Tuesday, October 23, 2012

2012 Big Dog Backyard Ultra - "Death Match on the Big Trail"

What is Big Dog Backyard Ultra?

This is a different sort of Ultramarathon, where neither the time, nor the distance is predetermined. The race takes place on a 4.16 mile trail loop beginning at 7 am and then switches to an out and back road course beginning at 7 pm assuming that anyone is left at that point. A single loop race will take place at every hour, on the hour. Runners failing to complete a 4.16 miler within an hour will be timed out. Runners failing to make the start in any hour will be eliminated. Runners that are able to continue are tied for first each loop.  The winner will be the last man (or woman) able to complete a loop within the time limit.  If the race gets to a point where all but one runner wants to quit, that runner must still run one more loop under an hour to win.  If all runners time out on the same loop, there is no winner.

$500 total prize money with $50 to the winner of every 12th hour and all remaining prize money going to the eventual winner.

Why run it?

I joined the Ultra e-mail list 1.5 years ago and learned about the Backyard Ultra last year which was the first year for the race with the death match format.  The idea sounded very intriguing to me and I wanted to run it but I was already signed up for the Pumpkin Holler Hunnerd the same weekend.  I followed the race with the reports and pictures online and was surprised the race only went 18 hours. Last year it occurred entirely on the trail with no road course at night which definitely made it more difficult.  The race was put on by Lazarus Lake, the race director for the famous Barkley Marathons (100 mile run or 60 mile fun run) where only 12 people have finished since 1986.  Several articles are on the Wiki page if anyone is interested in the ultimate challenge.

When Laz posted the link in May to the entry form, I immediately mailed in my $50 check.  A year later, I was still intrigued by the idea and doing something different was very appealing to me.  The idea of a timed ultra race has not appealed to me but the format of this event was irresistible to me.  The unknown of how far one would go and the unknown of how the body and mind would respond to this type of race really sucked me in.

Training

I didn't train for this specific event.  I had races I planned to do at the beginning of the year.  The year got off to a bad start in January when I ended up with a pain in my 3rd metatarsal (likely a stress reaction).  I took 8 days off running and then started back with lower mileage but still running with pain that slowly got better.  I had a very poor performance and still some pain at the USATF National Cross Country Championships in early February, but 2 weeks later no pain and ran pretty well at the Post Oak Challenge Double (50K and marathon the next day).  I ran a 3 day stage race in March (50K/50 mile/20K), 100K in April, 50 mile in May, 100K in June, and 50K in July.

My goal race was to run the Burning River 100 mile trail championships on July 28th.  I also ran several other races from 5K to half marathons.  After my 100K in June which was 2 weeks after the 50 miler, the rest of my training plan went out the window.  The weather was hot and I was tired of putting in the miles.  I ran what I felt like doing which was 40-something per week plus some P90X until Burning River 100 which went okay (2nd place age group), but definitely could have gone better.

After Burning River, I planned to run the Heart of America Marathon on Labor Day and then to run the Backyard Ultra which could have been as few as 4.2 miles.  At this time, I was beginning to question why I run ultras and if I really wanted to continue.  I ran Heart of America and then made a training plan to increase my mileage so I could make a decent effort at Backyard Ultra.  I got in 100% of my planned mileage in the 6 weeks even though I wasn't necessarily that enthusiastic but just ran easy pace most of the time.  I also hit the weights pretty hard doing a lot of squats (up to 3 times per week), plus dead lifts, bench, overhead press, barbell rows, kettlebell swings, pushups, dips, and pullups.  I was often running on heavy tired legs.  I still ran well at Rock Bridge Revenge since I eased of the weights a few days before.  I intentionally ate more and gained 8 lbs after Burning River so was running at my highest weight in years at 160 lbs.  Then 2 weeks before Backyard I signed up for a 3 day extreme slow demo class on Mon - Wed before Backyard that left my legs feeling sore.

This kind of training probably sounds crazy to but I enjoy the weight lifting just as much as running and it often has to take second priority to the running if I am tapering for a race or I perform poorly since I didn't rest properly.  After Burning River I made a commitment to myself to try to do more weight workouts so my training plan didn't include the mileage I normally run to train for a marathon or even an utlra.  For Backyard the goal was just to go and have fun and see how long I would last.  After this race, I had no more ultra race commitments.  I was sort of looking to this last race as a celebration (might be the last one) of running ultras even though in my mind I knew I this probably wouldn't be the last one.

Prerace

The race took place in Laz's wooded back yard in Bell Buckle, TN (near Mufreesboro).  I left Friday morning.  Took a short detour to stop at the Roly Poly in Mufreesboro where I had a half Texas Tuna Melt and got a whole Basil Cashew Chicken to go to eat at some point later.  I arrived at Laz's backyard about 4:30 pm.  There were a few people waiting around and some others were out with Laz getting the tour of the course.  I was fine with not knowing what I was getting myself into so okay with me that I missed it.  I asked the people waiting abut camping and Shannon told me I could unload my car and then I parked about half mile down the road before walking back to set up my tent.

Eventually the others arrived and Laz checked us in and got our shirts.  Also, got to meet Big, the famous dog.  I bought his book My Name is Big, The Search for a Home for a Pit Bull Rescue Dog (Volume 1) earlier this year and at the time Laz had mentioned he already had enough stories for a second book.  After he checked us in, he got out a box of books The Big Dog Diaries, part 2, the Big Adventures which is not on Amazon yet since it was just printed so I got a copy of that one as well.

