I don't know how they do it. And I don't know how I did it either. But those ultra runners are some amazing people. Those guys and gals are not only tough physically but tough mentally to keep their bodies moving to the finish. I had the joy of running 40.6 miles, in about ten and a half hours, as a pacer for my friend Dustin in the Burning River 100 mile Endurance Run.
Before I met Dustin in the early evening on Saturday I was able to get in a morning bike ride of 36 miles through some of the areas the runners would be making their way through. The race began 5:00am and I was able to cheer some of the runners on at the 30 mile marker. It was exciting to watch them come by.
In the afternoon I was a volunteer at the half way point of the race. We treated those runners like kings and queens providing food, drinks, and first aid. I would watch the runners come in to the aid station and look and listen to what the runner needed and or asked for. I would fill ball caps with ice for them to put on their heads, sponge off dirt and clean wounds from trail spills, and guide them in the direction for them to keep running.
Some runners didn't waste much time. When the lead runner came in he was not only met by us but by his support team who provided him food, drink and supplements. He stuffed his mouth, with food falling out, he mumbled thanks and took off running.
Third place runner who came to us was a women. I was amazed how strong she looked. She wanted to know how second place looked and I told her if she took care of herself she could catch him. She must have listened because she was second overall. Congratulations Connie!
I stayed helping out until 4:45 and then drove home expecting to eat dinner and take a nap before I'd get the call that my runner would be ready for me at the 60.6 mile point. But his wife called me at 5:00pm to tell me Dustin was ahead of schedule and would be ready for me by 5:30. I had no time for dinner or nap so I grabbed my running gear and drove back to the course to meet Dustin by 5:41. He came in at the 60.6 mile mark in 31st place. His goal was to finish in 24 hours or better. My goal was to make sure he would break 24 hours. We ran either side by side or with me in front. The highlight of our conversations was family, church, and God. I would also try to speak words of encouragement at the right moments. He asked at one point if I was in pain and at that time I had no pain but just tired legs. I guess I wasn't thinking about my pain but was focused on bringing Dustin home to the finish. During an ultra run I don't think runners think too much about the distance but rather getting through to the next 4 to 6 mile aid station. It's refreshing to have helpful people feeding you and cheering you on.
Dustin finished in 23:17. And went from 31st place at the 60 mile mark down to 20th place overall. Congratulations Dustin!
I'm on the left ready to help the lead runner at the 50.6 mile mark.