This section also features some tough obstacles right in the first 10 miles to help wear you out long before you ever touch the long stretches of pavement. At mile 4.1 there is a rope climb up a 40 foot sheer cliff face covered in loose shale. And at 7.4 miles there is a steep descent and ascent out of a hollow. This was a slide down on your backside and crawl out on your hands and knees type of valley!
The rope climb
I knew I probably shouldn't even line up for a 50 mile race just four weeks after my first 100 miler but I really wanted the final piece of my medal. I have reserved every August for the last three years to complete a leg of the Baker so I was really looking forward to finishing it for good.
Shane was running the last leg of the relay so he didn't need to arrive until Saturday afternoon. The 50 miler began at 6:30am and buses to the start left at 5:15am so I drove up alone the night before. I checked in and ate and hung out at the farm house just like last year. And I once again slept in my Jeep. All in all it wasn't a bad way to spend an evening.
A blurry pic of me with my friends, Tom and Jeff
After a restless night I awoke before my 4:30am alarm and began to dress. I had chosen my INKnBURN cherry blossom camisole and denim shorts along with my Altra Torins. Other than that I carried only a 20 ounce Ultimate Direction handheld. I wandered into the farm house for some coffee and socializing until it was time to load the buses.
Kim and I in the farm house
The bus ride was about an hour since the Baker is point to point. I chatted a bit and dozed a bit but really I just wanted to get started and get done. I wasn't nervous and I wasn't really excited either. It just felt like something I had to complete. I arrived at the starting line and found my friends, Allison and Patrick, who had paced me at Burning River 100. I knew Patrick would take off quickly but Allison and I decided to stick together with our friend, Brian, for the first several miles.
The gun went off about 15 minutes late and we all headed up a country road. Before long we were traversing single track trail and Jeep roads. Then we reached the line for the rope climb. As I was climbing I heard branches cracking and a curse from Brian. I yelled up to ask if he was okay and it turned out that he had surprised a deer at the top which almost ran him over in its rush to get away. Thankfully no animals or runners were harmed and we all continued on, laughing about the different scenarios that could arise from a runner on deer collision.
Somewhere on the way through the steep valleys and peaks of the hollows we all got separated. My legs were not responding well on the climbs and I felt like I couldn't really pound the descents like I usually do. I knew I was going slow but I promised myself I wouldn't stop unless I got pulled for missing a cutoff. I had been hoping for 11 hours but it was obvious early on that I wouldn't make it so I tried to keep pace with my previous year's splits.
Coming into an aid station
Somewhere around mile 10 a huge group of us followed some blazes down a path and then they suddenly stopped. We finally found our way back to where we had gone astray and it turned out someone had purposely blacked out the real blazes and laid a false trail. That was a new experience for me and added a lot of time and about a mile to my day.
I hit 21 miles in 5:23 and looked forward to the beginning of the road section that would take me to the finish line. Around this point I was at an aid station stuffing my face when Allison and Brian popped up behind me. They had gotten lost as well and added about two miles which put them just behind me. Brian had also twisted his ankle and was having trouble keeping up with Allison. After a few miles of running together Brian and I let Allison go and continued on together. For her first 50 miler on a tough course, Alli was really killing it!
Bridge on the course
Brian and I ran together, running and walking, chatting away. We slowly began to overtake people who had gone out too fast or who were having issues with the heat. As we reached the exposed road that we would follow for the next 20 miles to the finish it was easy to see that many runners were not acclimated to the conditions. Thankfully Brian and I both love to run in the heat and sun!
Take me home country road
We enjoyed wonderful views such as some goats taking a dump, an old folks home painted pink like Barbie's Malibu mansion, and a wiener dog that chased us down the road a ways. There were also lots of Amish horses and buggies, lifted trucks, and very large dogs chained outside of very small trailers. It was very obvious that we were in the deep countryside.
Allison at Barbie's Dream House
If memory serves me I reached the marathon point in roughly 7 hours. I was feeling fairly certain that I would be racing cutoffs for the 14 hour finish. But as Brian and I counted down the miles we began to pick up the pace. A couple runners joined us on the push to the finish. I had met Dave the night before and Murray recognized me from this blog! It was really neat to run with two new friends for awhile! Brian's friend, Tom, joined us as a pacer for the last 10 or so miles and we really began to push. A mile from the finish I saw Shane waiting at the top of a hill. We took off together with Brian and Tom at our heels. And, just like last year, runners were directed up and over a furrowed hill to a tractor lane rather than running down the driveway to the farm.
As I ran down the tractor lane I pushed as hard as I could. My Garmin was long dead by this point so I have no idea what my pace was but I'm pretty sure I would be proud. I crossed the line in 12:44:52 and was awarded my medal and my rolling pin. This was also the first time I negative split an ultra. First half in roughly 7 hours, second half in approximately 5:44!
After that it was time to eat before Shane and I headed to the airport for my girls' trip to Disney. No rest for the wicked in this house!
Crossing the finish line
I had to wait four entire days to get home and see my medal and rolling pin again. But now I have finally assembled the final product of three years of toil in the hot August sun!
All three years' medals prior to disassembly
Now all three medal pieces rest together on a marble rolling pin seated atop a wooden base. In about six weeks an inscribed plaque with all three years and my finish times will arrive to be affixed to the base. I have to say it feels really good to have this one checked off the bucket list!