Sunday, July 10, 2016

SB100: Two Nights & A Daze

Pre-race go-go.
The Santa Barbara 100 asks a tough question: are you ready to run two nights and a day? This is what happens when the start is 6pm Friday night, concluding 36 hours later at 0600 Sunday morning.

The course is a lot tougher than the low-elevation would suggest, as it runs in the
east-west Transverse Range  instead of north-south. This means you spend the day running in a complete furnace. There is minimal coverage, very dry and even fewer water opportunities.

RD Robert Gilchrist has seemingly overcome a lot of bad PR regarding previously inadequate aid stations, awkward customer relations, and mobile dates. The aid stations I saw at the tail end were well-stocked, volunteers in good morale and attentive to the runner.

Pre-race popane lantern ‪Macgyver‬ hack. Needed a locknut, used a ‪Corona‬ bottle cap. Yes, I had time on my hands.

The Why I’m Here Part

I wasn’t there to do a peripatetic Aid Station QC, but rather to pace Jeanne, who was looking for a redemption 100 after her heat flameout at San Diego 100 a month ago.

Taking her considerable knowledge of the course, combined with a fierce determination to get the 100 done made it happen. I was to pace her the last ten miles. Had I been in better shape, there would’ve been more. Shit’s been deep the last four months.

I met her at the Falls Aid Station, the 10/90 mark. SB100 is an out & back, where I’d seen her at the start Friday evening around 830 pm. She hove into view around 1030pm Saturday. Given the scorching day, she looked tired, but in good order. She caloried up and we headed out.

More Recovered Memories

Heading up to the Cameusa Connector Trail, the whole business of pacing was getting a review. Don’t think I’ve paced at a hundred in almost 18 years. 
  • Rule 1: its her race. 
  • Rule 2: stay on task. 
  • Rule 3: Don’t be a dick.
She was moving with purpose. No mention of pace or speed here: shit like that is useless, and annoying. Watching the indifferent Garmin it was calling it as a 26-something mile on the initial climb. No pausing, shuffling, puking or other indicators of dire trouble.

The Cameusa Connector is a series of climbs, plateaus, dips and more climbing. About 3 miles in, it became open and scenic. By the the time we topped out at the 95mi Buckhorn Aid station, we were on an open ridge, pitch black with brilliant stars overhead.

Everything hurts now for her. I remembered the Jim O’Brien quote when I asked him on my ’96 AC100 if he had any ibuprofen: “Keep going. There’s nothing you can do about it”.

Jeanne sat down just as another runner collapsed into a chair with a blanket. I said “lets go, now”. She didnt need to be there any longer than it took for a cup of cream of broccoli soup. She got up, and out we went. There was no benefit in her getting locked up in a chair.

We made good time down to Upper Oso Campground. The afterburners kicked in when I said “hey! at this pace we’ll be at the finish in 40 minutes!” She’s all sprint to the finish—33:03 and done.

Now, Suggestions

The SB100 is now a known quantity of serious ass-kicking. For those out there who light farts and get laughs with “California Carpet Trails”, step up.

That said, its time now for a pre-qualifier to gate entrants. This is not a good first 100mi or 100k without due preparation.
A first-timer out on this course should have a legit 50mi qualifier in hand. There were people who’d gotten in over their heads with exposure and deyharation, and were hauled out on horseback by dedicated volunteers. 

Santa Barbara shows that there are opportunities for formidable ultra challenges in a low-elevation geography.