This past year has been a whirlwind of 100 mile races. We started the year in Arizona at Coldwater Rumble and finished in Arizona with the Javelina Jundred.
First off, let me say that Aravaipa does an excellent job managing all the runners and crew. There were close to 800 people running this race making it the 2nd largest ultra in the US.
We decided to do this race because our dear friend Maili @mais_runs_trails asked us to help pace her for her first 100 mile race. Since we were going, Sean decided it would be a great finish to his year of 100s.
Javelina is definitely a party in the desert. There were so many people there that we know so it was a lot of fun cheering on all our friends. There were a bunch of my fellow Altra Running ambassadors running. It was fun getting to meet them and cheering them on.
Here is Lint Hikes at the start & Stephanie after her first loop and Dana after she came in right behind Sean to finish up the 2nd loop. She was the first female finisher!
We saw a bunch of fellow San Diego runners and I spent the whole time hanging out with our friend Vanessa and her team.
Can I tell you how amazing the ultra community is? I met Lani & Heather for the first time on race day and even though they didn’t know me, they totally brought me into their fold. Lani made me a PB&J sandwich, dinner later in the evening and just was so amazing. Heather gave us tips on how things were different from last year and was so positive. I was blessed to share the weekend with such amazing people.
Vanessa & I took a short hike early on Saturday morning, it was interesting to see how the course was laid out. At this point they didn’t have the loop markings up so we weren’t quite sure how it worked.
We walked about a mile or so and then came back just in time to see Zach Bitter finishing up his first loop. It was so amazing to see Zach crush the course record. It was fun to watch him and how perfect his form was. As a friend said, watching him is like poetry in motion and it truly was.
Sean came in off the first loop around 3:35 saying it was HOT! When he came through they called out a name, but it wasn’t his, so he asked me to check on that with the timing people. Once Vanessa & I got him ready to go he headed back out for the toughest of his 5 loops.
Maili came in about 1.25 hours later also saying it was hot, but she was looking good and feeling pretty good as well. Her crew got her iced up and ready to go and then she was off.
By this point it was getting pretty hot even for us and so I asked the guy in the tent next to us if I could use some of his shade (behind his tent) and he told us that they were leaving and we could hang out in their tent until they came back in a few hours. That was so nice because one of the things about the desert is that the temperatures really do drop in the shade.
We hung out there for quite a while chatting, eating, and watching the runners come in.
Sean finished his second loop right before Dana. He was super hot and talking about a tight hip. But we got him some Monster and Welch’s Grape Juice which would be something he drank a lot of during this race. After getting iced up, he headed out on his third loop.
Again, we would have an issue with Sean’s timing chip. This time, it didn’t register him at all. I got them to fix it but I accidentally gave them the wrong time so his time was off.
Not long after this we were just hanging out, I didn’t see Maili’s family, and I was surprised to see her coming through! I texted them to let her know that she was there and ran with her to the aid station, hoping to get her iced up there, but they were completely out of ice! Now, this was something that I feel like they dropped the ball on. With 800 participants on a very hot day in the desert, they should have ice trucks standing by. I feel like they should never run out of ice.
But by the time we got back to base camp, her family was there and able to get her all set up. She was feeling pretty good considering the heat, those hour long sessions in the sauna really paid off!
Since she was going out on her 3rd loop and it would be dark when she finished she was able to take a pacer with her. I remember asking her if she had her headlamps and I believe it was during this section that I was feeding her a turkey wrap lol.
Lani, Heather & Vanessa were crewing multiple people including Joyce who was just the cutest. She was attempting her first 100 and came in after her 2nd loop during this time. She was having an issue with her ankle and was asking to have it taped. Well, you might not know this but when I was in high school I was an athletic trainer and I do know how to tape ankles. Although it had been quite a while since the last time I did.
Fortunately Lani had white athletic tape so I did my best to get her taped up so she could get back out there. Joyce has the tiniest feet I think I’ve ever taped and my memory was a little fuzzy so I did the best I could. Fortunately it worked and we were able to get her out there for her 3rd loop.
After I taped her up she needed to get her shoes on and still get something to eat. I knew we needed to get her out of there so I started feeding her pasta while she put on her shoes, lol. She’d been there for a bit, it was starting to get dark and I knew Sean was going to be coming soon so I wanted to get her on her way!
One thing that Sean has taught me is that you don’t want to linger at the aid station any longer than necessary so after a few more minutes grabbing gear off she went!