Laz asked if we were going for Mexican or Thai for dinner.  I am thinking both don't sound like such a good idea.  Some were suggesting Cracker Barrel which sounded like a better idea.  We walked down to our cars and myself and 2 others got a ride with Tim (who ran it last year and has run 20 miles at Barkley Marathons 2 times) and Kathy, his wife.  We talked a little about strategy like leaving a few minutes to spare between loops.  I really didn't have a strategy other than to leave some time. I assumed it was possible since it would only about a 14:12 pace.  However, if I made it to the late stages, it could become quite difficult if I wasn't running since I don't walk that fast. And if we made it to the road (which some were not in favor) who knows how this would affect us after running on the trail for 12 hours.

On the way to dinner we encountered an accident so never made it to Cracker Barrel since they wouldn't let traffic proceed ahead and we were forced to turn.  Kathy spotted a Sir Pizza where we all gathered (maybe 15 or so?) and enjoyed dinner and excellent service.  I had a Sir Pizza sub sandwich.  I got to sit across the table from Laz and he was friendly and conversational.  I noticed I had in common with him that we both like dark chocolate, jalapeno peppers, and we like to eat meat.  Also, I am attracted to the idea that he comes up with these events to really challenge people.  Two other events are Vol State (500K Footrace, 10 days or less across TN) and the Barkley Marathons (100 mile).  These are events that dare people to dream big and really challenge themselves to push themselves to the edge and beyond of what they think they are capable.

We headed back to camp and I decided to head to bed around 9 am since I would be getting up at 6 am.  I slept pretty well until around 1 am.  Then woke up several times having weird dreams about the race.  Also, lots of coyotes were howling so sleep was frequently disrupted but got some deep sleep since I kept having these dreams mostly about the loop we were running being difficult to follow and we had to figure out clues about which direction to go next.

The "Big" event

I woke up just a few minutes before 6 am, drank a protein shake, and ate a banana.  Then got dressed and set up my aid station outside my tent.  I had a bag full of food including chips, mixed nuts trail mix, pretzel bars, dried fruit, graham crackers, Suceed Ultra, and gels.  Also, had a cooler with some potatoes, Roly Poly Basil Cashew Chicken Wrap, and Powerade Zero.  Weather was overcast, low 40s, and eventually would get into the upper 60s.

At 7 am sharp, we begin our first loop on the trail.  There were 29 starters.  We had a short out and back section on the road so about a half mile on the road before we hit the trail.  I tried to stay close to a few runners since it was my first loop.  The course was well-marked so not too much problem figuring out the loop.  There were very runnable sections, rocks, roots, and a few things to climb over.  Everyone I ran with walked all the hills.  I had to stop to pee before the end of the loop and for several loops in a row I had to pee about the same point in the loop which was kind of strange.  I finished my first loop in 51 minutes so have 9 minutes get ready for the next one.  After the first loop I was warm so I removed my jacket.  Then I would eat a bit of food, refill my bottle, use the bathroom, put my GPS on the charger for a few minutes, etc.  Laz would blow the whistle 3 times at 57 min, 2 times, at 58 min, and 1 time at 59 min.  Then we had to be ready to start on the hour.

Then repeat, again, and again and everything pretty much was the same for me.  I consumed the whole Roly Poly wrap between 10 and 2 pm eating a few bites each loop.  No problems with digestion and felt pretty good the whole time. On the 4th loop, I finally noticed my short sleeved shirt was on backwards turned it around the next loop. It was easy to lose track of the time of day and loop number so had to check the clock a few times.  Of the first 12 loops, I ran the first one in 51 min, 2 in 52 min, 6 in 53 min, 2 in 54 min, and the last one when it got dark in just under 57 min.  I ran harder at the very end just to beat that 3 min warning whistle by 10 seconds.  I finished quite a few of the trail loops with Jim B who was running just the pace I felt I also needed to run.  I changed my socks 1 time since there was a wet muddy section on the trail.

After loop 11, Laz gave let us vote on whether begin the road then or at 7 pm, but we voted trail so we could get the first 50 miles on trail.  It did get dark on that 12th trail loop and that is why it took a little longer.  If we hadn't switched to road there would have been more casualties a lot sooner.  I had 3 minutes to quickly change to my Mizuno trail shoes which seemed more suitable for the road than the Innov8 295s and changed socks.  At the start of the 13th loop, we were down to 12 people, all tied for first place as Laz so eloquently pointed out as each of us crossed the finish line on each loop.

Originally, I had predicted I could do 20 loops and also had said to myself I wouldn't quit unless I timed out.  At times I seriously thought about intentionally timing myself out so I could quit.  I wasn't sure the point of continuing since I would DNF at some point anyway.  It would have been nice to sit around the fire eating and watching the rest of the race play out.

By loop 18 I found myself with just 3 other runners (Joe, Marcy, Jim) and they all seemed very solid.  I finished loop 18 with Jim.  On the 19th loop, I beat them all by 3 minutes and the 3 of them came in together. When we hit the road, Joe had been running in the 30s quite a bit and a couple 40s.  I really hadn't noticed him earlier too much since he finished so far ahead of us, but on loop 19 he slowed down and ran with us.  We lost Jim after the 21st loop.  I ran with Joe and finished just seconds from him loop 22 - 24. Marcy ran with us in 22. Marcy and Joe would start out faster than me and I would catch them later.

There was very little talking among the 3 of us.  I had no idea what they were thinking.  After running with them, I knew I couldn't outlast them and Joe could run faster and therefore probably last longer. I figured anything could happen, but why did I continue?  I hinted several times I might quit, yet Joe talked earlier about when we would go back to the trail at 7 am like he was talking to me and we would have to hurry to meet the cutoff.  I am thinking I'm not going to last that long.

