Kodiak 100 traverses around Big Bear Lake in Southern California, however, while in places scenic, you don’t get to see the lake much at all. There is an accompanying 50 Mile and front and back 50K. The average altitude is at 7000 and the race peaks at 10k and dips to 4K. Being from the East coast, I didn’t think that the course was very technical- yes there were some rocks and some scree but nothing that made me curse its existence. As someone who is not local to the area- I was not ready for how exposed, hot, and arid everything was. There was no shade because there are no trees! I should have utilized the sauna more in training.
Beat Course Record- DONE
Finish sub 24hrs- NOPE
My race themes:
“Oh God, PLEASE let me be on the right trail”
“Great- I ran out of water again”
The race started at 9:00 am- and of course I was up at 5 because my body was still on EST. This allowed for plenty of pre-race coffee, rice cakes and potty time. We were fitted with a SPOT tracker (which is really cool for spectating). The first 7 miles went by quickly and then we started our first major climb up a fire road at altitude. While I’m not great at running up hills because of my asthma, I’ve worked really hard to be a fast power hiker. My climbing was NOT on point during this race. I was 8 miles in and I was questioning my fitness level and if I was going to finish. My heart rate monitor said 185 as I was being passed walking pain painstakingly slow up the mountain. I had to slow down. The altitude was killing my lungs. I also ran out of water 3 miles from the aid station (12), which became a common theme. There was only 1 aid station the entire race I ran into with water still in my pack. I started to carry smaller bottles with me.
Mile 20-31: I was hot, sunburned and salty- The medical volunteer Steve sprayed me down with sunblock. I hadn’t thought to put any on because when I think mountains- I think trees and shade! The roundtrip up and down SugarLoaf Mt was 11 miles with one tiny creek crossing. By the time I had reached the top (10K), I was slightly dizzy and had run out of water- thankfully another runner offered me some of his and down I went. This is where my East Coast running helped. While there were rocks, I was able to dance and actually pass people on the descent. I stopped and dipped my hat in the creek and made it to the aid station.
Crewed Aid station time was critical to get right because of how long between aid
stations you saw your crew. It ranged from 11-27 miles (ok there was one 3 mile section but that was really early). I made a check list and followed it.
Mile 31-42.5: Lots of turns, fire roads, and asphalt. It was also hotter than hell as the mid day sun beat down. The first place girl was over an hour ahead of me and I was making the decision to slow down even more to save my stomach and legs. Everyone kept talking about how technical Dead Man’s Ridge was- I didn’t even realize I went through it until later when someone told me. There was scree- but my Altra Timps and my hiking poles kept me upright! I arrived at mile 38 Burn Canyon and to men were there to greet me.
Me: Do you have ice, please?
Me: Well… That… um… (Looking for a word other than sucks)
Them: Sucks- That totally sucks- you don’t have to tell us that.
Me: Yes, that is unfortunate. I start inhaling orange slices (I ate at least 2 whole oranges)
Them: Ill start cutting up more oranges
Me: Sorry- I must have worked up an appetite getting to you 🙂
I grabbed another orange slice and thanked them for their time. Fueled with a whole bunch of fructose- I continued down the trail. I don’t think I saw any other runner this entire section.
Mile 42.5-69: When I arrived at the Dump- I took my time getting ready for the next 27 miles where I would not see Max. I changed my clothes, downed a soda, and packed jacket and a headlight. I asked for far 1st was in front of me and all Max could say was focus on securing 2nd… that far huh? It was from this section on where the course markings really gave me trouble. I had heard that this course had inadequate marking, but was promised that it would be improved upon. I can’t tell you how much time I wasted standing looking for markers, countless MILES back tracking, or waiting for someone to come up behind me to verify that I was on the right route, and at one point I said F*#$ it and climbed through barb wire to get back on course. The course markings that were used at night were a reflective piece that was smaller than a AAA battery that blew with the wind- almost impossible to see.
I got to 50 miles at 8pm and turned on my headlight. And at that point I thought I was on course to go sub 24. The sun had gone down and it finally felt good to run. Much of this section is runnable. However there are so many turns that you have to keep an eye out for.
