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Badger Mountain Challenge 100

March 30, 2018

Ran with Christy, Badger one and done
“Run all the miles, eat all the food, drink all the caffeine,” according to Christy


It took me three years thinking about this one to finally have the guts to sign up. I usually don’t sign up for things with greater than 10,000 feet elevation gain.  This race claimed to have 13,000 and my watch said over 15,000.  Each year I would hear from friends about how tough the run was but worse how awful the weather was.  I probably would not have ever signed up if it hadn’t been for Christy who got into Western, we needed a tough challenging training 100 to test strategies and Badger did not disappoint.

You get to go up and down Badger mountain, Candy mountain and McBee ridge multiple times. They also throw a little Jeep trails in there just to make it suck a little more.  Badger wasn’t too bad and Candy mountain wasn’t either because of the gradual switchbacks.  The back side of Candy was going to be icky coming back up but I couldn’t worry about that until I survived the Jeep trails and McBee Ridge.

We took the early start because we wanted all the time, eventually we would want all the food and all the caffeine, but first we had to run all the miles.  As the sun came up we were running back and forth with some guys.  It seemed that every quarter mile or so I would look up and there would be another boy peeing off the trail.  It kind of looked like they were marking their territory. Women were definitely outnumbered in this race 80 guys signed up and only 20 women for the 100.

We merrily ran through the vineyards on our way to the Jeep trails.  How do you know you are on the Jeep trails, well it looks like runners are going off a cliff, straight down in piles of sand.  The first time this was rather laughable.  You would run, slide or just fall down the steep hill only to have to go back up the other side.  Over and over again for three to four miles.  Lots of grit got in shoes and mouth and well everywhere.  At the end of the Jeep trails there is an aid station so we sat and shook out as much of the sand as we could out of shoes.

Then off to McBee.  Walking up the hill towards the McBee aid station was daunting.  You could see the teeny tiny people going up the side of a mountain.  I suppose it is as steep as section line on Tiger but because there are trees on Tiger you never really get to see how far you are going up the side of a mountain, yikes.  As you start off the wind starts blowing. I was warned to bring a coat and I did, wrapped around my waist.  But the wind was blowing so hard I didn't dare try to unwrap it and put it on for fear I would let go and the wind would take it away.  Climbing up the steep  hill made my calves burn and my Achilles scream but the worst part was trying not to get blown off the ridge by the wind.  A few times I lost my balance and had to lean into the wind just right to get back on track. Scary.  Later that night, the second time up McBee. No wind. I took 100-120 steps and then took several breathes.  Basically I took my time up that mother of a hill and it wasn’t too bad, when there isn’t any wind.  We were told the weather we were having was rare so we agreed we were having Magic Badger Weather.

The worst part of McBee is the rocks on top of the ridge.  They are the kind of rocks that just want to trip you.  I managed during the day to stay upright. On top of the ridge I walked and ran with Joe and he kept pointing out the smoothest path, thanks Joe.  During the night there was no Joe.  Christy and I were making our way back from the turn around on McBee when Christy said one second you were right there and the next gone.  I had fallen so fast I didn’t have time to get my right hand out to break my fall.  My left hand held my charger and so I landed on it and my right cheek.  It was cold and windy and we knew we had to get off that ridge, we couldn’t stay up there because if you did you could die.  So I got my bruised self up, Christy checked my face, no blood and off we went.  Later I found out I had some flesh torn off my knee and some bruising but I feel fortunate that nothing is too bad.

The best part of McBee was running down the winding single track sandy section.  You could really get moving on this section and it felt great.  I was hopeful that all of our training lately on Tiger Mtn. especially the downhill, would let me run well on this later the second time down.  I am happy to say my quads felt great and it was wonderful to still be running late in the race.  Again sandy section meant dust, swallowed some more.  Did I mention I got a head cold the week of the race, sucks and then breathing in all the dust didn’t help.  I had memories of Zion.  Now I have one heck of a cough.

After you get down from McBee the second time you are 82 miles in and know you can finish.  Because we took the early start we had plenty of time.....unless you calculate wrong.  Christy didn’t think we had a enough time to make it back before the cut off and so she took off and really when she takes off I cannot keep close to her.  She motored up through the Jeep trails and left me in the dust.  She wasn’t feelin good so I finally caught her when we were shaking our shoes out.  She had realized now that she had more time and we worked together to get to the finish.

Through the Jeep trails it is sandy sand.  It is rather obvious when someone pees on the trail.  Now why do people pee on the trail?  It is simple enough just to step to the side of the trail and pee off trail, but all through the race it was obvious to me we were running with a lot of pissers.  I asked some guys and they too were amazed by the number of puddles from pissers.  You have to dodge them while running.   Boys, please pee off trail in the future.  You already have the advantage because you don’t have to drop you skirt, skort or shorts to go.  So just step aside please.

One section not to be forgotten is the drainage tunnel.  I usually don’t freak out in the dark but this one I did.  The tunnel was long enough that you were in the dark for a good portion of it.  The other three times going through I said some lovely words and tried to get through as fast as I could before vertigo took over.  This last time I felt like I was going to dive down a rabbit hole or a roller coaster ride.  It was trippy.  My only hallucination or weird kind of feeling all race.  Maybe it is good to have someone with you to keep the crazy at bay.

Going into the race with a head cold is not my favorite thing.  The sun and wind did a number on my skin and blowing snot rockets didn’t help.  Needless to say eating was difficult.  I usually like to stick to liquid calories for a large portion of the race and this worked well until I starting gagging on UCAN or Tailwind and dry heaving.  Isn’t ultra running grand?

I ended up not eating much.  Here is what I remember.
Avocado, nuts, mashed potatoes, avocado in tortilla, two dill pickles, Bacon avocado in a tortilla, cheese quesadilla, broth, Nutella, honey stinger gels, probably 8, ginger ale, you know your stomach is bad when instead of UCAN or tailwind, you put ginger ale in your flask and sip it and dry not to throw up.

At one aid station, 30 miles in I needed to clean my feet and change socks and eat.  Hope was there and she was that extra set of hands that one needs to get things done quickly.  I try never to spend too much time at aid stations.  We were like a well oiled machine or pit crew.  She had wipes for my feet and an avocado tortilla for my face and everything happened fast.  Thanks Hope.

So what was the damage?  Two blisters, bruised and bloodied knee, sore arms, probably from using them to get up some of those gnarly hills.  My left foot is totally intact, great pre tape job.  Our hotel was only a ten minute drive from the race.  I couldn’t drive faster than 25-30 mph without freaking out after the race, lack of sleep and being totally spent does that to me. Thankfully Christy could drive as she is young and an awesome runner and driver.  So she managed to get us back to hotel safely.  I guess lots of elevation gain really takes it out if this old lady.

The best parts, spending time with Christy and getting this one done, 24th 100 or greater race, only one other women older than me has finished Badger in the eight years of its existence, excellent aid stations, wonderful volunteers, great race director who personally hands you the buckle and messes with you at the finish.  View from top of the ridge and the mountains, simply stunning, could see lots of the tri cities both during the day and at night.   Glad I trained on section line at Tiger mountain.  You really can run all the miles, eat all the food, have all the caffeine and survive the mighty Badger.

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