Cascade Crest 100 Race Report



I am still fairly new to ultra running, just recently making the jump last summer. Having only competed in two 50 milers to date I was eager to get my first 100 miler under way. My training was great this summer, and I had every intention of competing at the front from the start, yet I was still uncertain of how my body would respond in the late stages of the race. There was only one way to find out. I just had to go for it. My first challenge though was getting there. Since I don't have a car and like most people, am practically broke, getting from Crested Butte, Co to Easton, WA was going to be an adventure of its own.

I left CB early Wednesday morning around 5:45 AM. My friend Nate gave me a ride down to Gunnison to catch a bus to Denver (which I almost missed because of sleeping through my alarm). Once in Denver, my friend Jason, who had just finished the LT100 few days earlier, picked me up at the Greyhound station. I got to hang out with him for the afternoon and catch up since my flight was not until the next day. In the evening I joined him, his girlfriend Jenny, and a group of his Living Social co-workers at a pool party. It was great to just kick back and not have to think too much about the race. The following morning, after getting to sleep in, Jason gave me a ride to DIA and I was on my way to Seattle, WA.

I got to Seattle around 2:00 PM on Thursday. Since I had already lined up a place to stay through Couch Surfing (, all I needed to do was get to the house. Luckily it was fairly close to the airport, so a cab ride was quick and not too expensive. Once there, I was able to get out for an easy shake out run, and for the first time in over a week my legs felt ready. (earlier in the week, my right achilles had flared up) After that, I was able to spend a relaxing evening with my hosts, Michael & Magi, and their 1 year old daughter while waiting for my girlfriend Adrienne to arrive. (she flew out from NYC to help crew) Adrienne also had booked the rental car, so the next morning we loaded up, found some food, and were on our way towards Easton, WA.

We had a B&B reserved just 10 miles outside of Easton in Cle Elum, WA. We got their early, got all settled in, and rested for a bit before getting everything ready for the race. My friend (and college teammate) Andy who came out from Stehekin, WA to pace and help crew also met us there that evening. After dinner we went over the race plan which I had put together, right down to the smallest detail (neither Adrienne or Andy had ever crewed before, let alone seen an ultra). With everything set, I could finally shut my brain off and get some sleep. I had made it to Gunny, then to Denver, to Seattle, to Cle Elum, and in the morning, all we had to do was drive 10 miles to Easton... race day was nearly upon us.

At 10:00 AM we herd the word GO! And we were off. The first mile was very casual, and with a big group. Once onto the trail we spread out and broke into smaller pods. Two guys out front (Jeremy Humphrey - eventual winner, and Anthony Culpepper), and three of us (2 time winner + 8 time finisher Phil Shaw, Jace Ives, and Myself) in the chase pack. I led the chase group up Cole Butte, talking most of the time with Jace and Phil until the pitch kicked up considerably and Phil dropped back. Jace and I crested together and descended fairly quickly before climbing up Blowout Mtn towards Tacoma Pass. It was on the descent around mile 10 that my right Achilles began to act up again. After that, Jace passed me on the climb and I had to let him go. It was very early in the race, and I did not want to stress my Achilles too much.


On his way to the start


Luckily this section was mostly a gradual climb. I was able to jog/hike fast enough not to lose too much ground. Jace was still in sight for most of it, and we even caught Anthony just before getting into the Blowout Mtn aid station at mile 15.2. We then turned onto the PCT, which I had been looking forward to all summer. Unfortunately though, my Achilles prevented me from being able to enjoy it fully. I had to stop and stretch/massage it at the top of many of the hills in order to run comfortably down the other side. When I arrived at the Tacoma Pass aid station, my crew could tell I was not happy. I told them to have my compression socks ready at Stampeed, and that my achilles was not feeling good. With this being their first time crewing, or even seeing an ultra for that matter, I was thinking: "Welcome to ultra running guys, I hope you're ready for a long day".

My achilles got progressively worse over the next 12 mils, and not long before Stampeed Pass at mile 34.5 Phil passed me. That entire time I continued my stop and go, run and walk, stretch and massage. Just trying to keep moving and not hurt myself too badly. I also started to feel a little tightness in my left side from over-compensating. I got into the Stampeed aid station in 4th place and took a long break there to change into compression socks. While doing so Adrienne reached down to massaged my achilles, and immediately saw me flinch. "Outch.. that hurts". (afterwords she told me that she barely touched it) Over the next 7 miles, I lost another 10 minutes to Phil, and who knows how much to Jeremy & Jace. I passed through the Meadow Mtn aid station at mile 42 very quickly though, only stopping to cap off my handheld. As I continued down the PCT, I saw a few hikers and a couple of them said that I was close to the guy in front of me. That surprised me, but also gave me a little motivation. "Maybe its not over".

