Virgil Ultra’s happened the weekend of 9/19 (Yes – 2 months ago). Consisting of a 50, 100, 100 relay, and a 50k. A month or so before – Jason asked me if I would be interested in running the Rochester marathon relay. I was like… Yes. But – It’s the same weekend as Virgil I was planning on going whether I was running or not.
I suggested we run the Virgil 100 relay. Then we held off registering till we all survived the weekend of Twisted Branch 100k.
A few weeks before Virgil we finally cracked down – gathered people for a team. Registered. We (coincidence?) ended up with a team that was also the Great Range group. Which is proving to be the perfect group of people to spend unlimited hours with.
Team: KILL ALL MILES – consisted of 5 people. Jason Vidmar, Jeff Green, Katie Ann, Danielle Snyder, and me (Laura Rekkerth). Our relay strategy –> Pick names out of a baggy. Each leg was random. The same person could be picked multiple times in a row, but no more than 3 times. One person would do 4.
We knew doing a 100 mile relay would involve somewhere around 24 hours of running, driving, being awake. This year has been about getting the most out of every day, every weekend, every hour. Often including race weekends that span over 3 days, and very little sleep.
FRIDAY Sept. 18th
Jeff and I ventured to Virgil to pick up our teams bibs, and camp at the start. We set up our tents and sat on a hill looking at the clear sky and stars. It gradually got colder, and had to retreat into our tents.
As usual I couldn’t sleep. I layed there, and eventually was accompanied by messages from Captain/Coach Jason. He was going over race data, and also not sleeping. Facebook messages spanned from sometime before 12am, till sometime after 1am.
SATURDAY Sept. 20th
I woke up before my 5am alarm. Packed up my tent, put it away. Waited for Jeff to get up. We ventured to the pavilion, and spectated 50 and 100 milers getting ready to start. They took off at 6am – and would have 36 hours to finish the 100 miler.
Jeff and I now had 2 hours to kill before the start of the relay. Patiently awaited the arrival of our teammates.
Baggy draw #1 – Jason Vidmar was selected to start us off. In true Vidmar fashion he took off, and gave those first 6 miles almost everything he had. Jason was running from the start, to Hitching Post. about 6 miles.
Baggy draw #2 – Jeff was selected. I was jealous of this section, as I knew it had fun single track. Jeff was running from Hitching Post to Tens Kate – about 6 miles. The next person that runs would be up for the hardest section – Hurt Locker.
Baggy draw #3 – Hi Jeff. Your up again.
Baggy draw #4 – Laura (me). I would get to run 5 miles from the #trailsroc aid station to Rock Pile. Supposedly mostly down hill, and easy.
Jeff came in to the #trailsroc aid station – I was off. The trail was awesome. This section only took 42 minutes, which left minimal time for the team to get to the Rock Pile aid station. I saw Sheila Eagan and Michael Meynadasy as they ran the 50 miler, and Tim Raggets running the 100 miler.
Baggy Draw #5 – Jason Vidmar. However – I reached the Rock Pile, and at first glance had no team. But Katie came running out of the woods 2 seconds later, saying the others were still coming. She handed me her phone, and it was now her turn.
Baggy Draw #6 – It was starting to get late in the day, and Danielle was still waiting for her turn. We pulled a name. Not Danielle. She wanted to run sooner than later as she was not feeling well. So we decided she would go next. We waited for Katie back at the #Trailsroc aid station. Danielle would be running to TenKate Crossing – also meaning she would go down Hurt Locker.
Baggy Draw #6 – Laura (me). I would be running from TenKate to Hitching post.
This section was also a lot of fun. I knew their was opportunity to get lost in this part – but Jeff gave me the heads up that the course stuck to the white marked trails.
Baggy Draw #7 – Danielle.
Danielle was up again, to run us back to the starting line at Hope lake. Headlamps would be needed as we started the second half.
Baggy Draw #8 – Katie.
