This was my 2nd year running YT100. Just when I thought it couldn't get any better than last year, it did! The start of the race in West Yellowstone was EPIC! A man ran by me with a frozen beard in the 5 degree mountain air plus windshield... as we conversed, I wondered to myself why I wore running shorts... and also if my legs and other parts would ever "thaw" out. My eye brows and eye lashes were frozen with ice on them. My water bottle began to freeze as well. We ran up the mountain and into Idaho as the sun came out to rescue us from the bitter cold... ahhh what a relief! The rest of the day would be absolutely beautiful, crystal clear, nice and cool, without a single cloud in the sky. I took my shirt off and ran free into mile 50 along the very scenic Mesa Falls Scenic Byway where the sun began to set around mile 60. The sunset was breath taking as the crew and I prepared for the inevitable... "Night"
"One of the more beautiful buckle’s I’ve received to date"
"The second year of the Yellowstone-Teton 100 Mile Race was, once again, amazing! As usual, it had the Lisa Smith-Batchen signature on it; that means it is tough as GTR 100 Miler trail race (rest in peace... until it is resurrected) except it is on the road. But that's expected when a race route is designed by Lisa and her team of Ultra Marathon experts. What's duly noted is that unlike many ultra races, Lisa goes OCD on making sure that every turn is clearly marked and that runners don't get lost. The best part is when you make a detour into the wrong path and the first sign you see says "Wrong Way". That really helps with clearing any confusion about which way to go. Coming from the East Coast, it's already challenging enough to deal with the high elevation; so I appreciated not having to run extra miles that don't count.
The stationary check points at exact designated mile markers were a welcome relief as I crossed each of them. I can't thank the volunteers enough for running them late night and making sure that I had soup; they went out of their way and surprised me with vegetable soup which I needed because of my diet restrictions. Volunteers are also mostly made up of ultra-runners, friends, and local experts who know the area inside out; they knew the route well enough to answer technical questions.
The view of the Grand Tetons is spectacular with the sunrise. I think the best experience in this run is the latter part - the second day of the race -which is something you look forward to and serves as the driving force to keep you going during the frigid night before. This year, the sky was clear and beautiful but that meant colder temperature at night. I am very grateful to my friend Alfonso Chen and his expert crew without whom I couldn't have done the night part at all. Let's get real: your camelpack will freeze; the water in your water bottle will crystallize into a slush but you must go on. This is when having a crew really helps out. I had the crew stay very close to me at no more than a mile apart; that way it was easier for me to keep my water bottle in the vehicle so that water didnt freeze to ice. Oh yeah, don't underestimate the weather.
The last ten miles are the best 10 miles of the race. With the Grand Tetons flanking you on the side, the sun flickering through the fall leaves and radiating their color with the morning dew, the gentle cool breeze ushered in a sense of motivation that just helped me pick up my pace and almost glide with swift, soft steps, enjoying the spectacular view of breathtaking fields of green and the beautiful houses that stood on them. I was chasing a dream and before I knew it, I was 96 miles into it. The grovel road before the last bit of miles to the finish line veered us off the the busy highway and led us through a calm picturesque view of the Grand Tetons on the left. My two crew mates who kept me company on the last 20 mile stretch took advantage of the scenery and snapped couple of pictures. We had plenty of time to finish the race; it was time to take a break and have a little fun as well.
I designate the last mile of all my 100 mile races as the Victory Run and it is the symbolic moment for all my friends to join in. Flanked by my two crew mates, I was joined by couple of friends as we advanced to close the gap of the final mile. 99 miles of excitement behind, the last mile was special on its own accord; lit by the sun, colored by the fall leaves, I could see the finish line flags flapping in the wind. A smile lit up on all of our faces. My pace picked up but I slowed down when I noticed that some of our friends were rushing to the finish line while snapping our pictures. You always want to make sure you get a good finish line picture. And to me that meant making sure all the people who helped me during the race were there with me when I crossed it. The energy I got when I crossed that finish line just elevated me with a sense of euphoria and humbleness at the same time. Yeah, I finished the 100 Miles but more importantly, so did the people who helped me. Their cheers, their perseverance, their dedication had all paid off! We had done it! The race was over but the adventure lives on!