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Title:Some Like it Hot! -- Burning River 100M
Date:Saturday July 30th, 2011
Author:Juli Aistars
Rolling roads, towpaths, rocky and rooty trails, stream crossings galore, mud, steep hills, grass, gravel, boulders, forests, stairs, cornfields, log ducking and jumping -- this would describe the course. I was surprised as I was in 2009 because it was, again, not as I expected.

I came back to conquer the course after being the proud owner of the "DFL" title in 2009. "Conquer" is a relative term. When I signed up this year, I had no thoughts of USATF, until I got a little nudge from a running friend, "Sometimes no one signs up, and you can win the age group, even with a slower time", is what I heard. I signed up for USATF for the first time in my life. Anything can happen in 100 miles :)

Val would crew me, but there would be no hard-driving pacer this year. Julie Bane did all but push me over the finish line when she paced in 2009. USATF rules are "no pacer, no electronics" to even the field. I thought of how proud Laz would be... I was on my own at the Keys and Iron Horse -- why not? Maybe I am afraid of getting lost, like Julie and I did in the cornfields in the pouring rain at BR in 2009... Maybe I am afraid to be in the forest alone at night, trying to find my way and hearing limbs cracking in the woods, wondering if my body would ever be found...

It will be a learning and growing experience. Face your fears. Right.

Beth Hall and I talked about BR in the previous weeks. We were so excited about going. A few days before the race, she let me know about her injury and "no go" for the race. Getting to the starting line seems easy enough, but we never know what unexpected curves life will throw us. I was sad that Beth would not be there and I would not get to meet her son, who had planned to crew her.

At 0430, I checked in by Squire's Castle, where we would start the race. It was dark but I managed to see Kevin Dorsey. As we lined up for the start, I found Mary Gorski. This was just like 2009 when I started out with Mary and Nikki and some others from IL. At 0500 we were off. Mary introduced me to Bill Thom, who I only knew online and had never managed to meet in person, although we have been at many of the same races and have mutual friends. USATF rules dictate that you post your last name and age on your back. Mary got creative and pinned it on her "backside" :).

I heard someone call my name. It was Liz who I ran with at Hawthorne Park 12 hour in June. Let the fun begin, and the stories! Val was sleeping in and meeting me at mile 23. Keith Straw passed by with his pink gaiters. Staci recognized him from BW, where she crewed. He was wearing his pink tutu when she last saw him! Keith wondered if we and the 40 or 50 runners ahead were going out too fast.

As the sun came up, the fog started to burn off. The countryside was beautiful and green. Into the trails and multiple creek crossings, which I didn't remember. When Mary asked if we crossed streams in 2009, I couldn't say. Mary is younger than me, so I was relieved it was not just me...

It is getting hot and humid.

I met Amy Hayes before the 23 mile aid station. She is USATF, age 50. She is running strong. We talk. She is from Colorado and has run Leadville. "I thought I would try something different," she says. She is very nice and I know she will take the age group. As she leaves the aid station at mile 23, she says, "I'll see you again." I know that is the last I will see her, and it was. She ran just over 24 hours. Congratulations Amy!

It gets hotter. The desert hat with the ice pocket in the back helps me through. This was an Alan Holtz suggestion. I meet Hope and Steve, two young people who have agreed to stick together, come hell or high water, for their first 100 mile run. I see them several times -- we encourage each other. I see them last at the Covered Waqon, when they are 4 miles ahead of me, having already done the loop. Congratulations Hope and Steve on an excellent run!

"You're keeping up a good pace," he says as he sails smoothly past me. "But yours is better!" I reply. I try to keep up on the trails and I manage. We introduce ourselves. It's Randy Dietz, 61 year old runner extraordinnaire. Spending some miles with Randy was the most fun I had at BR. "Watch out for the hornet's nest," someone warns. Hmmmm... Aaaahhhhhgggggg!!! I scream as they swarm my legs angrily and drive their stingers through the Zensai stockings and my exposed skin. Randy gets a kick out of the screaming. I run as fast as I can and I get away. My legs are burning, burning with about 8 stings. Then I hear Randy behind me, "Ouch, I got stung in the ankle." He apologizes for laughing. He says it sounds like I was being murdered. I admit that I overreact a bit, but it is my way of coping :). It did get me moving faster...Other runners come by and tell of being stung in the forehead and elsewhere. The hornets had a "field day."

I forget to get my light from Val at mile 53. I have to make it to 63 before I see him again. I ask when the sun sets. Suzanne Pokorny goes by, pacing someone. I have never met her in person and she is SO cute! She offers me a handheld. I thank her but tell her I think I'll make it. Randy is running with me again. He doesn't say so, but I know he is sticking with me until I get close to the aid station because of the light situation. There is something very special about ultrarunners. My handheld stops working later in the pitch black forest, and someone gives me a cheap handheld and says I can keep it. I didn't get his name... That light worked very well. So many kind souls among ultrarunners...

It cools down at about 10PM, but still feels humid. The heat of the day and other factors have ended the run prematurely for many.

I never have a problem with my stomach or feet, but I get very tired. I take some short naps at the Covered Bridge. I am beginning to wonder if I am destined for another DFL. From this vantaqe point, I can only hope...

I am still moving at sunrise, albeit slowly. The day is heating up, promising to be almost as hot and humid as the day before.

In the last 20 miles, my feet hurt. They were wet most of the run, and the heels are sloughing off. A few blisters pop as I shuffle. I meet Tim Adair, who I had only known from FB. He has seven children! He tells me how his feet feel like tacks are being driven through the toes. Tales of woe abound at this stage of the race, at least among the stragglers. This is his 3rd 100 mile finish, and something always goes wrong after mile 60 or so. At some point, he is able to run again and leaves me behind.

It gets hotter. I left my hat behind, and I see how much protection it offered.

I leave the last aid station, still being passed by other runners. At least I know I can finish. My feet hurt and I want to be done. I get a run going, even with blisters popping under my toes, and I start passing runners. They say, "Good job!, Keep it going!" I catch up to Tim and urge him to come along. He does and says, "You found your run!" The finish line is about 2.5 to 3 miles away -- don't forget the extra .8 :). I never look back and I feel ecstatic as I cross the finish line and everyone shouts encouragement. An hour better than the DFL of 2009 -- I'll take it!

Sherry Meador and Leonard Martin are there. They timed out but look as happy as can be. Paul L was the only one of the three 2011 Vol Staters who finished both the Vol State and BR100 within a week or so. Congratulations Paul!

Val and I get started on our 7 hour ride home. We stop at a random rest stop and run into Bill and Michelle Thom. Small world. I say, "Val, they are runners, I know they are." I ask Michelle if they were at BR and she says they were. I did not recognize Bill at first. I find out he finished under 24 hours. Congratulations Bill! He looks no worse for the wear.

I love this event! Thank you Joe and all of his 300+ volunteers who put on the Burning River 100! Congratulations to the winners, finishers and all who toed the line!

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Posted:August 1st, 2011 9:26 pm
Last Update:August 1st, 2011 9:31 pm
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