Living life in a day. That was my experience running Bear 100. It was an amazing, humbling, eye opening experience that left me with a huge sense of accomplishment. I can’t thank my crew, pacers, coach and most importantly my wife for helping me through the highs and lows on my way to my first buckle. This race was very challenging, and I knew going in I needed to train hard to be able to withstand the 22,000+ feet of elevation gain and altitude. My coach put me through very high mileage training throughout the summer and it paid off. This is not to say I didn’t struggle on a few climbs or had to stop to catch my breath at times, but training made the race doable. Huge shoutout to the race director and volunteers who helped put on an amazing race.
Everything went about as well as it could have with me only suffering one blister on my foot and my right quad cramping up at times. With stretching this went away quickly. I struggled with keeping blood sugars as tight as I would have liked but prioritized safety and having a successful race over having perfect blood sugars. I am happy to say I had NO low blood sugars. Life of running with type 1 diabetes.
I started race day as I do every Saturday long run keeping the same routine, which helped avoid any start line nerves. It also helped that my crew was there, as well as two of my buddies who would also run and successfully finish the race. We started with a 3,000 ft. climb miles 1-5 and I quickly settled into a good hiking pace. It helped that everyone was together, so it was hard to go faster than you needed to. I reached the first aid station at Logan Peak, mile 10.5, and felt great! I had the scariest climb out of the way I thought… I would soon realize it was actually the easiest climb of the whole race due to my fresh legs. I descended on my way to my first crew spot at Leatham Hollow at mile 19.5. It was on this 3,000 ft. decline when I started to get inner quad pain. I more than likely was running the downs too hard looking back. I arrived at Leatham Hollow and was super excited to see my crew and wife. They helped me refill my bottles, get nutrition, and gave me ideas on ways to stretch to get rid of the quad pain. I was very happy to have a physical therapist as part of my crew! During the next 8.5 miles on my way to Upper Richards Hollow is where I hit my first low spot. We were headed into the heat of the day, I had run out of water and was moving too quickly up the large climbs. On top of that my blood sugar was slightly lower than I would have preferred. This is the first time I seriously thought about dropping out of the race. Although my legs were fine, I was struggling mentally. So as I have done in the past I stopped and checked in with myself to figure out why I was struggling. I came up with 3 things; I was moving too quickly, I needed to eat more and make sure to carry a little more fluid after the next aid station, and I needed to cool off. I slowed down, took a few fruit smoothie pouches, and at the next creek crossing I doused myself with the amazingly cool, clear mountain water and soaked my hat. It felt amazing and in no time, I was moving along at my normal pace feeling great!
Miles 28-44 were unremarkable with lots of runnable flats and downs, and I was looking forward to picking up my first pacer at mile 44, Temple Fork. I thought this next section would be fairly easy but there were lots of long climbs and I complained to my pacer throughout most of this 6.2 mile section. I picked up my second pacer for miles 51-61; she did an amazing job of keeping me talking, moving, and eating.
My third pacer picked me up at mile 61, Franklin Trailhead and paced me to mile 75 Beaver Mountain. There was an aid station at mile 69, Logan River, but it did not have crew access. Little did I know we were in for huge climbs during this section, and I was starting to get tired. My legs did not allow me to climb as quickly as I would have liked which slowed me down. At this point we were in the early morning hours, 2-3:00am but overall, I still felt good! My pacer did a good job of lighting a fire under me as I started losing time due to slow climbs. I recall one climb that took about 2 hours to complete! With his motivation I was able to pick up the pace, pass a few people and make it to sunrise. I greatly appreciated his patience during this stretch! haha!
I was very excited to get to mile 75 aid station as it had been more than 5 hours since I saw my crew or wife and I had coffee planned for this stop. I changed into shorts and a long sleeve and took off with my 4th pacer who took me miles 75-84.7. Even though I had created a cushion with time, my pacer wanted us to keep moving at a steady pace to try to make up more time. He did a good job of making me run the downs and flats although it was more of a shuffle by this time. I was trying to conserve because of the big climb I knew was coming at mile 85 so kept a little in the tank leading up to this section. It was during this time I started having small hallucinations and seeing cars parked in the woods. My pacer calmly, and repeatedly informed me there were no cars in the woods.
When I arrived at mile 84.7 aid station, Beaver Creek Campground my wife and crew told me I had about 6 hours to finish the final 15 miles. This made me nervous and angered me. I put in all this work, I couldn’t DNF, not now!! I was unsure how I would do on this section knowing the elevation gain of about 1,400 feet and how my legs felt. So, I picked back up my first pacer and we hammered out the next 7 miles going all out. I don’t know where I got the energy to go all out but I ended up totally gassing myself by the end. Good thing is I had made up about an hour over this section.
I had made it to the last aid station, mile 91, Ranger Dip Trail! I could smell the finish! But first, we had to climb almost 600 ft. within the first half mile. That about killed me. Once we got to the top of the climb, we had about 7 miles of mostly downhill, runnable trail. My pacer at the time kept me running until I crossed the finish line where I broke down after receiving my buckle. It was a long time coming. 10/10 would recommend this race! Would I run 100 miles again??? During the race I told myself I would never. After, well……… We will see. I am starting to miss the trails already. Many thanks go out to my coach, crew, pacers, and last but definitely not least, my wife. Without them I don’t think this race goes as well as it did.