An Ultra Adventure!

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My son, who is now 33 years old, has always had a craving for the wild and crazy adventures.  When he was a young boy, he talked us into doing some of the wildest things.  And if he enjoyed something, then you could be sure it was going to be taken to the next level of extreme.  Always.  He has toned things down a lot in his adult life and we’ve not been asked to do anything wild and crazy with him for a whole lot of years.

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What would YOU do if your adult son asked you to go along on an adventure with him?  You’d do it right?  Of course you would.  You would think just like we did:  it’ll be fun to do this together, it’ll be great memories, we won’t have to do anything hard or risky, it’ll be relaxing, we’ll enjoy the experience.

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And so off we went last week to Colorado where our son was competing in the High Lonesome 100 mile ultra endurance run.  Yes… you read that right.  A HUNDRED MILES.  In the Colorado Rockies.  He had asked us months and months ago if we would go with him and be his Crew Team.  I did take the time to ask what our duties as Crew would be.  He was completely honest when he said, “You’ll drive from each aid station to the next where you’ll wait for me to come in and you’ll have my bag of supplies for each station.  I’ll rest a bit, you’ll remind me of what I need at that point since my brain might be a little foggy.  You’ll refill my water bottles, replenish my pack with energy supplies, encourage me to get up and go, and send me on my way.  I’ll have everything written down in details for you.  Oh and you’ll have lots of spare time in between aid stations so you won’t be rushed at all.”

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That all sounded perfectly fine.  Until we got to Colorado and sat at a coffee shop going over the maps, notes, and directions to the aid stations.  And suddenly I got very panicky.  What if we couldn’t find one of the aid stations, what if he got there before we did and didn’t have his supplies, what if we broke down in the middle of nowhere?  We did know there was no cell service anywhere in those mountains and that even if we did have service, he certainly wouldn’t.  I began to feel very rattled.  My husband was calm and since he was the one that would be doing all the driving I decided to just chill and let him handle it.  I brought books to read, hand sewing projects to do.  I was really looking forward to the rest time.

Lesson Number One:  There is no rest time.  

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Logan in the picture above in the middle, start line

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Before we knew it, it was 6:00 AM of race day and the 100 runners were off!  We left the parking lot (not really a parking lot… mostly a dirt field where hundreds of vehicles had parked) in a hurry with a feeling of panic that the first aid station was only 7 miles for runners but a lot further by road for us.  We read our map, went over the directions and we got to Raspberry Aid Station with plenty of time to sit and wait.  And worry.  And fret.  And wonder where was he?  Even though his clearly written instructions explicitly said not to expect him before 7:30 AM and it was only 6:45!  (Smile!)

Lesson Number Two:  Read his instructions and trust them.

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Raspberry Aid Station, mile 8

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He came in grinning.  We were relieved.  He didn’t really need anything at this point, other than a hug, some encouragement and “see you at the Cottonwood Aid Station” and he was gone.

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We had plenty of time to go eat breakfast, take a walk along the river and even take a selfie from the bridge!

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We then meandered our way up the incredibly rough mountain dirt road to the next aid station.  Where we were instructed to park alongside the forest service road and walk in, as there was no parking allowed off the road.  We loaded up everything we needed:  chairs, umbrellas, backpack full of necessary supplies for Logan, backpack for us with our books, water and lunch.  We were going to relax now. But first, the mile long steep hike into the aid station where we arrived to a loud and fun group of people hollering, cheering and ringing cow bells as different runners came in.  We set up our little day camp and we got comfortable and we waited.  We watched the other crews take care of their runners as they came in.  It rained and it was freezing.  Then the sun came out and it was blistering hot.  And we waited.  I pulled out Logan’s notes and checked again… no, there is no way we would’ve missed him, there was still plenty of time before his earliest estimate of arrival.  And we waited some more!  The books never came out of the backpack because the anxiety level!

Lesson Number Three:  Don’t arrive at the aid station a thousand hours before necessary.

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The above picture captured by the photographer somewhere on the trail. 

