San Diego 100 Mile Endurance Run
June 9-10, 2012
Laguna Mt Recreation Area
By Mike Campbell
Reuniting with Scott Mills after about eight years was great, and he definitely hasn’t lost touch of race directing since moving to California. He didn’t disappoint anyone with his top-notch operation managing the San Diego 100.
I was in San Diego five days before the race, which turned out to be one of the most pleasant combination vacation/trail runs that I’ve had. Accompanied by my wife, daughter (Andrea) and son-in-law (James), we managed to take in San Diego thanks to James, our tour guide, who was previously stationed there as a Marine.
I didn't pack too many supplies for the flight so we stopped at the Coronado commissary and picked up Ensure, Gatorade, V8 Energy and a Styrofoam cooler. We left downtown San Diego Friday to head to Laguna and stopped in Julian for lunch and some famous apple pie before our packet pickup and briefing at Al Bahr Lodge. We received both a short sleeve Patagonia, a long sleeve Race Ready technical shirt and an Elliptigo water bottle in our initial packet.
About 15 Virginia Happy Trail Running Club members made the trip west to take part in this ultra. Nicknamed the blue train, we took advantage of the photo opportunity for web posting back home and took photos at the pre-race briefing. It was nice to be part of many friends – and blue shirts – out here away from the east coast.
The race started Saturday at 7 a.m. sharp at a little more than 5,400 feet. We were already a mile high and would be going up to more than 6,000 where air was NOT as thin as you would expect at that elevation. This area doesn't get much rain and the trails (mostly single track) were dusty, and you could see the danger of fires exists. Scott advised the first part of the course would have a lot of wood cover and trails you could run, so don't get carried away in blowing by these initial miles because it will catch up with you.
I started conservatively at an eight- to nine-minute pace for the first 10 to 11 miles getting through the first two crewed aid stations. Mile 13.8 was the last place I’d see my crew again until mile 44.1, so I drank a bottle of V8 Energy (found this gives me a little boost beyond the regular V8 tomato I usually drink), got my second bottle filled with Ensure and decided to carry a third with Gatorade. We would have a couple at or near 8-mile sections, so I would need at least two bottles of Gatorade to get me through.
We were set to drop in elevation about 2,200 feet over the next 10 miles. Even though we were going down hill you can't let it go due to the rocky terrain in places. I ranged between a nine- to 13-minute pace here.
As you know I only drink Gatorade and Ensure so even though the aid stations seemed appetizing, I had to pass on almost everything. I did grab a packet of GU once in awhile and got attached to the lemon/lime flavor (maybe six or seven total), since it was similar to the lemon/lime Gatorade. Introducing that had its consequences as I ended up in the woods/bushes three times during the race. My crew puts in one S-Cap salt tablet in every 20-ounce bottle of Gatorade, and at the non-crew aid stations, I down one S-Cap every other aid station. This seemed to work because I didn’t suffer from cramps during the race.
At mile 36 (Pine Creek 2) I topped off my bottles and started out climbing on the asphalt road. We ascended around 1,000 feet then dropped down a bit and then were on a dirt trail for another 1k, hiking most of the way. One savior was an unscheduled aid after about 2.5 miles with a parked pickup truck where I filled one of my empty bottles with water. Another was about a 1.5 later with a special aid station where I grabbed an icy pop and water refill. I got through to mile 44 downing about 3.5 bottles of Gatorade and water.
I pulled into mile 44.1 (Pioneer Mail 1) at 4:45 p.m. At this point my bottle of Ensure was empty and I swapped everything out with my crew for two fresh bottles of Gatorade. I changed shoes (another pair of Brooks Cascadia) and put on clean Injinji socks. Drank another V8 Energy and was off to get the next 7.2 miles out of the way before pacers were allowed to join at 51. We had some climbs and then were on the PCT (Pacific Coast Trail) a lot. This at times was very runable in pine cushioning without so many rocks, and it made for some pleasant trails. I also caught up to Jerry Riddick from Tucson, kidding about when he will join the rest of us 60-year-old grumpy guys, and he said last month he turned 60. So now I had someone to push me. He was having stomach problems and I told him to get some ginger ale at the next aid station.