For a couple different loops on the road Shannon offered me a brat and I accepted thinking if I eat this maybe I will get sick and time out.  It actually tasted very good.  After eating 3 brats in different hours, I still felt fine.  Although the last one made me feel a little queasy so I didn't quite finish it all.  I tried a brownie, thinking maybe that would make me sick, but ended up feeling stronger the next loop.  I tried a small snicker's bar and still no luck in making myself feel bad.  These are things I don't normally eat during an ultra so thought they might work to put an end to my races.  Yet I continued to charge my GPS after each loop like I was going to be out there for awhile.  A few times I sat around the fire, but when the time came and Laz blew the 3, 2, and 1 minute whistles, I went to the starting line and took off as he rang the bell like I was one of Pavlov's dogs.

Physically I was doing okay, but mentally I wanted to quit.  When I got to 16 loops, I thought, I've now done 100K, it would be a good time to quit.  Then I remembered I had predicted 20 loops and kept going.  Once I got to 20 and then ran 2 more, I figured I might as well make this 100 miles.  The road was too easy to finish in 1 hour.  There was a lot of flat with the biggest hill being near the end and I could walk the last half mile and still come in with 10 minutes to spare.  Why quit when I was tied for first place with 2 other people?  Although I pretty much knew I couldn't beat them unless they decided to just quit.

Laz offered to let us go back to the trail at 6 am.  Marcy and Joe wanted to continue the road so I agreed, but I really wanted to go back to the trail.  I knew I didn't have my trail legs anymore and assumed I would time out once we hit the trail so it would be over sooner for me and I could sit around the fire in the daylight.  For my road loops, I ran 3 in 46 min, 3 in 48 min, 1 in 49 min, 2 in 50 min, 2 in 51 min, and 1 in 52 min so was remaining pretty consistent although 50 - 51 min the last 3 loops.

At 7 am we go back to the trail and Joe reminds us again we are going to have to be fast to meet the cutoff, get through the 12 hours of trails again so we could start again on the road at 7 pm later Sunday.  What???I'm thinking he can't be serious.  He must be that guy that predicted 280 miles and meant it and he indeed was that guy.  I had no idea who I had been running with. Maybe I had heard his name before and forgot?  I'm not sure my excuse, but probably just didn't think it possible I could be running with someone like him.  He was Joe Fejes, who was on the USA Team at the 24 hour World Championships in September of this year.  I had looked him up on Ultrasignup since I was amazed he predicted 280 miles, but didn't look too closely at his results.  He is amazing and just can keep going and going and he actually is pretty fast in the 24+ hour events.  I see now he had run 280 miles in 72 hrs at Across the Years in 2011 plus several 24 hours where he ran 117 - 142 miles.  People's eyes glaze over when I tell them I ran 100 miles.  I can't imagine being Joe and telling someone how far he runs.

So we take off at 7 am and Joe and Marcy are in the lead.  We have to do the short out and back on the road and then we hit the trail.  I saw them as we entered the trail and then they were gone.  My legs just weren't moving fast enough over the trail.  I realize as I predicted earlier I'm not going to make it but still do my best to move as fast as I can just to get this over with.  Thankfully, we didn't stay on the road since who knows how much longer I would have lasted on the road since things were going too well.

I saw Joe going back out so he and Marcy had to do another loop.  I finished my 25th loop (104 miles) in 1 hr 10 min so way over the cutoff.  I got credit for 24 loops since they last wasn't under an hour.  Laz said something like I was one of the most spectacular DNFs he had ever seen.  Also, I was likely one of 3 people in the world to have ever run a 100 mile this way in 24 hours with equal mile segments each hour.  That was kind of amazing when I thought about it.  I was happy to be done though.  I sat around the fire and Shannon offered a McDonalds sausage biscuit and I ended up having 2.

I was wanting to see how this thing would end but who knew how much longer this would go on.  Marcy and Joe had come in together on their 25th loop together at 59 minutes so were very close to cutoff on the loop I missed by 10 minutes.  On the 26th loop, he comes in at 53 minutes, beating her by 5 minutes.  She's hanging in there and I think a lot of us were rooting for her to win against this amazing runner.  I'm tired so go lie down for a few minutes and then decide to go ahead and pack everything up.  In the 27th loop, he comes in 54 minutes beating her by 2:17.  Maybe she can pull this off?  I can't leave now.  They go out for the 28th loop.  Marcy comes back after about 33 minutes.  I am not sure what happened but she knew she couldn't make that loop.  Joe finished it in 53 minutes so there is a winner.  Finally, I can leave and maybe go sleep soon after what has been the longest day of my life.

The rest of us remaining said our goodbyes and packed up our stuff.  It was after 10 am so I knew I couldn't check in a motel so drive a bit and stop at Burger King for lunch.  It was really crappy.  I really wanted steak but felt like I was too tired to deal with that kind of restaurant.

Around 2 pm, I am getting sleepy so pull over in Clarksville, TN and find a motel.  I ask if I can check in and thankfully they let me.  I slept for 3 hours, woke up, ordered pizza, ate, checked some e-mail and then tried to sleep.  I could barely breathe through my nose since allergies were really bothering me.  Maybe something in the room.  I finally decide I am going to have to get up and go somewhere to get something to help me breathe or I won't get the sleep I desperately need to drive home the next  day.  I drove to a convenience store about 0.1 mi away.  There was no way I was going to walk since things were a little stiff.  I found some nasal spray or some non-drowsy allergy med.  I chose the nasal spray since I was afraid the other would keep me awake.  The spray worked and I slept pretty well and left for home at 10 am.

Laz was e-mailing updates throughout the race which I have compiled at the end of this post.  Of note we had legendary ultrarunner (didn't know it at the time) Ray K from SC who would make each cutoff with just seconds to spare after every loop until he miscalculated when we hit the road.