With my mindset improving (finally), my achilles not getting any worse, and the encouragement from the hikers, I started to pick up my pace. I was able to start "running" sections that I would have hiked previously and stopped less frequently to stretch/massage my inflamed tendon. I started having fun! Olallie Meadows aid station at mile 47.7 was getting near, my crew would be there, and I could get some Advil to help me run the flats and the tunnel. Things were looking up. Unfortunately, that only lasted for a few minutes... When I got to the aid station, my crew was not there. That meant no Advil, no Vi Gels, and most importantly, no headlamp for the 2+ mile tunnel. I was not happy. My good mood completely spun a 180. Luckily I was able to borrow a headlamp from one of the aid station volunteers, but that did nothing for my mood, or my pace. By the time I got through the tunnel, and to the big Hyak aid station at mile 52.7, I had been passed by Jason Hynd. He closed more than a 12 minute gap on me in just 5 miles.

With all that had happened, I was hoping to turn it around once at Hyak. This is where Andy would start pacing, and I could finally get the Advil that I had been wanting. So when I got there, I saw Adrienne waiting. Thats a good sign! When I got to her though, I asked where Andy was... "we missed you by a couple minutes, and he ran down the trail after you with your stuff". I had figured that part out when Jason passed me. He asked me if I had a pacer who was supposed to be with me, and that he caught up to him, then turned around. "Ok, so Andy is not here and we don't know when he will get here. Nothing we can do about it... just give me my stuff for this aid station and get me some Advil". Well.. "Andy has all your stuff". (He had both of my lights, sleeves, gloves, coat, etc, and there was only 10 minutes or so before it was completely dark, and about 15 miles until I was to see them again.) Now, to put it lightly... I'm pissed!

Luckily there was a lady near by who over herd us. She had dropped out earlier in the day, and let me borrow her light, sleeves, and gloves. I put the sleeves on, the gloves, and the light. Made sure I had my Vi Gels for this next 15 mile block, grabbed an extra handheld (just in case..), and after throwing back a couple Advil, was headed down the road and into the night. It took a mile or so before the Advil started to kick in, and I spend a lot of time hiking the next few uphill miles. Finally, just before cresting the climb, I started to feel a little better. I passed the Kecheelus Ridge aid station at mile 60 without so much as a glance, and started descending towards Lake Kachess aid another 7.5 miles down the road. I feel that this was the point in the race where things finally started coming together.


Prepping the feet before the start


My mindset was improving, and I was no longer thinking about the previous happenings. I guess a few hours of running in the dark can have that effect. I also saw Jace (he was running in 2nd, and I had ran with him early on in the day) in a car being taken down to the next aid station. He did not look so good, and although I felt bad since it was his first 100, I also got a surge of motivation again. I was now in 4th place! I picked up the pace some more, and cruised down to mile 68 where my (entire) crew was waiting for me. They were prepared this time, Andy ready to run, and Adrienne with my lights and the rest of the gear. I took a minute to get everything set and in place, made sure it was all there, then Andy and I took off like we were starting a run in college again... which was a shock to my my stiff legs and left me limping just steps from the aid station. My IT was tight from over-compensating from the Achilles trouble, and that near "sprint" made the outside of my left knee hurt for a minute. I had to stop and stretch, then walk, before finally running again. That made Adrienne worried, and probably thinking, "now what has he done to himself". All I was thinking was, "oops". That was just the start to a great final 30 miles, literally.

We hiked a bunch of the road climb, then once my legs got back into it, we started running. It was not long before we caught Phil, closing over 30 minutes on him in just 10 miles. That put me into 3rd, feeling the best I have felt all day, and running with an old college teammate who I have not seen in nearly a year. This was becoming fun again! At the next two aid stations I only needed to cap off my handheld. This took less than 15 seconds each time and we quickly continued on our way. Since Jace had DNF'ed, and we just passed Phil, that only left Jeremy, the leader (who we knew was on CR pace and out of reach), and Jason who had passed me around mile 50. We were feeling good, and now discussing the possibility of catching him, but had no idea how far ahead he actually was. That was, until we got to the Thorp Mtn aid station.

