As I took off down the dirt road with super pacer and bow hunter Matt Heineger, I was joking and trying to hide my only true fear of the race, getting back over the vertical climb of this huge mountain. I knew that going up the backside of Hope Pass was going to be hard and I did NOT want to have a break down. I was going to blame Matt if we failed (actually, no one to blame but me). As we ran down the road, I saw John Peck and then David and Carrie. Peck looked focused and worried about coming back. David and Carrie looked tired which worried me and I tried to pump them up without success. I then ran into Aaron from the training camp and gave him a huge hug. He told me that if I did not encourage him there, he was not sure he could/would finish. I would love to take credit for this but the truth is that he ran an awesome last 50 miles and finished with minutes to spare. As we hit the climb up, I ran into Gordon (who was not going to make it this year) and then a woman running at break neck speed just behind the cut-off window: Iva. I am not sure what she said to me but she was gone before I could respond. The rest of the climb was hard but my lungs felt strong and we continued to pass people until we caught: Guess Who? Jason again.
At the top of Hope Pass, I turned to Matt and had an idea. Matt was here running in memory of his father-in-law, an avid outdoorsman and adventurer, who died this past February on a snow mobile in an avalanche accident. His family wanted him to be here. My pacers all ran with a bib that included 2 patches of Matt’s father-in-law’s initials. We stopped on Hope Pass and buried one of the patches inside of the pyramid rock memorial. Matt teared up and my run just stepped up another notch. I was witnessing an epic journey and I was not only a participant but also a supporting cast member.
After the moment passed, we headed painfully down to Hopeless aid station as Matt recorded the Llamas. I asked them for a massage and sure enough, an aid worker had experience with IT band issues and worked on both of mine. After eating, laughing and getting a massage, we decided to run down the hill. I was pain free until the trees and decided to just man up and smile all the way down.
Once we hit the river heading into Twin Lakes, I decided to lay down to wash off the dried gu all over my shorts (I didn’t want people talking) and to soak my legs. NOTE: Cold Water makes your legs slower! But for those 30 seconds, I was in heaven. Matt and I followed Shoeless Joe Jackson into Twin Lakes. We asked him why he wore two pieces of rubber, string and tape as shoes and he seriously told us that “these feel better than shoes”. Wow (no comment). Don, the Servant and Boston Marathon stud met us in Twin Lakes and guided us to the oasis that the crew prepared for me. I lost time BUT was right on my original schedule of a 28-hour finish.