I came into mile 51.3 (Sunrise 2) at 6:33 p.m., already more than 11.5 hours into this endurance run and a bit slower that I thought it’d be. It only took me 10.5 hours for the first 50 miles at the Leadville 100 and that was at 12,300 feet. I downed a quick Ensure, took full Gatorade bottles, and set off with James for the next 7.6 miles. I elected to get paced for this section since it had minimal climbs and was almost all runable. James set out as my rabbit and we covered these miles at an 11- to 12-minute pace. We came into mile 58.9 (Stonewall Mine) at this blistering pace, and to my surprise James wanted to run the next section with me as well. I negotiated that I still needed him for the final 13 miles, but head strong he convinced me that would also not be a problem. So the first mile out of this aid we got in another 12-minute mile and then hit the wall at mile 60 going straight up and reverting to the walk/hike. Our pace dropped to 17, 20 and 24 per mile. As it got darker we reverted to our headlamps and dropped down to Paso Picacho aid station, mile 64.2, at 10:15 p.m.
Letting go of my lifeline was hard as I continued on in the dark alone. My pace slowed down considerably, and I found myself with quite some time to do some soul searching. Along with keeping track of the trail markers, flags and course markings, I alternated drinking a cup of regular Coke and Ginger Ale to keep my head clear. There were a few streams but mostly were avoidable so keeping your feet dry during the day wasn’t a problem. This section was 8.1 miles and took more than two hours to cover. I came into mile 72.3 (Sweetwater aid) at 12:50 a.m., drank another Ensure and set out for the next eight miles, mostly uphill.
This was the first time I could see some light from the moon and it was a good night for running. I came into Sunrise 2 at 3:07 a.m. around a 17- to 18-minutes per mile pace, and very happy to get this section over with. I believe right before the aid we had to cross about 10 yards of water that was non-negotiable, so I just plunged on through. I was surprised that the water was quite cool but it was fine because I changed shoes shortly after anyway. I put on my last pair of Brooks Cascadia and clean Injinji socks, took full Gatorade bottles and a V8 Energy to get me through these next 7.2 miles and to meet my pacer for the last 13.
I arrived at mile 87.5 (Pioneer Mail 2) at 5:39 a.m., Ensured and bottled up and James was ready to rock and roll. I chucked my headlamp, since it was not needed after about 4:30 a.m. with the early light this time of year. At this point my liver was working overtime. My Garmin is set to beep every mile to remind me to drink and now I was at the point I had to pee every time I drank. We got back into the run/shuffle, getting out of the 20-minute-mile pace and down to 15 by the time we got to mile 91.5 (Penny Pines 2). I drank one last Ensure and with bottles filled we set out for our final nine miles.
We only had 4.7 miles to the next aid, so I shuffled the best I could to get this over with. We came into mile 96.2 (Rat Hole) going between a 10- and 12-minute pace for this section. I had been without a shirt since about 7 a.m. that morning and was developing a rash under my right arm. I asked if they had any Vaseline and there was none to be found at that station. One aid worker said she had some Chapstick and proceeded to rub if over the reddened area. This cooled if off considerably (God bless her), and we were off for the final journey.
It seemed like forever to get these last miles in, but after winding our way around Al Bahr Camp Grounds we finally came to the finish at 9:06 a.m. Sunday. Met by Race Director Scott Mills, I was congratulated for setting the new age group record by three hours. I received my finisher’s medal, bronze belt buckle, San Diego 100 hoodie, age group winner’s coffee mug and a race tote bag. Talk about a class act, there was even a bucket of ice water you could use to recover after your shower. I also thanked Scotty for the excellent trail marking. Not once did I get off course and to my surprise I did trip a couple of times but did not fall once (this has got to be a record in itself).
- 23 bottles of Gatorade (460 oz)
- 8 bottles of Ensure
- 5, 8oz bottles of V8 Energy
- 21 S-Caps (electrolytes),
- 3 cups of Coke
- 3 cups of ginger ale
- 3 cups of soup
- 7 GU gels
- 2 Oatmeal PowerBars, and 4 energy bites
Official time: 26:06:37 and 50th place overall
Average moving pace: 14:22
Thanks to my lifesaver and son-in-law, James, who pulled me through 13 miles from the 50-mile section and then the final 13 miles (he ran a full marathon at this race) and I couldn’t ask anymore from him. My hat’s also off to my wife and daughter, who suffered all day and night, getting to each aid station on time and giving me all the support I could ask for. Thanks to my son, Michael Jr., for the phone/text advice from Texas with his trail crew expertise and my daughter, Jamie, who was keeping track from Virginia. Last, but not least, is my mom from Wisconsin who is recovering from a broken wrist, God Bless you all.
What’s next? In October I'll run Grindstone to redeem my DNF out there last year.
See you on the trails …..thks Mike