Sunday, September 14, 2008

Plain Report

Plain 100 45 Mile Endurance Run

Rattler and I got to experience first hand why only 14% of those who start the Plain 100 actually finish. We both ended up with DNF's at mile 45 after 17 hours on the course. That said we really had a very enjoyable day of running. We didn't quit due to injury, sickness, getting lost, or lack of will to go on. We stopped because we knew that we were not having the kind of day that it takes to complete such a difficult and challenging course.

Gilles, Michael, and Daniel at bfast
Tony & Steve
King Arthur
Heading up to Maverick Saddle

Lost Lake
Lost Lake
Trail Scat

Dan, Ben, & Daniel at summit of Klone Peak
Gilles (Bob)

Trail Scat in hyper -drive
Entiat River 2000 foot elevation
Entiat River downstream
Tommy Creek waterfall
Climb to Signal Peak

Moonrise at Signal Peak

We arrived late Friday evening to the Thousand Trails Lodge in Plain which serves as the meeting place, kitchen, Search & Rescue (SAR) base, and start/finish line. Our carpool gang consisted of Rattler, Michelle, Steve, and myself.

The Plain course is off the charts tough. Just to make it a bit more of a challenge they don't provide trail markings and you need to self support. There is only one "aid station" at mile 55 where runners can get aid from a crew or restock from a drop bag. SAR stations were located along the course however the volunteers would not provide aid or directions to participants. Runners could only receive aid from other runners SAR would provide your position in the race. This years race had approximately 25-27 participants.

The race started on Saturday at 5:00AM. The following photos were taken as we worked our way up to Maverick Saddle, Klone Peak, and Signal Peak. Rattler and I had planned to run the entire course together. My first setback on the run happened between Lost Lake and the start of trail 1426. I had a stuff sack swinging from the back of my backpack with my gortex running coat in it. We ate some food at Lost Lake and when I put everything back into my pack and zipped it up I put both zipper pulls on the top of the pack. With Rattler in the lead we ran toward trail 1426. Along that 2.6 mile section the weight of my jacket swinging back and forth pulled open the zipper. It started to feel like the stuff sack was swinging around a lot more than normal so I reached back and discovered that it had come unzipped. Rattler zipped it up for me but we failed to check for anything missing until we made trail 1426. That's when I discovered that my map and my headlamps had fallen out of my pack. Our only hope was that another runner would pick them up.

As we made the top of Klone Peak which involves a 1 mile total out and back we hoped that we would run into runners on our way back down that had found my stuff. Sadly we were far enough ahead that even after eating some food at the summit and chatting with some other runners that were at the summit before us we did not see anyone when me made it back down to the trail. At that point I became Rattlers "trail bitch" because he had directions and a map plus an extra headlamp he was willing to let me use.

From Klone we ran 11 miles from 6820 feet elevation to 2000 feet elevation at the Entiat River. We loaded up on water at this point because the course was dry for 14 miles as you climbed 7 miles and 5000 feet up to Signal Peak. A majority of the climb was condensed into the first four to five miles. Rattler and I both loaded up on 150 Fluid OZ of water then started the climb. In hindsight that was about 40 OZ too much water.

Rattler was fighting some stomach issues so the climb didn't start to well for him. At that point I was climbing strong and feeling good. With Rattler lagging behind me I tried to moderate my pace and keep him in sight. I watched my Garmin 205 and when we reached 4500 feet in elevation I waited and broke the news to Rattler. I must have hit him at a low point because he offered to just have me go on ahead and leave him. I knew that I could make it up to Signal much quicker but decided to stick with our plan and run as "amibros". Turns out this was a really good decision as I started to lose my legs very near the summit of Signal Peak.

As we watched the sun set and a beautiful full moon rise we started to discuss our situation. We both agreed that if we didn't feel any better than we did at that time that we should drop at Deep Creek where Michelle and Steve were waiting for us as our crew. After working through a couple of more unexpected yet significant climbs we started the decent toward Maverick Saddle in darkness. The trail was very chunky and rough and because we were both limited to just one light each rather than a head lamp and waist lamp we were unable to run.

We worked our way along the Billy Creek trail and about 1.75 miles down the trail we saw some headlamps ahead of us. The lights flashed at us a couple of times then stopped. After a while we heard some voices and saw what looked like a vehicle. Turned out we had come to the Tyee Ridge SAR checkpoint. The Tyee Ridge checkpoint was 7 miles away from Maverick Saddle. We decided to drop. Turns out the checkpoint was 100 miles drive back to the finish if you took the roads. Ratter and I decided to make the two hour drive instead of suffer for another 7 miles over 2 hours and then waiting for a ride. Surprisingly Arthur one of the SAR volunteers handed me my map and headlamps that had fallen out of my pack. Another runner Melissa had picked them up on the trail and left them with one of the earlier SAR checkpoints. Thanks Melissa! Rattler and I were not the only runners that dropped at Tyee. Since we were the last two runners on the course we did have the advantage of not having to wait for any more runners before the SAR folks headed back to the start/finish line. King Arthur, and Joe Lee, and another runner whom I didn't know had been waiting for up to four hours. The SAR vehicle was packed with all the gear they required to do their job so it was going to be tough to shoehorn four runners and three SAR volunteers into the vehicle. The Chevrolet Tahoe was so overloaded that the suspension was making creaking sounds when we turned corners to the left on the windy gravel roads. SAR Arthur and his wife made arrangements to meet another SAR vehicle to lighten the load. We meet the other SAR vehicle and I jumped out and rode with them. I think these vehicles had more computers and radio gear than the first mission to the moon. Turns out it was a 100 mile drive to get back to the Lodge from Tyee where we dropped. It was worth the two hour drive.