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Cottonwood Aid Station, mile 32

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This was mile 32 for Logan and he arrived within the window of time he estimated, even though in our mind it seemed forever!  We took care of his water bottles, helped him change his socks to dry ones, tied his shoes, made sure he replenished his energy supply, and basically kept asking him questions.  Because we were kind of stressed.  Fifteen minutes later and we were waving him goodbye.   We loaded up all our gear and headed out on the long hike back to the truck and the rough dirt road, wash board drive to the next aid station.   Since we had to drive off the mountain to the next forest trail road, we went to the little town and had a hamburger and a cup of coffee.  Good thing, as I would not see a cup of coffee for another 24 hours. 

Lesson Number Four:  Buy an expensive thermos that keeps coffee hot forever and FILL IT with coffee!

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Hancock Aid Station, mile 50

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We arrived at the next aid station earlier than we needed to be in order to beat the dark, parked on the road, hiked in to the aid station where it was a party going on!!!  Glow lights, loud music and organized chaos awaited us!  We found a great spot next to the trail to park our chairs and got comfortable for the hours ahead.  It got dark quickly and we got cold even quicker.  Runners were coming in spurts and it seemed like forever would go by in between.  This was mile 50 for Logan.  The half way point and a very big deal. We were so stressed we could hardly even handle it.  At one point we heard the Medic organizing a team to go help a runner that was down, and my heart sunk.   I mean it was pitch dark, freezing cold, he was a couple hours behind his intended schedule and were a mess. But finally, finally he came in and the first words out of his mouth were, “I need help”.  Luckily it was an extremely low energy problem so we got help from the aid station in the way of hot broth and coco-cola.  He was also suffering from nausea and a bad headache due to the high altitude and fatigue and so he had to be super careful about what he ate.   You don’t want to start throwing up as that very well might be the end of the race for you.  Only thirty minutes later and he was out of his chair and down the trail.

Lesson Number Five:  Wear REALLY warm clothes for the nighttime aid stations.

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Sunrise at the Monarch Aid Station

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Now was the next big test for us.  Drive to the next aid station in the middle of the night.  Find the parking lot, pull out some blankets and pillows and sleep.  I’m joking.  You won’t sleep.  Just try to stay still and quiet and pretend you are sleeping.  It was a long, miserable few hours and sleep never came.  But daylight did and at 5:00 AM we were out of the truck watching for our runner.

Lesson Number Six:  Park near the porta-potty.  You’ll be happy you did at 3 AM.

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 Coming in to Monarch Aid Station, mile 68

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I hiked up the trail a ways and visited with a few volunteers that were out with lights guiding the way.  I watched the sun come up and many runners come through.  There were many that were delirious, hallucinating, and just plain not able to talk.  This was mile 68 after a really long night of steep climbing.  Our son had prepared us for this.  He even went so far as to tell us, “When I come into the Monarch aid station and I am delirious and saying that I’m going to quit you are to say ‘No, get up and get going.  You’ll be fine.’ ”  Oh how I dreaded this.  But watching it with others made me realize it is a normal side effect of sleep deprivation and sheer exhaustion.  But he arrived (finally) and he was smiling, talking, totally himself and the relief came over us.

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Filling his pack with fresh supplies at Monarch

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Of course he was exhausted and hungry but nothing that 30 minutes in the aid station didn’t fix!  He was quickly on his way with a thumbs up and a smile!

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We went right to the next aid station with the hope of getting a nap in the sunshine.  It was supposed to be a beautiful day and it was.  We parked, hiked in with our gear (this was getting easier!), set up a day camp and we did manage to relax a little bit, although not nap.  We hiked up the trail a few miles and cheered runners along the way; most of them too tired to even acknowledge us.

Lesson Number Seven:  Learn to nap in the aid stations!  

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Leaving Blanks Aid Station, mile 83

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When Logan arrived he refueled, filled his water bottles again and talked about the trails, how he was feeling etc.  We were so excited because there was only one aid station after this one.  He was upbeat but very tired.  The Medic at the aid station was eager to get him on the trail and kept asking him “Logan, what can we do to get you on your way”?  You don’t want a runner to sit too long or they won’t be able to get up and leave!  Logan left with a laugh saying, “why doesn’t anyone like me here”?! His sense of humor has always gotten him through the rough stuff!

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Once again we packed up the gear and headed to the final aid station.  My nerves were totally and completely shot.  I’d been planning for months to pace Logan the last 8 miles to the finish line.  And for some reason I was so nervous about it.  We got to the aid station with plenty of time to spare (that’s a surprise huh?) and I got my pack all ready and waited.  And waited.  Nerves on high alert now because we were watching the clock.  Logan said it would take us 2 hours to finish from this point and I kept looking at my watch knowing it was getting too close for comfort.  He arrived, running mind you, and since he didn’t need any aid we basically posed for a picture and blew through the aid station.