So were back at the start. We have to do all this all over again!?
Baggy Draw #9 – Jason.
Jason started the race off for us – but had been patiently waiting his second turn. Now was his chance. He destroyed the section from Hitching Post to TenKate – Jeff and I had both ran this part, and Jason had the fastest time of the 3.
Baggy Draw #10 – Laura (me)
I was finally going to get my chance to #1 – run in the dark. #2 – Run up hurt locker. I was pretty excited. The section from TenKate to #trailsroc is no joke though, definitely one of the hardest runs. The team ended up waiting for me at the bottom of hurt locker, and Jason offered to join me for the last 3 miles. It was dark, and I accepted.
Baggy Draw #11 – Danielle.
Jason and I came into the #trailsroc aid station, and Danielle was off to the Rock Pile. While at #Trailstoc – Dave Justice informed us of the oncoming monsoon. But it wasn’t raining yet. It’ll hold off. Yeah…
Baggy Draw #12 – Jeff.
We waited for Danielle at the Rock Pile. It had started to rain. It started to rain harder. We had been talking about starting the “buddy system” – two people would run together for the rest of the relay. So I offered to run with Jeff back to #Trailsroc, then we would also continue on to TenKate Crossing. Knocking out 2 legs in one go.
I forgot to mention that Katie hurt her ankle during her 2nd relay leg. So our team was down to 4.
Jeff and I made it from the Rock Pile to #Trailsroc pretty easily – considering the trails were hard to see through the rain and fog. It took us just over an hour. We both felt pretty good, and would be good to keep going through the next section.
We took our time grabbing food at the aid station. We would now be running from #trailsroc AS to TenKate crossing, which included going down hurt locker.
It was still raining. It was still misting and foggy. Pretty early on we realised we hadn’t seen a flag in a while. And we’d been going down hill. Long story short — We turned around. Ran/walked back up this hill. Went a different way. Eventually saw some flags. I started dying. We kept thinking Hurt Locker would be coming up any minute. I was beginning to think Jeff would have to finish this one without me. Just as I was reaching panick mode – we heard cars. We saw lights. There was no hurt locker… no ski hills. We messed up. (Thank God).
Jeff and I felt terrible for cutting the course. But were so happy to be done. We found Danielle and Jason getting ready at the car. They were pretty surprised to see us so soon. A few minutes later, Ian walked by and we told him what happened. With bigger things to worry about, and being the awesome dude he is… he let it slide. Plus the relays were so spread out, that cutting an hour out of our section wouldn’t have changed anything.
Danielle and Jason were up for the section from Tenkate to Hitching post. Jeff and I decided we would drive over the next aid station and wait it out. We were soaked. Cold.
The next run would be to the finish. Who would it be? Jeff and I were feeling pretty much… done. But could slug it out if needed. We waited – about 2 hours? and eventually saw the headlamps coming in. Jason looked excited and ready to take us home. Danielle was battling the stomach issues she’d been suffering through all day – she was done. Captain/coach Jason once again proves his awesome selflessness, and takes on the solo run to the finish.
We arrived back to an empty Hope lake. No one at the finish. No one in the Pavilion… at first. Then we were greeted by a cool guy volunteer.
Jason ran the final section in about an hour and 12 min.
Our relay finished in 19 hours and 24 minutes. Started at 8am, and finished at 3:24am. Good for 2nd place.
The team then decided we would gather our sleeping bags, and stay in the pavilion. We claimed a picnic table – Jason and Danielle had sleeping pads and slept on the floor. Jeff and I each claimed a side of the picnic table bench — Somehow managed to not fall off.
We got up early and watched the top 100 milers finish, as well as a couple of relay teams.
The team decided we would go grab breakfast at Perkins – then get on the road. But Jeff and I decided to drag this thing out longer — After breakfast we returned to Hope Lake to watch Natalie and others run the 50k.
RIP Virgil Crest Ultras.