Saturday, July 18, 2009

Plain 100 Mile Loop 2 Training Run

Play this song as you read the blog. It goes with the German theme of Leavenworth near Plain

Sitting on a large section of rock-fall on the trail above Chikamin Tie we shut our headlamps off and gazed to the stars. As our eyes adjusted it seemed as though millions of more stars had been created. It was as if the Big Dipper had been painted in front of us. Galaxies could be seen, a meteorite streaking to earth. Those few moments gave all the reason in the world to be running 47 miles through the night in the Entiat Mountains on loop 2 of the Plain 100 course.
Giant Toad seen on Plain 100 course. This is real! Really!
Trail marked in yellow is the loop 2 course we ran
Profile for loop 2 starts at around mile 56 of this graph.

Joe Lee, Steve Stoyles, Rob “Rattler” Hester, and myself headed up to Plain on Friday afternoon for a training run on loop two of the Plain 100 course. We ate dinner in Leavenworth and made it to the Deep Creek Campground trailhead at about 6:30 PM. We changed into our running clothes, readied our gear, and set out on our adventure at 7:00 PM.

We had been warned about the large toads we might see on the course. We were not disappointed having the good fortune to see not one but two of the monsters. We did experience one wild animal attack. Seems the runners in front of me spooked a roosting sparrow out of the trees in the dark of night. The startled bird then made a beeline for my headlamp and landed on my head! This evoked a very loud “GET IT OFF ME!” as I bent forward trying to brush the bird off my head. Rattler had heard the bird fluttering behind him as it made its kamikaze approach straight at my head. He turned in time to see me whacking away at my Camelbak hose and bite valve that had flipped up onto my head when I stopped and went into my “bird defense actions”. I’m glad I can be of entertainment to my running buddies out on the trail.

Plain 100 has a 14% finisher’s rate. The course is not marked at any point along the way. You must use a map and written instructions. There is only one (1) drop bag point at Deep Creek around mile 56 where you can see your crew otherwise you must self-support. Course officials don’t want any outsiders on the course and that includes family members trying to get a photo. A racer last year was told that he would have been DQ’ed had he not DNF’ed because his dad was out trying to snap a picture of him on the course. Search and Rescue (SAR) folks are located at various points to record your progress. They will not tell you if you are going the wrong way and they will not give you directions. They will tell you how many people are in front of you and behind you. The time limit for the event is 36 hours. I’ll admit taking pause at around mile 34 of this run and asking myself how on earth I thought I could complete this loop which is really the easiest of the two loops after running loop 1. Chalk it up to the fact that my pack had about twice what I really needed in it and that this night run and the sleep deprivation was creating a realistic scenario for race day. That’s when I remembered to just stay stubborn on race day and focus on the finish.

Joe and Steve were running stronger than Rob and I so we agreed that they would run the last 7 miles to the Deep Creek start and get the car for us. With White River 50 Mile race next weekend for Rob and I we felt it would be best to stop short considering we were both fairly close to the end of our running rope anyway. It took us 14 hours to run 40 miles. Time to get our game on!

I’ve included a few pictures at major turns in the course so others and I can imprint these points in our brains for race day.

Steve Stoyles, me, & Rob "Rattler" Hester before the brutality
Joe Lee from Oregon joined us for this run.
Sign on the way out from Deep Creek on Trail 1548
You basically continue straight or stay right here from 1548 to 1534. You can see the trail between the tree with the sign and Rob.
OK so the toads are normal size but really fat perhaps due to the high number of mosquitoes.
Important stay right to Chikamin Tie. Wide spot in trail with fairly large creek (Chikamin) ahead if you pass the signs
Joe getting water at one of the many streams along the course.
Daylight photo from 2008 of the rock fall where we viewed the stars.
Night photo of the rock fall this year.
Right turn at Mad River Trail 1409.1 from 1409.2
Right turn on Alder Ridge Trail 1523
Sunrise on Alder Ridge
Morning view from Alder Ridge Summit
1523 opens to dirt road. 150 yards ORV sign at x-ing ahead
ORV sign, go down the trail
Two (2) miles of road
End of 2 mile section trail 1523 straight ahead
My torn Brooks Cascadia resulting from a poky stick on the trail
Rattler contemplating why he runs ultras.

Thanks for stopping by! Stay ON it!


robtherunner said...

It was a great adventure! Can't wait for the next one!

Backofpack said...

To quote a guy in a car with a cigarette one time on one of my long runs: "You guys are hardcore man, hardcore..."

Anonymous said...

I had a great time. That training is going to make a big difference on race night. Thanks so much for letting me come along. Good luck on loop 1 day.


Thomas said...

The race should probably be renamed Plain Mad, but it sure sounds like you will have a memorable experience out there.

runningtwig said...

Great pictures...especially the giant toad! You guys go on some epic runs up there.

So it took 10 years for running to click for you? I was afraid of that. I'm in it for the long haul...whether it ever really clicks or not!

Jenny, Maniac #401 said...

Kinda glad I ran my own double!

Donald said...

Very cool pics. I'll have to beware of man-eating toads if I'm ever in WA.

runliarun said...

Brutal indeed. Few words and great deeds.

Anonymous said...

naughty, naughty... posting picture map for all to see.


Darrell said...

14% is pretty tough odds there.

With toads that size, that bird must have looked like a teradactyl.

scott keeps running said...

You are the toughest guys I know.

Which isn't saying much - everyone I work with has immune system deficiencies. :)

Journey to a Centum said...

ss - ahh but it's what is not shown that really matters!

Addy said...

Such a beautiful but tricky run! I love all the photos :)

Anonymous said...

No trail markings? Oh man, I'd be in deep trouble! Nice job on the run. Way to make it to the finish line. And in the future, watch out for those attack sparrows. I hear they are very dangerous. ;)

olga said...

The idea of no trail marking, depsite my getting lost on a well marked courses, gets me really excited. Really. I just like to see people more often than once in 50 miles:) but you boys have fun!

Anonymous said...

So where is that Chikamin to Pond tie picture?

Joe L

Sunshine Girl said...


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