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I think the highlight for me was this 2 hours of walking and running alongside my son.  I was in for the shock of my life at how fast he was going but it was so incredible to see what he had left in him after 93 miles.  We managed to keep talking and laughing and I kept him going straight to the finish!  Obviously he could’ve done it without me but it still made me feel good that he had asked and was counting on it.

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I love this picture the photographer captured of the three of us at the finish.

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With only 30 minutes to spare he finished at thirty five hours and twenty-seven minutes.  We may not have run those miles with him, but we sure felt every one!

Lesson Number Eight:  Crewing for a 100 mile, 36 hour ultra run is not for the faint of heart!  But it is the experience of a lifetime!  Don’t ever say no!


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I’m really thankful our son asked us to do this with him, that he wanted us there and that we got to share in the experience!

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And for fun, here are a few details off the High Lonesome 100 website:

Distance: 99.2 miles

Average Elevation: 10,600′

High Point: 13,150′

Low Point: 8,150′

Total Elevation Gain: 22,500′

Cut off: 36 hours

Course type: 66% single track, 21% mining roads, 10% gravel roads, and 3% paved roads

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Thanks for following along on our adventure!

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Until our gravel roads cross again… so long!

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Dori

Leave a comment 17 Comments

  1. Mary Rauch says:

    You don’t know how thankful I am you shared all this with us! You answered so many things I have always wondered about. Your description of your feelings filled in the blank spots in my imagination. This has to be an experience of a lifetime for all of you! Bless your family and this magical bonding experience. And thank you again for letting us look inside this wonderful adventure!

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Awww… thank you Mary. I’m glad you could enter into it. It’s a crazy thing to do (running that far) and now I wish my son would write about it from his point of view! Especially the WHY! :-)

      ~ Dori ~

  2. Ramona Puckett says:

    How cool! I’m so happy you all got to be there for your son! And what great pictures!

  3. Marlene Capelle says:

    Whew, I’m exhausted

  4. Kim Rice says:

    Wow!!! And that’s a Big Wow!! Running that at altitude is HUGE. Coming from someone who lives at almost a mile high, to run at that altitude with out long term altitude training is unreal! We always chuckle when sports teams come to compete against UNM and simply run out of “wind” half way through a basketball game!. My brother competed in 100+ mile bicycle rides across Colorado while living in San Francisco. He would come stay with me in Albuquerque for 3-4 days and ride up and down the Sandia Mountains just to get his lungs ready!! Logan is a Champion! And you and Eldon are Champions as well! . What a story!

  5. Mary Rauch says:

    I read and enjoy all your posts. I should write you more often and tell how much I enjoy them. It takes a lot of work to do one of your posts. I want to be sure you know how much I appreciate your efforts.

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Dear Mary,

      Your comment meant so much to me. You really can’t imagine. You are so right… some of these posts seem like they take forever! So I love to know that you read and enjoy them.

      Tight hugs,

      – Dori –

  6. Marilyn says:

    Congratulations to Your son. You and your husband are such good and loving parents to share this experience with your son. God Bless.
    Marilyn

  7. Susie Wantulok says:

    Dori,
    I so enjoyed your story. I have always been intrigued by ultras like your son runs. I always thought I’d run them once my last child left for college. (He leaves next week!) I admire Logan and you and your husband for supporting him. I know folks who run ultras but never really knew how the crew operated! Thanks for sharing!!!

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Thank you Susie! When I wrote this I really wondered if anyone would find it interesting at all! So thank you!!! :-)

      – Dori –

  8. Jill says:

    What a great read! And memory forever. I have a son the same again so I sent him your story for a good read. Mother/ Son forever!♥️

  9. Sandi King says:

    Wow! Dori this post was amazing. I loved every word and picture and could almost feel the excitement and anxiety you must have felt for your son. Congratulations to your son and you and your husband for being such great parents to go along for this wonderful event.

  10. Wow! 100 miles!!! Yikes! I am speechless! What an adventure, Dori, and how beautiful the scenery! Just breathtaking. Hats off to your son for completing the adventure! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole (Suburban Farmgirl)

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