….it’s 11:45am on Monday morning, Dan Auerbach’s My Last Mistake is blaring on the radio and I’m still trying to piece this weekend together that’s left me feeling like I just got back from Vegas.
Although..what happens in Los Olivos definitely does not stay in Los Olivos. The festivities, newly met friends, and overall experience are one hell of a story to tell your grand kids staring at your sombrero tattoo with “Mas Locos” scribbled under it.
Shortly after we arrived at the ranch, and we set up our tent, my mom goes “you better go get your beers, they’re about to start!”. Oh you’ve never done a Beer Mile before? yeah me neither. We all set up our cans on the start line which mind you is the raddest Start/Finish line of any ultra I’ve ever run. When the shotgun goes off, the runner turns around chugs one beer and sprints down the trail to a cone making the distance a 1/4 mile…4 beers, I think you get the riff now. Started off strong until I finished my second modelo, rookie mistake I had two different containers: 2 cans & 2 bottles.Chuggability affected, I slowed down considerably on the last two runs, none the less probably the quickest way to feel buzzed after 4 beers. I’m not going to bullshit anyone here, I almost saw my chipotle come back up, definitely tasted my last meal more than a couple times. When in Rome, right?
Next event of the day was the Tarahumara ball racing; if you haven’t read Born To Run yet (you should), this ball game consists of kicking a hand carved ball the size of a tennis ball down the trail and being the first one to cross the line with your ball. We went in heats of five runners at a time, and what better than a shotgun start? (get used to the shotguns because there’s plenty more to come). The best way to describe this was “trying to control something completely uncontrollable”. The ball goes wherever the hell it feels like going, and all you can do is hope you’re the fastest at fetching your ball from under a car or way off course. Luckily Pat Sweeney(Beer Mile champion, bolla veteran, and to top it off 50K winner, congrats brother) went in the heat before me and I picked up on a few tips while watching him. Everyone was turned away from their ball, and when the shotgun went off participants would turn and kick the ball. Pat horse kicked the bolla so far down that he was off and sprinting before half the people had even kicked theirs: that was the move. A lot of us were still recovering from the beer mile, which I think probably added to the chaos but made it way more fun. I won my heat and scored a certificate from Luna Sandals(thank you Scott), which is greatly appreciated since Ive been wanting a pair for a while. The rest of the afternoon was spent drinking a bit more, uh you know carbo loading pretty much. Another great mexican meal washed down by a few more modelo’s, followed by Pre-race meeting where the rules where derived from Micah True’s “If I get lost, hurt, or die, its my OWN damn fault!”. No course map, which in Luis’ defense would have made it so much more confusing, an empty bottle of Fireball lay on the stage with all of the different trail markings which were placed the day before while properly hydrating the whole time….with fireball whiskey.
