The Pony Express 100 was run on Friday Oct 19th. I only had 5 days of rest from the Heartland 100, where I had run a sub 24 so I was expecting to pay the price of a hard run. The historic Pony express trail is where young men once rode horses to carry mail from Missouri to California in the unprecedented time of only 10 days. The race course follows a portion of the actual trail located in remote western Utah. It is 100% dirt road with a good bit of gravel thrown in. There is not much climb, only about 3,000 feet. We ran 58.2 miles out, turned around and retraced the route back. Crew is required as water is limited to the two manned aid stations. A running friend Elise Harrington who is also an accomplished adventure racer, with many races from around the world, agreed to crew me. We both flew in to Salt Lake City. I had brought the GPS to assure we wouldn't get lost. Well, lets describe it like this... we ended up taking a 2 hour tour around salt Lake city, first arriving at a the end of a subdivision circle where the houses had not even been built yet. Second go round brought us south of the city to the driveway of a horse farm! go figure. By now it was 6pm and I was wanting to find the race start. Finally, at 8pm we found the race start and race director Davy Crockett. The starts are staggered to minimize dust on the road from crews. I was in the 7am start, I needed the extra hour of sleep.
The start was a nice rolling downhill which tricked me into thinking my legs were going to be OK. at the bottom the road stretched out straight as far as the eye could see. I am not a big fan of flat running but, I knew my tendon I would be better off. At this point I was thinking to my self how much I would love to see some wild horses. With in 5 minutes, about a half a mile to the North....there they were in all their glory. Every color represented....grey, bay, cream, black and brown. The stallion was obviously the grey! Wow.....this was an incredible sight, one I will cherish forever. I looked off to the distant mountains and felt very alive and focused on those mountains and about 20 miles later I was climbing over them. The grade up was runnable, I power walked and shuffled this. On the backside was a long downhill where I rolled right along passing a few people. The weather was perfect. Crews would pass, I would see Elise every 4 miles or so and there was a lot of camaraderie, everyone drove slowly keeping dust to a minimum. I felt good until about 60 miles at this time hot spots were forming on my feet and worst yet, the tendinitis of my left foot flexor tendon was flaring up. I stopped briefly changing shoes and socks and retaping my feet. Ten minutes later, the different socks were aggravating the tendon. I knew to stop and try different socks, the cuff around the ankle was too tight and any pressure on the tendon would result in terrible inflammation. As the long night approached I grew tired and my legs were dead. I resorted to a power walk shuffle on and off, I was slower now and stops for Elise grew closer. By 2am I had asked her to only go a mile. I was so mentally and physically beat that I needed to see those tail lights. And that's what I did for the rest of the race......run to the lights. I did have a high spot upon reaching the big return climb. I ran down fast and keep the roll going for a least 5 miles, I believe those were my fastest miles of the race. Running strong at 80 miles is very invigorating and gives one a big boost. at this point, looking at my watch, I realized a sub 24 could happen if I pushed, so, I ran. We were on target until I thought were 3 miles from the finish when in fact we were 6. A big disappointment, but I gave it my best finished in 24:23 6th overall. 27 starters, 14 finishers. This is a fast course, totally runnable, but, you must prepare yourself for the long, straight stretches. However, the immense open spaces were so beautiful with the mountains pared up against the crystal blue sky!
I cannot thank Elise enough for her endless energy and ability to go without sleep to crew me. I can only imagine how difficult it must be to drive one mile stop, crew and repeat. this was truly a team effort. Elise and I stayed at the finish to watch some of the other runners come in. Elise then drove us to the airport. We didn't get lost this time!