What makes a person say to themselves I want to run 100 miles? I can tell you that it takes some time to get to that idea. Rhea started with her first 1/2 marathon about 5 years ago. She was pretty much hooked on running once she started. She grew up watching her father run, so it wasn’t a totally novel idea. But once she found out about trail running everything started to change. She found a trail running group and started to add miles and before we knew it she was signed up for her 1st 50K (33 miles), then it went to 50 miles. But her end goal was to do the Angeles Crest 100 (AC100), it’s her home turf, where her and her fellow runners spend endless hours ascending and descending the local mountains.
Obviously to be able to complete a 100 mile race you have to train…a lot. Even though there are many hours and miles run, you don’t run a 100 mile practice run before you run a 100 mile race. In fact, Rhea never ran over 50 miles before the AC100. So her goal to complete the race meant that she was running twice as far as she ever had run before. How does anyone ever get it in their head to attempt that? Well we are so proud and glad she did, because it meant being involved in one of the biggest adventures we ever encountered. The community of ultra endurance racers is so welcoming and incredibly positive and to watch people attempt to complete the race is life-changing.
When Rhea asked us to be her crew we really had no idea what to expect. The crews job is to support the runner when they come in at aid stations. When you run that far and for that long, it requires a great deal of nutrition, water and clothing changes. Plus a runner that’s exhausting themselves to that degree, doesn’t always know what is good for them and they need people around to force them to eat and drink. Her crew also consisted of two pacers that run with them from around mile 40 to the end. We would have been lost without Rhea’s pacers, Brianna and Chris. The have way more experience with endurance racing then we did so they knew much better what Rhea needed at an aid station.
Rhea did an amazing job and managed to get 75 miles before an injury to her Achilles tendon required that she pull out of the race. I know this was heartbreaking for her but honestly she would have made it, no problem, if she hadn’t been sidelined by the injury. Plus stoping meant that she would be able to run again soon, continuing could have caused a very serious injury preventing her from running for a long time. Andrew finished the entire 100 miles in 32:14:13. Can you imagine running for 32 hours straight? In fact, at most aid stations they only stopped for 5 minutes or less. Only once at around 50 miles did they stop for more then 20 minutes.
So what was my take away from crewing for this incredible event? Will I be signing up for a 100 mile race? Hell NO! However it does make me realize that most of what we believe we can NOT do, is in our heads. The body will follow what the mind believes. Sure you have to prepare yourself but in the end all we have to do is keep telling ourselves that something is possible and we can make it happen.