2009 Hellgate

by Rick Meyers

Hellgate 100k race, and I use that term loosely, summary report:

Holy Sh*t! That's what I said a few thousand times during this adventure. As I met runners Friday night at the pasta feed, I heard interesting stories about this race and for each story I heard my confidence slowly drifted away. I thought that with my 7 time JFK 50 mile finishes I would be pretty well seasoned to handle this race. Boy was I wrong. Four weeks ago I had a running set back while training for Hellgate. I had broken two bones in my left foot. I tried to incorporate cross training for the next week but I had JFK breathing down my neck. I ran it with a friend who was also having a physical set back and we agreed to participate and just make the time cut off of 12 hours. We trotted along and finished in 11:24. My foot killed me the entire way and with the altered gait it caused a nasty ankle sprain. I saw my podiatrist on Monday who put a cast on for the next two weeks. But by the next day I couldn't take the restricted mobility so I cut if off. I had less than three weeks to Hellgate and I couldn't do any type of cross training with that cast on. So, for the next two and a half weeks, I lifted weights and did the Arc Trainer. Not the typical Hellgate training regimen but I was hopeful. Hellgate started and by the second step, I knew that I would be in for one very long and excrutiating night, day, night run.

Since I haven't been able to run it's needless to say that I haven't run in the dark since about mid October so my confidence of night running in the woods was a bit shakey to say the least. Thankfully for the icy water crossings, both feet were adequately numb so the pain in the foot eased. And with the multiple falls, I managed to create pain in other areas of my body to concentrate on.

The course was unbelievably difficult. I had no idea that these climbs were going to be this difficult. The descents weren't any better. The energy effort may have been less coming down but the screaming quads more than made up for it. As I only have JFK experience as my ultrarunning event, the climbs were mole hills compared to Hellgate. I only anticipated the first creek crossing and figured that I would be able to change shoes shortly thereafter and remain dry the rest of the way. But, my crew backed out late and I didn't have time to recruit new members. So I thought that I could hang on until the first check point then change shoes. But during the race brief that idea was blown since Horton said that we will be wet until maybe Bearwallow gap. So I waited until then to change. That didn't matter much since five minutes after leaving the second check point, I was wet again. By the way, Dr. Horton, I really do apologize for all of those names I called you late in the race :o)

I really enjoyed the people that I met along the way: Martha, Suzanne, Roger, Bill, Eric, and finally Steve who ran with me the last 6 miles. As I arrived at aid station 8, I was told by the volunteer that I am very close to not being an official finisher. I thought bullsh*t I won't! 3.5 hours to run 17 miles, I'm going to do it even if it's the last bit of running I ever do. Along the way I passed Steve Brown and told him of our near danger of not finishing. That lit a fire under both of our butts. We ran into aid station 9 together, refueled then off we went to make our goals come to life. We made it with about 6 minutes to spare. I culminated my run by tripping and landing on the macadam just at the finishing clock damn near killing Horton.

It was a very defining moment in my running life. I have had decent success in road marathoning and JFK but this was a butt kicker. I will be back, hopefully in race ready condition to control the course instead of the course controlling me. Thanks Horton for a very memorable adventure.