Afterthoughts

It's Monday and I am walking really well.  Right ankle is a bit swollen, but I am not in pain.  Muscles are a bit sore but the worst probably has not hit yet.  With the 0.5 miles road when we did the trail plus the all road loop, I estimate 56 on road and 48 on trail.  I've never run that much on road and the effect isn't as bad as I imagined it might be as I had a good shuffle going so the impact was less.

I never felt nauseous during the race so I think being able to rest between loops and go slow really helped.  I never pushed the pace since it wasn't necessary since I was running quite comfortably with minutes to spare.  I didn't use any Succeed Caps since I never felt they were necessary.  Of the food that I took I ate a few of the chips, a couple pretzel bars, 5 or so gels, about 4 succeed, handful of the trail mix, several no calorie Fizz, packet of the cinnamon graham crackers, 3 brats, brownie, small snickers, and the Roly Poly.  I am estimating around 4500 or so calories.

This race is technically a DNF even though I was 1 of the last 3 standing.  I placed 3rd for number of miles but still a DNF since only person could actually finish.  My total time running is 21 hrs 30 mi so had 3 hr 30 min of breaks.  I am now ready to NOT think about the next ultra.  Will there be another one? Most likely yes, but when and where I don't know.  It may never be over 100 miles again.  I am happily uncommitted and might be ready to do something different.  For now, I am not making any plans until when and if the mood ever strikes me again.  I am ready to balance activities more.  It is more important for me to be fit than to just run an ultra.  I'm glad I did the Backyard Ultra.  The people and the atmosphere at these events are great and that is what would likely entice me to go back.  If I had anything to prove, even though I didn't, I proved to myself my will cannot be broken easily.  I don't give up easily at least when it comes to running insanely long distances for an insane amount of time.  I do find these experiences very meditative and helpful to clear the mind of all the day to day junk that we have to endure on this planet.

Splits/Map

Pictures

John's pictures

Marcy's report/pictures (some of me)

Laz's race updates and results 

starters 

john price 
tim dines 
sal coll 
mike baker 
bill schultz 
jim ball 
greg burger 
marcy beard 
john beard 
josh wiesner 
shannon burke 
andy emerson 
henry wakely 
joe fejes 
joe kowalski 
diane taylor 
catherine harding 
bill lovett 
nathan b forrest 
charlie taylor 
paul carrington 
dewayne satterfield 
j scott jordan 
abi meadows 
tom dolan 
steve durbin 
justin johnson 
ben yancey 
ray krolewicz 
29 
………………………………………………………………………………………………
sal coll won hour 1 by over 2 minutes, in 44:03. 
diane taylor timed out. 

everyone else was tied for the lead after one hour 
………………………………………………………………………………………………
there were no fatalities in hour 2. 

everyone seems jovial, 
and a party atmosphere prevails... 

for now. 

the gentle beating will take a while to set in. 

sal coll won hour 2 by less than a minute in 46:07. 

everyone was tied for the lead at the start of hour 3. 
………………………………………………………………………………………………
sal coll won hour 3 in 45:03. 
dewayne satterfield was less than a minute behind. 

john price fell in the rocks, 
hoping to win sympathy by bleeding all over everything. 

one of the women wanted to clean his wounds with moonshine, 
but we arent going to waste good moonshine that way. 

john did squeak in under the time limit, but he is done. 
so we have our second fatality. 
………………………………………………………………………………………………
sal coll won hour 4 in 46:10 
satterfield second in 46:57 

casualties: 

bill schultz and abi meadows. 

all the survivors were tied for the lead at 5 hours. ………………………………………………………………………………………………
why are these people laughing? because 3 whistles dont mean anything if you are crewing 
(or already deceased) 

dewayne satterfield took hour 5 in 48:16 
bill lovet was second in 50:20 

there were no casualties, 
altho shannon burke had to be goaded into continuing. 

25 people were tied for first at 6 hours. ………………………………………………………………………………………………
i came out from posting the standings to find that shannon burke and steve durbin had both gone only far enough to crawl under the first rock they could find. 

just like that there are only 23. ………………………………………………………………………………………………
hour 6 went to dewayne satterfield in 47:56 
sal coll followed at 48:12 

they dont have the same happy faces they used to have. 
the happy faces they had just a few hours ago. 

the happiest face award went to paul carrington... 

right after he told us "it's my birthday, and i can quit if i want to." ………………………………………………………………………………………………
hour 7 went to dewayne satterfield in 48:53 
sal coll followed in 49:34 

there are a lot of glassy eyes & grim expressions in big's backyard, 
and fatalities: 

josh wiesner 
catherine harding 
nathan b forrest 
………………………………………………………………………………………………
after 7 hours there are 22 runners tied for the lead. ………………………………………………………………………………………………
another one had to be prodded into going on with the explanation that UR wont post your name if you get less than 8 laps. 
with a piteous, pleading look in his eyes he said; "i dont want to hurt myself anymore." 

isnt that the name of this game? 

a mere 8 hours in big's backyard and only 19 people are tied for the lead. 

the 4-mile run is harder than it sounds. 
………………………………………………………………………………………………
hour 8 went to atterfield in 50:33 
bill lovett followed in 52:00 

the first hour without a sub-50 

betting in camp is picking up, 
as the crews and casualties bet on how many will go out onto big's trail on the next loop. 
frankly, everyone seems to be experiencing some discomfort. 
good thing they dont know why we cheer so loudly as they head out into the woods. 

casualties: 

tom dolan 
ben yancey 
j scott jordan 
justin johnson 


how can anyone quit an ultra while in the lead? 

