He’s gonna be 500 miles

Foresthill runner takes aim at five California 100-milers in one season

By: Todd Mordhorst, Journal Sports Editor
Thursday, September 20, 2007

Foresthill’s Jack Meyer is attempting to complete the “California Slam” this year by finishing all five 100-mile endurance runs in the state. Meyer has a tough task this weekend as he lines up at the Rio Del Lago 100 in Granite Bay on Saturday. He’ll be running less than a week after completing the grueling Angeles Crest 100 in southern California.

A team of therapists are working overtime this week so Jack S. Meyer can attempt what some people are calling insane and others consider inspiring.

When the lifelong Foresthill resident lines up to run the Rio Del Lago 100-mile Endurance Run Saturday in Granite Bay, he will be trying to finish his second 100-miler in a week and fourth this summer.

“Between my physical therapist, my chiropractor and my massage therapist, hopefully I can get through it,” said Meyer, who just finished the Angeles Crest 100 in 28 hours, 22 minutes, 45 seconds. “In the past few days, I’ve had some people say I shouldn’t run. There’s varying opinions on it. Most people just do one 100 a year.”

No, Meyer hasn’t gone postal, though he does work at the Nevada Street post office as a clerk. But he is trying to complete all five 100-mile ultras in California this year. Meyer would be the first person on record to complete the “California Slam,” an informal series first organized in 2002.

Meyer’s 500-mile journey began at the Western States Endurance Run in June, where he clocked in at 27:53:32. It was his third straight WS 100 finish, though he was not an immediate success at the event that runs through his hometown.

“Growing up watching the race, as I got older, it got more intriguing,” the 44-year-old said. “It took me four attempts to finally finish it. (Ultrarunning) is a great addiction, a great group of people to be involved with.”

The second leg of Meyer’s venture was the Headlands Hundred in August near Marin, which he ran in 27:18:51. In October, the San Diego 100 awaits. This weekend he will compete in the eighth annual Rio Del Lago, an event run by former Western States race director Norm Klein.

“We don’t draw the great numbers like Western States or Leadville, but we get runners that are capable of finishing in the top 10 at those races,” said Klein, who said he expects around 100 people for Saturday’s run that follows American River Equestrian Trails through Granite Bay, Auburn and Cool. Meyer said the soreness from last weekend’s race has mostly dissipated, but he realizes Rio Del Lago could be a struggle. Not only did Meyer run Angeles Crest, but he drove himself home from Southern California.

“My lower legs were the worst,” he said. “I drove home without my feet elevated, so that added to the soreness.”

Meyer swore he wouldn’t put himself through this after last year, when he finished four 100-milers.

“At the end of last year my body was screaming for rest,” he said. “When the new year came, I started thinking about (the California Slam) and toyed with the idea. I said we’ll see how things go.”

He endured an injury to finish Western States and even with brutal months looming ahead, he finished the Tahoe Rim Trail 100 in July.

Though Meyer’s ultrarunning efforts are astounding, they aren’t unprecedented. Helen Klein, Norm’s wife, finished five 100’s within 16 weeks in 1989 – at the age of 66.

“We’ve had some people do 15 ultras in one year,” Norm said. “What (Meyer’s) doing is impressive, but it’s not unusual.”

Dan Moores, owner of Auburn Running Company, has seen Meyer progress in the world of ultras in the last several years.

“He didn’t finish Western States the first couple of times he ran it and then something just clicked,” Moores said. “The great thing about Jack is he’s just an every day guy. He’s not getting any fanfare or awards for what he’s doing. He just does it because he loves being out there.”

A 1981 Placer High grad, Meyer said he never enjoyed organized sports. He ran his first 50-miler in 1992 and though he told himself he would never run another, here he is 15 years later on the brink of a monumental achievement, though his motivation is simple. “It’s a great personal challenge,” he said. “And you see places the couch potatoes don’t get to see.”

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