Just before the aid station, you have to do an out-n-back up a steep, switch back filled climb, and retrieve a tag from the top. Just before we started up it, we saw Jason and his pacer come down. There he is! Now we had our target in sight, but the question was, how far ahead is he? We still had to do the out-n-back. WIth the motivation of the chase, and my legs feeling better, we cruised up the climb in about 7 minutes. We quickly grabbed a tag, then darted back down in 5. Now we knew, we were only 12 minutes behind, and had 16 miles to the finish. He was definitely in reach. After another quick 15 second fill-up, we were on our way down the trail again. With only 4 miles to the next aid station, we would soon find out if we were closing the gap or not.

When we reached the French Cabin aid station at mile 88, we found out that we were now just 10 minutes behind. We closed 2 minutes in 4 miles... thats good, but it won't be enough to catch him before the finish. We needed to pick up our pace even more. We knew that, and we also knew that Jason knew that. So with another quick fill-up, we were ready to chase. And chase we did! We started running, not mile 90+ ultra (shuffle) running, real running!! I even asked Andy once if he was alright, and could hold the pace! He felt good, I felt good, and we could feel the gap closing quickly. The hills that once posed a problem for my inflamed Achilles were devoured like candy at a parade. We were just two kids running through the woods in the middle of the night hooting and hollering. We were having so much fun!! All that had happened earlier in the day was far behind us, and we were just truly enjoying that moment. My quads never got sore all day, and with less than 10 miles to go, it was time to put them to good use.

We came around a corner and saw lights! There he was, and we were not even to the mile 96 aid station yet. We were still hammering through the woods, and when we cam up on Jason, he was hiking up a hill. I glanced back to Andy and said lets make this pass count. We flew up the hill full run, passed Jason and his pacer, and never looked back. We kept up our insane pace for another mile or so until we knew we put some time into him, then settled down and cruised into the Silver Creek aid station at mile 96 just as happily as if it was the finish line. We were still feeling great, practically buzzing from that last 7 miles of pure running, and as always, I was happy to see Adrienne.

Since we did not know how much time we put into Jason over that last mile or two, we decided that Andy should continue running with me. (Adrienne was going to run the last 4 with me initially) I could tell that she was excited and nervous at the same time. She knew I was in 3rd at the previous aid station and closing, but seeing me come into the aid station in second must have been a big relief. I had not seen her in nearly 6 hours and although we had a gap, we were still in a bit of a rush. I just said to her, "relax, I feel great, we've got this". Gave her a kiss. Then was on my way. We did not run the next couple miles as hard as before, but kept a steady pace. Once we hit the road though, we saw that we still had about 6 minutes to break 20 hrs. Well, unfortunately we did not know exactly how far we were from the finish so we started to run. Fast. I did not have my Garmin connected, but I would estimate that we were definitely below 7 min pace. Could have even been closer to 6 flat. Its hard to tell 98 miles in... All I knew was that we were hauling ass, and it was fast enough to make me feel tired for the first time all day.

We kept that up for at least a mile or more, then once my watch clicked over to 20 hrs, I decided that that was it. No more hammering. Lets just enjoy this last mile. Who knows when (or if) I will feel this good at the end of a 100 again. Around that time we were able to shut our headlamps off, and the sky was turning a nice, bright, pink and orange. A couple minutes later we were running along the RR tracks, and could hear Adrienne cheering near the finish. We did it!! Around the corner, over the tracks, and through the finish. I stopped right at the finish line, kneeled down, and kissed the ground. 100 miles! Check!!




It was an amazing weekend in all. With the low points being early on in the race, it made feeling so great the last 30+ miles beyond thrilling. Looking back on it all now, I can't think of a single complaint. My crew, although they had never even seen an ultra, were awesome! (minus the mishap in the middle) Andy survived the first half of the day, so I know Adrienne didn't get "too" stressed out. And we all were there together at the finish line to watch the sunrise. What a great way to "start" the day! And what an awesome introduction to the 100 mile distance.

During the race I consumed approximately 300 calories / hour, and nearly 400 ounces of water. All of my calories came from gels, which Vi Endurance provided. Their product is great! I am truly honored to represent them. I never had a single stomach issue, and have used Vi Gels all summer during training and racing. They tasted just as good at mile 99 as they did at mile 1. Its truly a testament to their passion for the sport of ultra running, and I highly recommend trying them out for yourself. Mike, Alan, & Michael.. thank you!




I also want to send a shout out to everyone who sent me messages after the race congratulating me. Thanks for all your support! I am out of cell service for about another week (in Stehekin, WA) and will return messages once I get back to Colorado.

I'm not sure what is next, right now I just need to get my Achilles healthy again. Enjoy the trails for me in the mean time.

Run Pure!

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