Last update August 22, 2012
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2nd Saturday in July, Skyline Park, Mt. Wilson, CA, 6:30 AM Start.
Mt. Disappointment... it's Gettin' Better
Prior to the start of the 2006 Mt. Disappointment Endurance Race, there were many noticeable differences from 2005. We had over 200 hours of trail maintenance logged, and to accommodate the big increase in runners, there were many more race-day and aid station volunteers. So, given the increase in runners, the groomed trails, the incredible volunteers, and cooperative August weather, the day was set-up for records, and that's exactly what happened.
Jorge Pacecho led the men's race from the start, and eventually finished with a new course record. Diana Rush led the women's race from the start, but was closely followed by Foothill Flyer, Sharon Pevsner, and then last year's winner, Vanessa Jones. Each of the front women knew the course and the final climb to come. Diana eventually held off all the women and broke the overall women's record, but Sharon finished second while setting a new 30 - 39 age group record.
Our race course offers a semi-wilderness Angeles National Forest experience that includes spectacular canyon vistas and old growth forest. Runners pushed the pace through the picturesque surroundings, and when it was all done, eight age group records had been broken. There were many Foothill Flyers there as newcomers, volunteers, and ultra veterans. It was a great day for the club on the mountain.
There were other stories of accomplishment besides the winners. Foothill Flyer's Patrick Tantraphol and Brett Terrell won our "Get-to-the-Finish" Awards for finishing their first mountain ultras while refusing to give up. Veteran John Radich was there after his great Badwater finish. Scott Powell and Chris Goddard both broke 6 hours. Jannifer Heiner won the women's 20 - 29 year age group and set a new age group record. Other Flyer finishers included veterans Hal Chaisson, Manny Garcia, Mark Ryne, Nancy Tinker, and Vinnie Torres. The steady flow of Flyers never seemed to stop.
Flyers came out in support as well. Scott Cline (Clear Creek Captain) was there with Sharee Allen, our medical support. Clear Creek was a Foothill Flyer Aid Station that also included Bob and Sue Spears, and Tom and Mary Ann O'Hara. Red Box had Flyers Pam Hilliard (Captain) and Theresa Sama. Flyer Bill Pevsner was around all day to lend his expert medical support. At the remote Westfork Aid Station was the entire Tom Janzen family. They spent all day there along with Flyer Lonnie Beck helping runners before the climb to the finish. The start/finish line also had great support. Jen Harrelson and Karen Johnson were there for over 12 hours. They started at registration and ended with hanging the last finisher's medal on the last finisher.
At the end of the day, we realized that the training runs in July, the clear trail conditions, majestic views, and the aid stations with caring volunteers provided the means for a 96% finish rate. Everyone knows that when you park on top of the mountain, you "gotta" get back up the mountain. Although everyone feels the final climb, the finish-line and the post-race party provided the means for smiles and "a-whole-lotta story- tellin'." Once again, the Mt. Disappointment Endurance Run didn't disappoint anyone, but for me it was the great friends, the support, the willingness, and the self-determination that motivates me. Hey, maybe I need to change the name from Mt. Disappointment to Mt. Enchantment. Let's do it again next year!
Mt. Disappointment 50k Endurance
I have done about 7-8 marathons over the years, but in the past I always made the mistake of running a marathon, then taking time off and losing all the conditioning that I had gained. This year I had set a goal to run more consistently and after doing the Catalina Marathon in March and the Green Bay Marathon in May, I looked for the next challenge. I knew that the Disappointment 50k was coming up, and I figured that if the Pittsburgh Steelers can win the Super Bowl, then I can do Mt. Disappointment. While I would not have assistance from the referees (sorry Gary), I knew that there would be fellow Flyers in the race and at the aid stations to help me along.
Race day seemed a long way off when I entered, and I probably should have done more long runs in training, but I felt good at the start. There were a large number of Flyers in the race, and at the start to help register and give encouragement. At the start I tried to remember to go slow to save energy for the end, especially the long climb up Kenyon Devore. The course is beautiful, which made it easy to go at a moderate pace. The first aid station was Red Box (mile 5.7), and even though I had my Camelback I made sure to eat and drink. Clear Creek (10.8) was next, manned by a team of Foothill Flyers, who gave me encouragement and made sure I ate and drank and refilled my Camelback. Then it was a long, slow uphill to Josephine Saddle (13.3) where I filled up with water, and after a short rest Flyer Nancy Tinker and I set off for Red Box #2, about 8 miles away.
I had forgotten how tough this section of the course is, so at first I pulled ahead of Nancy, then I started running out of steam and she caught up to me. It seemed to take forever to get to Red Box which is located on the highway, and as we neared it I could hear the cars going by. Traffic never sounded so sweet as Nancy and I ran into the station together.
It took me a little over 5-1/2 hours to get to Red Box #2 (21.2) and it was already tougher than any marathon I had ever run. The volunteers refilled my Camelback and made sure that I ate and drank, while Scott Cline squirted me with water to cool me off. About that time Mark Ryne came into the station and said that he has finished other 50k's in less time than it took to get to this point. Then Nancy took off while I was putting some mole skin on a blister. As I left the station Tom O'Hara admonished me to catch Nancy, but I knew there was no way. I was already in survival mode.
I left Red Box before Mark, but he caught me about 2 miles down the road. As he went past he asked if I was considering the AC 100 next year, stating, "If you can do this, you can do AC." I don't remember what I said, but I know that what I was thinking isn't printable. Even though it was downhill to West Fork I could not make up any time. My legs were sore and I could not keep a fast pace so I walked much of this stretch. It was getting hot by this time and I drained my Camelback well before I got to West Fork.
At West Fork (25.9) I refilled my water and made sure I ate and drank. At this station I had to make a decision. I had never gone beyond 26.2 miles before, it was a hard uphill the rest of the way and if I was going to drop this was my last chance. Even though my legs were tired and sore, I felt good otherwise so I pressed on. Plus we had been given a great Brooks technical tshirt and I wanted to be able to wear it in good conscience, so I had to finish. Going uphill felt good at first, it was actually a nice change of pace after the long downhill. After about a mile however the grade became steeper and I was more exhausted. Switchback after switchback, it just kept going up and seemed like it would never end. If you have ever done Mt. Baldy, imagine running a marathon and then doing that last 2 mile stretch to the peak. At least 3 people passed me (or were they hallucinations?) the last couple of miles, where it seemed I would walk 20 feet, stop, walk 20 feet, stop, until I could hear Gary on the PA system at the finish line. As I neared the finish a bunch of Flyers were there to welcome me into the ultra club, and I mustered up the adrenaline to jog across the finish, with a time of about 9 hours and 12 minutes.
I went to greet Gary at the finish, and having read my training report I think he was more relieved than I was to see that I had finished in good shape. All in all a tough race, maybe not the best choice for a first ultra, but there were a few other first timers who finished, including Flyer Patrick Tantrophol. Gary and his dedicated staff of volunteers did a great job of putting on this event, and it was big help to see all the Flyers out on the course and at the aid stations. I think every aid station except Josephine Peak had Flyers. It was a real encouragement to see familiar, friendly faces like Tom and MaryAnn O'Hara, Bob and Sue Spears, Sharee Allen, Scott Cline, Lonnie Beck, Teresa Sama, Pam Hilliard, Karen Johnson, Jennifer Harrelson, etc. (I hope I did not forget anyone, I probably have) at the start, aid stations and finish. Some of these people worked more than one station and were there from 4:00 a.m. until after the last runner came in. Special thanks to all the volunteers, they had a much longer day than the participants.
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