15 people were tied for the lead after 9 hours. 

laz (who, along with kathy dines won the blood money on the 9th hour) 
satterfield continues to lead the way, taking hour 9 in 51:53 
joe fejes was next in at 51:55 


casualties: 

greg burger 
joe kowalski 
mike baker 

the wheat is separating from the chafe. 
10 hours out, and 12 runners are tied for the lead. ………………………………………………………………………………………………
hour 10 was led in by henry wakely 50:37 
sal coll followed in 52:41 

for the first time in a while, there were no casualties. 

eveeryone looks "strong" 

but hurt. 

12 runners are still tied for the lead after 11 hours. ………………………………………………………………………………………………
sal coll is 
fore, in 50:45 
henry wakely followed at 51:05 

we went another hour without a casualty. 

several people look shaky, 
but everyone has been having their moments. 
hard to read the faces now, 
they are all a little haggard looking. 

still 12 people tied for the lead after 11 hours. 

this is the lap where it gets dark. 
we'll see how they fare depending on lights for a half lap. 
for the survivors the next lap will be on the road loop! ………………………………………………………………………………………………
those who started hour 12 

sal coll 
henry wakely 
dewayne satterfield 
bill lovett 
andy emerson 
charlie taylor 
tim dines 
joe fejes 
john beard 
mary geard 
jim ball 
ray krolewicz 

all tied for the lead 
. ………………………………………………………………………………………………
12th hr first in henry wakely in the fastest loop of the day: 40:16 
bill lovett next in a more human 51:26 

it got pitch black for the last half, 
but we had no casualties. 

the k says we are on his turf now. 

and the beat(ing) goes on. ………………………………………………………………………………………………
first in on the 13th hour bill lovett in 40:22 
next in joe fejes in 40:24 

at least in the dark we dont have to see their faces any more. 

casualties: 

tim dines 
ray krolewicz 

after 13 hours there are no longer so many people to beat. 
but what do the fast loops mean? 

is he psyching me out? 
or is he that strong? 
are those guys hurting as bad as me? 

oh hell. 
there goes that damn whistle again. 

10 unfortunate souls answer the bell, 
the moonshine goes around the fire one more time. 
and everyone asks where is naresh? ………………………………………………………………………………………………
sal coll gave up. 

now there are 9. 

………………………………………………………………………………………………
hour 14 saw lovett bring it home in 44:14 
and fejes in44:16 

there were no new casualties, 
so 9 poor souls continue their "long walk" 

john beard said he keeps thinking that he is next. 
but then the bell sounds, 
and he goes on. 

pavlovs dogs are laughing. 

and 9 people refuse to quit while leading. ………………………………………………………………………………………………
hour 15. 
joe fejes melted asphalt with a 36:49 
jim ball followed at 49:24 

dewayne satterfield failed to make it within an hour. 

and 8 runners wonder who will be next. 
………………………………………………………………………………………………
charlie taylor made it to sophie's gas tank... 

and realized his own tank was dry. 

we are down to the magnificent 7. 
………………………………………………………………………………………………
fejes continues to set lap records, 
coming in at 34:17 
jim ball was next in 46:00 
andy emerson 48:01 
Henry Wakely 49:14 
marcy beard 51:26 
john beard 51:29 
bill lovett missed the cutoff. 

john beard capitulated. 

five runners left tied for the lead after 16 hours. ………………………………………………………………………………………………
the results of hour 17: 

fejes 38:00 
emerson 45:38 
beard 50:20 
ball 50:25 
wakely 53:10 

henry wakely was unable to answer the bell for hour 18. 
he simply quit after leading the race for 17 hours. 

four runners hobbled out of camp... 

tied for the lead 
. ………………………………………………………………………………………………
hour 18 is in the books. 

fejes 35; 42 
beard 47:07 
ball 48:11 
emerson 48:14 

each has their own thoughts. 
each knows that victory is not that far away. 
all they have to do is hang in, 
because no one can run off and leave the rest. 

lots of speculation about what will happen when the sun comes up, 
and they return to the trail loop.... 

assuming they can hang on that long. 
but everyone looked strong this time. 
and all 4 were tied in the lead as they began the 19th hour. 

………………………………………………………………………………………………
the tides of war, 
they eb and flo. 

hour 19: 

emerson 47:31 
beard 50:22 
ball 50:39 
fejes 50:41 


it has set in cold. 
do you run fast enough to get warm, 
and wear yourself down 
or run slow to conserve yourself, 
and get cold? 

and are those people your opponents, 
or your only allies in the cold and dark? 

who knows anything for sure, 
except if those stubborn people would just give up, 
you could stop 
. ………………………………………………………………………………………………
hour 20 has come and gone 

emerson 48:20 
fejes 48:24 
beard 52:56 
ball 55:55 

the runners continue to anticipate the sunrise... 

still a long way off. 

there is an air of resignation as they line up to answer the bell. 
"back to work" says joe fejes. 
they talk quietly among themselves at the starting line. 
we, the crews, the race officials, we are tired. 
but only those four can understand what each other is going thru. 

they wait on the next one to fall, 
but when it happens i think they will be sad. 
so much has been shared. 
so much endured. 
together 
. ………………………………………………………………………………………………
hour 21 

fejes 45:53 
emerson 45:55 
beard 54:55 
ball 55:47 

ball was unable to answer the bell for hour 22. 
that leaves three 
. ………………………………………………………………………………………………
hour 22 is in the books 

emerson 50:36 
fejes 50:38 
beard 50:40 

with only two hours left on the road, 
the prevailing attitude is fear of the trail. 

the question was posed; 
"what if no one makes the time limit on the trail?" 

the answer did not please the three survivors. 
"then there would be no winner." 
the race goes to the last man standing. 
either someone wins, 
or there is no winner. 

