Luis Escobar's Born To Run Ultras - Los Olivos, California

Guillermo Medina, 1st in 100 Mile
Graced by the presence of the host, Luis Escobar and the Caballo Blanco (Micah True),  it was as if the stories in the book Born To Run by Christopher McDougall came to life before my eyes with its characters. The Caballo Blanco even led the morning with an oath taken by every runner before the run, echoing the story itself, "If I get hurt, lost or die. It's my own "effing" fault!" (He actually said the f-bomb and not effing). The course, two ten mile loops, the second loop with a nice steep hill climb towards the end and some of them mighty steep as the second loop merged back with the first loop along the course.

The morning, afternoon and evening was glorious. Rolling hills, virgin lands no one had ever raced on, brand new paths in the knee high foxtail grass that took runners into the base of picture perfect rolling hills. Around 11PM it became a wet and muddy event as the rain came down (only to clear up by the next day). The steep descent of a hill in the second loop became a slippery water slide as rains and winds came upon us in the middle of the night. However the image of being in the middle of a field, surrounded by rolling hills in the dead of the night, on a path barely beaten down by runners in faded moonlight behind the stormy clouds and chilling wind will always be a warm memory of the Born To Run Ultras event.

My 10 mile run was as enjoyable as could be as I my body drained a GU Roctane for the last few miles cruising past the true endurance runners pacing themselves for the long haul. (Luis Escobar is an established photographer, a character in Born To Run and ultra runner sponsored by Montrail). It was a grass roots ultra affair at its best attracting over 160 runners from around the country when they first only expected 20 people to show up. The other categories were 10 miles, 50k, 100k and 100 miles. My friend Eric Yan finished the 100 mile race achieving his personal best time of 19:59 (that is 19 hours and 59 minutes) finishing 4th. The North Face sponsored Guillermo Medina finished 1st in a blistering 18:58 and it wasn't even one of his best days. He had beaten Lance Armstrong just a few weeks before at the Santa Barbara Endurance Race. The Caballo Blanco (Micah True) even ran the 50k event I believe. Barefoot Ken Bob Saxton was also present promoting his new book on barefoot running.

Eric Yan, 4th in 100 Mile
I was able to pace a 100 mile runner on her 7th 10 mile loop through wind, rain and mud. She was moving along nicely until later that evening when she couldn't hold anything down. The upset stomach and throwing up had begun. I did my best to pace a racer through constant puking, sleep walking and what seemed like dire times in the middle of nature during adverse weather conditions, running ahead then running back just to keep warm as she stopped every few minutes to dry heave her guts out all the while sleep shuffling. She refused to take a gel or anything and when we finally reached the last aid station, set her head down to rest. Some hot food might have helped her recover for the last few miles to end this 7th loop but the race had taken her by this point and there wasn't any hot food at this aid station. She decided to quit the race on her own but sometimes I wonder if I should have pushed her to keep going.

It must be the crazy gene in me looking forward to going 50 miles but I always learn something new about something myself and as humans all the time. I noticed many runners at night had poor lighting and not enough rain/cold resistant outer layers when adverse weather hit. It seems like a good idea to have a good night light, pair of dry, water proof running shoes, gaiters and a rain proof soft shell waiting around just in case. I was shivering like heck when we had to grab a ride in a truck back to camp in my soaked long sleeve wicker shirt and shorts but the runner and I were all smiles as we sipped on our hot soup because these ultra runners are something crazy. Something good crazy.

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