways behind me on the phone—yes, he had reception up there—so nobody actually witnessed my meltdown.)
At the top of Windy Pass
Mile 41 52:08
DVR: 41.41 miles. 12 hours 8 min. (5:08 pm) I thought the downhill was going to be better, but it was just as painful. My right knee continues to hurt a lot. We’re about to enter AS 9. I am fully dehydrated and wasted and want to lay down. Oh! It looks like they have a mat. I am going to stay here for at least 10 or 15 minutes. (sounds in the distance of aid station volunteers cheering us in. I’d never needed an aid station more than I needed that one. It felt like I was on death’s door.)
Aid Station 9 below Windy Pass / 41.49 miles. / Arrived at 5:09 pm. Left at 5:20 pm / Elevation 8450’ / I wolfed down a bunch of stuff, but I clearly remember a large stack of cheesy Pringles. We also dropped two Nunn’s Electrolyte tablets into my Power Ade bottle. I swallowed a handful of salt tablets and ibuprofens as well.
DVR: 41.73 miles. 12 hours 31 min. (5:31 pm) Obviously I’m not making my goal time, because it just passed. We’re making slow progress downhill because of how rocky the trail is, when it’s not covered in snow or slick mud. Plus, my knees and feet are shot.
I laid down at the aid station for about 5 minutes. Ate and drank a bunch. Feeling a little better, but my stomach feels worse. My shoes and socks are soaked through again.
Mile 42 45:31
Mile 43 17:17
DVR: So my battery finally died. I’m not exactly sure how far we are. Around 44 miles I’d guess. Following a rocky as crap single track trail towards South Fork Canyon. The slope isn’t too bad, so we are getting in spurts of running. Painful running. I’m feeling much, much better ever since my electrolyte levels increased. I’ve been hydrating better too. We also entered the shade of the mountain, which helped immensely. Direct sunlight is my biggest killer.
Mile 44 (.60 miles of it) 22:57 pace / This is where my watch died. Blaine reset his soon after, so there isn’t much lag time between when mine ended and his took over. The rest of the splits are from his Garmin.
Mile 44 (.34 miles) 21:14 pace
Mile 45 13:14
Mile 46 12:23
Aid Station 10 at Big Springs Park in South Fork Canyon, where we had our family reunion. / Mile 46.5 / Arrived at 7:02 pm, departed at 7:04 pm / Elevation 5850’ / They had cold towels that felt so good.
DVR: We left AS 10 a couple minutes ago and are now running down the main road to Vivian Park. My legs are dead, so I’m having a tough time keeping any real pace. The drugs helped dull some of the pain in my knees, but they’ve done nothing for my feet, which feel like they’ve been bludgeoned repeatedly by wooden clubs.
Mile 47 14:41
Mile 48 16:28 (for comparison, when I ran down this same canyon in the Provo River Half Marathon, my mile times were in the 6 minute range.
Mile 49 16:53
DVR: Running down South Fork still. It’s taking a long time. I think I have less than a mile to go. I’ve been running for as long as I can take the pain, then I take a walk break and repeat the terrible cycle.
Mile 50 18:26
With a 100 yards to go, the guy behind me started sprinting to the finish, which meant that I had to sprint in order to defend my position. I wasn’t getting passed this close to the end. I tapped into one last secret reserve and held him off. After that I recall collapsing onto the grass, someone putting my medal around my neck, and then thanking Blaine for helping me through it. He had to take off for family obligations.
I finished at 7:56 pm, for a total time of 14 hours, 56 minutes, and 11 seconds. I don’t know how I faired overall and in my age group. Nothing is posted yet. I plan to do a follow up post with more photos later.
Thanks for reading and feel free to scold me for using such poor race strategy. I don’t know if there ever will be a next time, but if there is, I will try my hardest not to repeat these mistakes.