2017 Beaverhead 100k - Spot the DNFer

Spot sits atop yet another DNF runner. It's been an excruciating few weeks for Spot, after gracing Jim Walmsley's head and shelling out bad luck to Gunhild, Bree and Kaci. Only Kaci escaped the DNF monkey. My Beaverhead 100k run came to a halt after 27 miles and 7 hours. How we got here is a long, sordid story full of mystery, intrigue, conspiracy, and a cow-duck hybrid.

Two years ago, a conspiracy worthy of Infowars began when my wife, along with 75+ associates, plotted a surprise birthday party for her mother. The best part of the surprise was that her birthday was in January but the party was in July. No one expects a birthday party 6 months after their birthday! I suspect my wife is planning to hold my 70th birthday party 20 years early.

Anyway, to create a diversion or just to satisfy my own self-flagellation, I signed up for the Beaverhead 100k set a few days post-party. Other than elevation mostly between 9 and 11,000 ft and 3 miles of scree, it looks pretty reasonable on paper. With just 12k ft of gain and a long downhill finish, it appeared easier than most of my other 100k races. If only we could race on paper. At least today, rock beats paper. I ran 4 RPM - hitting 4 rocks per minute but miraculously avoiding a hard fall.

In my rush to Salmon, ID, I forgot to pack my usual race breakfast - hard boiled eggs and avocado. It couldn't be that hard to find, right? I got to Nature's Pantry, a local organic food store, at closing time hoping it was my best shot in this small, remote town. While they didn't carry boiled eggs, the store owner, Kate, was kind enough to make some at home and drop them off at my hotel. It was kismet. OK, it was the highly less romantic kind involving chicken eggs, but kismet, nonetheless. Thanks, Kate!

If you stare at the map of Montana long enough, they say that you can see the profile of Chief Joseph looking westward. I used to live in Hamilton, which is deep up the chief's nose. Beaverhead is a long point-to-point run, along the Continental Divide Trail that also defines the Montana-Idaho border. We'd run up the Chief's chin. 

The Beaverhead 100k ends near Salmon, Idaho, starting after a long bus ride to the south to Bannock Pass, on the Continental Divide at 7,700 ft elevation. This would be the low point on the course other than the finish. It's said that the views will take your breath away. Even if you can't appreciate the views, with most of the race above 8,500 ft, your breath will be taken away whether you like it or not.
Race start under a full moon at 5 AM
Spot the trail
Spot the bear grass
Spot the CDT

Views to die for. Well, I felt like I was dying anyway.

Montana, Idaho. Wheat, potato. Evil Knievel, Napoleon Dynamite. Greg Gianforte, Pedro. There are lots of differences between the two states but from up here, both sides were stunning to see in the early morning sun. Both sides also stunk because cows shit the same no matter which state they are in.

My day went south early. My leg weren't turning over. Hamstrings and calves got tight forcing me to step lightly as if I was wearing a little black dress in high heels. As I looked at other runners, I got a tinge of weenus envy at their normal sized elbows. My left elbow had swollen for two weeks, olecranon bursitis, but the swelling usually subsided overnight. Until, two days before the race. 16 hours before race start, the urgent care doctor drained a tiny amount of fluid and gave me an antibiotic. The swelling went down a little by race morning, but by mile 13, my whole arm was following the weenus lead. 
My giant swollen weenus, the day before the race
13 miles in
Fighting off the infection and the antibiotic may have done me in. Heart thumping on small climbs. Unable to run flats. And the kicker, barely able to even run down hills. Spot didn't bless me with any good luck. Neither did my cow shaped rubber duckie.

I knew my race was over by mile 6. I pushed on, if for no other reason than to enjoy the scenery. I arrived with Rich at mile 27 over an hour behind expected time. We both dropped there at Lemhi Pass. For me, after a medic confirmed my arm was getting worse and that I should rest/ice/elevate the shit out of it. Technically, it's still an ultramrathon, so there's that. And I paid separately for the race hat, so I have the hat, finisher or not.

Post race, we stopped for a picnic along a creek. Sounds idyllic, but I have to say, this was the worst beer ever. Having DNF'ed, I felt like I deserved this crap beer. Next race, I'll have my wife bring two beers - this one, as punishment for DNF, and any other beer as reward for finishing. Hell, I may even podium wth that kind of disincentive.

A beer worthy of a DNFer
I do wish I had been able to run the alpine section on the second half of this course. It's up there somewhere. Ironically, I lamented to Audrey that had it not been for the race, I would have spent my week in Montana climbing up the Bitterroot Mountains every day to its alpine lakes. C'est la vie. That's short in French for you're a loser, deal with it.


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