i was lucky enough to be in the ozark mountains for steve kirk's multi day ultra, the 3 days of syllamo which started on march 14th, 2008. ty draney had invited me to join him as a two person team for a 3 day ultra in mountain view, arkansas.
Day 1 - 50km (measured 32.8 miles)
Day 2 - 50 Miles (about 58 miles for ty and i)
Day 3 - 12km (measured 13.8 miles)
at check-in they informed ty and i we were the only registered team. with no point in winning the team division we figured we would run together as long as it made sense and see what happened. we both hoped that we would be able to run hard together and win the races. it was not to be.
Day 1 – 50km (32.8 miles actually) with 8,000+ feet of elevation gain (i'd say more like 6,000)
here is the rub. we were running 3 days, but anyone could show up and just run 1 day. meaning they didn't have to save anything for the 50 mile "killer" the following day.
as we started out it was ty and I running behind ponytail, a local guy we found out was 2nd at the long running syllamo 50km and camo, last year’s winner from kansas (named for his camo shorts). Just behind us was ashley nordell’s ironman husband josh nordell. i felt very relaxed and contrasted it to the starting pace at the orcas island 50km i had run just a month earlier, which seemed almost frantic by comparison. this was good, since we still had a 50 mile and 20km race.
camo dropped off pace pretty quickly and after about two hours josh let us get a few minutes up on him. following ponytail john muir was great because he knew the trail and we were certain not to get lost. i'd say the trail was sufficiently marked, but not overly marked. after a couple hours i asked ty “when do you want to put it down and hammer?”. with the course being a nice loop we discussed maybe the half way aid station. well on one of the next climbs ty decided to go. john was very pleasant and stepped to the side of the trail as we ran past him up hill.
the course was awesome 99.9% singletrack. the weather was probably in the 60’s for most of the race and there was no sun.. yet. so we “put it down”. putting time on the whole race. i was running the finishing scenarios. it would be a glorious scene as ty and I would cross the finishline together. i thought holding hands would be weird so i'd stick my nathan bottle out and he'd hold that – team nuun victorious.
we had run about 25 miles i'd say when the sun came out to shine on us. this made me smile, and made my lemon lime nuun taste that much better. it felt like a glorious 70 degrees and i was in heaven as we ran the amazing trails of the ozarks. we were about 3hrs into the race and ty started to slow down a bit. his stomach had stopped digesting what he was consuming. we slowed our roll as he dry heaved. we would walk a bit, he'd try to throw up, then we'd try to run, he'd try to throw up, we'd walk again. this went on for a while until he finally emptied the contents of his stomach on the trail. buckets of water and gels spewed out on the ozark trail. i comforted him the best i could, asked if he needed anything and tried to get him running again. he of course apologized perfusely. i said “don’t worry about it, we’ll still winning”. that didn’t last much longer as 3rd place john muir soon caught and passed us. i coaxed ty along trying to run slow, but he disappeared around the corner so I stopped.
now the logic going through both our heads is this. staying a team means nothing since there is no other teams racing. if we can’t win together, then i figured one of us should go for it.
“ty what do you think? are you going to come out of this and be able to run again? or are you done? i'll wait if you can pull out of this.” these were tormenting questions for sure, but with john looking good they had to answered immedietally. i thought, "if ty can pull out of this it would be cool to chase 1st place with him. if he can't i need to go now or i will run out of trail to catch the guy." after some agonizing internal debate on both of our parts we were caught by josh nordell. ugh.
ty could feel my angst and finally said "just go!". i sped away intent on catching john. which i did after a few minutes. i sped past thanking him for letting me by and picked up the pace. he hung tough and closed on me a few times. i held him off and hit the road a bit confused as to where i was or which direction to go. before hitting the field to the finishline i checked over my shoulder and didn't see him. i ran a wide route following the flower markings on the field to make sure no one would claim i cut the course. people near the finish started to cheering as i ran towards the finishline thinking my race was over. then it seemed like they were cheering really excited. like something was happening. i checked over my shoulder and ten feet behind me in a full sprint was john muir! without thought i ran as though i was running from the cops and made it across the finish about 2 seconds before john. what a terrible way to finsih 50km. i had no idea how he closed all that distance so i asked "did you cut the course?". it really seemed like the only way he could have come from nowhere. i mean i checked a couple times.. on straight sections too. then a little bit beside myself with his move at the end i said "you tried to skunk me at the end!" john claimed "i wouldn't have done that".
my time was 4:22:59 (results) and i don't think it's a stretch to say that had i raced from start to finish, i could have run sub-4hrs. and thus started the "redemption list" for the 3 days of syllamo... it gets longer, trust me. coming soon ~ the day 2 - 50 mile race report.
nuun ultragoddess ashley nordell won day 1 for the woman in 4:59:45. she's fast! congrats ashley.
** disclaimer: after the race i hung out with john. he seemed like a great guy.
shoes: montrail odyssey with teko ecopoly socks (no blisters)
electrolytes: nuun lemon lime
fuel: clif shots and clif bloks
general health between the 3 races: i could not have done it without my amazing grass!