Sunday, September 14, 2008

Luke Nelson & Evan Honeyfield Break Matt's Teton Circumnavigation Speed Record

on the way home from my mnt bike ride yesterday i got a call from luke nelson. i posted on friday that luke had contacted me that he and even honeyfield would attempt to break my speed record circumnavigating the tetons. below is their report.
Saturday the thirteenth of September started to the sound of my alarm clock at 4:30, "this is insane", I thought. "Who in their right mind gets up at 4:30 in the morning on a Saturday, after a very busy week, to drive 2 and a half hours, to go run all the way around the Tetons". "You are not right mentally," I told myself as I got in the shower to wake up before the drive. I had packed the night before so I hopped out of the shower and after kissing my wife on the cheek, loaded in the car and started driving. From Pocatello it is about 45 min. to Idaho Falls where I picked my running partner for the day, Evan Honeyfield. As we drove to Grand Teton National Park Evan told me that this would be his first time running an ultradistance, but he has a 2:28 marathon pr so I figured he would be fine. I am also pretty much a virgin to ultrarunning only having ran over the 26 mile mark 3 times previous, and all were shorter than 34 miles. We had decided to do the route from the Lupine Meadows Parking lot and run counter-clockwise, the same direction that Matt, and Jared Campbell had ran it. We pulled in to the parking lot at 8:00 and with in few minutes were ready to go. We took the start pictures: insert p8100148.jpg, p810049, and p8100147 (evan on the left myself on the right). (The one that has the glare did 0:00:00)

We started off pretty conservative, and since we didn't warm up like you would for a race we were a little slow going down the parking lot and down the road for a bit before we turned off and went past the Moose Ponds. It was pretty cool and the long sleeves that we were wearing felt pretty comfortable until we got about to Inspiration Point, it seemed like somebody turned up the heat as soon as we began to climb away from the lake and into Cascade Canyon. Things went very well all the way up Cascade, but we slowed a bit after the turn up the South Fork of Cascade. We passed several hikers on this part of the trail that were carrying pretty heavy loads and appeared envious of the very light loads that we were carrying (Evan had an Ultimate Direction single bottle waste pack, and I had two Nathan handhelds that we filled up fairly frequently from the abundant water throughout most of the run). As we neared Hurricane pass we passed a group of backpackers that we studying the map, plotting their travel for the day. As they looked up to see two runners we were positive that they were thinking "what the...?". Things continued to go pretty well all the way up Hurricane which we topped at 2:15:03 were we met some very friendly and encouraging hikers. Things started to get interesting for me as we began to climb towards Buck pass on the Shelf Trail out of Alaska Basin, I had been working very hard to keep up on gu and water but I started to feel heavy legs and the suffering began. We topped Buck Pass at 2:56:55 and as we climbed towards Static Pass? the wheels came off my bus. We crossed a couple of small snow patches and I was forced to powerhike because I just had no gas. I popped some gu roctane and water, and by the time we topped out I felt much better. The descent into Death Canyon went pretty well, fatigue did bring some stumbles and a rolled ankle for me, but neither of which slowed us down much. We crossed paths with lots of day hikers as we neared Phelps Lake and got plenty of odd looks as we motored by. We saw a bull moose just before the lake, which was cool, but we didn't stall long to sight see.

Things got really interesting as we started on the Valley Trail, I had been told that that section was "flat as a pancake and you can really cruise." It was pretty flat but neither of us had much left in the tank, the easiest traveling part of the trail was really hard. At Taggart Lake we switched to hike to ascend to the lake, and then struggled to regain a solid pace around the lake. Both of us really hit the wall climbing to Bradley Lake and alternated walking, shuffling and running frequently. It got pretty ugly as we climbed to the Amphitheater trail, at one point after walking for quite a while we approached some other hikers and Evan started to sprint like a madman at them, he motored past them and kept going nearly to the junction with Amphitheater Lake Trail. I was really energized to hit the junction and started a very determined pace towards the parking lot 1.7 miles away, right near the end it Evan hit a wall harder than he had ever experienced. He said that he felt like he was hallucinating and was amazed that his body kept moving. I had made a small logistical error that may lead to some confusion, due to our light loads neither one of us had the ability to carry the camera, so as I passed the sign where we began the run I stopped my stopwatch, sprinted to the car (halfway down the parking lot) and hurried back to take the picture with the time of day. The stopwatch read 6:10:11 and the time of day read 2:26 (after retrieving the camera from the car).
The actual time it took us to do the run was 6:10:11, we hobbled to the car after taking the pictures and sat there for several minutes trying to recover. We then loaded up and drove to the stream that the is crossed on the way into the parking lot to soak the legs for a few minutes. We then met Evan's wife at the Moos visitor center for some delicious veggies, sandwiches and gatorade.
All In all it was an amazing run, by far one of the most scenic that I have ever done, hopefully the new record holds for a little while, but Matt has already said he is going to get back out there and give it another go. I am soo glad that Matt threw the challenge out there, and it is a must do run. The next time I do it though I think I might slow down and take in some of the incredibly, awesome scenery!!
i'm impressed with the time. that is fast for 34 rugged miles, no support and 8,200ft of gain at elevation. that is a 'solid time'.

once again congrats guys! impressive effort.


Ty Draney said...

Nice work guys. I was in the neighborhood yesterday. Hiking around string lake with the family. Saw a moose and bear. Good running. Mateo, it looks like if the weather holds we'll have to go after their record.

Trail Goat said...

That's awesome that they went for and got the record. Time to take it back, Matt.

I'm wondering when a lady is going to step up and put down a mark to beat.

saschasdad said...

A lady you say, Goat? Go ahead, we're waiting.

Solid time by those guys. It's definitely more intriguing to me now to go run the loop. Road trip in the near future, perhaps?

Trail Goat said...

I've got the skirt... but still haven't saved up enough money for the operation. We'll have to have some other lady set it first.

Anonymous said...

Luke's write-up is nearly accurate. The run was an awesome introduction to the ultra world for me as this run was one of the most scenic runs of my life. I made two huge rookie mistakes resulted in some tough last miles. Firstly, having only ever hiked approximately 20% of the course I simply failed to study the route. Secondly, I ran with a single bottle. Luke’s main inaccuracy was the “abundance of water”. We both ended up drinking from very suspect streams late in the run. I tried to nurse a single bottle of water from one of the last “good” sources high in death canyon a little too long as I thought we were farther along the course than we actually were and I really did not want giardia. Initially this caused slight calf cramps, then orange urine, followed by being light headed, and finally tunnel vision. Luke was a huge support and when I asked to walk the incline out of Taggert Lake when I started feeling really light headed, he agreed. Had he left me I may have ended the run.
Overall, a great experience. I look forward to more ultra type runs. On the right day, with rested legs, on a nearly snowless course, and with proper hydration, I think someone can run sub 5:30 for this course. Good luck to all those who make the attempt.

Evan Honeyfield

Hart said...

evan thanks for your take on it.

Michael said...

Awesome job guys, way to get it done. I'm glad to see others taking up the challenge. I wonder how long it will take for someone to crack the six hour mark?