Sean had told me that lap 3 was going to be his slowest and it wasn’t too bad, he came in around 6:15p just after dark. We really didn’t think about it when he went out at 2pm but it was dark when he finished the loop. Thank you to the awesome volunteer that lent him a handheld to get to the finish.
This loop it took Maili a bit longer and I had just headed to take a quick nap after watching Zach Bitter finish. Not long after that her husband Devin arrived and I think I got about 40 minutes of sleep before he told me she was about there. Come to find out, he had forgotten to give her the headlamps and they had walked 5 miles with her pacer’s iphone flash light to the aid station.
She came in, immediately headed to the tent with Devin to change her clothes, she was having some issues with chafing or so she thought. Funny story, as we were waiting for her, her pacer told us that when they got to the aid station, she started asking people if they had a headlamp and someone, she was like named Whaa, whaa something had gotten up and started pulling something off his waist. First she was like uh, what are you doing and then he gave her his headlamp. Well come to find out that it was Jim Walmsley! As soon as she showed us the picture, I was like Jim Walmsely! How cool & how awesome! Not only that, he had given a headlamp to Zach Bitter so Maili might have worn the same headlamp that helped Zach crush the course record as well!
Once we got her & Devin off, I was going to get a little nap but thought I better wait up for Sean so I kind of slept in my chair while waiting for him. By this point I was exhausted and frustrated with the timing people, since yet again, Sean didn’t show up in the results (from his third loop). I didn’t want them to think he was still on his 3rd loop since he was going for a sub 24 hour time and his watch would be dead when he finished so as soon as he came in, I was like we need to talk to them.
Poor Lani asked me to stay up to help Joyce and I honestly needed to get some sleep. Fortunately Heather was up & waiting for her husband to get a little nap before deciding what to do about his race.
Sean came in and I immediately told him that we needed to talk to the timing people. We got him squared away, they found his 3rd loop and gave him a glow in the dark bracelet to signify he was on his last loop and then we got him ready to go. It was around 11:30p ish at that point.
So off he went and back to the tend and bed I went. I got my gear ready so I was good to pace Maili on her last loop before getting some sleep. No sooner than I took off my glasses, I got a text from her it was around 12:30am. She was having a lot of trouble walking due to what we would eventually find out was a UTI. She was planning to drop at Jackass Junction (aid station) but I told her to talk to Catra Corbett when she got there after discussing a few things because I remember hearing her talk about having some similar issues. I encouraged her to keep pushing to the next aid station.
By the time she got to Jackass Junction she was having some serious issues with her foot and was icing it, thinking there was a possibility it could be a stress fracture. Catra told her that she was most likely dealing with a UTI and told her to stop using Tailwind (all the sugar could have been an issue). Unfortunately that meant she wasn’t getting in enough calories.
I don’t know how long they stayed at the aid station, but around 2:30a Devon texted that they saw Sean looking good (going the other direction) and were at mile 11.
I got a little sleep before getting up to wait for Sean to come in. I wasn’t sure what kind of time he would have, but I knew he was gunning for a sub 24h finish. I just happened to get up about 10 minutes before he came in! I saw him following a girl who previously had a parrot on her shoulder as part of her costume and raced over to the finish line to get some photos!
Right before Sean came in Maili sent me a text saying her foot was not feeling good and was really concerned. I encouraged her to keep going and at least finish the loop. It’s so tough because you want to encourage your runner and push them through the low points, but in the end they know their bodies better thank anyone else and really have to make the decision for themselves and it’s not an easy thing to decide especially when you feel amazing, outside of a few minor things, and you mentally want it so bad!
In the end she decided to finish the loop and I told her to try and make it before the cut-off which would give her a bit more time to decide if she could continue. She pushed hard and made the 4th loop 7 minutes before the 6am cut-off.
At this point, we had to seriously consider that there was a chance, if we started the 5th and final loop that we wouldn’t be able to make the 30 hour cut-off. I was ready to go out with her but was definitely concerned that it was going to be tight.
Ultimately we decided to start the loop and see how things went. We probably went about a 1/4 mile up the trail when I saw that she was wincing in pain with every step and had stopped a few times already. I supported her no matter what her decision, but internally felt like we had to be realistic. At that pace with stopping, there was no way we could finish in under 6 hours. After a few more painful steps, she made the decision to drop.
It’s a tough thing to watch someone so strong and mentally prepared to have to make this decision. But regardless of the outcome I’m so proud of her for taking on the longest race in her ultra career and I know she is going to crush it in her next race!
There is nothing like the ultra community. It is really a family and everyone is so supportive.