that will be simething to pondero 
………………………………………………………………………………………………
hour 23 

emerson 49:58 
fejes 50:02 
beard 52:12 

they struggle on. 
as they headed out into hour 24, 
they know they will have light before the halfway point, 
and sunrise before the next hour.... 

the hour that they return to the trails. 

there is a fear of the trail. 

as the pitiful remnant assembled to await the bell, 
joe remarked; 
"this is the last road loop for 12 hours!" 
………………………………………………………………………………………………
hour 24 

fejes 50:44 
emerson 51:23 
beard 52:54 

lots of people have done a sub-24 hour hundred. 
not many have done it in 24 exactly equal hours. 

we just watched them head out on the trails for the start of the second day. 
in about an hour we'll know if their fear of the time limit was justified. ………………………………………………………………………………………………
hour 25 

marcy beard 58:59 
joe fejes 59:00 

casualties 

andy emerson 


and so it comes down to this. 
fejes is faster, 
beard is more trail seasoned. 

this race could go either way. 
to win, one of them has to match the other 
lap by lap under the time limit.... 

plus one. 

gonna be an interesting show. ………………………………………………………………………………………………
hour 26 

joe fejes 53:40 
marcy beard 58:35 

joe came in looking strong, 
and as the minutes crawled by 
and the 3-minute whistle sounded with no sight of her 
he dared to hope that marcy might miss the time limit... 

and joe had done his last lap. 

no such luck, 
she came in looking strong, 
and they went out into the 27th hour tied. 

she was leading him when they entered the woods. 

it is a battle to the end, 
one will win the race, 
one will dnf. 

this is a hell of a show! 
………………………………………………………………………………………………
hour 27 

fejes 54:42 
beard 57:59 


i apologize for the lack of closure, 
and the hourly inbox clutter. 

but if we have to keep suffering here, 
ya'll can suffer with us. 

they both look strong... 

and resolute. 

one of them will win, 
and one will dnf. 

it seems neither one wants to be the bigger person 
and take the dnf 
. ………………………………………………………………………………………………

marcy beard is out. 
i will leave any details to her race report. 

except to say: 
what a magnificent warrior! 

now it is in joe's hands. 
if he can get his 28th lap within the time limit, 
he will be the backyard champion. ………………………………………………………………………………………………
joe fejes finished his 28th hour in 53:00. 

it didnt end an incredible weekend, 
as the post race festivities continued for a while. 

i will have to gather my thoughts before i make my race report. 
but believe me, 
this kind of race is way different... 

and will challenge you physically and mentally 
to whatever limit you can handle. 
………………………………………………………………………………………………
apologies in advance, 
as i expect the e-mail to totally destroy the formatting. 
but this is quite readable as entered. 

Big's Backyard Ultra 10-20-12 
1) 
Joe Fejes 
116.67 

DNF 
Marcy Beard 
112.50 

DNF 
Andy Emerson 
100.00 

DNF 
Jim Ball 
87.50 

DNF 
Henry Wakely 
70.83 

DNF 
John Beard 
66.67 

DNF 
Bill Lovett 
62.50 

DNF 
Charlie Taylor 
62.50 

DNF 
DeWayne Satterfield 
58.33 

DNF 
Sal Coll 
54.17 

DNF 
Tim Dines 
50.00 

DNF 
Ray Krolewicz 
50.00 

DNF 
Greg Burger 
37.50 

DNF 
Joe Kowalski 
33.33 

DNF 
Mike Baker 
33.33 

DNF 
Tom Dolan 
33.33 

DNF 
Ben Yancey 
33.33 

DNF 
J Scott Jordan 
33.33 

DNF 
Justin Johnson 
33.33 

DNF 
Case Cantrell 
29.17 

DNF 
Josh Wiesner 
29.17 

DNF 
Catherine Harding 
29.17 

DNF 
Paul Carrington 
25.00 

DNF 
Shannon Burke 
20.83 

DNF 
Steve Durbin 
20.83 

DNF 
Abi Meadows 
12.50 

DNF 
Bill Schultz 
12.50 

DNF 
John Price 
12.50 

DNF 
Diane Taylor 
0.00


Laz's race report

october 24, 2012

things around the big farm were back to normal this morning.
i opened my eyes, and heard nothing.
then i swung around and put my feet on the floor.
immediately i heard the faint sound of big barking for me to hurry up.
the big guy has become much more patient as he gets older...

he used to go nuts when my eyes opened.

yesterday his grinning face was peering in the back door when i came downstairs.
he had gotten out of the habit of pretending to be restrained over the weekend.
this morning he was still out on his cable,
and he waited there, albeit jumping around and barking urgently,
until i came to get him for our morning patrol.

big's backyard race weekend was a much happier experience for him this year.
he has had another year to learn how to deal with challenging situations,
and we have learned a lot about making it easier for him to succeed.
big had a wonderful time this year,
and he was really sorry when i took him down yesterday to show him that all traces of the tent city were gone.

big didn't even suspect that something was up when we went out for our walk friday morning.
he was a little disappointed when we took one of our short routes,
but perked up when i told him we would walk the trail later.
naturally big thought that "later" was when we passed the trailhead going up the driveway.
bigs are not great with time.
later starts immediately after now in big's world.

