Grand Mesa 100 Mile Race Report:

By David Buckles

This blog post is part 2. Read part 1 here.

Looking at the course elevation for this race was mind blowing. A 4,000 ft ascent at mile 50?? Are you serious? I was pretty confident of my ability to get there, but climbing that sucker… my wobbly legs would justifiably doubt their prowess by that point.

Upon my arrival to the race venue I was greeted with spectacular views of the Grand Mesa National Park. Gorgeous weather, and 75 degree temps were going to be on the menu for the day! This is going to be great! At the start line, no nerves were evident in the legs and body, just cold in the mountain air. I knew over the next 100 miles, I would have plenty of time to be nervous. My biggest fear throughout the race was not whether or not I would get tired, be able to finish, or even maintenance of nutrition, but it was of getting lost and heading the wrong direction for miles and miles. Well, I confronted my fear only 8 miles in to the run. Even though the venue was more than I could ask for view-wise, it was a small gathering of sadists looking to take on this 100 mile adventure. 8 miles in, I was all alone. No trail veterans to follow, just me versus the trail. The trail had defeated me for now. Once I got my bearings and finally turned up to the first aid station, I was a mere 40 minutes behind the leaders. For the next 40 miles, it was smooth sailing.

During training, I had averaged an astonishing 1 trip-and-fall for every 5 miles or so. Not something I’m really proud of, but I was mentally preparing for a beat down over 100 miles, if I kept my average, I would eventually fall 20 times, and the body can only take so much. However, through 50 miles, I had only fallen twice, one comical, and one devastating. Perseverance and determination would get me through the next 50 I’m sure, regardless of how badly I had rolled my ankle.

Now it was time to take on this beast of a hill. Clad in skin-melting temperatures, armed with steep elevations, and riddled with obstacles; I knew this was going to be a mental and physical battle. Luckily, my girlfriend paced me all the way to the top. We made 5 miles in just about 3 hours; you read it right, 3 hours! Once we reached the pinnacle of the climb, back to 10,000 ft elevation it was freezing cold and dark. Upon my arrival to aid station mile 63, SLRC’s finest; the Anderson brothers were there with myriad aid station treats. Grilled cheese, hot chicken broth, and a heated tent!! As comfortable as it was, it was my ultimate demise in hindsight. My ankle had been throbbing up to that point, and due to over-compensation, my other leg was taking the brunt of all my impact, so that one pestered me as well. Against my better judgment, I took a brief cat-nap. While doing so, I suspect that every muscle and tendon tightened up in my lower extremities. When I woke, my legs didn’t respond the way that I would have wanted them to. Gotta finish though!

Colin (SLRC’s finest) and I took off from the aid station and made pretty good time to mile 68. By then, I had learned that I was in last place. No matter, my mission was to finish, that’s it! Departure from mile 68 was brutal, it was cold, and it was raining and the trail and dwindled down to a mere cow pasture with hundreds of glowing blue cow eyes staring at us. My bad ankle and other leg were having a difficult time with the terrain, but it was what it was. Staggering up to aid station mile 73 was heart-breaking. Nutrition was great, morale was relatively high, and I saw the finish line in my mind. My leg’s attitude was something completely different. Almost reduced to tears, I called the race at mile 73 (adding in several miles from my wrong turn earlier on). There’s manageable pain, and devastating pain (the kind that could leave one permanently damaged), and I didn’t want to risk the second. Overall, it was a great experience, one that I will repeat in February when I take on the Rocky Raccoon 100. Thanks to all my support staff: Michelle, Colin, and Jordan. Love you guys!

Would I do it again… probably.

Did I have fun, definitely (in hindsight)

Would I recommend it to other runners looking for a challenge… I sure would. The course was beautiful, the terrain challenging, and the support staff was fantastic! 100 miles is a challenge for sure, but it is possible! Even though it beat me down, I still love it, I respect it, and I will dominate it one day.


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