Friday night Addie and I landed in Reno, Nevada, picked up the rental car, a VW Passat and headed to Robinson Flat, California. Right as I turned off the interstate, I stopped at a convenience store to pick up water and snacks for the weekend ahead. Addie was fast asleep and we all know what a pain it is to wake a sleeping toddler just to carry them into the store. She was so tired that I was able to get her out without waking her...only to walk up to the door 3 mins after 10pm to be waved away...they closed at 10! Dang...Oh well, I had some water and a few toddler snacks so I figured I'd get some food once at Robinson Flat. As I continued down an unseemingly harmless road called Soda Springs Road it quickly turned into a dirt road, on the side of the road was a sign that said something about only 4 wheel drive vehicles should continue on that road. I stopped for a min, looked at my phone, realized I had no cell phone reception and that this was indeed the way my GPS was telling me to go. What to do, what to do...It was late, I couldn't call anyone (believe me, I tried) and my GPS wanted me to continue down the road...so I did. I kept thinking that the dirt road would eventually run into the main road, a paved road...heck at this point, I would have even appreciated a gravel road. The road that I was on was beyond scary. I crossed over three streams, it was so rocky, with small boulders, huge divots, and very uneven terrain that it caused me to bottom out about a bazillion times. I kept thinking that I was going to get a flat tire or puncture the gas tank....that would have been the worst case scenario. If I would have broken down, my plan was to stay the night in the car and hike with the baby backpack carrier in the morning to civilization. Best case scenario, I continue blindly following my GPS and trust it knows how to get to Robinson Flat and at some point in the night, I make it. The road never turned into a paved road but eventually, after 28 miles on a rugged mountain offroad road, we made it. It was a little after 12:30am when I arrived and instead of waking everyone with me setting up the tent, I decided to lay out my sleeping mat, lay my sleeping bag on it and sleep under the open stars. Addie had woken up from her deep sleep right as we arrived so I had to ask her to whisper, not cry and lay in the bag with me. She was so good. She did just that and her and I looked up at the beautiful, unobstructed sky until we fell asleep.
The next morning, I was like a kid in a candy shop so at 4 am I was awake, waiting for the action to begin. I kept poking my head out of the bag, waiting to see people moving around. Finally, around 5am, people were waking up and getting the aid station set up. I went over to our CTS tent and started talking to the "old timers" at that aid station. I told them about my previous night's scary adventure and before long, I had a bunch of people coming up to me asking how I made it up that road in the little "white car" and heard more than once that they "had only been up that road once in our life" and they were from "around here". I was the talk of Robinson Flat for a bit. I think my favorite comment was "you must be an ultra runner cause you're crazy as hell!"
The CTS crew showed up and begin preparing for our athletes. We had 14 running the race and so there was a lot of excitement to see who would be in, how they would be feeling and what they would need. Coach Jason Koop knows exactly what needs to be done so I just tried to help out where I could.
Somewhere around noon a bunch of the CTS crew headed to the Forest Hill aid station (mile 62). We set up, got ice, more food and cheered all the amazing athletes as they came through. This aid station was happening! There were people lined up and down the road and it reminded me a lot of a European style race. People were excited, cheering the athletes on as they picked up their pacers (or not) and were on their way. As someone who would like to run this race one day, it was really neat to watch. I was itching to be out there with them...I can honestly say, I much rather be running and suffering through the miles than sitting under a tent watching all the action from the sidelines. With that said, it was also really cool to be able to help out and watch how professional the CTS coaches and athletes were when it came down to taking care of the athletes! Liz Koop put in some really long hours but did it all with a smile on her face. Coach AJW was all over the place, cheering all the athletes on as they ran by, helping out in any way he could. For someone who had hip resurfacing surgery recently, he didn't let it stop him from carrying nine 20lbs bags of ice so that our athletes wouldn't go without. Coach Adam had the honor of pacing John Fitzgerald who was running in top 20 position but he didn't let that stop him from making sure the other athletes were also take care of. I was impressed and honored to be able to help out even if in a small way.
Around 6:30pm, Addie, the CTS "Media Guy" Cory and I took off from Forest Hill to head to Auburn. When we got there we found it incredibly difficult to find a spot to park and because of that we had to drive all over the place before we finally found a spot...and in those 15-20 minutes, we missed Jim Wamsley finishing. As we rushed up to the Placer track we heard him speaking in his finishing interview and realized he finished the 2018 Western States in record time! That guy is a beast! Just incredible... Cory and I set up shop at the end of the track and cheered all the other finishers in. It was amazing to watch and made me want to run that race even more! They were all so inspiring.
Addie had fun playing on the pole volt jump landing mats with a lot of other kids until about 10pm which is about the time when I forced her to lay down on the mat and sleeping bag so she would fall asleep. She did not go down easy because she wanted to keep playing but I knew she was tired by the emotional state she was in. Laughing and crying all at the same time for no reason. When she was asleep (which didn't take too long) I drug her on the sleeping mat and in the bag to the finish line area so I could continue to cheer people in and keep my eyes on her. I waited to cheer in the top 10 men and women and then sometime around 2am I curled up beside Addie and crashed hard. It didn't matter that the bright football field lights were shining on me or that John Medinger's voice was a constant in my ears all night long. I slept like I had just run a 100 miler!
The next morning I woke up around 5am and continued to cheer people in. It was so much fun to cheer the runners that were finishing in the "Golden Hour" and if anything could be as good as seeing the first guy/gal finish, it was seeing the last. They were cheered in as if they were winning the race and it was so much fun to be apart of that!
This race is obviously amazing and anyone who gets in it knows that. I now see what the hype is all about and want my chance to run it more than ever! Western States, Baby!