All morning, while i was setting up for the race,
i kept wondering if big would take off his cable and come down.
he could certainly hear things going on...

especially when the truck that delivered the porta-potties got stuck in the front yard.

they asked me about turning around,
and i not only showed them where the rock was right under the surface,
but where the ground was soft.
they were not nearly as expert in driving that truck as i expected,
and immediately backed off the driveway onto the very exact soft spot i had pointed out...
with the heavy end of the truck.

big may have wondered what was going on down the hill,
but he was still waiting for me when i came up to get him so he could lead the course tour.
for a dog who feels the need to investigate anything new in his territory,
down to an empty cigarette pack or a discarded soda can,
the new stuff in the front yard was an overload.
especially all the people.
big loves people, but he isn't used to seeing that many at once.

but we knew how to handle the situation this time.
i sat down and let big sit between my feet and watch until he felt comfortable.
then he came out for a little petting.

when the course tour started big was pretty happy.
he was a little unnerved to start a walk with a pack of about 20 people following,
and he pulled more than he is ordinarily allowed during the short road out and back
(that section lets the field spread out a little before hitting the single track)
people were all fanned out across the road, and he was afraid someone would pass him.
big is a great believer in things being in their proper order,
and big is the number one dog.
the only person who is supposed to be in front of him is me.

once we hit the single track, he relaxed.
all the people were strung out behind us in single file.

unfortunately, i made an error halfway thru the trail.
josh was doing a trial run to figure out his time checks for the race,
and we let him pass thru.
i knew big would pull until josh was out of sight,
but i forgot about that nose of big's.
for the remainder of the loop he had that nose to the ground and pulled relentlessly.
he was sure that we could catch josh, and that we needed to do so.
things were out of their proper order, and it needed to be fixed.
who would run rattlesnake patrol for josh?

but that was merely an inconvenience.
the real conflict came when i put big back on his cable up at the bigloo
and went down the hill to socialize.
now that big knew there was a party going on,
he wasnt about to cool his heels up there on his cable.
it wasnt 5 minutes before the big guy was coming down the driveway sporting his ear to ear grin.
i was busy, so amy tried taking him back up the hill.
as often as he was returned to his cable,
he just took it back off and came back down.
after while she had to concede.
fortunately, all big wanted to do was to go from person to person and make himself available for petting.
pretty much everyone obliged, and he was the most contented dog on earth.

the friday night gathering was custom made for big,
people sat in a circle,
and he could make his way from person to person,
sitting down in easy range for a few minutes of petting
and moving on when it stopped.

me and big stayed down there until everyone had gone to bed
before we headed back to the house.
i knew big wouldnt stay at the bigloo unless he knew the party was over.

saturday morning me and big were the first ones up and about,
getting everything ready for the start,
and then watching the gypsy encampment in our front yard come to life.

big got a little more tense as people readied for the race.
i have found that the old boy is naturally hyperalert.
a sudden movement or an unexpected sound will cause him to jump nearly out of his skin.
when he is around people, he wants to keep track of what every one of them is doing...
at all times.
this is not possible in the chaos of a pre-race.
but i sat at the finish table, and big sat between my feet and did his best to keep track of things,
looking this way and that.
he was, at least, comfortable and welcomed the people who stopped to speak or pet him.

as i expected, the start of the race panicked him a little.
it wasnt when the runners headed out,
but rather when they all came back...

apparently (in big's mind) all running right at him.
i was prepared this year, and we were already halfway up the driveway.
big watched all the runners start up (after us)
then he turned and went into tow-motor mode.
he pulled me all the way up the hill to his bigloo,
i unfastened his leash, he ran inside the bigloo,
then turned and looked out.
he feels safe in his cozy home.
i put him on his cable and left.
my thinking was that he would be happy to stay in his bigloo all day.

but my thinking and big's thinking were not the same.
after he calmed down a little,
he took off his cable and came back down to the gypsy camp.
obviously he was not going to stay put up the hill.

amy was good enough to go and bring down his cable,
and we attached him in the edge of the woods behind me.
this turned out to be a great choice of location.
all of the people action was in front of him.
he didnt have to spin in circles trying to keep track of 360 degrees of activity.
while i wasnt close enough to sit with, he could see me.
and he was only a few feet away, so i could stop and pet him easily.
best of all, as each subsequent lap started,
he could go and lay under the truck out of the direct line of the runners.
big was comfortable enough to come out and greet the people who stopped by to pet him.

this worked out well all day.
i got him some water and food,
altho there was too much excitement to eat.
he also skipped all of his regularly scheduled naps.

for the runners, meanwhile, the day settled into a regular cadence.
three whistles meant three minutes until the start of another lap.
two whistles followed, then one, and finally a cowbell sent them on their way.

the course was designed to be as easy as possible,
with no steep or long climbs.
however, there wasnt much flat,
and the rocky slopes of the big farm demanded constant attention
and a certain amount of weaving among the rocks.
ultrarunners seem to enjoy watching video of runners leaping over obstacles.
in practice, they tend to go around things.

after last year, everyone understood that there was no reward for speed.
the best plan was to finish each lap with as much left in the tank as possible.
there was no set distance to aim for.
the only opponent was the other runners.
the winner would be the only finisher,
when he (or she) was the sole finisher of the final lap.

last year some of the runners came with food to prepare,
only to find that there simply wasnt time.
this year most everyone opted for pre-prepared food that could be eaten quickly.
the time between laps was deceptively short.
one poor runner was seen to put a pan of pasta on the fire between laps,
and retrieve the charred remains an hour later, after the next lap.
he ate what he could.
a few runners had crews,
and to their credit the crews tried to help others.
but with all the runners arriving and leaving within a span of 10 minutes,
there was a limited amount they could do.

almost every hour saw one or more runners drop out of contention.
some failed to make the cutoff,
but most succumbed to a moment of weakness and failed to answer the bell.
speed had limited value, steadiness (both physical and mental) was everything.
the growing number of dropouts in camp became a ready pool of defacto crews.

after 12 hours there were but a dozen of the original 29 runners
to switch over to the easy road loop for the night.