I researched all the perilous creatures I could encounter and what to do if I ran into one. Possible sightings: ill-intentioned Humans, Bears, Rattle Snakes, Cats (Ie Mountain Lions ect). I felt so lucky that I got through the day with ZERO snake sightings and no creepy humans. As I was bee bopping down the fire road by myself, all of a sudden I see 2 eyes staring at me. I reach my arms as HIGH as they would go, start praying and backing up slowly. (Scrambling Thoughts: I passed a runner 5 minutes ago- they will be here soon, Im not a good dinner- there’s not much meat on my bones, this really can’t be the end of my race? My life? God help please!) Then a headlight flashed on. It was a tired runner who was taking a nap on a rock on the side of the trail. The eyes? Reflectors on his water pack… I ran by him and told him he scared the crap out of me.
It was during this section that I was told that if I was going to catch 1st it would be during 69-79 Siberia Canyon because she was scared of heights. My immediate thought was, that odd- you cant see anything at night, why would you be scared. That thought came back to bite me in my ass.
Around mile 66– my headlight broke. While Im not afraid of the dark, Im afraid of what could happen in the dark- I was alone on single track trail and it was pitch black. There was 3 miles until the aid station. I had a mini panic attack and temper tantrum and while I was walking flung my light on the ground. It TURNED ON! A Miracle. Only to turn off again once I started running. I finagled it and if I held it a certain way it would stay on for a few minutes before I had to readjust. I came into the aid station cursing, having a breakdown- “This piece of shit headlamp” and up walks my cousin- who came to surprise me in the middle of the night to cheer me on and to see me finish. UltraRunning is not always unicorns and rainbows.
Mile 69-79: This is a trail that has never seen a day of trail work. My legs got cut up from all the briers. The first mile was aiming for the arrows and bushwhacking through a self-determined trail. This is a 4.5 mile down and 5.5 mile up section. I got down to the bottom of the canyon and there was a water jug- I filled up because I knew this would take a while. The man there said 1st lady was only 15 minutes ahead of me. I had made up significant time in those 4.5 miles. Then the climb up. I wish I had a pacer for safety from 69-79. Siberia Canyon going up was the scariest thing I have ever done- while I might not be scared of heights- you better believe I am scared of falling off the mountain. The trail was very narrow sugar sand trail that one wrong step, they would need the spot tracker to find my body. I couldn’t tell if I fell, if it would be 100 feet or 1000’s of feet down. Maybe if I had seen this section in daylight, I wouldn’t have been so fearful. I would look up and wonder if the lights I saw were stars or other runners headlights. There was SO much climbing. My lungs were not happy- my legs wanted to go, but I just couldn’t breathe. And the downed trees- These aren’t your East coast maples- these are humongous trunks that were chest high across the trail. I rolled over them on my side, backward, forwards, headfirst trying to find the best strategy.
I think because my mind was stressed out about falling off the mountain, my body tensed up and my stomach started to get nauseous. It was about this time I caught 1st girl. She was heading the wrong way on the trail. It was about .1 of a mile from where she should have turned and we ran a little together. I knew at this point I needed to throw up to feel better. I did but then I ran out of water and had to slog it out to the aid.
79-87.5: I sat down for the first time. I needed to just calm my nerves down. I took 10 minutes to regroup and eat saltines. I left with 50oz of Ginger Ale in my pack. I stayed within 8 minutes of 1st through this section. These were my calories for the rest of the race.
87.5- 100: Got another 50oz of Ginger Ale and tried to push myself, but my lungs had enough. I forget how many times I took my inhaler during this race, but it was more than advised. While I usually pee 3-4 times in a 100 miles, these last 20 miles, I was pulling over to pee every mile. It was so annoying. This section was also on a bike trail. While there were a few who pulled over, most were going so fast it forced me off the trail into poison oak bushes. The last 4 miles were downhill and I gave it everything I had left.
The first words out of my mouth when I finished was: “I think I broke my lungs.” This race was rough for a flat-lander with asthma. While I’m happy with my second place finish (and $1000)- I was really hoping to break 24 hours on this course. Im really happy that Rachel (1st) did.
I want to thank my sponsors:
Altra Running– I wore the Timps the entire race and they handled the scree perfectly. NO Blisters
TstarRunning– My adorable skirt with new SIDE POCKETS was awesome- NO CHAFFING at all!
DryMax– I wont wear any other sock. NO Blisters and really comfortable
XOSKIN– wore the Heathered Sleeveless 2.0 and it kept me dry and comfortable.
Food I consumed:22 scoops of Tailwind
5 cans of Diet Pepsi Max
5 Gu Chew packs
3 White Cherry Powerade
100 oz of Ginger Ale