Monday, November 02, 2009

Jappy Jours in Javelina Jundred

Race: Javelina Jundred 100M race
Date: Oct 31 - Nov 1, 2009
Location: Fountain Hills, AZ
Time: 28:36:59

Having my feet taped in the pre-dawn chill,
Mulling over the long miles up ahead.
And then we are off, soon snaking uphill,
And soon the sweat moistening the forehead.
The pink glow on the distant mountain peaks
Soon will light up the dusty, rocky trail.
Soon the morn sky adorned with orange streaks.
Soon the Sun shows, our wills to soon assail.
Slow steps forward through the heat of the day,
Heart gladdened by the sight of wild horses;
Be present, the Finish is far away,
And watch the smiles on the passing faces.
Night passes; the new morn brings new purpose:
Time to run fast to the victor's dais.

One of the most fun and, may I say, comfortable 100 mile races I have ever done. My blood sugar stayed constant pretty much all through the race and I was able to run as fast as I wanted to in the last 15 miles.

Friday, Oct 30
I took a 5:30 p.m. flight from SFO to Phoenix and, after picking up my Hertz rental, I was in the Comfort Inn in Fountain Hills by 8:45 p.m. I decided to go to a grocery store to pick up a few supplies like bread, PB and water.

I met Dave Combs outside in the parking lot and he directed me to a Safeway a mile and a half away. I was back in 30 minutes and spent the next 30-40 minutes making my drop bags. I finally lay down on the bed at 11:00 p.m. having set the alarm for 3:00 a.m. My intention was to reach race Jeadquarters by 4:15 a.m. in order to (a) get my toes taped and (b) pick up my bib#.

Fugitive was showing on TV and I could not resist watching it. I reluctantly switched off the boob tube at midnight and dozed off.

Saturday, Oct 31
I was up at 3:00 a.m. and quickly showered and had a quick breakfast of chocolate milk and a bagel with PB. I parked my car in the JJ Jeadquarters parking lot, picked up my bib# and goodie bag, put them in the car and went to get my feet taped. It was chilly and I was shivering a bit while the taping was done.

(Al taping my feet)

Al, from Kachina Rescue, did a great job of the taping. He was fascinated by the fact that I was planning to run the entire race without socks. I had already run the Dick Collins 50M sans socks and so knew where my hotspots were and the taping pretty much took care of them the entire way.

I was back in the car at 5:00 a.m. I turned on the engine and the heater while I pinned my bib to my shorts. I tried to doze for 20 minutes but the constant glare of passing headlights made it hard to come by. I finally gave up and left the warm confines of the car and stepped out into the cold to go look for Diane Forrest. We had planned to run together.

(Sandy (L) and Diane)

(My buddies Phil Rosenstein (L) and Donn Ozaki)

I met her namesake, Diane Vlach, Dean Dyatt, Steve Ansell, Dan Marinsik, Jakob Hermann, Donn Ozaki, Phil Rosenstein and a host of other familiar faces. I finally found Diane at the back with her friend Sandy Baker. Both Diane and Sandy were attempting their first 100M race but did not look nervous.

Very soon the runners were off and Diane and I noticed that it took us almost 55 seconds to step on the starting mat (we were being timed using a transponder that went round the ankle). The first loop was clockwise so we veered off to the left. The first 5-8 minutes I encouraged Sandy and Diane to walk. We started running a half mile or so after the Start and continued until we hit the first climb. It was not steep but it did take us a few hundred feet above the desert floor.

The pink glow rimming the distant mountain tops had bloomed into shades of orange and red and we knew that we were in for a toasty day ahead. On top of the climb, the trail leveled off gradually and then began a gentle climb all the way to the first AS. We could see the long line of runners snaking off into the distance.

That first AS, Coyote Creek, soon came into view and we were in and out of there quite quickly. Sandy had run this loop earlier in the year, in September, during the 12-Hr training run that Jamil and Nick Coury had organized for the benefit of JJ100 participants.

My arm warmers were the first to come off. My jacket followed later. The headlamp had been safely tucked into my waist pouch long ago. Diane, Sandy and I made our way at an easy pace towards the next AS, Jackass Junction, which was one of 2 drop bag Aid Stations.