all went well for the big fella until the wee hours came.
the night had turned particularly cold
and eventually a dropped runner came walking up the driveway wrapped in blankets.
the ever vigilant big,
who hadn't missed a thing all day,
spotted the apparition from a distance.
this amorphous blob wobbling down the driveway towards us
obviously presented a serious threat.
and big was ready, barking a warning for the "blob-thing" to keep its distance.
for the remainder of the event big would alternate between warmly greeting visitors
and warning the very same people to stay back.

the poor dog was kept on his toes,
as additional "blob-things" kept appearing
and wandering about the camp.
he warned them all.
big did not find my cavalier attitude toward the "blob-things" surprising.
i am, after all, omnipotent and without fear...

not even afraid of bicycles.
the fact i would casually talk to the "blob-things" didnt mean they werent dangerous to bigs.

meanwhile the dwindling number of runners seemed to grow ever closer together.
at the single whistle, the survivors would emerge from their various coccoons around camp
and assemble at the start line talking quietly among themselves.
there had developed a gulf between "them" on the trail, and "us" in camp.
we did not, indeed could not, understand what they were going through.

the longer the event went, the closer the competitors seemed to become.
even though their only escape from this endless hell came with the others quitting,
they seemed to be supporting and pulling for each other,
tied together by some invisible bond of shared suffering.

as morning approached i started to feel sorry for the big.
he had been up for nearly 24 hours.
that is something along the lines of 20 hours longer than he usually goes without at least a nap.
so i put him in the truck to take a nap.
he lay down for a few minutes,
but then he opened the driver-side door and started to get out.
so i took him in the house and put down an old sleeping bag for him to sleep on.
since i was going in the house after every hour to post race updates
big was initially satisfied.
he stretched out with his chin resting on his front feet and watched me.
his eyes immediately started to droop,
and within a minute his heavy breathing told me he was fast asleep.
just because he was fast asleep didnt mean his ears were turned off.
as soon as i got up and went back outside
big got up and followed me to the door.
i heard him bang on it a few times,
and when i didnt respond, he opened the door and came to look for me.
it isnt always easy to have a dog who channels houdini.

fortunately he also minds pretty well.
i put him back inside and told him not to open the door any more.
he didnt, but for the rest of the night he would immediately go sleep when i came in to post an update,
and then come stand with his nose against the door when i went back outside.

dawn was not only a landmark for me and big,
it signalled the return to the big trail for the surviving runners.
24 hours into the race, there were only three of them: joe fejes, marcy beard, and andy emerson.
with 100 miles of running behind them, they faced the trail with trepidation.
over the last few hours of the night loop, they had openly expressed concern about being able to make the cutoff on the trail loop.

 emerson's fears proved well founded, as he missed the first cutoff,
leaving the race down to the final two.
fejes was the faster runner, but no longer by any great margin,
beating beard by only two or three minutes a lap.
reaching the finish, he would plop down in his chair and watch anxiously back up the trail.
maybe this lap marcy would miss the limit.
each time she came in looking absolutely indestructible,
and a look of pain would cross joe's face.
at least one more lap.

after the sun came up, i brought big back out on his cable.
the poor guy was almost reeling with exhaustion, but he would not surrender to sleep.
he had gotten pretty short on patience,
growling or barking at anyone who approached him that he didnt think looked quite right.
at one point, a runner approached big and he backed away growling.
another runner told him to; "go on ahead, he won't do anything."
i was astonished.
with big that has proven to be true (so far)
he has shown a total disinclination to bite a person, regardless of the provocation.
but i wouldnt want to press the matter...

especially with a dog whose jaws could easily engulf a person's entire head,
or crush their femur.

fortunately josh was there to advise that one should never pressure a dog that is backing away.

meanwhile, it was obvious that the end of the race was drawing near...

or not.

joe was still faster, but marcy looked as steady as a rock.
chinks were appearing in joe's stoic mask.
regardless, it was hard to envision either one ever giving in.
each was clearly determined to win,
but there was no mistaking the bond that competition had forged between them.
whoever won would find not only exultation, but also sorrow.
there is a magical relationship between those who compete,
especially when the stakes are everything.
one of these magnificent athletes was going to win.
the other would dnf.
part of me felt guilt at having made the parameters so unforgiving.
part of me understood that otherwise they would have succumbed to temptation and agreed to tie hours ago.
and this magical time would have never happened.

in the end, it was marcy who finally broke.
she started the 28th hour looking as invincible as ever.
but out on the trail she found herself unable to catch her breath, her heart racing.
and she had to come back.

when joe come running in, and saw her there, his expression was of both joy and sorrow.
when he reached the place she was sitting they spontaneously embraced.
they stood that way, until we had to remind joe that he had to take a few more steps
before his victory was complete.
then they sat and talked for a long time.
the rest of us could only listen, and try to understand what only two people could truly understand.

finally the last campsites came down.
most everyone scattered, except a few noble souls who assisted as we started to take down the race site.
after a while we took a break, and i returned big to his bigloo,
where he collapsed into an exhausted and long overdue sleep.
while he slumbered, i removed the last vestiges of the race.

monday morning the big guy was waiting on the porch when i got up,
ready for our regular patrol.
when we reached the bottom of the hill, he stopped and looked sadly at the empty front yard for a long time.
big had enjoyed a wonderful weekend.
i looked with him, because i had a wonderful weekend, too.
then we continued, back to our reliable schedule.

when we got back, big had his breakfast just like usual,
followed by some quality time on the porch,
until big told me it was time for his morning nap.
i took him out to the bigloo and attached him to his cable,
where he would pretend that he had to stay until i came and got him...

because that is our deal.
things around the big farm were back to normal.

laz    



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