Meanwhile Michelle and Steve had quite a day of there own. They saw us off at the start at 5:00 AM and then jumped in the car and drove to Cle Elum so Steve could run the Cle Elum 50K. Michelle acted as crew for Steve. The drive took about 1.5 hours one way. Steve ran the race in about 6.5 hours and then they headed back to Plain where they set up for crew duty at Deep Creek Campground. They had a propane lantern and two cook stoves. They ended up cooking grilled cheese sandwiches for many of the runners and some support folks. Karen W. was the official aid station volunteer at Deep Creek. She directed runners to their drop bags and worked on runners blistered feet. Rattler and I expected to make it to Deep Creek around 11:00 PM. We had the SAR folks at Tyee radio that we had dropped so Michelle and Steve wouldn't end up waiting around for us.

The Tyee group of dropped runners arrived at the Lodge around 11:45 PM. We grabbed a little bit of food and Michelle and Steve arrived with Shawn and Tony in our car. We chatted for a short while and then headed to the cottage we had rented for showers and a good nights sleep. Michelle cooked Rattler and I our own grilled cheese sandwiches when we went over to the cottage. They were the best!

I will post the results when available. I think a new course record was broken.


Darrell said...

Sorry that the race turned out this way, but at least the views are stunning.

Joe said...

What an adventure, Eric. Thanks for the photos...I'm glad your camera didn't fall out of the backpack!!

This is just amazing...I'm sure you made the right call in the situation. Hope you and Rob had a special time together...such a shared adventure is not soon forgotten.

Laura H said...

Nice job - and good to know when to fold. I saw Michelle and Steve at Cle Elum and had a nice chat with her at AS2. I look forward to seeing you all at the turn around next weekend at Baker Lake!

Ryan said...

Great pics! Running 100 miles is hard enough nevermind finding ur own way on the trail and not having aid until 55 miles, congrats for taking the Plain 100challenge.

Thomas said...

A 14% success rate? Blimey, that's one tough race. I thought you guys would make it, with all your preparation, but of course you can never tell in a n ultra.

I love the photos, though. Simply beautiful!

Blog My said...

Congrats Eric to you and Rob, most Ultra runners wouldn't even toe the line for that one....

Now the good news is the seed has been planted, you scoped out the first half and WE ALL Know you and Rob will be back on that course again next year :-) to finish the the job.

Great jobs guys... love the pics! Maybe I will finally be able to meet you guys in 2009' I will be coming out to run Olga's new 100 the Oregon 100 I believe in sept/oct ish.

Recover well

Jon said...

Sorry you guys had a tough time at Plain, but for the miles you guys were able to cover - I'd say you both did good, especially being handicapped with only one map and set of headlamps.

olga said...

Beautiful trails for sure.

Gotta' Run! said...

You guys did a great job out there - I know you'll be back again next year! I'm also glad you didn't lose your camera - those are fantastic pictures.


Gotta Run said...

I don't even know what to say. I am always amazed at all that you do. The course sounds insane for anyone!! Killer for sure.

Most people could learn a thing from you and know when to call it quits.

BTW - you do have the best crew ever.

robtherunner said...

Nice wrap up of the race. So, when do you want to start pulling bricks up Section Line?

Journey to a Centum said...

Rob - We can haul 2 bricks up section line then haul 2 bricks down for a total of four trips. We should start next weekend and keep doing it every weekend until Plain 2009. Yeah that's it! Section line will look like an overused trail by the time we are done. Heck we may even look overused.

Robin - Rob and I are certifiably insane and good members in standing in the Dumb Ass hall of fame.

Olga - We really enjoyed every mile. Even the tough ones.

Jon - Don't be sorry. I believe that you start this race expecting to drop and if you get real lucky you finish. We had a good run.

Bob - I will be down there to run it or volunteer so don't let me down! BE There!

Thomas - As I said, with all the tough runs I've been doing I thought I could do anything. The self sustainment beat me. I have a much better perspective for next year.

Ryan - Thanks, it's truly a bugger of a challenge and one that I'd like to complete.

Joe - Glad you enjoyed the photos. Thanks for all your interest and kind words.

Darrell - We had a great 45 miles and look forward to making it happen in 2009!

SherpaHerb said...

You've had an amazing year so far and you're not even finished yet! I don't know how you plan to top this schedule next year.

runningtwig said...

That sounds like a crazy day...but I like your attitude about it. I've read descriptions of that race and it sounds insane!!! Good luck this weekend!

Donald said...

Awesome pics, Eric! That's one crazy run. Like I told Rob - I'm amazed that anyone finishes that thing.

Sarah Elaine said...

OK, so when a successful Death Race solo finisher says "The Plain course is off the charts tough" I shudder.

Great photos though.

Meghan said...

Damn, this sucks. I'm sorry to read this, Eric! If this was really tough for you, I can't imagine what the course must be like.

Absolutely phenomenal photos, though.

Amibros? Amibros! Hilarious and goofy.

Smile and get back out there as soon as you're ready,

James said...

hi eric

it was so great seeing you and the gang 17 times yesterday! your cheering really helped to push me along. thanks

and cograts on taking the first step in the process of finishing plain. you've gotta atleast try first, so many folks don't even do that.

james 1 for 2 at plain varner