(With Jody van Zanten (L) and Jean Ho)

A mile or so before the AS we saw homes on the left and even remarked about the wonderful sun deck one of the homes had. To our utter delight we came round a bend and saw 3-4 wild mustangs cantering off to our right. I quickly took a couple of pictures of these magnificent beasts.

(Dave James giving the horses a run for their money)

The eventual winner, Dave James, passed us going the other way. I was awestruck. We were at 10 miles while he was already at 24-25 miles 3 hours into the race! (he ran the first 2 loops in 3:53 and the entire race in 14:20, breaking the previous CR, held by Karl Meltzer, by over an hour!!!).

(The early miles)

We left the Jackass Junction rather quickly. I refreshed my Cytomax bottle and downed a small chocolate milk.

The section between Jackass and race Jeadquarters seemed easier than the first 10 miles and we ran across the timing mat for the second time that day in 3:36. I quickly went to my drop bag
and drank some chocolate milk and picked up additional gels while dumping my jacket and arm warmers into the bag.

The second loop was to be run counter-clockwise. This was the first time I was doing a 100M race that had more than 2 loops and was looking forward to finding out how easy/tough the "washing machine" loops would eventually prove to be.

The sun was definitely warmer by now so I made sure I got some ice in my Cool Off bandana from here on out. It was fun seeing other runners, they were the front runners obviously, going the other way. We got to see all of the fleet of foot ones - Bev Anderson-Abbs (the women's winner), Jorge Pacheco. I met Sean Luitjens a few times. Jakob Hermann and Dan Marinsik showed up eventually. Steve Ansell, Craig Slagel, Craig Heinselman and a few other friends had already gone the other way looking strong.

Somehow the counter-clockwise direction felt a tad tougher. We rolled through the Aid Stations one by one and eventually found ourselves back in JJ Jeadquarters to cross the timing mat for the third time. We had done the 2nd loop in a more conservative 4:14.

(End of the second loop)

Off we went into the 3rd loop, clockwise again, with food in our bellies and ice in our bandanas. It was almost 2 p.m. when we started and I asked Diane and Sandy to walk for the next 2 hours or so.

(The eponymous fountain in Fountain Hills)

That walking saved us from being overly ravaged by the 3 - 4 p.m. heat and we savored the gradual cooling down on the other side of 4:30 p.m. The loop was uneventful.

Anu and Raj had landed in Phoenix around 4:30 p.m. and I asked them to drive straight to the race instead of going to the hotel. They were waiting for us when we reached the end of the loop, 46.4 miles down, at 6:11 p.m. Sandy, Diane and I hit the restrooms and then our drop bags in order to get into warmer clothes.

I took off my shoes to check on the taping and noticed that some of the toes were starting to have their taping fray at the edges. Having another 54 miles to cover, I decided to spend a few minutes having the taping redone. The few minutes actually became more than 30 minutes! It was around 7:10 p.m. or so that Anu, Raj and I set off on Loop 4 (counter-clockwise). They were both happy to be moving and we had a blast talking up a storm. Anu had come down with the express purpose of evaluating the course to see if she would want to run it next year (as of today her answer is No). Nonetheless she had fun running at night.

The 3 of us walked a lot of the first 10 miles. I then decided to run up the hills in order to use a different set of muscles and give the hammies some rest. We had caught up with Dan Marinsik around 53 miles into the race and he was with us for another mile or so before we left him on the way to the Coyote Creek AS (mile 55 or so). Anu was initially reluctant about eating in the AS for fear of not leaving enough for other runner but was reassured when I told her that pacers were more than welcome to the food. She had a slice of a bean burrito as did I. We eventually completed the loop around 11:00 p.m., in about 4 hours. Anu and Raj quickly got me a few burritos and soup. I got into slightly warmer clothes, picked up a spare headlamp and left around 11:30 a.m. Anu and Raj went back to the hotel to get some sleep. They were planning to come back, to pace me for the last 10 miles, around 8:45 a.m.

(Getting ready to start Loop 5 after being paced by Anu and Raj in Loop 4)

The next loop, number 5, was one where I ran not a single step! I know not why but I could not run more than 2 steps! Strange feeling. I decided to surrender and walk since that was what each moment was bringing into my life. I had switched off my headlamp 30 minutes into the loop and went through the night section relying on moonlight.

4 hrs and 35 minutes is what that loop took me. The Aid Stations in the loop had some cold bean burrito slices that I ate with relish while downing chocolate milk. Once back in JJ Jeadquarters, I quickly used the restroom before starting loop 6.