Who needs an alarm clock when you have Luis Escobar, a shotgun, and Banda music blaring about Sinaloa cartels at 4:15 in the morning? Exactly, put that iphone away… ain’t no snooze button on this one. Slept fairly well despite feeling like I had one too many, made coffee, had a banana, aaand who cares lets get to the race already. Temps were a little chilly but the greatest advice I have ever gotten on how to dress for a race start from Bel Monte race director Russell Gill “if you’re comfortable at the Start line, you’re wearing too much”, I ended up ditching my tank top after 10 miles so apparently even that was too much for what turned out to be a beautiful sunny day. Another quick race brief and we were lining up for a mass start of the 10miler, 50K, 100K, and 100 miler. Yep, you read that correctly, everyone started at 6 am. At this moment, I dont think I knew who Loic was anymore. I stepped up to the front of the pack and thought it would be fun to completely disregard “pacing myself”, who knows…
The shotgun went off, and we burst out of the gates like a pack of wild dogs. After a few miles, I had started to realize that no one was slowing down and later found out from a fellow runner that we were anywhere from 5:15 to 7min miles. The first 10 mile loop called the pink loop was the easier one, with long sloping hilly sections, cows, and nice stretches of flat dirt roads. Before I knew it I was back at my truck. The course mildly resembles a figure 8 with your tent and Start/Finish line in the middle. I felt great and had picked up a running partner for the next few laps. Tyler was running the 100miler and kept the same pace, so off we went burning through the first 2 laps. We both laughed at wether we’d be regretting this a few more miles into it. This was pretty much my attitude for the whole race, I laughed at how bad and when I would bonk horribly and hit a concrete wall. The second loop is the Yellow loop, a bit harder, more elevation climb but not too too rough…unless you’re doing it 2 more times or in the case of the 100milers running it in the dark. With some steep ridgeline running and barely there single track, I’m sure this was super tough on the guys doing it at night. I welcomed the long sloping downhills after this which kept me at a steady pace. Learning from last year’s mistakes of spending too much time in aid stations I’d think about what to grab before hitting them up, grab and go. Aside from the normal regimen of water, some Heed, those kid apple sauce pouches, and tortilla chips, I didn’t change much…up until the 3rd lap. The heat definitely started to affect mood and thirst so I reached in the cooler and chugged a corona on the run. That beer tasted so good and felt so amazing that every time after that I came in and chugged another.
With every lap getting a little slower I was still wondering when I’d just die on the trail and have to sit down, maybe start talking to one of the many cows seen on the course. I do remember waving to one on the last 1o miles, kinda gave her a “whats up” head nod and was on my way. Right before I headed out and did my usual run and gun approach through the Start/Finish line I remember Luis going “thata boy! thats the way to fuckn do it!”(excuse my lack of censorship, i’ve been on a ranch for the past 3 days). About half-way through this last lap I started thinking..”yeah that is the way to do it…”. Just go for it, let the mind shut off for a bit, let the legs do their thing and whatever happens happens. So what if I burn out half-way through? ok cool, I just walk my ass back to the finish line and enjoy the post race festivities. I’m glad I didn’t listen to that slightly more mature reasoning part of my brain on Saturday. I crossed the finish line accomplishing 2 things I’d set out to do; not have to run with a headlamp, and enjoy the hell out of this race. The rest was bonus; my finishing time was 12:03 and I placed 3rd overall but to me the most important part of this weekend was the people I met, and how much fun the whole event was.
To top it all off, I met the coolest traveling duo, quite possibly the most opposite people you could find. John and Sam drove out here with Sam’s rad 1990’s Warrior winnebago. Yeah I bagged on her a bit for not being in a tent but by Sunday I was a little jealous of this obvious status symbol in society, blue fuzzy carpet and all haha. I met these two by the campfire after the race, where we all took swigs of mezcal and drank more beers and talked about the race(ps. who got to the worm?). John zonked out early, but Sam and I waited for Tyler to finish his first 100miler, which despite us going 99mph on our first 20 miles together I’d have to say he did a badass job of maintaining and finishing under 24 hours.
To wrap the weekend up, this was nothing short of the most memorable experience so far this year. Thank you Luis Escobar and all volunteers for making this race possible, thank you to all the wonderful new people I’ve met who I hope to race with in the near future. Micah True thank you for inspiring so many people to share your passion, your spirit lives on.
Ok so here’s my side post because this is amazing:
My mom’s first exposure to Ultras was 2 years ago on my first attempt at Leadville Trail 100. Shortly after last year’s attempt and whilst on our roadtrip To/From Colorado, my mom rediscovered herself in the form of trailrunning. In it she found the same things I felt, at peace, almost like a form of meditation. This year, she started signing up for races and her last race was the Bandit 30K, which left the both of us feeling wrecked. Less than a month ago or a little more, my mom clicked the Register button for her first ultramarathon. I’m so proud of her for coming out and finishing the 50km this weekend, it feels unreal to say “yeah my mom and I ran an ultra together last week!”.