Friday, July 13, 2007


My first ultra was the San Francisco One Day, a new event put on by Pacific Coast Trail Runs. It was multiple loops around a 1 mile path on the San Francisco shore. I entered the 12 hour option and was just looking for a 50 mile finish in less than 11 hours. That would qualify me for the Western States 100 lottery.

I got down to the start of the race and checked in. I was wearing my SF Triathlon Club jacket a fellow club member (Mark Nassi) was there also - his wife spotted my jacket and we chatted a bit. At the start of the race, I decided to just run my pace - after all, this was my first ever ultra and I just wanted the WS100 lottery mark. After a while, I noticed that I was in 3rd place overall. About every 5 laps, there was a leaderboard that would be updated. I was behind two runners John Mintz and Eric Clifton. As I was new to this sport, I had no idea that Eric Clifton was an ultrarunning legend. He was profiled in the Badwater Ultra movie "Run on The Sun" (where he won the race). I just knew he was fast and wearing really loud tights :) (he actually makes the tights and sells them via ZombieRunner on this page under my profile. No, I don't get any commission or kick-back :) )

At 26.2 miles I was feeling great. My buddy Rajeev Patel had advised me to be sure to take walk stops so I stopped each lap at the aid table and either grabbed some hydration or food and walked a bit. I was holding my 3rd place mark. Then, around mile 35 I noticed that I was catching up on Eric Clifton. We then started talking. He mentioned that he had looked at the entry list and Googled some people and considered me one of his big threats!!!! I couldn't believe it and laughed. I told him that this was my first Ultra and I was stopping at 50 miles no matter when as I only wanted the WS100 lottery mark.

Eric and I ran some more. He noticed my leg was bothering me and I told him it was periformis. He said he gets the same thing. Then he stopped mid-race and drops to all fours to show me his favorite periformis stretch! Here he is, an ultra legend, running in the top 3 of a race and he just stops cold to help me out! I met his wife later and she was just as nice - starting rooting me on too.

Later, I had some friends, Rajeev Char, Tandy, Eric and a few others pop down and cheer me on. Tandy snapped some photos. At around mile 44 I was getting tired and my periformis was really acting up. I was in solid 3rd place overall then (a position I kept until I ended my run) Then, with Rajeev walking with me on my last lap I came through Mile 50 at 8 hours 31 minutes! I did it - WS 100 lottery here I come (note: my name was not selected so I entered the Tahoe Rim Trail 100 instead).

Here I am at the start of the 50th mile (thanks Tandy):

I decided to do a few more laps just to complete a "double marathon". Then I went home and had a beer. I had just entered the world of ultras!

All done!

Final results:


Rajeev said...

What an entery into ultramarathoning! An 8:30 50M. Wow!
If you get into WS100 and I don't, I will be honored to be part of your crew and also help out with pacing if needed.


Alan said...

Thanks - remember it was a flat course at sea level. I think Quicksilver at a little over 10 is probably more representative. If you get into WS100, I'll be happy to crew/pace you (although I'll be green with envy and might hit you over the head and assume your identity). :)

anil said...

awesome run alan. keep up