The first 8.5 miles of this counter-clockwise loop went pretty much the same way as the 15.5 miles of the previous loop - I could not run.

Dawn had broken by now and I stowed my headlamp in my jacket pocket. All through the night I had moved up small slopes into warm air and down small dips into cooler air. Other runners remarked after the race that they had felt cold at night. I felt comfortable and enjoyed being alone in the darkness.

It was just before Jackass Junction, at around mile 82, that I was passed by a woman runner who was going at a pretty good clip. I found out later that it was Ling-ru, the 2008 RDL 100M women's winner. She was pacing Sandy Baker. I finally caught up with Sandy about a half mile before the Jackass Junction AS. I sat down in a chair to down my chocolate milk and eat something while Sandy and Ling-ru just breezed through. I eventually got up and continued on my way.

Daylight was upon us and I was glad to be able to see off into the distance once again.

A male runner soon passed me followed by 2 women, dressed in costume. I watched them go up a couple of hills and wished them good luck. I looked at my watch and it showed 6:50 a.m. Did I want to walk the rest of the race? No came the answer. This is where I "commanded" my brain to find me fresh resources in order to finish the race sooner. Oh boy! Did it ever find me resources!! I took 2 steps running, around the 86 mile mark, and did not stop running until I had reached the end of the loop, at mile 92.8. This was the most powerful I have ever felt in the end of a race. The running was effortless, whether going uphill or downhill, and the breathing easy and controlled. I passed the male runner and the 2 women runners and then a host of runners making their way to the end of the loop.

(Turning on the afterburners)

It must have been a mile and a half before the end of the loop that I passed Diane Forrest and Jennifer Blake, her pacer. I complimented them on their great form and moved as fast as I could towards the end where Raj was waiting to pace me the last 8.6 miles. In and out I went of Jeadquarters. I walked with Raj for half a mile and then decided to turn on the "jets" once again. Up the hill we went, passing admiring runners (they said as much), and continued running all the way to the Coyote Creek AS for the final time in the race. We had my bottle filled up with cold water and were shown the Tonto Trail for our last 3.7 miles back. The Tonto Trail was a gentle decline all the way back to its intersection with the Pemberton Trail which is the name of the 15.4 mile loop I had run 6 times earlier.

(With Raj Singh, my pacer for the last 10 miles)

This is where we wound up playing leapfrog with Jimmy Dean Freeman (3rd overall in the 2008 RDL 100M; a very talented runner and coach) who was pacing his wife, Kate, to her first 100M finish. We eventually came to the Pemberton Trail where we made a left turn. A few rollers later I could see the Jeadquarters and the Finish area off in the distance. That lent my feet more wings and I finally stopped just after the mat in a satisfying 28:36:59.

I had covered that last 8.7 miles in 2 hours and 10 minutes or so.

Diane Forrest came in to the Finish area about35 minutes later but waited, in a great show of friendship and love and caring, for Sandy to show up so that they could cross the Finish hand in hand. Way to go Diane and Sandy! You women rock.

A big thank you to Jamil Coury and his band of volunteers that included Dave Combs, Chris Rios and others.

(Dave Combs)

(Chris Rios)

Thanks also to Rick Gaston who took pictures throughout Saturday and also paced a friend. Seeing him and Dave there made the race that little bit more comfortable!

I'll be back!


Anonymous said...

The scenery looks amazing. Congratulations on another amazing race. I liked the description of how you had to dig deep to find the courage to sart running again. Wish I could run more 100's, but work just doesn't allow it. Hello to Anu! Cheers, Francine

Rajeev said...


Thank you for stopping by. I will pass on your greetings to Anu. Happy Holidays to you.


Venkateswara Rao said...

Awesome Rajeev sahab. Hearty congratulations.

Rajeev said...




Rajesh said...

That's fantastic. Congrats on the great race & report

Really want to run an ultra.. Pointers?

Anonymous said...


Kristen said...

Coach Rajeev!

Thanks aagin for the 16-miler this morning, it was a pleasure!

You can find my healthy cooking blog at

Happy Trails,

mizuno running shoes said...

You have a great blog here.
Keep it up!

mountain khaki said...

That was AWESOME! Congrats on your race..very amazing..more power!