Who’s the pacer?

My weekend started with some trail maintenance work with Gary Hilliard and Gabor Kozinc — they both finished Badwater just a few days prior.  We primarily worked between Red Box and Newcomb Saddle on the sections of the upcoming Mt Disappointment trail races.  I must say that the conditions are excellent — best of any trail I’ve seen anywhere recently.  I’ll be volunteering there if I don’t head out to Leadville early.

After an exhausting day (remember, I’m not used to doing this manual labor stuff), I went home for a quick nap and shower before heading down to OC to meet with Bill Ramsey as he participated in the Relay for Life cancer fund-raiser for the American Cancer Society.

It was a beautiful night with an almost full moon.  Candles, personalized with messages to loved ones lost to cancer, lined the course like an airport runway.  I’m not sure how it was during the day, but there were very few people out doing their laps while I was there.  Team and vendor booths and tents scattered the field, and a sound stage was setup along the side.  Bill’s tent had the most action of them all, as they kept track of us coming in every few minutes, refilled his bottle and tended to his needs, and offered occasional words of encouragement as we came through.  Most of the other teams were done for the night.

When I arrived around 9pm, he already had an entourage running with him — Jess, the Roberts (Cowan and Baird), and another couple (sorry…I forgot their names).  Wow…awesome!  As Bill finished up 65 miles or so, and after chatting briefly with Jess, I got changed and began my pacing duties.  Not too long into it, Charlie Nickel (therundown.net) arrived to join us for a few laps, and the couple ended up leaving a few laps later.  Jason joined us for a bit too.  Then after Jason left, Earl Towner, an excellent ultrarunner during his day, joined up for a few more.  Somewhere during the evening, Bob Harris made an appearance with his daughter to lend support briefly before heading home.  Pretty cool to see everyone come out and support Bill.

Bill’s goal was to cover 100 miles within 24 hours, and he was well on pace to do so.  The question was, could I keep up with his blistering pace.  Before Earl arrived, we did a lot of walking, but it was still at a pace which I barely managed to keep — that was just walking.  Then once he joined up, for the next 15 miles or so, we ended up running the whole loop except for the short grass infield.  At that point, I was beginning to feel it in my legs — mostly in my knees, which was quite unusual for me, since they’ve never been in pain before.  Then I realized that I hadn’t done that much road-running since I did Comrades back in 2001 — even for marathons, the most I’d be on pavement would be about 4 hours, and only once a year when I’d do the LA Marathon.  I’m sure that having run Vermont only a week before made it even worse.  When we finally hit the 90 mile mark, we both started to smell the barn, but I wasn’t sure if I could do another 10 miles.  Well, having gone the last 25, I couldn’t just leave Bill with so little left to go — a pacer isn’t supposed to DNF.

The sun had come up at that point — 91, 92, 93…only 7 more.  The conversations throughout the run were non-stop and very entertaining — topics ranged from petroleum jelly alternative to gel, Scottish ales and its labeling based on shilling, and getting frostbite at Badwater.  Yes, you really missed out by not being there.

Then it wasn’t long before we clicked through 97 and 98…only 2 more miles!  I had been with Bill for about 7 hours, covering over 30 miles, and even managed to get through the 2-5am period without getting sleepy.  Man, wish I could put in that kind of performance during my races.

Then just before 6am, after finishing up Bill’s 99th mile, Michelle came out to join us, and as we rounded the first corner onto Camino Del Avion, we saw Gabor driving up.  So we all ran the final lap in with Bill — 100 miles, in just under 22 hours!

Congratulations to Bill, who even after experiencing the passing of his brother only a couple days before, managed to put in an incredible performance, in addition to becoming the top fundraiser bringing in well over his goal of $8000!

Way to go my friend…looking forward to running together again soon.

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4 comments

  1. way to be a good support to Bill out there! I wish I could have run with him more. I’m not running at all this week until I see my doc on Monday…

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