SURVIVING THE MONSTER: WHERE’S WALDO 2004
by Peter Fish, Gold Hill, Oregon
Where’s Waldo 100K & Relay
Willamette Pass Ski Area
August 21, 2004
The Where’s Waldo 100K, in the Willamette Pass area of central Oregon, is a very tough event, and my motives in doing it were three:
- I tried it last year, and missed the first cutoff, at 33 miles, by five minutes. This was my first DNF in 12 years of running (3 running ultras), and it made an impression.
- It’s a GREAT race, in its third year, and it deserves to have entrance requirements and a lottery to get in. The course is a magnificent loop encompassing several hundred square miles of coniferous forest, innumerable lakes, and three 7000’+ peaks (each rising and descending to around 5500 feet), almost 100 per cent on single track trails, mostly of a good runnable forest loam. The support was excellent, volunteers outnumbering runners by around 2:1.
- I have yet, at age 68, to complete a 100, and this seemed to me to be a good dress rehearsal for a longer race. Given better preparation, if I could finish Waldo, I would attempt a 100 with confidence. If not … well, I’d cross that bridge when I came to it.
So Waldo was my “destination race” for this year, and my hopefully better preparation could again be considered from three aspects:
- Working out a table of splits, based on the ones from the 2003 race (which had the same cutoffs as this year). I averaged the split times for the last ten runners to finish, and used these to figure the percent of the finishing time required for each leg, then applied this to a projected finish time of 17.5 hours (half an hour less than the time limit for the 3 AM start). Here are the projected times, followed by the actual times, and the difference:
- Gold Lake, 2:24, 2:12 (-12)
- Fuji up, 1:22, 1:21 (-1)
- Fuji down, 45, 49 (+4)
- Mt. Ray, 1:17, 1:17 (0)
- Twins, 1:45, 1:53 (+8 — lost time backtracking)
- Charlton Lake, 1:10 (+1) (At the halfway point, projected and actual times coincide at 8:42, 1:18 before the cutoff. Like Mussolini’s trains, I was running on time. The second half would use up all the time I had banked and then some)
- Rd. 4290, 1:14, 1:30 (+16 — 11 minutes at Charlton aid station)
- Twins, 2:40, 2:58 (+18)
- Maiden Peak, 1:19, 1:22 (+3)
- Maiden Lake, 1:56, 2:04 (+8)
- Finish, 1:42, 2:09 (+27 — mostly walking)
- Training: in the 7.5 months before the race, I ran 1580 miles, about 6.8 per day or a little under 50 a week. About a third of this was in long runs or races: 8 at 15-20 miles, 3 at 30-33, 2 at 50, and 1 at 68. I didn’t do any back-to-back long runs. The 68-miler was when I ran my age on a track at Relay for Life. The other 30+ ones were all races. The other 1000 miles or so was all at a very easy pace, mostly with one of my dogs. I did no speedwork as such, and very few hills apart from the races.
- The race itself: I ate 4 flasks of Hammergel, 5 Ensures (regular, not super), about 1700 cal. worth of GU2, and various aid station goodies, Pepsi, cookies, chips, potatoes (est. 1000 cal.), about 6000 calories in all. I consumed 17 S-caps. My feeling is that this was enough, even though I had 2 more flasks of HG that I forgot to pick up at Rd. 4290, so I winged it at the aid stations the rest of the way. My attack of dementia ultraensis also caused me to leave my bottle belt at the foot of Maiden Peak, so I made it the rest of the way on a bottle of water they gave me at the Maiden Lake aid station. I came in at 9:39 PM, over half an hour after the official finish. In some races I would have been considered DNF as of the last aid station. Craig and Curt gave the four of us that came in late an official finish, either out of pity or because there’s no opportunity to drop after the Twins aid station, some 16 miles from the finish, so we didn’t have much choice, or perhaps because they’re such kind and decent human beings. Or all of the above. We didn’t get the finisher’s caps, though, so I may have to come back next year and do it all over again.
What more can be said? I ran and walked for 18.5 hours, it was a gas, and, as I said above, a wonderfully beautiful course. For visiting runners from the right side of the continent, Waldo would be a great chance to experience a western mountain course, not quite as arduous as Hardrock or Leadville, but plenty hard enough. The real plus for me was the people I met on the trail. I started out with one half of a relay team, Tom Janzen, and finished with the other, Wayne Anderson. On the last leg of the course, I was alone and feeling insecure about whether I was on the right trail, and finally saw a light ahead, which turned out to be Wayne, who had stopped at the junction. We walked the rest of the way, about 5 miles, and had a pleasant visit. After leaving Tom, I ran for a while with John Bandur, a young fellow (66) with a lot of talent and experience, who finished in 16:25! A while later, on the way to the Twins (first time), I had another moment of doubt about the trail, mostly because it was heading south and the next aid station was north (I was carrying a map, as recommended, but thought it had fallen out of the pocket of my shorts). After running a ways with that slightly discouraged off-the-trail feeling, I turned around and started back the way I came, and after a few minutes ran into Jeff Staiman, who pulled out his maps and spent some time showing me that I was, in fact, on the right trail (This, and the other spot I mentioned, could use a couple of reassurance pink ribbons: apart from that, the course is very well marked). Jeff is a very remarkable person. We ran together, off and on, for around 30 miles, and he never once mentioned his purpose in running Waldo, which was, I later discovered from the race website, to honor his friend Mark Bingham, who gave his life on 9/11 as one of the people who diverted the airliner in Pennsylvania. At 34, Jeff has been running for about a year, and has two 50Ks and the San Diego marathon under his belt as preparation for tackling this monster. He want ed a really tough race for Team Bingham, and he got one, but it didn’t seem to faze him at all. He never complained about anything, occasionally dropped back, then popped up like the energizer bunny, left me behind at Maiden Lake aid station, and finished 22 minutes ahead of me. He mentioned that he would like to do the Plain 100, a race that has had 4 finishers in its history. I would bet on him. In between times, I ran for a while with (usually behind) Craig’s brother Chris and his pacer and wife Alana (sp?), who were a lot of fun, especially after a friend (whose name I missed) joined them after Maiden Peak, when a lot of banter flew around that was very refreshing after all those miles and HILLS. Chris had knee problems toward the end (probably aggravated by the rocky descent on the Leap of Faith trail down Maiden Peak) and dropped back, but he still finished. Finally, congratulations to all the people from the state of Jefferson (southern Oregon and northern CA) who finished ahead of me: farthest ahead was Tim Turk, the winner in 11:15, and Rob Cain, Marcus Mayfield, and Melanie Johnson.
Thanks to Craig and Curt, the race directors, and their crew of about 120 volunteers, for putting on a great event!