I have been wanting to start a blog for some time now. I have so many new adventures with all of our different trail running friends and family, and I get to run on so many new trails, I thought it would be fun to pass on my trail reports, race reports, photos, mileage reports, gear, etc. I probably won’t ever get to interview any elite athletes or race winners, but that’s ok, this will be the everyday stories and adventures of a Trail Maniac. First I have to say that I had my first article all written out a few months ago, but then my friend Gunhild Swanson asked my wife Kelly and I if we would be interested in crewing and being backup pacer for her attempt to be the oldest women to finish the Western States Endurance 100 race in under 30 hours. Who in their right mind would say no to that! I hope you enjoy my little tale….
Initially Gunhild entered the WSER 100 lottery but she did not make it. I know she was disappointed, but typical Gunhild, she was very pragmatic about missing the lottery. Unbeknownst to us, WSER race director Craig Thornley was discussing her goal with one of the sponsors, and Scott and Judith Roberds with Microlumen gave Gunhild one of their sponsor entries. When Gunhild and I first talked about her adventure at the beginning of this year, she talked about how much fun she had running on a 24 hour team with her grandson Turlan and her son Chris last year. She and Turlan had run quite a few laps at night through Riverside State Park in Spokane, WA, and I think it was the highlight of her year. She wanted to ask Chris and Turlan if they would pace her at WSER 100, and she asked if my wife Kelly and I would be interested in being her crew chief, backup pacer and driver. Honestly I was over the moon for this and I really really hoped that I got to pace her! Not that I didn’t want Chris and Turlan too, but man I badly wanted to pace her! I will admit to being skeptical and worried about a 15 year old and a 70 year old women running on the Western States trail through the night (sorry Turlan, now that I know you I realize that you are wise beyond your years, and your unflagging optimism was invaluable). A few months later Chris, Gunhild and I sat down for a planning session and started making travel plans. The neat thing about our Trail Maniac family is that when Scott and Sandee Rudy found out about this, they wanted to come to California and cheer and crew for Gunhild as well. Gunhild was ecstatic that they would take time off of work to come watch her, especially since Sandee was doing her first 50k the weekend before driving to California. I said this many times over the weekend, but it does take a village to race a Nana.
For more about Gunhild’s running career, follow this link.
We wanted to have plenty of time to hang out in Squaw Valley before the race, so we flew to Sacramento on Thursday (by the way thank you Kelly and Chris for throwing me under the bus with the drunk passenger who wanted to show me his video of him lighting weird stuff on fire, kathunk). Gunhild insisted on putting us up in a hotel, I’m a Holiday Inn Express kind of guy myself and I just assume everyone else is too. Gunhild pulled out all of the stops for her crew though, and she put us up at the Resort at Squaw Creek! Wow this is what a 5-star resort looks like. After we checked in we went to the village to look around at the race start and Chris and I wanted to sign up for the Montrail Challenge fun run, I’ll give Montrail credit, they do like a challenge. Scott and Sandee arrived later that night and we all enjoyed dinner at the resort’s pub.
We got up early on Friday and Chris, Scott and I started the 6k run with 2,900 feet of elevation gain t