With 123 starters, and just 37 finishers, this race had one of the most blatant attrition rates that I've ever seen! The race started out with temps that stabilized at over 90 degrees and 100% humidity, which ripped apart the field within the first 30 miles alone.
Working support with Luke's wife Emily, 10 month old son Spencer, and best friend Doug, who just happens to be one of the top acupuncturists in the entire country, I sat idly by as the field continued to shrink with every passing mile. At the 31 mile aid station we watched over twenty runner's call it a day due to the heat and humidity. Then came our boy Luke, who's new nick name is Mr. Consistent, trucking along and looking strong.
Shortly after this point the skies opened up like I've never witnessed in North America before! I had seen truly torrential downpours in Central America, but nothing compared or prepared me for what was about to unfold. Within minutes roads were flooding, lightning was flashing and thunder was a crashing. We had 'one count' thunder as we awaited the arrival of our runner at the 47 mile aid station. Again we watched as runner after runner arrived, checked in, and then jumped in their car and simply drove away!
Luke never gave serious consideration to quiting, but after running with a pack of people who had spent the last hour talking about dropping, and then followed that up by doing just that, he wasn't sure what was safe, and what he fully intended to do. We were just under an hour away from the official allowed starting time for a pacer, of 6:30pm, and I asked permission to jump in there early and to start playing in the puddles. We got the ok, and before I was even changed into my own running gear Laga was gone, saying he knew I'd catch up to him pretty quickly.
What ensued was just over 13hr of actual run time and 53 miles of crazy ass weather. Every time we thought we were clear, like the time we started singing,
"Here comes the sun, da, da, da, da..."
CRASH, WHOOSH, instant downpour!
The race director said these were the worst race conditions he's ever been a part of, and my boy Luke Laga, in his first ever 100 miler, and just his second ultra race, crossed that line in 27hr16m07s to finish 24th overall!
Bar none, one of the greatest running moments of my life. Pics, vids, and stories to follow, assuming this rain lets up at some point and that my flight home tomorrow isn't canceled as apparently Milwaukee is pretty much completely under water right now!
Time for beers, food and some serious celebrating of an amazing accomplishment!!